Monday, March 1, 2010


A definite "must-have" for teaching a variety of math concepts?
Dice! I love the big ones, especially....I got mine at the dollar store a while back. You can also get packs of 10-12 little ones there.The first step is teaching the correct way to roll a die. Get a small cup that the child's hand can cover completely (I used plastic dixie cups in my classroom and will use Q's plastic shot glasses with her). Put the die in the cup, cover with hand and say, "SHAKE, SHAKE, POUR" matching the action to each word. Have a piece of colored construction paper as your "mat" that the die must be "poured" on. Believe me, teaching the procedure for dice shaking will pay off, because you won't have to deal with them rolling all over the floor, being thrown roughly, etc. Spend some time practicing and once your child has the technique, move on!

For toddlers and preschoolers learning to count, decide what action will be done. For example, say "Jumping." The child rolls the die and then jumps however many pips (name of the little dots on the die) come up.

You can add variations to the game by writing several different actions (jump, roll, touch toes, reach up, jumping jacks, turn around, scratch your head, wiggle your nose, give a "high 5", give hugs, give kisses....) on pieces of paper to be drawn out of the bowl. Each participant draws a slip and rolls the die, then completes the drawn action the number of times the die shows.

You can also use this at snacktime! Set out a bowl of goldfish, popcorn, pretzels, cheerios, etc. Each participant rolls the die, takes that number of treats to put on their bowl, and eats while the other participants take turns.

The goal is that with practice your child will have the numbers "automatized." This means that they can look at two dots and not even have to count them--their brain has learned what two looks like.

For older students who are working on addition, provide two die that can be added together. This will help them memorize their addition facts.
When they roll the dice, have them set them next to each other and teach them to say "two plus five is seven." After they grasp this concept, tell them you are going to teach them another way to say it: "two and five equals seven."
The next step is that once the dice are rolled, set one on top of the other and repeat the process.

Children will encounter addition problems that are written both horizontally and vertically, and practicing both ways with the dice, as well as using different styles of wording help expose them to the different ways addition equalities are written.

You can also extend this by throwing in another die! Can your child add three dice toge

You can buy dice with bigger numbers at teacher supply stores once your child is ready for this, or you can also get a wooden cube and draw the pips on yourself. I have seen wooden cubes at Michaels and Hobby Lobby for around 50 cents!