5 Different Ways Teachers Use Sudoku in Classrooms
Sudoku is more than just a puzzle game to pass the time—it’s also another effective way to introduce new skills and improve learning capabilities in a classroom. While games becoming part of teaching techniques has always been an interesting topic to tackle, modern lesson plans have become more innovative in making learning a fun experience for students.
Many schools have tried incorporating modern video games into their curricula, such as using VR technology and creating educational games for students to play and learn with. However, these ways have their specific drawbacks, especially for classrooms with limited budgets. A Sudoku puzzle, however, is a lot more flexible and can be an effective medium to promote interactive learning and explore new possibilities in teaching!
Why Should You Use a Sudoku Puzzle for Teaching?
Sudoku has been around for a long time, and it remains a timeless classic that many people of varying age groups continue to play. All these varying demographics are considered a part of the longstanding Sudoku kingdom. Even from afar, this square puzzle has become very distinct to the point it has spawned many different versions!
Sudoku, in itself, is a very simple game with easily understandable rules, terms and mechanics. As long as anyone knows how to count and write numbers, and with enough starting tips, the game can be played without much trouble. You can fill out square after square with guess after guess, specific patterns or even a numerical reasoning process. In the end, just make sure each row, column and box is filled with numbers 1 to 9 without missing one or repeating any and it's solved!
This simplicity, coupled with the fact that it doesn’t need anything else aside from a sheet of paper and a writing tool, makes it an ideal game to use in a classroom setting. Other game-related teaching methods involve using a console or any other device, which many schools cannot procure. Not to mention that some educational games implemented in several schools need a constant internet connection, which could be a problem for more rural schools.
With the overwhelming amount of possible Sudoku puzzles to solve and choose from, every student can participate in Sudoku puzzle solving and learn! Moreover, if the students want to shake things up, increase difficulty or just challenge themselves with a new puzzle, there are other iterations of Sudoku available to be played, like Samurai Sudoku or Killer Sudoku.
That said, here are five different ways you can use Sudoku in your classroom!
1. Playing Sudoku Puzzle on a Projector for Recitation
Using Sudoku puzzles to promote class interaction is a good way to improve the learning capabilities of students. You can start by introducing the game and explaining the method of solving to the class by projecting a Sudoku puzzle grid onto a whiteboard and playing as an example.
To play Sudoku using a whiteboard makes it easier to write down and erase numbers on the grid. You can also use a chalkboard, however, it needs a reversed color grid, with the grid and numbers being white.
Sudoku can become a weekly recitation activity that students can look forward to, but remember not to do it every day as it can become tiring for everyone's brain to continuously focus all throughout the day. And of course, avoid using a hard Sudoku grid with fewer numbers as this will confuse everyone and will not improve their technique.
2. Place Digits in a Magnetized Surface
Speaking of playing Sudoku puzzles on a whiteboard, you can also put cutouts of numbers on magnets for easy removal and placement. If you don’t have access to a projector, then you can use a separate whiteboard for this.
Create each square or cell in every row and column using a permanent marker, creating the perfect grid that can be reused indefinitely along with the magnet numbers. Sliding a new number across the surface won't erase the lines, and you don't have to write anything else. This is great for students with poor memory as the numbers they have to use are already laid out near them.
This is especially useful during summer school if you’re going to teach a small group of students, and they can work together to complete the Sudoku puzzle. This activity can promote faster eye scanning, better communication and thinking skills which can help improve their academic performance.
3. Print Different Puzzles and Sheets for Each Student
The original Sudoku was played on sheets of square or rectangular paper, with the original publishing company, Nikoli, creating puzzle booklets for people to solve. If you have lots of scrap paper, disposable single-page documents or just want to save money, printing different puzzles on recycled paper to hand out to students is another effective way to make use of Sudoku in a classroom.
Moreover, having a sheet on hand makes it easier for students to start scanning and helps them constantly re-evaluate faster. A memory built on both eyesight and touch is also stronger, allowing them to remember their solving techniques better as well. Feeling the sheet with the tips of your fingers while solving can even be therapeutic!
You save money by recycling and your students get to learn by playing a good game. You can either have the students play their Sudoku puzzles in a certain portion of the class or take them home as homework or extracurricular activities.
4. Use Other Iterations of Sudoku to Spark Interest
One of the biggest problems of using Sudoku in a classroom is that its appearance of numbers alone can make it seem difficult and dull. This is especially true among younger students, who prefer shapes and colors.
Not to worry, as other iterations of Sudoku can fit your teaching style and preferences! A good example is Color Sudoku—another popular spin-off of Sudoku. The grid is still the same, from the left column to the bottom row, everything is similar. But instead of missing numbers, nine different colors must appear in a row, column or box.
However, make sure to ask students if they have trouble discerning colors or have similar brain or sense-related problems, as colorblindness or inability to discern shapes will immediately make this type of Sudoku ineffective for your plans.
Another obvious example is Shape Sudoku, which is also popular among children. It still has the same mechanics and the same Sudoku grid, but instead of digits, shapes are used instead. But just because it looks like it's for children it doesn't mean that there are no hard Sudoku sets under this version, as every iteration of Sudoku has the perfect level of challenge for any skill level.
5. Use Free Online Sudoku Puzzles
If you have access to computer facilities or if every student has a device they can play in, like a phone or a tablet, then you can use that to your advantage and implement Sudoku in your lesson plan. Why Sudoku if they could play other games instead? If your class is using school-issued devices and learning stations, their internet access is heavily restricted by the administrator of the system. Free Sudoku sites like sudokuconquest.com are a lot easier to get clearance for as they are educational, and they can run even on very old hardware as long as there is a stable internet connection.