Monday, December 12, 2011

Three Dice Games Your Kids Will Love

One thing I love about dice is that they're portable. Throwing some dice and pencil and paper into a bag takes only a second. Dice games are a great way to entertain kids while sneaking a little learning in too. (Grammatical note: I plan to use "dice" in this article as both singular and plural, following what has become common practice.)

Dice encourage kids to learn how to manipulate numbers. Playing dice games is a good way for children to learn game skills like taking turns, staying on task, mentally adding numbers, observing others' game play and keeping/recording scores.

Another useful thing about dice is with kids' own invented games. Including dice will add an element of chance which the young creator can factor in. Making new games is a wonderful activity for kids - it provides opportunities for the development of all sorts of learning skills. Read more about the process in my article, It's Fun to be Frugal.

Here are some dice games I like:

Tower: I invented this game for my Kindergarten kids. It's simple enough for pre-schoolers to play, provided they can count dots to 6. As well as dice, you'll need some blocks that can be added to each other vertically to build a tower. You can play with two or more people.

The aim of the game is to build a tower that doesn't collapse. The first child throws the dice, takes that number of blocks and begins his own tower. Second/third child follows suit. The child with the last tower standing "wins". Try again.

With older kids, you could add another dice and have a possible total of 12 per throw. The kinds of blocks you use will make a difference to the game eg wooden blocks vs Lego vs Unifix. Joinable blocks will perhaps begin to lean and fall - experiment and ask kids to predict which will work best.

I know it's simple, but young kids need simple games. Most children love to try balancing blocks on top of each other, so this is where the fun part comes in. Meanwhile, they're practising one-to-one correspondence with dots and blocks.

Pig: I love Pig because of the risk-taking, and because it can be played with enjoyment by kids and adults together. There's a little Maths involved, because children must add their scores. Read the rules and a sample game in this wikipedia article.

Yahtzee: The boxed game of Yahtzee is reasonably priced, or look for it at Garage Sales or markets. If you lose some of your game, or run out of the score pad, make your own version and print it off using this wikipedia article as a guide. Basically, the game involves throwing five dice at a time, in an attempt to get different poker-related combinations of dice.

Lost the dice you thought were in the games cupboard? Never fear! Here's a dice simulator. The same site describes some other dice games, including Beetle and Craps. Education World have many card and dice games to practise Maths skills. KBConnected has many excellent links to dice resources.

Next time you're taking a trip, don't just pack the books and snacks, add some dice, and pencil and paper!

You might also like to read More Dice Games for Kids.

Original public domain image above from Wikimedia Commons, added to by Book Chook at Picnik. 


  1. We've been playing Yahtzee lately. My eight year old son loves it. I hope we can get some visiting family to play too over Christmas break. We were able to find game sheets online and print copies.
    We'll have to check out some of the links you shared here. I'm going to share this post and your It's Fun to Be Frugal post in a few places online today. As always, you are sharing valuable information. Thanks for sharing this post at We Teach for this week's Weekly Blogger Share.

  2. @Michelle Breum I hope you can teach him to play Pig - it's great fun!

  3. I agree simple games teach many valuable skills. These are practical and easy for others to use. Thank you, Carolyn

  4. Thanks for visiting, Carolyn!

  5. I used an adaptation of the game "Pig" for my "peer teaching" lesson plan on probability! I posted about it a while ago, and also about the giant dice I made for the game. Dice games are definitely a great way to practice math!

  6. I saw your giant dice on your blog, Angel - loved it!

  7. I love that you even have a dice game for preschoolers! We'll try tower. My husband will be off for a week 1/2 over Christmas break. I'm sure that would be an awesome daddy/son game!

  8. It really would be I'm sure, Jackie! Have a wonderful Christmas!


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