Start with 12- by 12- by 12-inch cardboard boxes (two for simple games, three for more advanced). Stuff them with crumpled newspaper or packing peanuts, tape them shut, and cover them with white Con-Tact paper. Make 3 1/2-inch black paper circles with a craft punch or by tracing a jar lid. Glue them in place (refer to a real die for the correct placement).
Dice of any size can be used to practice many math skills, from simple addition to more complex operations. Below are a few games to get you started. To make it a contest, award points for the winner of each round. Challenge your kids to invent new games as their skills grow.
1. Lightning Plus: Roll two or three dice. The first player to correctly state the sum wins.
2. Take It Away: Roll two dice. Subtract the smaller number from the bigger one. Players race to be the first to call out the correct answer.
3. Plus Times: Roll three dice. Add the two smaller numbers and multiply the sum by the largest number. The first mathlete to state the correct answer wins.
The skills it builds: addition, subtraction, and multiplication
Short on time? These games can be played with regular dice, too.
Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.