Tag Archives: MathDice

What a desk full of rubber chickens means to me…

It’s about that time again…. MathDice Time!

2011 MathDice Trophies have arrived, featuring with the coveted Rubber Chickens!

The trophies have arrived, and Math is in the air!  Each year, ThinkFun works with the 22 elementary schools in Arlington, VA to host a MathDice Tournament, and this year’s May 7th event is fast approaching!  Each school fields a team of 6 5th grade mathematicians who compete in weekly challenges for several months leading up to the big day.

Judging by the weekly scores I’ve seen, the competition this year is stiff!  I am so excited to see these Dicers go head to head in a few short weeks!

The 2010 Spirit Award Winners proudly display their prizes!

Curious to see a MathDice Tournament in action?  Check out my post with photos and video from last year’s competition and see what it takes to win the coveted Rubber Chicken spirit award!


A Visit from Uganda!

In 2008, ThinkFun donated several sets of MathDice to the Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH), a US-supported primary school in poverty-stricken rural Eastern Uganda.

We received an update and photos last year from an American volunteer teacher, and this spring we were contacted by Elisa Joseph Anders, a local parent who produced From One Village, a documentary on this remarkable school (video is embedded at the bottom of this post).

We were thrilled to learn from Elisa that AAH Headmaster Thomas Kisolo Kitandwe was planning a visit to the area, and even more excited to learn that he hoped to spend an afternoon at ThinkFun further exploring ways in which games like MathDice could be integrated into the learning experience of his students!

We spent a very productive afternoon listening as Headmaster Thomas shared both his desire to stretch his students’ critical thinking skills through game play and the struggles he faces in a country in which students’ future prospects are dictated by a their performance on a single, incredibly rigorous exam.  The Ugandan schools follow a rote learning model, in which students are to accustomed to having opportunities to explore and play as part of their learning.

However, seeing the flexible mathematical thinking a game like MathDice can foster sparked an idea with Headmaster Thomas, and we spent a long time brainstorming ways in which his teachers could integrate more experiential game-based learning into the curriculum to stretch students and better prepare them to be problem solvers and creative thinkers in the 21st century.

Also as part of his visit, Headmaster Thomas joined us to celebrate the 7th Annual Arlington County MathDice Competition!

We are very excited to continue to support the Arlington Academy of Hope and work with Headmaster Thomas and his staff to find ways to integrate thinking games into the lives of his students!

To learn more, here is the fabulous documentary which details the incredible work being done at this school! Enjoy!

These MathDice Players are on a ROLL!

Saturday marked the 7th Annual  Math Dice Competition in Arlington, VA!

This incredible event brings together teams of 5th grade math lovers from local elementary schools (21 schools participated this year!) for a high-energy competition!  Players train for months, completing weekly challenges and honing their skills in preparation for the big event… and it shows!

Players compete first in a head-to-head competition, and this year we had 2 undefeated players tie for the title of MathDice Individual Champ!

After the Individual Competition, teams work together on 5 rounds of complex MathDice problems, submitting their scores to a panel of judges.  Team Champions are crowned, and this year’s champs, the Tuckahoe Elementary Matherminds – well done!

Prizes are also awarded for best Team Name and best Team Spirit, judged during the Cheering Portion of the event!  Each team takes center stage, presenting a special chant or song and dance they’ve created! Congrats to this year’s winners… the Glebe Elementary “X Factor” for best team name, and the Taylor Elementary MathMagicians who won the Spirit award (and received the coveted rubber chicken prize!)

The Taylor MathMagicians

The Glebe X Factor

You really haven’t lived until you’ve heard a the MathDice remake of Queen’s “We Are The Champions”

“Nooooo time for looooosing cause we are the champions….. of MathDice!”

To REALLY get a sense of the energy and excitement this event generates, check out this great video ThinkFun CEO Bill Ritchie created documenting this year’s Competition!

Are you a teacher or parent interested in using MathDice to stretch your child’s math skills?  We’ve got fabulous free resources and extension games available for download!

MathDice in Uganda!

This guest post is by Cynthia Margeson, a retired teacher from Arlington, Virginia, who has been teaching for the past five years at the Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH), a U.S.- supported primary school located in poverty-stricken rural Eastern Uganda. The school, with 325 students from 1st through 7th grades, was founded by Arlington residents John and Joyce Wanda, who emigrated from Uganda in 1996.

MathDice have traveled all the way to Uganda!

Students at AAH learn largely by rote. They have few learning materials other than books. Using manipulatives similar to MathDice is unheard of in most Ugandan schools. We were so excited when ThinkFun donated MathDice to AAH — we knew this would be a fun and engaging way to help students develop critical thinking skills.

In January 2009, I took 100 sets of MathDice with me on my annual trip to AAH. Upon my arrival in Uganda, I held a workshop for teachers to teach them how children can learn to apply their math skills through games such as MathDice. I then taught them to play MathDice. The upper grade teachers were immediately convinced and introduced MathDice to their students. Teachers of younger grades decided to simplify the game for their students by using just the operations of addition and subtraction to reach the target number.

The students love playing MathDice. We always have a group of eager learners. It is wonderful to see how they are learning as they play. In addition to class time, they usually play during lunch. The photos show AAH students playing MathDice in the library and the courtyard.

AAH plans to share MathDice with its graduates who are in secondary school when they come back to the village during term breaks. Current Primary 6 (6th grade) and Primary 7 (7th grade) students are excitedly looking forward to challenging the graduates to a Math Dice tournament! AAH also hopes to introduce MathDice to neighboring villages.

AAH is extremely grateful to ThinkFun for donating these MathDice to them. MathDice are making a huge difference at this school in rural Uganda by expanding the AAH students’ math skills, and they are having fun doing it! Thank you, Bill and Charlotte!

MathDice have made it to international status!

Interested in using MathDice with your students?  We’ve got oodles of free resources for you!  Download practice sheets and MathDice-themed games for your classroom!

Are you ready for some… MathDice!!!

It’s almost that time… MathDice Tournament time that is!

Every spring, ThinkFun runs the Arlington County MathDice Tournament (now in it’s 7th year!), a fun-filled event in which teams from all 22 elementary schools go head-to-head, with one school emerging victorious!

MathDice is a brilliantly simple game that uses just 5 simple dice to strengthen mental math and problem solving skills and reinforce students’ ability to compute exponents, multiply, divide, add and subtract.  The best part… students have a blast doing it!  Learn how to play here.

Check out these great photos from last year’s event… can you spot the student dressed as a Math Die?!

In addition to Individual Champions and Team Champions, Math Dice teams also compete for the esteemed recognition of “Best School Spirit” to win the coveted Rubber Chicken award :)  Looking forward to seeing more wacky math costumes this year!

Want to learn more?  Read about the skills this game builds in The Math Behind MathDice, by Tom Rowan.

Arlington Teams, including our friends at McKinley Elementary, have been practicing and training for months, and we’re looking forward to a fabulous event next Saturday!