Saturday, 18 January 2014

DIY Dice - Idea #1

In a previous post, I talked about filling your classroom with math visuals and manipulatives for little, to no money. One of my suggestions was making your own dice...quiet dice that is!

I found some great foam cubes at my local Dollar Tree, grabbed myself a fine-tip Sharpie, summoned my creativeness, and came up with a few different ways to use them in my math classroom.

So I've decided to start a little series called "DIY Dice".

Once a week I am going to tell you about an activity that I use in my own classroom that uses some form of "do-it-yourself" dice.

DIY Dice - Idea #1

Number Dice 

This certainly isn't anything new, using different digits on the side of dice, however by creating your own, you aren't limited by what digits you use. You can easily get your hands on multiple sided dice with 2 digit numbers, but they come with a pretty steep price tag, and this is all about making Math manipulatives for cheap, cheap, cheap!

The other thing I love about using these dice, is it allows for easy differentiation. Each set of dice can be slightly different to accommodate each student's abilities. One group could be working with single digits, one with a combination of single and double digits, one with double digits, one with triple digits, etc. Plus, you can easily keep them organized by color-coding them, i.e. single digits are red, double digits are blue, etc.

There are a few ways to create your number dice.

1.      Single digit dice – Obviously you only have 6 sides to work with, and 10 possible digits (0-9). It all depends on what you want your students to be working on. Ex. A student needs to work on his/her multiplication facts for 2, 3, and 4. On one die, you only put the digits 2-4 (each digit will appear twice on the die), the other die has random digits between 2-9 (a couple will get left out, but that’s why you have more dice)

2.      Double digit dice – Again, with only 6 sides you are quite limited in what numbers you can use. To give my students more variety for the activities, I have tried out a few different techniques.
a.      I make a set of dice where each die has the same value in the tens place. Ex. One die has random numbers between 10-19; another has random numbers between 20-29, etc.

b.      Roll 2 single digit dice to make a double digit. Ex. A student rolls a 5 and a 9. He/she can choose to use the number 59 or 95.

c.      Increase number sense skills my incorporating what your students know about expanded form and place value. 1 die has single digits (your choice of 0-9), the second die has multiples of 10 (10, 20, 30, 40, etc). Ex. If a student rolls a 30 and a 4, he/she will use the number 34.

          3.      Triple digit dice, and so on…
a.      Use techniques b and c from the double digit dice. The amount of dice the student rolls will depend on how many digits you want him/her to work with.

Here is a sample activity and a sample game I do with number dice.

You can find the whole collection of activities and games using DIY Number Dice here. There are over 15 activities and printables included in the pack!

Stay tuned for another way I use DIY dice next week!


  1. Looks like it is going to be a great series!

    1. Thanks! I hope you find some ideas you can use in your own classroom. There may be a giveaway at the end of the series, so stick around!

  2. Great idea making your own dice. Thanks for sharing!
    Tales from a Fourth Grade MathNut

    1. It's just so easy...and cheap! I hope you try them out!