Where does this math game come from? How long has it been around? I have been an avid fan for many years, but have wondered where this addicting game originated? I decided to do some research.
As it turns out, Sudoku is the name the world has come to know of this puzzle in its present form. The puzzle game’s true beginning is not Japanese despite how it sounds. Depending on how rigid you define what really constitutes a Sudoku puzzle, you can in fact trace its evolution through a long string of paper and pencil puzzles in history. The first shape of Sudoku can be seen from the magic squares appearing in China around 1000 BC or earlier if you go along this route.
As we know it today, Sudoku has a much more recent history. Although its roots may be from China, the name Sudoku originated from Japan. It is made up of two Japanese words ‘Su’ meaning digit or number and ‘Doku’ meaning single or alone. So in English, Sudoku means "single digit," or "a number by itself." Who knew?
In the late 19th century, number puzzles based on the magic squares started to appear in French newspapers. Such weekly puzzles became a feature of the French newspapers until about the time of the First World War.
According to the prestigious and ubiquitous source “Google” The first recognizable Sudoku puzzle was published in May 1979 by Dell Magazines in their Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games known as "Number Place" in those days. The game was thought to be designed by Howards Garns. Garns was a retired American architect and a freelance puzzle creator born in Indiana. Number Place became popular in the mid-1980s in Japan after being picked up and renamed Sudoku by the Japanese Nikoli company. Then in 2005, Sudoku became an international hit after The Times of London started printing it in November 2004. Howards Garns, the inventor who made the first modern Sudoku, however didn't live to see the day as he died in October 1989 at the age of 84.
Today, Sudoku appears in many daily newspapers worldwide, there are also numerous websites that allow the game to play at varying levels of difficulty. The appeal of Sudoku can be attributed to both its exceptionally simple rules for beginners and various sophisticated techniques to sustain the interests of the more experienced players.
Could Sudoku be incorporated into the Classroom…Why not?
In a world where children are spending more and more time watching mindless television and/or playing video games all the time why not have them learn to think critically in the classroom? It just might transfer to outside the classroom as well. With millions and millions of Sudoku puzzles available at different difficulty levels students could become hooked no matter how old they are. In fact, one of the beautiful features of Sudoku is that it can be easily adapted to varying degrees of difficulty from grade 1 to University level. To me it is a no brainer to use this to teach arithmetic, strategy, and persistence.
Possible ways of integrating Sudoku in your classroom:
- As a whole class activity, with a white board or projector at the front of the class
- As a time filler for odd moments during the day
- As a “reward” when a child finishes work early
- At the beginning of the day, placed on the desk for children to do when they come into the classroom and settle down
- As a weekend activity or fun homework
- As a daily challenge
Research states that, “children as young as 5 years old can enjoy the puzzles while at the same time developing their logical thinking, extending their concentration, and building their confidence.” The educational role of Sudoku has been confirmed in a variety of academic studies in recent literature.
There is just one caveat for Sudoku though “May be habit forming,” should be included in Sudoku puzzles, but as habits go this would be a good one to have.
Links to puzzles: