Monday, October 31, 2011

Shut the Box Dice Game

I’d love to claim this idea as my own, after all its simplicity is brilliant and what it teaches is incredibly useful. But, alas, this game is not my brainchild. Disney’s FamilyFun magazine shared this idea in the November 2011 issue. My take on it follows.

Shut the Box is a great dice game that gets children thinking about different combinations of numbers that can be added to equal a sum.

Nine 3” x 4” toploading trading card sleeves (optional)
2 dice
Pencil and paper for score keeping

I designed a PDF of cards with each of the numbers 1-9 on them and printed the pages on cardstock. I flipped the pages over and printed Shut the Box graphics on the back so the cards would be double-sided. Then I cut out the cards and slid them into some trading card sleeves (while the sleeves are unnecessary, they make the cards more durable; lamination would serve the same purpose).

Then, I laid the cards out in order with the numbers face up on the table and handed my son two dice. He rolled the dice and added the two numbers together. Then it was up to my son to decide what two combination of numbers (that would add up to the sum) to flip over.

If he rolled a six and one, he added the numbers to get a sum of seven. He could flip over any two cards with numbers that added up to seven; for example, three and four, five and two, etc. Once the two cards were flipped (showing the Shut the Box graphic), he rolled the two dice again, continuing to flip over cards until he rolled a sum that could not be made with the existing cards. Play stopped and the remaining numbers were added together for his round 1 score.

Now it was my turn. We flipped over the cards so all the numbers were face up. I played until the sum I rolled could not be made with the remaining cards, added the numbers face-up, and we determined who won round 1. (He had a lower score than me.) We played three rounds and have played several times since that day.

We have yet to Shut the Box (getting ALL the cards turned over in one round). It sure is fun trying, though!

Click here for a 3-page PDF of the Shut the Box cards I made. Print pages 1-2; flip the pages over and print two copies of page 3 on the backs.


  1. LOVE math games =0 My mom was teaching me one the other night that the 2nd grade teacher uses at her school and I thought of you guys! I'll have to write down the directions soon =)

  2. Awesome! Thanks so much for linking up at Math Monday!
    Cindy @ love2learn2day

  3. This was great, thanks! We just stuck numbers on index cards, but the game was super fun & the child enjoyed it a lot.