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Roll the Dice: Kindergarten Explorations

It all began when one student announced, “Let’s make our own dice!” This moment is what I live for as a Kindergarten teacher. No other plans are as important as the opportunity to dive head first into a student’s curiosity...especially when there is limitless learning potential for the rest of my class!

I invited my student to make some observations of different dice and to draw up a plan. He consulted with others who supported his plan.

I immediately wondered so many things. Did my students know that dice are cubes? Did they know that cubes have six square sides? Could they connect the quantity of dots on each side to the total number of sides? Did they consider how to turn their plan into a 3D shape? What I never wondered was whether we should just go for it. So, we began a inquiry of six-sided dice!

Inspired by their friend, students drew their own plans for making dice.

In order to help my students turn their drawings into 3D shapes, they investigated the magnet tiles with some prompting questions. How can you create the same shape as a die with magnet tiles? How many tiles do you need? What can we call this shape? What are the characteristics of a cube?

After building a cube with magnet tiles, students studied dice from all sides. They drew dots for numbers 1-6 on small paper and, with lots of tape, they added the paper sides of their magnet tile cube.

To transform these large, magnet tile dice into useful rolling dice, students explored how to unfold their cube into a flat shape. This flat shape led them to creating a small, foldable cardstock die. Suddenly we had perfect little homemade dice! Had we completed the inquiry? Were we done?

Not quite! Why not prove their knowledge of the characteristics of a six-sided die to a skeptic and create a 3D model on Tinkercad?

While viewing the cube as it moved around on the screen, students began showing movement and dimension in their drawings. Finally, they transformed their vision into reality on the 3D printer!

Now that we had dice, what should we do with them? Why did we even want dice in the first place? Naturally, they wanted dice so they could “roll them and play with them!” So we practiced rolling the dice!

I asked my students, “what are all the possible rolls we could make with two dice?” Students tried it out and discovered they could never roll 1 with two dice. The possibilities, they decided, were 2 through 12. Students collected data by rolling two dice many times and adding or counting up the sums. For each roll, they put a gem into a dish marked 2-12.

This set of data turned into a histogram that showed a lovely bell curve with 7 collecting the most rolls by far. Students considered the possible ways to make 7 with two dice. There was so much big learning packed into this experience - estimation, probability, counting, adding, and graphing!

By honoring my Kindergartners creative ideas, we build a community based on curiosity and rooted in rich learning experiences. This exciting inquiry taught me a lot about my students. I learned a lot about their developing sense of numeracy, but mostly, I am reminded of the joy we share when we do what we love.

What’s next? Creating games where we can use our own dice! Designing new dice to play with evens, odds, skip counting, and bigger numbers!

A true inquiry always leads to the next question.

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