Shut the Box

I was introduced to this game over winter break one year (thanks to my brother-in-law, Brandon!) when we played as a whole family. The ages of our group ranged from a 7-year-old all the way up to the grandparents and everyone had a great time playing the game. It can be simple enough for the little ones to play, but variations can give it enough complexity to keep it interesting. The premise of the game is to keep rolling the two dice, adding up the total, and then knocking over numbers that make that total. You keep rolling until there is nothing else you can knock over. For example, if you roll a 3 and a 2, you can knock over anything that adds up to 5 (1 and 4, 3 and 2, or 5), but if you’ve already knocked over all of those numbers, then your turn is over. At the end of your turn, you add up all of your remaining numbers and that is your score, with the object to have the lowest score each round, or ideally to “shut the box”, meaning you were able to knock down all of the numbers. We played with a variation that each player could choose to either add the two numbers on the dice or multiply them. This variation was not in the directions, so this was our own improvisation. The game is great for reinforcing addition and multiplication facts, aiding in thinking about numbers flexibly, and even gets kids thinking about probability and using that in their strategies.

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