Spaghetti Box Kids

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Math Games with Dice

November 10th, 2009 · 12 Comments

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:

math games for kidsHighest 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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12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 rosebelle // Nov 10, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    My third grade daughter isn’t good in math and at the last teacher parent conference, it was the main concern her teacher and I talked about. She’s learning multiplication, division, and measurements right now. I will try this dice game to improve her math skills and hopefully to get her to enjoy math.

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Nov 10, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    The multiplication games should be about right for her. I didn’t include any division games. Maybe you’ll have the chance to invent some. Good luck—

  • 3 Catherine // Nov 11, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Children will certainly be enjoying maths with these games and knowledgeable too. Dice and card games are great for helping with math skills.

  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Nov 11, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    That’s a good point about card games. You really can’t go wrong there–it’s pure pattern recognition.

  • 5 DW // Feb 19, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I’m sure all the tips you’ve got unveiled on your article are truly effective and definitely perform. However, the content are far too rapid for starters. Could a person please increase these people slightly via next occasion? Appreciate your post.

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    DW- Thank for stopping in & sharing your thoughts. As I mention in bold print before the games, the activities range from simple to advanced. The first game consists of each player rolling a die. The highest number wins. I can’t imagine what a more simple game would look like. Anyway, I appreciate your comment. -AV

  • 7 Lyn Armstrong // Mar 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Great ideas! If you will have your child place the dice in one “cupped” hand and place the other “cupped” hand over the top of the dice and hand, it will help improve the hand’s muscles.

    (To cup your hand, scrunch the fingers together until there is a cup in your hand like you would do for holding water in your hand…)

  • 8 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 27, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Lyn- Thanks for sharing that suggestion for developing hand muscles. I appreciate your input. All the Best–AV

  • 9 suzie q // Apr 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    i thought the games were too simple but they get really complex i’m impressed with all the levels

  • 10 KIm // Jun 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Nice job with these games. Our house needs more math games, and these look like lots of fun. Thanks!

  • 11 Pam // Jun 10, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Great post! Thanks for the ideas. Your site is packed with great family educational activities. I come here often!

  • 12 Lori // Jul 1, 2016 at 10:58 am

    First, thank you. The dice games work great for my middle school students. I’m having difficulty in find math games for Middle school (6-8) using cards. Any help would be appreciated.
    Out of options,

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