I just thought I’d share a quick kids’ game I learned yesterday, because it does actually keep them occupied and requires nothing more than a die, a pen, and some paper. It kept Daughter busy the whole time I was cooking last night, which is a winner in my book.
This game is based on units (ones), tens, hundreds, all the way up to however big you want to make your number. Daughter is five, so I just stuck to units and tens last night, but I might move on to hundreds today. For every place value, make a column on the paper, and for every player make a row. The object of the game is to try to make the highest number possible. Each player rolls the die and decides which column to put the number in. For instance, if someone rolls a one, then that should go in the smallest place value column possible, while a six should go in the highest. The number of columns there are determines the number of turns for the game (i.e. three columns means each player has to roll three times).
In more concrete terms, if I rolled a three and were playing with two place values, I would need to decide whether to put the three in the tens column or the units column in order to make the highest number. I would probably put it in the units column and hope for a higher number on my next roll. If Daughter rolled a five on her first turn, then she would want to put it in the tens column, so the number would be in the fifties. If I roll a two on my next turn, then I have to put it in the tens column, and I end up with 23. If Daughter then rolls a one, she puts it in the units column and ends up with 51. Daughter wins because she has the highest number.
I played this yesterday up to six place values (millions), and it was good fun. Once kids tire of playing for the highest number, they can then play for the lowest number. When the game is over, recycle the paper, put the die away, and put the pen in its place. What could be simpler?