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National Dice Day: Dice games for the whole family

National Dice Day: Dice games for the whole family

Dice games have been a part of celebrations and family get-togethers for many years. They are a perfect option for so many reasons—they are affordable and they provide activities for all ages. Dice games can also be educational. Counting, waiting your turn and strategy can be learned through a game of dice. Whether you are looking for a quick 5-minute game or one that lasts for an hour, dice games can offer fun options.

In honor of National Dice Day, here are some of our favorite dice games for the family:

Beat that!

This game is perfect for younger kids and can also be adapted for older children and adults. Players learn number combinations and scoring.

What is needed: Minimum of 2 dice, maximum of 7, depending on age; paper and pencil for scoring

How to play: The object is for each person to roll the highest number possible. With two dice, if a 3 and 5 are rolled, that person’s highest number rolled is a ‘53’. The next person to roll needs to beat that number. The game can be played in reverse: roll the smallest number possible.

Going to Boston.

This game is perfect for practicing math skills with younger kids, but can also keep teens and adults sharp on their addition or multiplication.

What is needed: 3 dice; paper and pencil for scoring

How to play: Each player rolls 3 dice. On the first roll, player keeps the highest dice. On the second roll of remaining 2 dice, player again keeps the highest dice. Roll the last die and add up all 3 dice for a total. That is the number of points earned in that round. Older kids can multiply the dice for a challenge.

Blackjack dice (or 21).

This game is similar to the well-known card game. Each player must get as close to 21 without going over. Skills learned include risk and counting.

What is needed: 2 dice; paper and pencil for scoring

How to play: Decide on a number to reach for the end of the game. For example, the winner is the first person to reach 20 points. To play a round, each player rolls 2 dice. Add up the score and throw again. Add that throw’s total to the previous throw. Once the player’s total has reached 16, the player has the option to stop or roll one additional die. If the total goes above 21, the player has ‘busted’. At the end of the round, those who scored exactly 21 earn 2 points. The player closest to 21 earns 1 point. If two players have exactly the same score, no points are given in that round. The overall winner is the person who reaches the agreed number of points (in this example, 20 points).

Ahead and behind.

Like to wager? This game requires a small (or big) wager and can include as many people as you like. Learn about chance and having patience!

What is needed: 3 dice; 3 quarters (pennies, nickels, dimes, or individually wrapped candy such as Starburst work too!)

How to play: Each player starts out by rolling 3 dice. If a 1, 2, or 3 is rolled, that player gets to keep their quarters. If they roll a 4, one quarter goes to the middle, or “the pot”. Roll a 5, one quarter is passed to the person on the left. Roll a 6, one quarter is passed to the person on the right. The quarters move from person to person, depending on what is rolled. All players roll a die for every quarter in front of them, with a maximum of 3 dice being rolled. As players take turns rolling, one round may have a player passed because they have no quarters, but in the next round, that same player may be back in the game shaking 3 dice. The player holding the last quarter wins “the pot” if they roll a 1, 2, or 3.


Perfect for a neighborhood get together! Traditionally multiple tables are going at one time. Learn about odds, risk, and just all out fun!

What is needed: 3 dice; paper and pencil for scoring for each player; bell for head table

How to playThis game consists of six rounds where all players roll 3 dice in hopes of rolling the number for each round. Example: Players will try to roll 1s during Round 1. If a player rolls 3-of-a-kind of that round number, they have a Bunco, resulting in 21 points. Each round ends when a Bunco is rolled. The player winning the most rounds is the overall winner.

Thousands of dice games can be found. Some can be purchased as board games such as YahtzeeFarkle, and Tenzi. At your next holiday or family bonding night at home, grab some dice and have fun!

Photo copyright: ewastudio / 123RF Stock Photo

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