One of the simplest ways to improve math skills is to play math games with dice. Kids love these games because the race to answer is energetic and suspenseful. That makes it easy to expand and reinforce a wide range of math skills. Best of all, the games can be tailored to kids of all ages and skill levels.
Here are some math games with dice to get you started. They range from simple to advanced:
Highest Number: This game is perfect for kids who are just learning to count. Each player rolls a die. The highest number wins. If there’s a tie, roll again. (Variation: Each player rolls multiple dice.)
Lightning Addition: Roll multiple dice. The first person to correctly state the sum wins. (Variation: If the number is even you must say, “Once upon a time there was a tricky, sticky number named______”[say the answer].)
Lightning Subtraction: Roll two dice. Subtract the bigger number from the smaller number. First person to call out the correct answer wins. (Variation: Subtract the larger number from the smaller number, then subtract the sum of the two dice. For example, if 7 and 3 are rolled: 7 -3 = 4; now subtract the sum of the two dice: 4 – (7+3) = -6. Therefore, -6 is the answer.)
Multiplication Exploration 1: Roll two dice. The first person to multiply the two numbers and call out the answer wins. (Variation: Use three dice.)
Multiplication Exploration 2: Roll three dice. Add the two smallest numbers and multiply the sum by the largest number. First person to state the answer wins.
Multiplication Exploration 3: Each player rolls two dice. Each player may roll up to three times. The objective is to see who can get closest to 20. If you like your first roll, stop there. If you think you can get closer to 20, roll again. If you are unhappy with that roll, roll again. You must stick with your last roll (whether you rolled once, twice, or three times). Now the other person takes a turn. Closest to 20 wins. (Variation: Play on opposite sides of a table with a cereal box between you so you can’t see the other player’s roll until you compare results.)
Dueling Exponents: Roll two dice. Square each number and subtract the larger number from the smaller. For example, if you roll 5 and 3: 5 squared is 25; 3 squared is 9; 25 – 9 = 16. 16 is the answer. First person to state the answer wins.
Get There By 4s: Roll two dice. Use the larger number for the ten’s value, and the smaller number for the one’s value. For example, 6 and 3 makes 63. Now, get to 63 using four 4’s along with these mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, exponent and factorial. For example, in the case of 63: You could say 43 – 40 + 40 – 40 = 63. (That’s 64 – 1 + 1 -1 = 63). That wasn’t very creative, but it works. Out loud this answer is stated as four to the third minus four to the zero, plus four to the zero, minus four to the zero equals sixty three. Here’s another answer for 63: 41/2 x 4! + 42 – 40 = 63 (That’s 2 x 24 + 16 -1 = 63). Out loud this answer is stated as four to the one half times four factorial, plus four squared, minus four to the zero equals sixty three. First person to state the answer wins.
You can see how easily these math games can grow with your child. Another important aspect to these activities is that they invite invention. In other words, if you get in the habit of playing these games on a regular basis, you’ll find no shortage of ideas concerning new ways to play. And really–what more could you ask for than to have your child inventing math games?
Best of luck!
Related: Strengthen conceptual math skills – learn the Mayan Number System
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