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Dice Games that Build Math Skills

Your kids can become high rollers in math with these snappy dice games.

  • Grades: 3–5

FRACTION COMPARE

  • What it teaches: Comparing the value of fractions; greater-than and less-than symbols
  • Number of players: Entire class
  • What you’ll need: 4 interactive whiteboard dice (try teacherled.com), paper and pencil

How to play: Review that a fraction represents a part (numerator) of a whole (denominator). Explain that an improper fraction will always have a value greater than a proper one. Prepare individual playing boards with several of the following fraction bars and greater-than and less-than symbols: 
1. ——  > ——        2. ——  < —— 

Now, begin round one! Divide your class into two teams and roll the dice. Students must race to decide where to place the four numbers to make the first statement true. The first student to raise his hand and correctly defend his answer wins a point for his team. (Use movable numbers on the whiteboard so students can quickly share ideas.) Keep track of the winning team from each round, then declare a champion when time is up.


MULTIPLICATION BINGO

  • What it teaches: Multiplication facts
  • Number of players: 2
  • What you’ll need: 2 interactive whiteboard dice and 4 regular dice per pair; multiplication chart with the factors removed

How to play: Ask a student to roll the dice on the whiteboard. Tell everyone that the sum of the dice is going to be the first factor. Next, ask students to roll their own dice. They should add the sum of their dice to get the second factor. Have them multiply that number by the one on the board to get the product. Each student should shade in his or her own product on a multiplication chart. To play different games like Make an X, Horizontal Row, or Fill the Whole Page, copy more than one chart on each piece of paper.


HUMAN BATTLESHIP

  • What it teaches: Coordinate pairs
  • Number of players: Entire class
  • What you’ll need: 4 interactive whiteboard dice (place two positive/negative dice to the left of two regular dice, so when rolled an ordered pair appears), yarn and masking tape, index cards

How to play: This game can be played on graph paper, but it’s much more fun to use students as playing pieces! Before class begins, make a coordinate grid with taped-down yarn on the floor. Use index cards to label the X and Y axes with positive and negative numbers (1–6). Divide your class into two teams (boys versus girls works well). Let five kids from each team stand somewhere on the coordinate grid. Now, have a girl roll the four dice. What she rolls will be a coordinate pair (e.g., -4, 3). If a student is standing on the coordinate pair rolled, they’re out! If no one is standing on the coordinate pair, place a two-color counter on the board to mark the place. Teams take turns rolling the dice, and the game is over when all members from one team have been torpedoed!


P/C TOWERS

  • What it teaches: The difference between prime and composite numbers
  • Number of players: 2
  • What you’ll need: 2 regular dice per pair, one 10 x 10 1-inch-square paper grid for each pair, one marker or crayon for each pair

How to Play: With one of the crayons, let students divide their own 10 x 10 grid paper into five playing boards with two vertical towers of 10 squares for each game. Ask them to write “P” for “Prime” under one of the towers and “C” for “Composite” under the other. The object of the game is to be the first to fill both towers with prime and composite numbers from the bottom up. On each turn, players roll the dice and have three numbers to choose from. For example, if a 2 and a 3 are rolled, the player has the option of writing the number 23 or 32, or he may add the two digits together to get the number 5. The students should write the number at the bottom of its respective tower. If a player rolls numbers already written, she loses her turn; if she rolls doubles, she gets another turn, and if she rolls “snake eyes,” she gets to place an “X” in either tower as a free space and roll again. The first to the top of both towers is the winner!


MULTIPLE-TATO!

  • What it teaches: Counting by multiples
  • Number of players: Entire class
  • What you’ll need: 3 regular dice

How to play: Ask students to sit in a big circle on the floor. Give one die each to two students sitting next to each other in the circle. Tell each student to roll their die and shout out the number they rolled, then pass their die to the person next to them, so the dice get passed around the circle in opposite directions at the same time. The next two students simply say the multiple of the first number rolled, then pass the dice, without rolling, as quickly as they can. Play continues until the dice come back together on the other side of the circle. Whoever is the last person to say their multiple will wind up with both dice and must leave the game. (As the original circle becomes smaller, you can start a new game with those who are out.) When there are only three players left at the end of the game, have each roll a die. The first one to count to 20 or above by their multiple is the winner! 

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