Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School
Description: I don’t know what it is about dice games, but it seems that all of my students love them. I have large foam dice, tiny dice inside of large inflatable dice, colored dice, dice with colors, dice with numbers, dice with math symbols…and now I have ThinkFun’s MathDice for practicing exponents.
Many of my students never reach the level of math in which they are working on exponents. However, for those that do, having additional activities and motivating materials are key for helping them fully grasp the content.
I’ve used Math Dice Jr with many students over the past couple years, so I was very excited when ThinkFun offered Math Dice Powers Edition for me to try out and write about. The game includes two large 12-sided dice: one is the red (exponent) dice and only has the numbers 2 and 3 on it, the other is the blue (base) dice and has the numbers 1 through 12 on it. The game also includes three 6-sided scoring dice with the numbers 2-6 on them. (Once you read further about the game, it’s understandable why the game would not work as well if a person rolled a 1.)
The game has two steps. For the first step, a player rolls the two 12-sided dice. That player calculates the Target Number by using the blue dice as base and the red dice as an exponent. For example, in the picture below, the player rolled a 9 on the blue dice and a 2 on the red dice. The player establishes a Target Number of 81.
For the second step, the other player rolls the three 6-sided dice. In the picture below, the player rolled a 5, 6, and a 3. The player then creates a number sentence using each of those numbers once to equal or get as close to the Target Number as possible. Other players then have the opportunity to create a number sentence using the same three dice to equal or get closer to the Target Number than the last player did.
Skills & Modifications: The major modification I made with this game was introducing it one step at a time. For example, when I first play it, we do just Step One. With one student we’ve played just Step One several times and I have not yet introduced the three 6-sided dice. After the student has mastered the concept of exponents, then I introduce Step Two. For many students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, it is especially important to isolate skills before introducing multiple steps. However, it’s equally important to quickly introduce those steps instead of lagging behind your student’s actual level of capability.
The instructions also include an extensive “Exponent Practice Table” that may be used as a reference for some students. For some students you may want to make this available, or reprint it larger for them to access more easily.
- Exponents: The first step of this game is well-designed for practice of basic exponent skills. It is not necessary to modify it because the dice are specially designed for the task. You would not have as much success attempting the same activity with regular dice. This was a great tool for introducing exponents to one of my students. She responded well to the color cues. We practiced the basic skill of exponents on paper as it is traditionally taught, and after a few practice problems moved to the Math Dice Powers game. After playing the game for a few minutes, she was able to accurately calculate responses for numbers involving exponents of 2 and 3.
- Algebraic Thinking: I really love how this game incorporates algebraic thinking in a fun way. The rules for multiple opportunities to use the numbers on the 6-sided dice to reach the Target Number. It’s fun and motivating for students. A modification I did make with one student was to increase the time element. According to the instructions, each player has 15 seconds to create a number sentence that is closer to the Target Number. You should use a time limit that meets your student’s current functioning level and allows them opportunities for success.
Pros: One of the things I love about this game as a teacher who travels, is that it comes in a little pouch that I can easily carry with me. Another great aspect of this game is that it can be played with students of varying levels, as long as they are able to do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Because of the design of Step Two, the game practices many other math concepts (such as using parentheses in number sentences and order of operations.)
Cons: Your student must know how to do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I hesitate to list this as a con, because I value how the dice are designed to focus so well on the skills listed above. If your student does not have the skill level yet for this particular game, I would recommend Math Dice, Jr.
Cost: $9.99 You should invest in this game if: you teach math to students aged 10 or older, are seeking games to maintain math skills over long breaks or summer vacation, have learners at varying skill levels with multiplication and division, or are looking for motivating materials for practicing the use of exponents and other number sense skills.
**Math Dice Powers was provided to me for free by the company ThinkFun to write about here at Teach Through. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own.