All schools have a pot of dice sitting somewhere at the back of a dusty cupboard, or on a shelf that's every so slightly out of every day reach. If your dice are collecting dust, here's 6 reasons why you should be using your dice to play games in Maths.
1. It's Fun!
We want children to feel positively towards maths from the beginning of their school journey. Regardless of age, we all love to play a game that is both fun and engaging. Children don’t usually feel threatened during games and are far more likely to take mathematical risks when they don’t fear being ‘wrong’.
2. Perfect for Homework
As teachers, we often have doubts about the suitability of the maths we send home with our pupils - will the parents understand what to do? What if they teach the children a different method to what they have been taught in school? Will it lead to arguments where children resist ‘working at home’? What do we do if the children do not complete the work?
Games are a way to connect home and school through a non-threatening shared learning activity. They give families the opportunity to talk about maths and can give the parent insight into their child’s mathematical thinking. Children can play with siblings, parents, grandparents…
3. Building Reasoning Skills
Dice games are open to adaptation and variation. They can be easily changed to suit the needs of individual pupils or the number of players involved from 2 children to a whole class. The ability to adapt a game helps to promote an enquiring classroom. Children can test out ideas such as what happens if I change one rule? What happens if I start in the corner? What can I do to maximise my chances of winning?
Games encourage strategic thinking as children develop and notice relationships, patterns and connections.
4. Opportunities to Assess
Games provide fantastic opportunities for formative assessment. Once your class is fully engaged in playing the game, you are free to look, listen and question. Often, this can provide the teacher with rich evidence of a pupil’s conceptual understanding – far more than a written response in their exercise books or test result.
5. Dice for All
Most dice games require no more than a dice or two, pencil and paper. With school budgets being squeezed, games with complicated accessories are in short supplies so fall back on the dice to help you through! Dice are an integral part of primary maths classrooms and, if you really can't lay your hands on any, there are plenty of free online dice apps (although we believe there's nothing better than the hands-on equipment!)
6. Purposeful Noise
Games help children to develop their skills of collaboration. They learn to take turns, listen, challenge and talk. Often meaningful dialogue and mathematical modelling occurs between players as they strive for victory.
With careful questioning and support by the adults, learning happens between players rather than between teacher and child. Children articulate and apply their ideas in a mathematical context.
So why not try a couple of dice games next week in your classroom and see what you and your pupils find out?