This simple and fun math game is a great way to help preschoolers (and older kids, too!) practice counting, addition, and other basic math skills while competing to win the “dice wars.”
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Little Man has been a big fan of playing games for over a year now. He goes through phases where he wants to play the same game over and over, until I have to hide it somewhere to save my sanity (just kidding, I would never do that…maybe).
Lately his obsession has been with alphabet go fish, which he got for Christmas. It’s a great little game really, or at least it was the first 200 times we played it. But last week I just couldn’t handle it anymore. So, I created a new game that I hoped he would like enough to give me a break from going fishing for a few days at least.
What I came up with was (thankfully) a huge success. Little Man not only loved it, but I realized that it was a great way for him to practice a lot of the math skills we’ve been focusing on recently.
It all started with the game Tenzi, which we got for Christmas last year. Little Man loves playing “the dice” game where each player has ten dice and tries to get all of them to be the same number before the other players can do so.
Side note: Tenzi is a great game! It’s simple enough that a three-year-old can play, but entertaining for adults, too. There are a bunch of different ways to play to make it more or less complex for older or younger players. I highly recommend it.
Anywho, we play Tenzi pretty regularly, and sometimes when we’re done with the official game, we’ll just play around with the dice in different ways. Last week, I came up with the idea of playing “war” (you know the old card game), but with dice. I explained it like tug-of-war to Little Man, and we had a great time. We played it several times and have tweaked the rules a bit as we’ve gone along to make it extra fun.
We use our Tenzi dice to play, but you could steal dice out of other board games you have, or buy one of these big bags of dice that can be used for all sorts of games and activities.
Wanna learn to play? Read the directions below!
What we’re learning:
- number identification
- addition & subtraction
- correlation between numbers and items being counted
- greater than/less than
- 2-4 dice (we use our Tenzi game)
- 10 small counters (we used pebbles, but you could use pennies, buttons, Goldfish crackers, etc.)
- Each player starts with 2 dice and 5 rocks (or other counters).
- The objective of the game is to capture all of the other player’s rocks.
- On the count of three, both players roll their dice. Each player adds up the sum of his/her two dice, and whoever has a higher number gets to “steal” a rock from the other player.
- Continue playing until one player has ALL 10 rocks. In our experience, it took 10-15 minutes for each game. If that’s too long for your child’s attention span, you can set a timer and declare the winner to be the person with the most rocks when it goes off.
- We decided that getting doubles trumps any other number, and you get to steal TWO rocks from the other player (This rule helps the game go faster, I think).
- For younger kids, you can just use one die each and focus on number identification instead of addition. For older kids, try using three!
- You could practice subtraction instead of addition skills. Subtract the smaller number from the bigger number, and the player with the larger difference gets to steal a rock from the other player.
If you play this game, let me know how it goes and whether you come up with any other fun variations. We’re always looking for more ways to play!
Do you know any fun ways to play and learn with dice? Share them below!