Posts Tagged With: math

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

Make Your Own Geoboards For Kids!


We love our geoboard, made with a pegboard and 1″ machine bolts and nuts.  Grab some rubber bands for some fun with designs and shapes!

A geoboard is, basically, a board with pegs (nails or screws) poking out on which kids can make designs, shapes and angles by stretching rubber bands between 2 or more of the pegs.  It is a WONDERFUL tool for having fun creating pictures, and also a great tactile experience for teaching hexagons, pentagons etc.  This is another project that does not require kids to learn every angle and the exact names of each shape, although they can learn more that we’d think!  The act of stretching out designs stimulates the mathematical parts of a brain.

From Wikipedia: “A geoboard is a mathematical manipulative used to explore basic concepts in plane geometry such as perimeter, area and the characteristics of triangles and other polygons.  It consists of a physical board with a certain number of nails half driven in, around which are wrapped rubber bands.  Geoboards were invented and popularized in the 1950’s by Egyptian mathematician Caleb Gattegno (1911-1988).” 

If I read this description to Captain she would probably just walk away.  It isn’t about pushing geometry.  It just brings up one of my favorite things about our idea of homeschooling/unschooling:  brushing up against stimulating ideas with a tactile experience, and letting the crumbs fall where they may.

There are lots of ideas floating around online, and also educators could direct us more, as to various teaching methods using the geoboard.  Our personal favorites are to just have fun making shapes and designs, and also to make a particular shape and name it (square, pentagon etc.)  It is also a fun exercise to make a small shape like a square, and then make the exact shape bigger…

Geoboards can be purchased online, and in educational stores, starting at about 4 bucks for a small, plastic square with plastic pegs, and the price goes up from there.  Many people recycle a scrap of wood and pound in nails until they are poking out about an inch.  We used a pegboard with 1″ machine bolts and nuts.  The machine bolts differ from regular bolts in that they have a flat tip, not pointy.  When we no longer need the geoboard, we will use the pegboard in the barn for tools and the machine screws for another project. We have found that a bigger size (12×12 or larger) is best because it is sturdier and allows for more creative freedom to make cool designs and shapes.  We thought the little plastic geoboards seem too small.  We planned to mount ours onto the wall (they are quite appealing on a wall as a little “station”) but Captain has had so much fun with it on a table, or in her lap, that we are leaving it loose about the cabin for now.  We have a big jar of rubber bands on hand for activities.  It is important to note that rubber bands should only be used by kids who will not swallow them and that can learn to not snap themselves in the eye!

If you have a geoboard, or plan to make one, and have any cool activities to share, we would love to hear about them here on kartwheels.

Good thoughts and happy hexagons,


Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects, Math Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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