Roll & Record

In this lesson, children will develop visual images for quantities up to six and begin to understand and apply basic concepts of probability using dice.

Lesson for:

(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:

Data Analysis and Probability

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data
  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers and number systems
  • Understand and apply basic concepts of probability

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Developing understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections
  • Connecting number words and numerals to the quantities that they represent, using various physical models and representations
  • Representing data using concrete objects, pictures and graphs
  • Counting with understanding and recognizing “how many” in sets of objects

Roll & Record

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Dice (One die for each child in the group)
  • A recording sheet for each child (The recording sheet should be a graph with the game title, Roll & Record, at the top of the page. The graph should be six squares by six squares, with the numbers 1 through 6 under each column.)
  • Pencils

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. Show the students the dice that they will be using to play the game. Pass the dice around and ask the children what they notice about the dice.
  2. Introduce the game. Explain that today the children are going to play a game called Roll & Record. Each child will receive a die and a recording sheet.
  3. Explain the game by demonstrating the game to the class. Set yourself up in the same manner that you expect the children to set themselves up. Say: “The first thing that you are going to do is roll the die.” Then actually roll your die. Please note that modeling appropriate rolling is important. Emphasize that the roll is to be controlled and that the die is to stay within the child’s own space. Modeling and stating expectations prevents children from making wild rolls and distracting others as they get up to fetch their dice.
  4. Ask: “How many dots do you see?” Say: “Three.” Ask: “Does everyone agree that I rolled a three?” Hold the die face up to the group and count the three dots. Say: “1-2-3. Three.” Say: “Now I will write the number 3 in the column that says three.”
  5. Show the children how you find the three on the recording page and how you write the number 3 in the square above the three.
  6. Play and model several more rounds. Ask the children to “show everyone the correct way to roll the dice.” Throughout the lesson, ask the children if they have any questions about the game. Explain that the game is over when one of the columns is full (they have rolled one number six times).

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Distribute the game materials and have the children go to their seats to play the game.
  2. Observe the children as they play the game. Ask yourself the following questions: “How do the children figure out the number that they rolled? Do they count the dots? Do they just know the number by looking at the pattern of the dots on the dice? Are the children able to write their numbers accurately? Are they ‘reading the room’ to find the number that they are trying to write?” Make note of reversals or difficulties and support those children by giving them additional instruction in forming their numbers.
  3. Compare and share findings. Ask: “What was the number that you rolled the most times?” Point out that they can find this information by looking on their recording sheets and seeing which number has a number written in every box, all the way to the top of the graph. Ask: “Which number has the lowest number of rolls? How many fives did you roll?”
  4. Ask the children to share what they did by holding up their recording sheets and telling the class their results.

Additional Extensions

  • You can change the name of this game to Racing Dice and have the children predict which number will win before they start playing the game. When you change the name of the game on the recording sheet, it is good to also ask the question on the bottom of the chart, so that the children remember their original predictions and don’t change their answers mid-game.

“I predict that number ______________________ will win the game.”

  • Play either game with two dice and adding the numbers on each die together. Start with Roll & Record so that the children become used to working with two dice. The children will need to add the two numbers on the dice together and then find and write that number on the recording sheet.
  • When preparing the Racing Dice recording sheet, add three different predictions that the children will fill out before they begin playing the game.

I predict that number ______________________ will win the game.
I predict that number ______________________ will come in second.
I predict that number ______________________ will lose.

Have the children play this game twice. The first time, have them choose random numbers as their winners and losers. But, after they’ve played once, have them go back and see what they notice about their recording sheets. The probability of rolling numbers like six (5+1, 3+3, 4+2) is higher than the probability of rolling a number like two or 12. Based on what they notice, have the children make new predictions for the second game.

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • How many: The total or sum (e.g.,”How many twos did you roll?”)
  • Most: Having the greatest quantity or number (e.g.,”Which number did you roll the most times?”)
  • More than: A value that is higher or greater in number (e.g.,”Did you roll the number three more than you rolled the number six?”)
  • Predict: To guess what will happen next (e.g.,”I predict that I will roll the number four the most times.”)
  • Graph: A diagram that exhibits a relationship, often functional, between two sets of numbers as a set of points having coordinates determined by the relationship (e.g.,”This graph represents the number of rolls each number received.”)

Early Math Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Have difficulty forming their numbers
  • Use crayons to color in the boxes above the number that they rolled instead of writing in the number
  • Need bigger dice to count the dots on each side
Child care providers may:
  • Provide assistance in identifying, counting and forming numbers
  • Play the game with a small group of children to ensure that they are recording their results correctly
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Easily match the numbers on the dice to the numbers on the graph
  • Be able to add numbers 1-10
Child care providers may:
  • Increase the numbers on the recording sheet from 1-12 by adding a second die
  • Change the concept of the game from counting the numbers to adding the numbers together (Using a pair of dice, the children would add the two numbers together to come up with the number that they would record.)
  • Introduce the concept of probability by having the children predict which numbers they will roll the most times

Suggested Books

  • It’s Probably Penny by Loreen Leedy (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2007)
  • Let’s Throw the Dice (Let’s Move) by Heidi Linder (New York: Meyer & Meyer Verlag, 2003)
  • Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert (San Anselmo, CA: Sandpiper, 1992)

Music and Movement

  • Using a big foam die (you can get these at teacher stores), play a circle-toss game called Name that Number. Have the children gather around in a circle and simply toss the die from one child to the next. The child receiving the die has to name the number that is on the top of the die when it is caught. Or the child can choose to display and tell any number on the die. After that child has identified the number and shown the group the pattern on the die that matches the number, the child throws it to another person. You can make up various rules, such as what happens if the die is dropped or allowing the players to call on their peers for help. A great morning circle game!
  • Recite “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.”

Outdoor Connections

  • Adapt the recording sheet and put pictures of objects found outside on the sheet instead of the numbers 1-6. Instead of a sheet that has the numbers 1-6 with columns of six boxes above each number, you will now have pictures of objects found outside (trees, cars, flowers, birds, insects, garbage cans, etc.). Before going outside, have a discussion with the children about what items they think they are most likely to see and what items they don’t think they will see. You can even include some silly or fanciful items (a flying saucer, a magical pumpkin carriage, etc.). Once outside, the children can put an X in the box of the items that they see. Once the children are done with their investigations, have them share their findings.

Web Resources

  • Probability: A fun way to measure the likelihood of things happening. Children will need adult help with this game, as there is a lot of reading.

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