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There is a bird in a poem by T. S. Eliot who says that mankind cannot bear very much reality; but the bird is mistaken. A man can endure the entire weight of the universe for eighty years. It is unreality that he cannot bear.

Ursla Le Guin (1929-2018)

The Lathe of Heaven, 1971

Dice Stack

Choice Card: Dice Stack
Target:
Number Practice
Age:
Elementary aged and up
Duration:
3-6 minutes
Class Size:
Small
Energy Level:
medium
Type:
 
Equipment:
Lots of dice, timer

addition
balance
care
speed

Procedure:

Before starting I usually review a few numbers by writing a few at random on a white board. The game is simple. Players take turns rolling a dice and stacking them. Before placing one dice on top of the stack the value of the dice is added to the total. I get the players (or individual dice roller) to say the whole sum, for example:

  • Player A rolls a 3: "0 + 3 is 3"
  • Player B rolls a 6: "3 + 6 is 9"
  • Player C rolls a 1: "9 + 1 is 10"

If the stack falls over players begin again from 0. What's the highest total they can make in 3 minutes?

Variations:

Multiply: For older players give them a multiplier. Write a number on the board and players use it to multiply the dice throw before adding it to the total. Simple multipliers are, of course, 10, 100, 1000. But any number within reason can be used. One interesting way of using simple multipliers is to change the units every time a threshold is reached. For example, start with single digits, then when the score is over 10 switch to 10's, then when the score reaches 100, switch to 1000's. When doing this I write the current sum but not the result on the board.

Count down: Start with a number on the board (the value depends upon the units being used), players subtract from that number. Can they reach zero before the stack falls over?

Note:

The usual way of saying a sum is to say equals. I do use equals with some groups but prefer is as a way of drawing attention to the verb be.

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