We all know games are a great way to get in some great math practice with kids. Dice games, in particular, are the perfect tool to keep in your arsenal of materials for quick math learning games. This addition and subtraction dice game is great for kids ages 5 and up who are learning early math skills, or even for precocious 4 year olds who love numbers.
The best part is, this game is super easy to learn. You can print out the instructions to have on hand (see form below) but all you really have to remember is the mantra: "5 dice-4 rolls, add high-subtract low-add high-subtract last."
On to the game!
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What you need:
- 2 or more enthusiastic players who have basic addition and subtraction skills
- Five dice. We love to play with colored dice! Everything is more fun in vivid color, don't you think?
- Pen and paper for keeping score
Be the player with the highest score after playing a predetermined number of rounds.
Addition & Subtraction Dice Game Instructions
- Decide how long you will play
How long you play is up to you, but decide beforehand to avoid arguments or pleading of "just one more round!!" We recommend five to ten rounds; or you can set a time limit.
A time limit works well if you are trying to pass the time before you have to get up and do something. Say, ten minutes before the brownies are done, or 5 minutes before your kid must–and I really mean it this time!–clean his room.
- Determine who goes first
Everyone rolls two dice. Look at your roll; subtract the lower from the higher value. The player with the highest difference starts the game. (Alternatively, let your kid go first because they always insist on going first. Ahem.)
- Begin play
The first player, on their turn has four rolls of the dice. They start by rolling 5 dice at once.
On the first roll they set aside the two dice showing the highest numbers, adds them together and records the total.
On the second throw, they roll the remaining three dice and subtract the value of the lowest scoring die from the previous total.
On the third roll, the player throws the final two dice, they add the higher scoring die to the total so far.
On the fourth and final roll, they roll the last die and subtract the value from the total.
The final total is that player's score for that round.
- Example turn
For example, player one's turn might look like this:
Roll: 1, 2, 1, 3, 3 Set aside: 3, 3 Total: 6 (3+3)
Roll: 2, 2, 3 Set aside: 2 Total: 4 (6-2)
Roll: 5, 2 Set aside: 5 Total: 9 (4+5)
Roll: 4 Total for round: 5 (9-4)
- Complete a round
After player one finishes their turn, play continues to the left. A round is finished when all players have had their four throws.
Record each player's score for the round.
- Determine a winner
Add up each player's score for all rounds. The player with the highest score, wins.
Simple, right? This addition and subtraction dice game couldn't be any easier to learn and kids will love it. It's a great game for at home learning or in the classroom.
Need more ideas? Watch how to play another math dice game, Fifty:
More dice games we love:
- Sevens, another dice game that reinforces basic math skills
- Aces in the Pot
- Cooperative math dice games
- Or check out these other fun dice games using 5 dice!
We have been doing this ten min a day with my 7 and 9 year old and they love it! I am going to homeschool through Covid-thanks for the resources.