Learn & Play Sudoku for Fifth Grade
Shell Education | 2007-06-07 | ISBN: 1425803245 | 72 pages | PDF | 6 MB
Based on grade-appropriate math concepts, student will encounter three variations of puzzles and practice problem-solving skills on puzzles of increasing difficulty. Contains 45 different puzzles including two Super Challenge puzzles. Learn and Play Sudoku is correlated to NCTM Problem-Solving Standards.
What Is Sudoku?
Whether you are traveling or just relaxing on a Sunday morning,
Sudoku is a pastime that the whole family can enjoy. The
Sudoku craze has taken over. It is goodbye to crossword
puzzles and magic squares. If you search the word Sudoku on
Google™, you will get over 70 million hits. Sudoku puzzles
are published in newspapers, magazines, and books. They even
come in electronic handheld games or interactive games on the
Sudoku is a logic puzzle. Each puzzle has one or more minigrids.
Each mini-grid has boxes that are arranged in rows and
columns. Hints are given in some of the boxes. There are different types of puzzles. The puzzles
can be 1 x 1 grids, 2 x 2 grids, 2 x 3 grids, 3 x 3 grids, or even more. Pictures, letters, and
numbers are all used within the puzzles in this series.
The objective of a Sudoku puzzle is to fill in all the boxes of the puzzle using only the given
hints. Each column, row, and mini-grid must have each picture, letter, or number only once.
That means you have to pay attention to three things while you try to solve these puzzles. You
have to look up and down the column, across the row, and around the mini-grid!
The History of Sudoku
How did the Sudoku craze start? Sudoku puzzles first appeared in a
U.S. magazine in 1979. At that time it was called “number place.”
A magazine editor from Japan saw the number place puzzle and
liked it so much that he decided to create a magazine with his
version of it. He called the puzzle Sudoku. The word su in Japanese
means number, and the word doku means single. The puzzle
became very popular in Japan. Today, 660,000 Sudoku magazines
are circulated every month in Japan.
The Sudoku craze spread to the United Kingdom when Wayne
Gould saw the puzzle in a magazine while working in Hong Kong. He was fascinated by the
puzzles, so he created a computer program to generate Sudoku puzzles. Then, he sold his idea
to the London Times. They used Gould’s program to create a series for their daily games pages.
Other newspapers then jumped on the bandwagon, spreading the craze back to the United
States. In April 2005, Sudoku became a regular feature in the New York Post. The Daily News
and USA Today followed a few months later.
The History of Sudoku (cont.)
The puzzle goes back further than 1979. It actually has its roots
in Latin Squares. Latin Squares were taken from the work of Swiss
mathematician Leonhard Euler. He lived from 1707 to 1783. A
Latin Square is a square grid that contains sets of different symbols
repeated. The cells of the grid contain each symbol only once and
the symbol can appear only once in each row and column. (Sound
familiar?) Sudoku puzzles are really Latin Squares that have some of
the symbols already filled in, and you have to fill in the rest. A set of
Latin Squares is combined to form a Sudoku puzzle.
A Mental Sport
In 2006, the World Puzzle Federation held its first World Sudoku
Championship. Like the Olympics, different countries send teams.
There are both individual and team competitions. Each country can
enter six participants plus one nonplaying captain. The participants
have to solve different variations of Sudoku puzzles.
Find Out More
• What other number puzzles have similar rules to Sudoku?
• What other ideas have come from mathematician Leonhard Euler?
Sudoku is a kind of logic puzzle. No mathematical skills are needed to solve the puzzles, and
you do not even need to use arithmetic. People solve the puzzles by logical reasoning alone
(Sharp 2006). For this reason, these puzzles can be interesting and addictive for both children and
adults alike. Not only are the puzzles a fun hobby, but the skills used to solve Sudoku puzzles can
be transferred and applied to other areas of life.
For young people, the main benefit of solving Sudoku puzzles is the development of logical
reasoning skills. These skills will help them solve math problems.
There is a misconception that logical reasoning has nothing to do with mathematics. This
seems to be tied to the idea that mathematics is about numbers. Indeed, Sudoku puzzles
could have letters or colors or pictures instead of the numbers or any other property that
comes with various attributes. (Sharp 2006)
Sudoku Research (cont.)
The heart of the puzzle, the mini-grid, is really a math problem about arrangements or
combinations of objects (Sharp 2006). Logic is required in most areas of mathematics, and many
examples of math problems can be given that require logical reasoning. Students can also use
logical reasoning skills to find new ways to look at a problem and develop creative problem
To fully understand the depth of math concepts and become lifelong learners of mathematics,
students need both logical reasoning and problem-solving skills. By solving Sudoku puzzles,
students will begin to develop systematic thinking. They will learn to identify patterns and
apply them. And, they will develop an awareness of the need to examine data carefully. These
skills will also transfer over to other content areas, such as language acquisition. Puzzles are
“well suited for contributing to a problem-based environment that is conducive to learning in
the second-language classroom and may play an important role in the development of critical
and higher-order thinking skills.” Most importantly, puzzles offer second-language students the
opportunity to repeat vocabulary and sentence structures in authentic contexts (Raizen 1999).
In the classroom, Sudoku puzzles are an easy way to differentiate instruction. The different grade
levels of Sudoku can be used in one classroom. Each student can be given a puzzle from the
grade level and skill level that bests suits his or her cognitive development of logical reasoning
and problem-solving skills.
Riddles and puzzles have broad appeal and are accessible to literally all ability levels. The
conditions and objectives of the problems that are posed as puzzles are usually understood
easily, although the solutions may be challenging. Even though some students may not be
able to solve every puzzle, many enjoy the challenge of the attempt. (Evered 2001)
Students who have not been successful in mathematics can find success in solving Sudoku
puzzles. In the preface to Raymond Smullyan’s book, The Lady or the Tiger and Other Logic
Puzzles, he states, “So many people I have met claim to hate math, and yet are enormously
intrigued by any logic or math problem I give them, provided I present it in the form of a puzzle.
I would not be at all surprised if good puzzle books prove to be one of the best cures for the so
called, math anxiety” (1982).
Sudoku puzzles serve as an excellent warm-up activity, closing activity, problem-of-the day,
enrichment activity, or break from the traditional curriculum content. Will Shortz, a puzzle
creator and editor, states, “You can learn it in 10 seconds, and yet the logic needed to solve
Sudoku is challenging. It’s a perfect amount of time to spend on a puzzle, anywhere from five
minutes to half an hour” (Bennett 2006).
Sudoku Research (cont.)
The puzzles are engaging and addictive for students. Filling in the empty cells appeals to them,
and the rush at the very end to complete the puzzle gives them a
great feeling of accomplishment. This inherent element of solving
the puzzle adds a level of excitement to the classroom and is an
intrinsic motivator for students (Evered 2001). The puzzle serves
as a catalyst for learning (Raizen 1999).
For both adults and students, Sudoku is a way to sharpen your
brain and improve your focus. It requires concentration, patience,
and self-discipline. According to Shortz, “You have to be focused
to be a good Sudoku solver, because if you make a mistake and
then base further logic on the mistake you made you have no option but to erase everything and
start over. So Sudoku really teaches you to be careful” (Bennett 2006). Sudoku can also be a way
to reduce stress or anxiety. While working on the puzzle, all other challenges and worries can be
put aside. The puzzle becomes your focus and as a result, your brain feels refreshed and ready
to tackle whatever life throws at you. Other researchers are finding Sudoku as a way to slow the
progress of Alzheimer’s disease (Critser 2006).
This puzzle with its simple rules and small numbers can be a tool for students, teachers, and
parents. For students, it helps them develop logical reasoning skills and problem-solving
strategies. Students will become self-disciplined, patient, and careful problem solvers. For
teachers, it is a tool for differentiating instruction, engaging students, and supporting language
acquisition. For parents, it is a family pastime that reduces stress, increases focus, and turns a
child from a math hater to a math lover.