Dice offer so much potential for open ended play and making up new games, all the while practising maths skills. My boys have always been draw to numbers and maths, so a couple of dice keeps them happy and occupied for a while as they experiment with the numbers and come up with different ways to play.
I prefer large sized dice since they are chunky enough for younger siblings to join in without any potential choking hazards, and they are less likely to get lost around the house. We use these large wooden dice from Bigjigs
Math Games with Dice
Here are a few simple dice games to play with two or more dice. You can adjust the number of dice, or the level of difficulty according to your child’s level.
Counting and Number Matching.
You can combine dice with any type of manipulatives, like colourful buttons or counters. Roll the dice, and count out the same number of counters.
Or roll a dice, then find the corresponding number and colour it or stamp it using the roll and stamp printables from Pre-K pages
Roll as many dice as you like and add the totals.
Roll two dice, and subtract the smaller from the bigger. Or the bigger from the smaller if you want to work in minus numbers!
Roll two dice and multiply the numbers together. Children can work against a timer, or challenge themselves to get the highest numbers possible for an added challenge factor.
Challenges to Play with Dice
Countdown Numbers Game
Randomly generate a number, then roll your dice (5 or 6 dice is best for this game) then using the numbers in any combinations you like (adding, taking away, multiplying, dividing) see how close you can get to the target number. This idea is based on the numbers round from the Channel 4 count down game, but rather than generating a 3 digit number, it might be best to work with 1-2 digit target numbers since the numbers available on the dice are smaller.
You can play with 2 dice for an easier version, or up to 5 for older or more advanced children. Each player rolls their dice, then arranges their numbers into whichever place values would produce the highest possible score – for eg: Rolling a 1, 4 and 5 would give you the highest number of 541 and rolling 2 and 3 and 2 would give you 322. This simple game is a fun way to work on understanding place value, and might appeal to children with a competitive side (like my eldest). You can download printable score sheets for this game from Activity Village
Skill and Chance Games with Dice
How to Play Yatzy
These are the rules for Yatzy which is a public domain game and slightly different to Yahtzee
How to Play Shut the Box
I came across this game recently, when you have either 9 or 12 flaps open on a box, with each one labelled from 1-9 (or 12 depending which variety you are going with). The aim is to close all of the flaps on the box. You roll two dice, and then close one of any combination of open numbers that equals the total number of dots showing on the dice. For example if you roll a 5 then you can close 5, or 1 and 4, or 2 and 3. See the full rules here
DIY Board Games
It’s easy to make your own board for a game, and with the addition of a die or two then you have endless entertainment. Here are a few DIY board game ideas that we collected, and we’ve also made boards from empty pizza boxes, or built our own boards from magnetic tiles.
Roll and Build or Roll and Draw
Assign each number to a part of a snowman, or ladybird or a person etc etc – whatever you would like to put together. When you roll each number, add that part of the picture.
Here’s a free printable roll and build a snowman game that we have available to download here on In The Playroom
There are lots of free printable board games online too, that would compliment your wooden dice really well: