Nikoli / Teaching The Beauty of Symmetrical Crossword Puzzle

2013-04-17 03:15   #13040003

img13040003_1 Nikoli is known for creating Sudoku in symmetrical pattern. Maki gave workshops to American High School Students who study Japanese at Japan Bowl National Language Competition in Washington DC on April 12, 2013.

He demonstrated how to make a Japanese crossword puzzle in a symmetrical pattern. More than 150 students came up with possible words such as tabemono (food), natsu (summer), nihongo (Japanese), ninja and niwatori (chicken). Some came up with words from Japanese Anime cartoon.

Maki talked about the importance of balancing a particular word with making a question for the word.
"Quiz is knowledge. Puzzle is all about the process. Making this process exciting for solvers is a work of art," he said. Students enjoyed creating crossword while they also experienced the difficulty of creating a one with good quality. Computer-generated logic puzzles offer one-pattern of solving. However, he explained, when each puzzle is created by a human, it offers multiple solving patterns. He used the analogy of climbing a mountain. "Depending on which path to start with, each person can enjoy different views from the mountain. Puzzle is like a life. There is no one straight answer," he said.

Nikoli / Introducing Fukuwarai Puzzle to Pre-K Students

2013-04-17 03:12   #13040002

img13040002_2 "Teaching younger group of children can be more difficult than teaching adults," Maki confessed. A Montessori school in New York invited Maki again to give a puzzle workshop to 3-5 years old children.
Last time, children enjoyed solving picture puzzle and Origami picture Sudoku with Maki.

Maki enjoyed playing Fukuwarai, or "Lucky Laugh", a Japanese game whereby the players pin different parts of the face such as the eyes, eyeblrows, nose and mouth onto a blank face and laugh at the humorous results. "It is a team-effort puzzle. Help your friends by guiding them. Who wants to volunteer?," Maki asked. Almost all of 20 students raised their hands. Children laughed at the funny faces their classmates created.

Maki also had all children and teachers trace their hands on a large paper. With crayons on one hand while covering their eyes on other hands, everyone tried to color their finger nails. It turned out to be a piece of artwork.

Teachers who tried wooden puzzles said, "colleges did not teach us this!" Maki reminded everyone the simple idea can turn into a puzzle.

Nikoli / Anyone hungry for chocolates doughnuts?

2013-04-17 03:10   #13040001

img13040001_2 Maki received the gift of chocolates doughnuts from 4th grades students in response to his puzzle question. He visited a public elementary school, PS 321 in Brooklyn, New York. More than half of 30 students in class have solved Sudoku before. When Maki gave them the puzzle question of drawing a doughnut (two separate circles) without detaching a pencil once you put the pencil down on the paper, a few students came up with filling the doughnut like a chocolate coated one. Maki said, "I have been traveling the world, but no one came up with the idea of chocolate doughnut. How you think in solving puzzles is most important. You are creative and amazing!"

Students are very much focused in solving other puzzle questions Maki gave and wanted to try everything.
Ms. Robyn, the class teacher, was supportive in encouraging students to think from different angles. "In puzzle and your life, giving up is sometimes equally as important as never give-up motto. You need to learn the balance of focus and relaxation. Whatever the answer you come up after thinking is your best answer. What other people would say is not that important," Maki told the students.

Maki didn't give the answer to the doughnut question right away. "Once you know the answer, you don't think. So try to think for the next several days." Students agreed.
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