Kakuro For All

As you sit there in your chair agonizing over the right combination of numbers you need to equal 30 vertically and 24 horizontally, you wonder how anyone could possibly solve a puzzle like this. “It must take a genius,” you think. And while having an IQ higher than your bodyweight (not a small feat considering our country’s increasing obesity problems) certainly wouldn’t hurt your chances in your battles with those pesky little Kakuro squares, it certainly isn’t a necessary component for success.In fact, Kakuro doesn’t require any sort of outstanding intellect at all. Rather, it simply requires elementary math skills and a willingness to think about and solve problems. It’s so simple a baby could do it. Well, maybe not a baby, but an elementary school-aged child could.Could and should. Why? Because puzzle games like Kakuro, as well as its cousins Sudoku and Hitori, provide numerous benefits for children. How? Let us count the ways:

  • Math Skills: Playing Kakuro challenges everyone to solve simple math problems quickly and accurately. This can be especially helpful to children who are starting to learn those skills at a basic level, providing them with a fun way to practice their math outside of school.
  • Problem Solving: “If 3 goes there and 4, goes there, then 7 must go here.” Thoughts like this go through people’s heads whenever they play Kakuro, and can be especially beneficial for children playing. Problems like this may seem simple for us (even though they often aren’t in Kakuro), but for children they are more challenging. Also, the logical reasoning and deduction skills developed through Kakuro can be carried over to other facets of life as well.
  • Persistence: Kakuro can be difficult for anyone, and often requires a certain amount of perseverance to finish. Persisting in the face of adversity is an important value to instill in children, and letting them struggle through a game of Kakuro is a great way to do so.

While Kakuro is appropriate for people of all ages, you probably shouldn’t start of children with anything too challenging. It would be a good idea to start your children off simply and become more advanced as their skills are honed. Some ideas for simplifying Kakuro for kids are:

  • Shrink it: Start kids off with smaller puzzles. A smaller puzzle, means less boxes, which means less numbers your child has to come up with.
  • Spot them a few numbers: Instead of shrinking the puzzle, you could give them a few of the correct numbers and let them solve it from there.
  • Do it with them: Having help from Mom or Dad, takes some of the Kakuro-load off your child and puts a bit of it on you, allowing you both to share in the fun. Besides, it’s a great way to spend a little time interacting with your kid.

Kakuro is great for everyone, including kids, so get them started today and smile as they choose to spend their free time thinking instead of sitting around watching Bugs Bunny fool Elmer Fudd on TV (Do kids still do that?).