Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School
Description: Even Steven’s Odd is a fast-paced dice-rolling game that is highly motivating for many of my students and can be used to practice a wide range of skills. The game comes with 4 dice holders, 24 dice, and 40 leveled challenge cards. The instructions are incredibly simple: (1) Flip and reach a challenge card to start the race, (2) All players race to roll the numbers that complete the challenge on the card, and (3) The first player to complete the challenge AND grab Steven wins the round.
Skills & Modifications: Cards for younger players are marked with a star in the upper right hand corner, while more challenging cards have no star. However, you may want to hand select cards based on your particular learner’s needs and skill level as the challenge levels may not be accurate for them.
- Playing with Speed – The game is designed to be fast-paced, with all players playing simultaneously. Most of my students were able to play this as a race, though some of them required prompts to continue rolling the dice. You may need to introduce this game 1:1 with an adult before introducing it for peer play.
- Accepting Losing A Game – Each round of the game moves very quickly. This is beneficial for learners who struggle with losing games because if they lose a round, a new round and a new opportunity to win starts right away.
- Scanning – This game requires that players be able to scan the information on the challenge card, the dice they have rolled, and the dice already placed in the dice holder. It is a lot of information to scan and synthesize. For some learners, I may have to provide prompts between rolls, such as “What do you need to finish the challenge,” “What are you missing,” or “Look at your dice holder.”
- Addition – Many of the advanced level cards require players to add quickly. Some challenge cards require that players achieve two separate sums (one for the colored dice and one for the white dice) while other challenge cards require that players achieve one sum using all six dice.
- Comparing Numbers – Other challenge cards require that players have sums for colored dice that are greater than or less than the sum of the white dice. I love these challenge cards because it requires my students to synthesize several skills (planning ahead, adding, and comparing numbers) in a way that is entertaining and motivating for them.
- Even/Odd Numbers – Still other challenge cards require that players arrange dice as evens and odds. For example, the challenge might be to have all colored dice be even and all white dice be odd. This requires players to attend to both the color and the number, which can be quite challenging for some students. However, the challenge card acts as a visual cue that can be helpful for many learners.
- Peer Play – It’s beneficial that this game allows for age-appropriate parallel play for older learners who struggle with play skills. It also provides opportunities for structured conversation about what happened between rounds.
Pros: It’s easy to modify the game to meet your learner’s unique needs. Many of my students are highly motivated by Steven, and it’s useful for many learners with autism to have a strong visual cue (someone picking Steven up) to indicate that someone has won the round. The dice holders are also fantastic for helping students stay organized during the fast pace of play.
Cons: Some learners with autism greatly struggle with playing games with speed. It’s not easy to modify this game to exclude the speed element in a way that is still motivating for peers or siblings who want to play the game with the learner with autism.
Ideas of extending the lesson: For students who are really engaged with this activity, you may want to try out Yahtzee (which game inventor, Mary Jo Reutter, states is one of her favorites.) Another suggestion is to have students create their own cards to add to the game. I did this with one student, and we created some that required subtraction (such as sum of colored dice – sum of white dice = 3.)
Cost: $19.99 You should invest in this game if: you are an elementary or middle school math teacher, you are a parent seeking games that siblings of different ages can enjoy together, or you work with a learner who is highly motivated by activities involving numbers.
ABLLS: A10, K15, R8
VB-MAPP: Math 15