How To Improve Your Child's Math Skills Using Dice

Hand-on Fun with Dice

Hand-on math has always been a favorite of mine. There are many programs set up that use this concept. Schools spend a fortune buying kits that have all of the necessary items included, and this is quite helpful to teachers. They have their materials and don't have to spend precious time searching for and collecting them. 

We'll cover some simple games in this article, but if you're really interested in learning how to use math games to improve your child's comprehension then I suggest picking up a few education courses online.

Parents can also use such materials at home, and I think will be surprised to learn just how many they already have available. Parents, I want to share in this writing how dice can be used in a variety of ways.

If you don't have dice available, use wooden or even foam cubes. Write the numbers or dots on them, and they work just as good. If you are working with dice and want your child to see numbers instead of dots, take a "sticky dot" or even tape, cover the dots, and write the numbers.

Step 1

Adding with dice. Depending on skill level, let the child roll two or more dice. Have the child add the dots or numbers shown. You can give points for each correct answer. Award accordingly if you want.

Step 2

Multiplying with dice. The child would roll two dice and multiply the numbers. Here are some embellishments.

  • Working on a particular set of tables: If your child is learning the 4's, for example, make dice for die will just have a 4 on it and the other will have numbers 0-5 or 6-11.
  • Combining skills for greater difficulty: Give the child two dice of the same color, and one of another color. The child could add the two same-colored dice together, and then multiply the sum by the number on the other die.
  • Advanced: As in above, more dice of the same color can be used. Add up the numbers of each color, and then have your child use paper and pencil to multiply the factors. More fun would be the use of a small white marker board. Old socks and washcloths make great erasers!

Step 3

Place-value exercises.

  • Ones and tens place: Use two dice. Have your child roll the dice. On marker board, or paper, have them write the largest and smallest number using the two numbers or dots shown.
  • Ones, tens, hundreds: Use three dice and same instructions as above.
  • Ones, tens, hundreds, thousands: use four, etc. Continue adding dice as skill level increases.

Make sure your child uses commas when she writes out the number. Have your child repeat the words ones, tens, hundreds, etc. as they do these exercises.

Step 4

Value of a given digit in a number. There is a difference in place value and the value of a digit in the number.

Using the same basic procedures as in Step 3, have your child refer to the value of a digit in the numbers made. For example, in the number 3,594 the value of the 3 is 3,000; the value of the 5 is 500; the value of the 9 is 90; and the value of the 4 is 4. You may write a number and underline a single digit...then ask your child its value.

Step 5

Expanded form. My way of explaining was to imagine stretching a rubberband. After Step 4, you can have a child write numbers in expanded form. Example: 3,562 in expanded form is 3,000 + 500 + 60 + 2.

Step 6

Standard form. This is the opposite of expanded form. The standard form is the way we see numbers written. For example: 3000 + 500 + 60 + 2 equals 3,562.

All of the steps can be generated from using dice or homemade cubes. It is important, also, that your child is familiar with the key words. I hope you have success and fun with my suggestions...and don't forget to check out a few online education classes for even more ideas!


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I think if more parents would try simple ideas like these, we would see fewer children struggling so badly with math in the early years.

By Sandy Fleming