YAHTZEE! Early Education Dice-Play Really Helps Kids With Math!


There is just something about little dotted cubes that stimulate young minds toward math-related concepts in a really fun way.  Kids learn best when they have a tactile experience that is fun!  I’m writing this post because I have seen first-hand how certain teaching concepts really work with a simple set of dice.

We are a family that plays Yahtzee together.  Captain has been around this particular game often throughout her life, especially when Grandma and Grandpa are visiting, and the Yahtzee games turn into full-fledged tournaments. In fact, Captain actually sat down with her Grandpa a few months ago and played for 2 hours.  It was her first time actually playing her own game.  In the beginning, Grandpa had to keep her on track and kept patiently explaining how she had three rolls to try to come up with a suitable combination.  Midway through, she was making her own decisions and doing everything except adding them up.  It was amazing!


Here she is getting her very first Yahtzee (5 of the same number)

It isn’t just the game of Yahtzee that works.  Playing with the dice with little ones in itself is a terrific stimulator, and then slowly working up from there, as time goes on, does wonders.  Here are some suggestions for simple early education games to teach kids with dice:

  1. Roll a dice.  What number comes before? After?
  2. Is the number even or odd?
  3. Have a piece of paper and pencil handy.  Write the numbers in a different way.  For example, if the child rolls a “6”, have them write the number “6” on the paper etc.
  4. Roll a dice.  What number is ten more?  One less?
  5. Write the numbers 1-6 on small pieces of paper (or use flashcards).  Have the child roll a die and match it to the written number.
  6. Play “Add ‘Em Up”:  Set a goal of 100.  Have the child roll dice to start the game.  The parent will add the numbers as the game goes on.  As the child keeps rolling, point to each dot on the die while counting and add it to your total.  You don’t have to count super slowly, or even make sure that they understand every addition!  It about the stimulation and fun.  It all “goes in there” somewhere and adds to the natural learning process.
  7. If you have a lot of dice around, at least 10 or more, play “Dice Explosion!”  Simply have the child shake all of the dice around and let them “explode” onto the floor.  Then the scramble is on to try to sort them into like groups.  This could be a good release of tension, if there is no pressure to do it too fast…
  8. Play games like “Yahtzee”.  It might be too much for little kids, but I have seen it help kids, teenagers and even adults with their basic adding skills.  Let them try!

There are lots of resources available online for games for older kids and for more advanced concepts.  Just keep those dice rolling!  Definitely check out Shannon Dipple’s article entitled Math Games Using Dice on Primary Education Oasis.  She rocks!

Thanks for reading!  Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Math Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Post navigation

10 thoughts on “YAHTZEE! Early Education Dice-Play Really Helps Kids With Math!

  1. Miriam

    Nicky (now 7) went through a big Yahtzee phase around a year ago. He tends to get really into one game and then we play it over and over until he tires of it. He still doesn’t do any formal math (i have some workbooks, and I offer occasionally) but he plays tons of games and is always doing math in his head.

    • I love hearing this!!! Because we live in such a remote area and classes/activities are so hard to find, we enrolled Captain in a charter just for awhile so that she could attend the enrichment classes that she loves. Unfortunately this came with core math sheets that have really been terrible. I have experienced first hand that kids DO NOT benefit from having math forced on them.. they learn on their own, as your child is continuing to do. We are super excited to be done with the classes in a month and celebrate our unschooling (forever I hope!) with a Greek Mythology Fest 🙂 Thanks for writing and I would love to know what games Nicky plays! Have you done a post on what games he likes? I would be first in line to read!

  2. Charlotte

    I love making maths fun too – something my mum never managed as it terrified her (in her school they were taught basic maths and told women wouldn’t need more!). My girl learnt counting playing snakes and ladders and counting the squares to move..we knew she was competent when she started cheating lol

    • Your girl is a hoot, and “Snakes & Ladders” sounds waaaay more fun than “Chutes & Ladders”!

      • Charlotte

        Chutes and ladders? Wow do they call it different things in different places? I never knew that – I’ve learned something today!

      • Charlotte, I had to look it up because I never knew it was called different things in different places too! Here’s what I found out, in a nutshell:
        Snakes and Ladders is an ancient game that originated in India. It was originally called “Ladder to Salvation”. Then, it made its way to England and was sold as “Chutes & Ladders”, then game pioneer Milton Bradley brought it to the U.S. in 1943 as “Chutes & Ladders”. Wow. I had no idea. Still think the snakes sound more fun!!

      • Charlotte

        😀 Awesome – thank you for finding that out…I’m going to tell my girl when she gets home, she is like me and loves a good fact for afternoon tea 😀 I suppose England wasn’t keen on the native snakes lol

  3. He’s answering these questions right now, working with two teens and a pair of dice. =)

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: