When we sit down to play Yahtzee, backgammon, or any of the multitudinous games that rely on dice, we expect that these dice will be “fair,” or equally likely to land on any of their six sides. But probability wasn’t always a concern when it came to the roll of the dice. ... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Think of a game you play that requires dice. How would the game's rules have to be changed if the dice you used had more than six sides?

Why do you think the dots on dice are called "pips"? What do you think they should be called instead? Why?

According to the article, the numbering style on dice was changed so the opposing sides of each die added up to a prime number rather than adding up to seven. Anthropologists don't know why this change happened. Why do you think people made this change?

According to the article, new ideas about probability during the Renaissance led people to understand that dice throws are determined by chance rather than fate. Why is this shift in views significant?

LESSON PLAN
Create a New Game Using Dice

### PROCESS:

1. Have students compile a list of games they've played that use dice. Encourage them to search online to find even more.
2. Instruct students to review the design and rules of play for several games. Encourage them to make a list of different ways games use dice. Challenge them to explain why each game incorporates dice as it does.
3. Invite students to create a new game of their own that uses dice. Instruct them to design the game board and write simple rules of play. Remind them to specify how the dice should be used during the game.
4. Have students present their games to the class.

### ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to present their games to the class. Then analyze the design and rules of play of each game. Did most students use design or method to incorporate dice into their game in a new way? Challenge students to explain the answer to that question.

### CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

As a class, compile a list of games that use dice and analyze how dice are used in each game. Then divide the class into small groups. Give groups time to create a new game that uses just two die.
As a class, compile a list of games that use dice. Challenge students to include games that have numbers, letters or pips on the dice. Analyze how the dice are used in each game. Then divide the class into small groups. Give groups time to create a new game that uses numbers, letters or pips on the dice.
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to make a list of games that use dice featuring numbers, letters or pips. Have groups analyze how the dice are used in each game. Then give groups time to create a new game of their own. Challenge them to find a unique way to tie the design of the gameboard to how the dice are used during play.
Assign each student a partner. Have pairs make a list of games that use dice featuring numbers, letters, symbols or pips. Then have them analyze how the dice are used in each game. Give partners time to create a new game of their own. Challenge them to write rules of play that require dice to be used in more than one way.
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
The Woman Inventor Behind “Monopoly”
Invite students to read this article from the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation to learn how a desire to teach economic theories led one woman to invent the game of “Monopoly.”

Number Operations
Help elementary students practice basic math facts and gain a deeper conceptual understanding of number relationships with this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Center. Students will design and write clear directions for a new math game.

These Complex, Beautiful Game Pieces are 5,000 Years Old
With pigs and pyramids and dog-shaped tokens, what kind of game might they have been playing? Read this Smithsonian magazine article to find out.

Researchers Are Trying to Figure Out How to Play This Ancient Roman Board Game
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn about one of Europe’s best-preserved ancient gaming boards, which was found in a grave in Slovakia in 2006.

Board Games Have Been Teaching Us How to Shop for More Than a Century
Read this story from the National Museum of American History to learn how the board games Americans played can give us insights into consumer culture during different periods of U.S. history.

The Ten Best Board Games of 2017
Want to be a hit at your next party or family gathering? Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn about some newer board games that are sure to be a hit.

Archaeologists Unearth Medieval Game Board During Search for Lost Monastery
Scotland’s oldest surviving manuscript, the Book of Deer, was written by monks living in the Aberdeenshire monastery. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn how it was rediscovered and why it is such an important artifact.

This Board Game Is Designed for People to Play 2,700 Years Into the Future
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn how and why a game designer invented a game not meant to be played for nearly 3,000 years.
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