# Can you make practising the times tables fun? Yes, just give me three dice…

### 6 Responses

1. Simon Lewis says:

Great, simple idea. Pity in Ireland we don’t do 11 and 12 tummies tables anymore

2. Rhombus Mama says:

Great game. For ideas on using dice for math instruction of young children, visit the Rhombus Club’s Rhombus Room!

3. Piers says:

Looks great! Thanks for the find.

4. katie thompson says:

looks great think i should play on it with the students at school

5. chrisharrow says:

Fun activity idea. And it has a calculus connection that can be discovered without invoking calculus at all.

Extension question for students: How can you get the largest possible product from any roll of 3 dice? Without trying this yet on students, I suspect they can discover some rules from gathering data. It won’t be obvious and they’ll need to make some hypotheses to test. Good!

Calculus insight: Given two real numbers, x & y, that have some fixed sum, S. What is the largest possible value of the product x*y? If you remember differential calculus, prove this for yourself, but the answer is that x*y is maximized when x=y.

Connecting to this problem: Obviously the numbers on any roll of 3 dice is fixed, so my calculus problem applies. When I saw the 3, 4, 6 dice roll, I knew I needed to multiply two numbers who were as close as possible to being equal. It didn’t take much thought to realize 3+4 & 6 would fit that bill, making the largest product of 42 without having to try any other possibilities.

Teaching idea: Obviously, elementary children won’t understand calculus, but they could still compute all possible products and pick the largest one as noted in the initial post. As a later exploration, students can be asked to discover rules to maximize their products. Don’t just play a game. Strategize! Encourage students not to just play, but to play well. I’d love to see what students discover.

1. 08/01/2012

[…] Make tables fun? The Rules: Each player takes turns rolling 3 dice. First to break 200 (or 500, etc.) wins. On your turn, you get to choose two dice to add together, then you multiply the sum by the final die. That’s your score for that turn. Simple; no bells, no whistles. For example, I roll a 3, a 4, and a 6 on my turn. […]