Magic Dice

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.
It was like Christmas for me yesterday! I got home from school to find boxes from both Amazon and Corwin Press. It’s quite possible that I have an obsession with books for teaching math. 🙂

One of the first books I looked through was Planting the Seed of Algebra, by Monica Neagoy. Glancing through the book, I like it for several reasons. First, it’s about developing algebraic thinking in Pre K-2. That’s huge in my book. Second, the book looks and feels readable. Does that make sense? It’s laid out well with lots of color pictures, graphics, and pop-out boxes. Finally, Chapter 1 hooked me!

The first chapter brings us into a Kindergarten classroom where the author, a self-proclaimed mathemagician,  is performing a MathMagic show for the kiddos. First, since she will be using dice, she has a discussion about the dice themselves. She brings lots of great geometry into the discussion (cube, faces, etc.). As a side note, she includes some fabulously interesting historical information about how geometric figures were named. Did you know that hedron means an amphitheater seat in Greek? Back to the trick. She rolls the dice and tells students that she can magically look through the dice and see the number on the bottom of the dice. For example, in the picture shown there is a 6 on the bottom of the 1 and a 4 on the bottom of the 3. Can you figure out the trick yet?

Opposite faces on a die equal 7, so her lesson ended up being about combinations for making 7. What a engaging way to start the lesson! The rest of her lesson included charting the different combinations, representing them in part-part-whole tables, and writing equations for each of the combinations. In the next chapter, Chapter 2, she describes the algebra connections to the lesson, and I can’t wait to read it! It’s a rainy Saturday, so I might get the chance.

Finally, I want to leave you with a quote I love from this chapter that ties directly to the title of the book:

When teaching a lesson, much is exposure, stimulation, and thought provocation.  I had no illusion that all students would remember everything.  Far from it.  But if I plant thinking seeds, students will go back and reflect.  They’ll remember that a cube has six faces/seats (geometry), that a die has six numbers on it (number), and that there are six different ways to add top and bottom numbers on a die when it’s rolled (arithmetic/algebra).  One day, these ideas will all converge and …”Eureka!”

20 Comments

  1. Amy B

    So interesting!!!! Love this!
    Amy Burton

    Reply
    • Amy B

      Trying to stay afloat with ALL of the new stuff we are doing this year…I miss my blog time!!!!! Hoping things settle down soon!!!!
      Amy

      Reply
    • Amy B

      SO nice to “see” you too!!!!!!
      Amy

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Where have you been, girl?! It’s really cool, isn’t it?

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I totally understand! Nice to “see” you again. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Mrs. Parker

    I will be thinking about dice differently next time we use them. Putting book on my wish list.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I know, right?! Even when I was looking for a picture of dice to use, I was practicing my combinations for 7. Too funny!

      Reply
  3. Kinderaffe

    Thanks! Love the Magic Dice! I have some Kindergarteners who will love this. I am crazy about math. I see some budding magicians ready to try it on their parents.

    Have a great weekend.

    Sara

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Love that enthusiasm! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Kelly Young

    That is great! I can’t wait to introduce this to help learn the different ways to make 7! Kindergarteners already think I am magic so this will just be a little more confirmation for them. I did however have to search the house for some dice to see if all dice have opposite sides that equal 7…I never knew that!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      So, I’m actually kind of glad that I’m not the only one who didn’t know! I had this nightmarish image that everyone would comment, “Oh, I already knew that!” Ha ha.

      Reply
  5. Chaya Phillips

    I have started to request my Public library to buy the books you recommend.

    Reply
  6. Sue Kearney

    I also take it up a step with students a little older by rolling 3 dice and then quickly stacking them. I tell them I can tell them what all of the “hidden” numbers are on the horizontal faces. They are amazed!

    Reply
  7. allie

    Do you have a 5 and below near you? they have the HUGE foam dice in all sorts of colors- super fun to use in the classroom with all these ideas!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Yes, I do, but I’ve actually never been in there. I’ll have to check it out, Allie!

      Reply
  8. Diane Fulp

    I just ordered this book. Can’t wait to read it and learn LOTS!!! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      It’s a great resource, Diane!

      Reply
  9. Connie Sloan

    I love your blog and follow you on social media. That said, I w ovule use this with my firsties but please adding combinations of 7 with Prek and K?

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Kindergartners are expected to know combinations for all numbers through 10 and have fluency with combinations through 5, so this fits right in with the Kindergarten standards!

      Reply
  10. trace

    Love it! I am so math ignorant. I spent most of my time scared to death of math, but I love to solve problems in real life– it is actually one of my favorite thing to do! When I started thinking about math as simply problems to solve I started feeling so much better– some math anxiety was chipped off and I started to be able to breathe when math was presented!

    Reply

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