In this lesson, children will add the numbers of two dice and cross out the sum.

Lesson for:

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

Content Area:


Learning Goals:

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

  • Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another
  • Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates
  • Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships

Learning Targets:

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

  • Understanding various meanings of addition and subtraction of whole numbers and the relationship between the two operations
  • Understanding the effects of adding and subtracting whole numbers
  • Modeling situations that involve the addition and subtraction of whole numbers, using objects, pictures and symbols


Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Dice (two per child)
  • Yahtzee playing card (When the child rolls the dice, the sum of the dice is then crossed off on the card. The child keeps going until he/she has crossed out all of the numbers. If the child has a number crossed off and rolls that number again, the child simply rolls another time.



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. Explain that today the children will all be using dice to practice addition. Start by asking if anyone can explain what addition is.
  2. Reinforce the definition of addition by stating: “Addition is the joining of two or more numbers to get one number called the sum.”
  3. Introduce the game Yahtzee and explain the goal of the game.
  4. Model how to play the game.

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Hand out game cards and dice.
  2. Model how to use the dice properly. Encourage small rolls that stay on the table. It is important to model proper rolling to avoid dice flying everywhere and children spending more time retrieving dice than playing the game.

Additional Extensions

  • Use three dice and change the numbers on the card to 3-18.

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • Add: Increase in amount or number (e.g.,”What number do you get when you add three and four?”)
  • Equal: To be the same in number or amount (e.g., “Three plus four is equal to seven.”)
  • Plus: The addition of (e.g.,”Explain that plus is another word used when we are adding one number to another, such as three plus four is seven.”)

Early Math Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Still be working on number recognition
Child care providers may:
  • Rework the Yahtzee board to contain numbers 1-6 and have the children use a single die, crossing off the numbers as they roll them.
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Be adding single-digit numbers 1-6 with ease
Child care providers may:
  • Add three dice and modify the Yahtzee card to include numbers 3-18 (The children will learn the hard way how hard it is to roll a three or an 18!)

Suggested Books

  • Addition the Fun Way Book for Kids: A Picture Method of Learning the Addition Facts by Judy Liautaud (Minneapolis, MN: City Creek Press, 1996)
  • The Mission of Addition (Math Is Categorical) by Brian P. Cleary (Minneapolis, MN: First Avenue Edition, 2007)
  • Let’s Throw the Dice (Let’s Move) by Heidi Linder (Meyer & Meyer Verlag, 2003)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

Web Resources

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