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First off, let me say DO NOT TRY TO DO THIS ACTIVITY IF YOUR LITTLE ONES STILL PUT SMALL ITEMS IN THEIR MOUTHS. There. Now that that is off my chest I can go on.
As I cleaned out my old teaching supplies the other day, I came across a small container with tons of dice in it. Dice that I collected throughout the years to play fun math games with, or simply to replace dice from missing board games. They were so colorful and fun that I felt really bad about putting them away without at least trying to do an activity with them…but what can a preschooler (or toddler, as you’ll see my two year old involved as well!) do with dice? He’s just beginning to understand 1 to 1 correspondence, and I suppose we could just count the pips (dots), but that seemed like a rather dry activity. As I took another look at them I thought they look like super fun miniature building blocks! So that’s where we started 🙂

My two year old and I were the first to try stacking the dice. He was surprisingly good at it! Isn’t it amazing how much children enjoy opportunities to develop their concentration? He was so careful with stacking (working those fine motor skills!) and I helped in grouping the dice by color. As we continued playing, I was more and more pleasantly surprised with how many opportunities to learn there were with this simple material!
As my older son and I worked with the dice, we built a small tower using an ABA pattern. He’s not completely capable of pattering on his own, so we used this as an opportunity to take turns (he stacked the red while I did the white).
Later we created a dice wall by laying them side by side in a line. This was a great opportunity to get some counting in as well!

We came back to this activity several more times during the week. I don’t think these dice will be packed away with my other teaching materials just yet…
Besides being a great way to explore math and mini-engineering, playing with dice can also be a perfect opportunity to discuss new vocabulary. Try incorporating words like “translucent” “opaque” and “transparent” into your discussions. Young children may not understand the words yet, but with increased exposure it will no doubt improve their receptive vocabulary.
Need help getting your dice collection started? Amazon has a great starter kit with a variety of dice to play with! And don’t forget including specialty dice (and the double dice!) in your collection! They are tons of fun for munchkins to explore 🙂

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