Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ways I use dice in my classroom

Sarah H. recently posted a photo of some items she got from a colleague, mostly large foam dice.  She asked how she can use the dice in her trig class.  I thought that was a great question and I decided to write about several ways I use dice in my class.

1. Teaching probability.  Duh.

2. Using this game board.  I can turn a set of questions into a deck of cards and students can play the game.  Everyone in the group does the problem individually, they discuss as a group, anyone with a correct answer rolls.  I'm always amazed at how much more willing kids are to do the same work when I disguise it as a game.  There are 4 versions of the board in this file: with or without directions and either in color or black and white. 

3. Assign meaning to each side of the die by typing up a key.  Students roll the dice and do the associated action.  Examples: operations on polynomials (add, subtract, multiply, divide, classify, factor, etc), trig functions (sin, cos, tan, sec, csc, cot). Here's one I used for quadratic functions that uses 6- and 12-sided dice (though you can easily change it so as not to need 12-sided dice).  Thanks to my best friend for a donation of cool dice from her Dungeons and Dragons days. 

4. This one is still not classroom-tested, so proceed carefully.  I tested it at home and I think it's a green light.  Mailing labels (like Avery 5160) are able to stick to the foam dice I bought at Dollar Tree and also unstick neatly.  That means I could write questions, equations, terms, etc. and print them on labels to stick to the dice.  At the end of the activity, I can remove the labels (possibly stick them back on the sheet for next year) and reuse the dice for a later activity.

5. As a French teacher, I've made a class set of subject pronoun dice by taking a Sharpie to some foam dice.  These big dice (roughly 2.5") are in two-packs at Dollar Tree.  I've seen red, blue, black, and yellow.

Do you use dice in your classroom?  How?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B


  1. Kathryn: I would like your permission to share these dice activities with teachers I work with in New Mexico. I will cite your blog so that they can find more delicious ideas! thank you--
    Mary Kim Schreck

    1. Mary Kim, please feel free to share these ideas with your colleagues. I post my ideas in the hopes that they will help other teachers and their students. Thanks for asking!

  2. Great ideas! In #2 do you provide the solutions to the students, or do they determine who has the correct solution through their discussion?

    1. Hi April,
      I usually provide an answer key but if my class is doing particularly well (or I'm particularly swamped) I tell them that if they can't reach consensus, I'll be the judge. With 4 students in a group, they're pretty much always able to come to the right answer or at least recognize that they don't know it and need help.
      Thanks for asking!