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April 02, 2020

Easy Math Games with Dice

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is nothing like the genius that is the Montessori math materials. Nothing. If I can give my kids anything, it is the concrete understanding of the mathematical world that Montessori brings. That being said, I can't have all the math materials in my home. I just can't. I don't have that kind of space, experience, or money. What I can do is try to provide opportunities for concrete math experiences that support their learning at school - especially now when we find ourselves suddenly homeschooling for the foreseeable future. 

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One way that we have done this lately with Nora (5 years) and Henry (9 years) is with dice games. Both are at very different stages in their math journeys but can use this same material to meet their needs. It's a very simple set up including: 
  • 10 sided dice. These dice have number 0 to 9 on them so they work really well. Regular dice also work they just can't build as big of numbers. 
  • Number tiles. Ours were from a thrift store and are glass, but really any number cards would work. You could try a wooden option, or even making numbers with paper. 
  • Tray. Keep it all organized!
There are two ways that we use this material for the bigger kids. One is for slightly younger kids, once they are very familiar with concrete number work but still working on the abstract language of building numbers. 

Building Numbers (4 to 6 years) 

Nora is at this stage. She understands numbers and even can do fairly complicated functions. But she is still learning the language of numbers and remembering to build them from left to right. So, for her this game is about language. She rolls the dice and then builds that number from the tiles. Then she has to name the number she makes. 

So here, she rolled. Made the 65 and then has to say "sixty-five." She's learning that it's not the same number to put the 5 first and remembering the proper name for "six tens." Over time, we will add in the other dice from the set so she is building and naming bigger and bigger numbers with ease. 

Math Facts (6 to 9 years)

Now, for Henry, he is very comfortable with the language of numbers but he is working on other skills - memorizing math facts. He is personally on multiplication, but other children might be working on addition or subtraction. We used a variation on this game for years to help make facts fun and concrete. So what we do is roll the dice and then he has to build the sum of the numbers shown. 

Since children in the second plane often like working together and games, I will often also roll and we will record our totals. Then after a certain number of rounds, we will add up who got the highest total. It creates an additional larger math work into a fun and concrete game. 

These Montessori inspired activities are perfect educational ways to bring math into your home for older kids. This easy setup helps to make math concrete and fun.

And that's it! It's an easy way to incorporate some math into your home whether your kids are in school or not. How do you bring math skills into your home with your older kids? 


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