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Dicing with digits

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By Thelma Page a freelance education writer and retired teacher.

Quick and easy dice games to occupy early finishers or fill a few spare minutes


Three’s company (Reception)

Objective: recognise numbers 1-3.

You will need: a dice numbered 1-3.

  • Think of three actions that children could do and assign a number to them. For example: 1 means ‘put one hand in the air’. 2 means ‘clap your hands together’ and 3 means ‘show me three fingers’.
  • With the children sitting in a circle, take it in turns to roll the dice. Ask the child who rolled the dice to say the number. Then everyone does the action. Hidden number (Y1)

Objective: practise number bonds of 7.

You will need: a large 1-6 dice.

  • Sit in a circle. Place the dice in the centre of the circle with the ‘1’ digit uppermost. Ask the children to say the numbers they can see around the sides. Ask: Which number is missing? Establish that it is the 6. Now get the children to add the two numbers (6+1) and tell you the total.
  • Repeat the activity, this time with the number 2 uppermost. Work out that 5 is the number underneath. Add these numbers together. Continue by changing the number on top to 3, 4, 5 and 6 in order. Encourage the children to predict the number underneath without having to say what they can see around the other sides.
  • Finally, let the children take turns to roll the dice, and to say the number underneath. End the session by asking: How can you tell which number is underneath? Praise the children for making a generalised statement.

How many more? (Y1/2)

Objective: reinforce number bonds (ideal for plenary revision).

You will need: one, two or three dice with spots or numbers.

  • Use one dice for number bonds between 7 and 12. Ask the children to take turns in rolling the dice. Instead of saying the number they can see, they must say the addition to make an agreed total. For example, for number bonds to 10, if the dice shows a 3 then the child must say ‘3 and 7 make 10’.
  • If you use two or three dice the children must add the two numbers together first, and then say the addition to reach the total. For example, three dice show the digits 1, 5 and 6. The child adds the numbers to get 12, then says ‘12 and 8 make 20’.
  • To finish, work out the highest and lowest possible totals you can get with the dice you are using. What is the highest and lowest number you need to add to get the target total?

Take a chance (Y1/2)

Objective: practise and reinforce mental addition.

You will need: two or three dice for each player.

  • Give two children two or three dice each. Ask them to roll the dice and add the numbers. The person with the highest total wins. You can change the criteria for winning. For example, the lowest wins, the person with a total closest to 7 wins, and so on.

Make a number (Y2)

Objective: practise place values.

You will need: two 1-6 dice for each player.

  • Give two children two dice each (use dice with numbers rather than spots). Ask both children to throw their dice, then make the highest number they can. For example, if they throw 5 and 3 they can make 35 or 53. You can vary this by asking them to make the lowest possible total, or the number as close as possible to, say, 33.
  • To finish, ask the children to say the highest number they can make with two numbers (66) and the lowest (11).
  • For more able children, include a third dice for each child and ask them to say numbers in hundreds, tens and units.


  1. Mags99
    on 21 March 2010

    Useful Ideas for Infant maths

    These activities are good ways to get the children to practise what they’ve learned in a motivating ways, and they are simple to set up.

    Thank you”!

    5out of 5


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