Dice are a fun toy we can use in a lot of different games. That’s because when you throw dice, you don’t know what will happen. A die is just a cube, a shape that has 6 flat square sides, or “faces.” Each face has some number of dots on it: one side has 1 dot, another has 2 dots, and so on up to 6 dots. The die can land with any of those faces pointing up. That tells you how many spaces to move in a board game, or whether you rolled a bigger number than your friend. And here’s a cool fact: on most dice, the two sides opposite each other always add up to 7. Find a die or two and check it out!
Wee ones: Find a box in your room that has 6 faces (flat sides). See if you can count them all.
Little kids: One side of a die has 2 rows of 3 dots in each. They’re sometimes called “railroad tracks.” How many dots are there in total? Bonus: Opposite sides on a die add up to 7. If you’re looking at the side with 5 dots on it, how many dots are on the opposite side?
Big kids: If you roll 4 dice, what’s the biggest number of dots you can roll in total? Bonus: If you roll a 3, 4, 5 and 6, which die would have to change to a 2 for your total to be 14?
Wee ones: Count the 6 faces…remember to count the back side and the bottom!
Little kids: 6 dots. Bonus: 2 dots.
Big kids: 24. Bonus: You rolled 18, so to get 14 you need to lower the total by 4. So you change the 6 to a 2.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.