Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dice games: Quick and fun mental math practice

I was looking through ThinkFun's games today (because they have so many awesome ones!), and found one called Math Dice (Amazon affiliate link here).  The idea is that you roll 2 twelve-sided dice and multiply them to get your target number, and then roll 3 six-sided dice.  You want to use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to get as close as you can to the target number.  They also have a version for younger kids (Amazon affiliate link here) that only uses addition and subtraction.

Unlike most other ThinkFun games, I don't think it makes sense to buy these, as all you really need are the dice.  I instead encourage you to buy an assortment of dice (here's an example via Amazon affiliate link) which you can use for many different games!

I wanted to note a few things about dice games:
  • Most can also be played with a deck of playing cards (like this), but there are subtle differences when playing with dice... previous roles don't effect your chances, you don't need a flat surface (rolling them in a tupperware container works well), etc.  
  • Look for games that have some strategy involved in addition to practicing mental math.  
  • Customize games to your child's skill level by modifying the allowed operations, number of dice, and type of dice. You can even invent a new game! 
  • Dice games are great for when you have just a few minutes to fill - a round goes by very quickly, and you can easily bring them with you anywhere. 
  • Sets of dice made for D&D and other role-playing games work really well for math games too!
  • Spend some time looking at the shapes of the various dice.  Why did they chose those numbers? Could you make a fair seven-sided die? Note that most of the ones in sets are Platonic Solids

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