There is no escape...believe it or not. Mathematics is everywhere.
KenKen is a new math puzzle, and unlike Sudoku (very similar aesthetically), it employs arithmetic in addition to logic. KenKen was originally created by a Japanese math teacher, who needed a new way of engaging his students.
I have been working to promote the game, mostly to other teachers. KenKen.com has a great teacher program, which provides weekly puzzles to teachers for free throughout the academic year. There has been over 8,000 teachers signed up for this program.
I wonder if any of you have heard of KenKen, and if so, what kind of uses have you found it good for? It is an amazing way of keeping kids engaged.
Here is a picture of a 4x4 KenKen puzzle:
Personally I've never really taken to Sudoku and hence I've not tried to use them in the classroom although I know others do (but no-one I know personally)
I like KenKen and have used the simplest puzzles as a starter in some very low ability Y8 classes and built up to some more difficult puzzles for the most able in Y7. I originally scanned images from The Time KenKen (Book 1) and viewed them from my pen dfrive via the IWB - annotating over them. I have used a lot of the visual, logic and number puzzles from The Times Japanese Logic Puzzles (Hashi, Hitori, Mosaic(I've not used Mosaic) and Slitherlink) with Y7 & 8 as starters with the aim of trying to get my unsettled and unengaged classes to settle down and start to appreciate the great feeling you get from solving a problem that didn't require them to work mechanically through some method that they have been taught to follow. Also I hoped, over time, to improve their ability to concentrate and persevere for more than a few seconds! Over a period of 8-12 weeks using them as starters (this was a very seriously disengaged class) they came to expect the types of puzzles I found at:-
In particular, I remember on 2 occassions how very disappointed they were when I didn't use them as starters. The UK national curriculum does include some specific wording about encouraging different types of non-numerical problem solving and while I have some reservations about giving time to this type of activity (I personally enjoy them and think it opens up the minds of some students so that they start thinking in a logical(or sometimes logic defying), strategic and experimental or even playful way.) I'd be very interested to hear the sum of your views on the use of this type of puzzle/activity - I think they introduce a bit of variety into my students maths diet. Personally I've never really taken to Sudoku and hence I've not tried to use them in the classroom although I know others do (but no-one I know personally)