Tag Archives: universal designed learning

kenken: no-brainer for differentiated instruction?

You’ve probably seen these puzzles appearing in your newspapers over the last few years.  Looking a bit like a weird Sudoku puzzle they are worth a second glance.

click the image to learn about the inventor

KenKen puzzles have built in differentiation, potential for collaborative learning and are readily available as free resource.   Is that not the ultimate in universal design in learning?

For an auditory or visual scanner they are great because you have a small number of answer options compared to other puzzles.  For a 4×4 puzzle you only have to enter 1, 2, 3 or 4 in each square – much less tedious for a scanner.

Kenken puzzles can contain all maths operations but, just as easily, can be simplified to only include ‘addition’ operations for someone not yet able to cope with division or multiplication (and don’t look any different – which can be important to some learners).

Here’s two examples of different puzzles, one simple – the other more complex.  Using colour is another way you could differentiate for learners – for example someone still learning their colours and number identification may work alongside others to complete all the “purple squares”, or groups can work together each on their own colour based on individual competencies.

The basic instructions are:

  • The numbers in each heavily outlined set of squares, called cages, must combine (in any order) to produce the target number in the top corner of the cage using the mathematical operation indicated.
  • Cages with just one box should be filled in with the target number in the top corner.
  • A number can be repeated within a cage as long as it is not in the same row or column.

A solved 3 x 3 (addition only) puzzle looks like this:

The KenKen website is a great resource.  Educators can sign up for the KenKen® Classroom program, where they will supply KenKen puzzles to you every week.   Parents are most likely able to apply too – they gave me a subscription and my next step is to start setting the puzzles up on Mac’s computer for him.

interested educators simply click the image


Filed under Accessing the Curriculum