Games are a great teaching tool. Ask any group of kids if they'd rather do a worksheet or play a game, and you can guess what their answer is going to be. Here are a few games you can play with dice to work on various math skills, as well as quick decision making, fine motor skills, and just plain fun!
Over the summer, I came across these Dice In Dice and thought they'd make a fun addition to our math games collection.
The kids found them before school started, and decided they were for playing with.
Many towers and structures were built. Which, you can look at one of two ways: You can get all cranky that they're not "doing math" with the math toys; or you can think of it as fine motor skills, engineering, and all that instead. I chose to go with the latter.
Even the older kids thought these Dice in Dice were cool.
Pretty soon, they were making up their own games and hoarding them by color. It's nice that they come in a tub of 72, so that there are plenty to share.
Once school started, I brought them out to play math games with.
At first, we did all the usual games: adding the two numbers together (trying to see who can say their problem and answer first), multiplying the two numbers, etc. This was a fun variation from our ordinary math work, and even more interesting than flash cards, I thought. With the little girls, I can use these for addition and subtraction facts.
Later, we tried a game I call Put and Take, using our pouch lids as playing pieces. We each started with 6 lids.
We'd roll the dice, and the outside number was how many we put IN the kitty, and the inside number was how many we'd take OUT.
The object of the game was to have the most lids when the kitty ran dry. The first time we played, Eli won, then Jack, and I lost. The second time we played, we had to extend Jack credit a few times in order for him to keep playing, which made for good conversation, and record keeping and reasoning practice in trying to figure out his score at the end.
Another game for Dice In Dice is to make 2 columns on a page. I used markers to write the names of the colors of dice we used.
Each player rolls 2 dice.
The outside number is the tens place, and the inside number is the ones place.
Put the resulting 2 digit number in it's column and then indicate greater than, less than, or equal to.
This was a lot of fun, and led to a discussion of what the highest possible number to roll was, and the lowest possible number to roll, and what the probability was of getting to use equal to.
Tenzi is another fun game you can do with batches of dice. Each player gets 10 dice. In using our Dice in Dice, we each pick a different color to keep things straight. Everyone rolls all 10 dice. This works best if you're rolling into a controlled area. You can use tray lids, or jelly roll pans (a cookie sheet with sides) or any similarly shaped area with shallow edges would work. I found this to be a little noisy on our plastic table, so you might consider a felt lined surface to keep the sound down.
Ignoring the inner number for this game, you look over your dice to see what number you have the most of and re-roll the other dice until all your dice have the same number showing.
This was a speedy and fun one that even Josiah joined in on--on the condition that I not photograph him, of course.
Got graph paper? Then you can add geometry to your dice play. I call this one Square Footage.
Each die becomes dimensions. We chose to use different colors for each die.
If your orange roll is a 4 with a 6 inside you color an orange 4x6 rectangle on your graph paper. We talked about multiplying Length times Width to find square footage.
See if you can fill your page without going over. The kids liked this one because it was kind of like Tetris.
As you can see, Dice in Dice have been a lot of fun for our family. There's also a giant version available.
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