Monday, August 12, 2013

Learning with Dice

The dice the kids play with are only about half of our collection. We have such an enormous collection of dice because we are avid gamers. But the kids really enjoy playing with them as well and we have used them to create several different activities to help them learn. For this particular set up, I used a chips and dip tray (one of our many different types of trays we use for sensory play), some small containers, a few recycled toilet paper rolls and a measuring spoon for scooping. Dice add a fun sensory element to this learning activity and are often added to our numbers, shapes and colours sensory bins.  

Bean immediately reached into the dice pool and scooped up a handful. She rolled them a few times and would exclaim excitedly whenever she thought she got a good roll. :) She would try reading the numbers or counting the dots, but she has a hard time remembering the different amounts to try and add them up.

There was a lot of scooping and pouring, which is a great activity for fine motor development. It also helps them with coordination and control.

Bean ended up sorting most of the dice, which is something she does on her own with no prompts from me. She sorted them by type of dice, and in the case of the D6's, she sorted them by size.

Munchkin used the toilet paper roll like a funnel so they could drop dice through them. This became a game to them and they took turns holding the "dice tunnel" while the other sibling drops or pours dice through it.

They took turns filling up the dip holder and overflowing it like a dice volcano. There were many colourful eruptions!

They stacked the dice (another great fine motor activity).

Bean counted and lined up the dice in order. We have 4 sided to 20 sided dice, although she doesn't often go past 10. You can use dice in many math activities, but for now we just use them to practice counting. You can either use the number or dots on the dice, or use the whole die to represent a unit. For instance, a 10 sided dice on the number 5 could represent 5 units of 10 or 10 units of 5. Did you know they have 100 sided dice? Pretty crazy.

We used the dice to make prints in Playdough. You can press specific numbers and shapes or just create your own designs. We love making playdough and go through so much of it because it is always so fun to play with!

You can use dice to create patterns, either using colours or different sided dice or both. We kept it simple and made a few colour patterns using green and purple dice. If you are doing a shapes pattern, you can use D4's and D6's for triangles and squares.

Lining them up in order is a little bit harder if you have to count all of the dots! But it's good practice and Bean did a great job.

Bean used the different sized D6's to create bigger squares and rectangles. We talked about comparing sizes (small-medium-large, tiny-big, etc.) and used some dice of the same size to create a bigger shape. She kept adding to them until she ran out of dice of that type. She said, "it gets bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER!" with so much excited and was so disappointed when she ran out of dice (apparently we need more, haha). But then she began using them like blocks to create little castles. Dice can help with learning how to balance things, although it can sometimes be pretty difficult. We consider it expert level, at least for their age range. :) (Psst, playdough can be used like mortar to keep them stuck together when you are building! It's quite fun!)

They shared a lot in this activity, which I loved. They kept handing each other the dice they were playing with or the containers they had just filled or emptied. They helped each other to create new things with the dice and were so delighted when they created something that they both really liked. Munchkin is rarely satisfied with any kind of building project having a completion, while Bean is normally happy after she completes one solid layer. So Bean really had to reel him in to end one project and start building on a new one, but luckily they compromised a few times.

Almost all the dice had to be picked up and examined because some were sparkly and others had pretty swirly colours that attracted their attention. 

They separated the dice by colour into a couple different piles. Bean had to help Munchkin with this, but when I prompted her, she began helping and naming the colours of the dice for him. She had him collect the dice and then she would take one, show it to him and tell him the colour and then add it to the pile it belonged in. 

Munchkin and I lined up the dice in order of size (smallest to biggest and biggest to smallest). We based it off the actual size of the dice, not how many sides the dice has. I basically gave him one of every type and then showed him how to line them up and how to compare the different sizes. Bean watched and then tried on her own.

Bean and I also talked about singular and plural objects. One is called a die and a few are called dice. She is very interested in there being "many" of a thing and will try to memorize the singular and plural names of everything. 

There are several other ways to play and learn with dice, but these are our favourites. 

Please always supervise your children. My kids love playing with dice but they know they are not allowed to put them in their mouth. Use your own judgement when introducing dice to a child who is not familiar with them or is still putting things in their mouth. Just be careful and within arms reach and keep your eyes on them so no accidents occur. 

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