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Equation Race

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Short description of activity:  Students race to find the numbers on rolled dice and identify their sum.

Type of activity: Team Building, Energizer, Content Connection

Minimum Time Needed for Activity: 20 Min

Grade Level: K- 4th

Subject Area: Math

Materials For each team:         

  • Pair of dice
  • Whiteboard/chalk board/paper with blank equation written on it like: ___ + ___ = ___  (or minus)
  • Cards with numbers 1 through 12. One each 7-12; 2 each 1-6

Set up:

  1. On one side of space create a “start” line. Each team has dice and equation at their start line.
  2. On the far side of the space lay out cards for each team.


  1. Divide students into teams. Each team gathers at their board/dice.
  2. On ‘go’ teams roll dice.
  3. One student from each team runs to the opposite side to get a card that matches one of the dice and returns to “start” to place in the blank equation. Student runs again to get a card that matches the other die and returns to “start” to place in the blank equation.  Student then runs to get a card that represents the answer to the equation.
    • Example: if a 2 and a 6 are thrown, student runs, gets the number 2, and places it on the first blank. Returns to number pile and gets the 6, places on the equation. Returns to the pile and gets the 8 to place as the answer. Student creates the equation “2 + 6 = 8”
  4. Teacher verifies the answer is correct before the numbers are returned to the pile and next student takes her/his turn. Continue until all of the students have had a turn.
    • If the answer was incorrect, student returns the incorrect card and returns with the correct one.


  • Remaining teammates can be doing action while waiting their turn (jumping jacks, squats, etc.)
  • Students can vary their approach to numbers (gallop, crabwalk, skip, etc)
  • Use cards with the words for the numbers written out instead of numbers, or count out manipulatives (unifix blocks, erasers, etc.) to fill the equation.
  • Turns can be taken by three students at a time, two each with a die and the third gets the answer. Only one student runs to the pile at a time.
  • Thrown dice could be one addend and the answer; students need to find the other addend. (using the above example:  2 + __ = 6)
  • Students can use Unifix blocks, popsicle sticks, any other manipulative instead of numbers, or playing cards.
  • Dice can be used to make 2-digit numbers and student writes it on board instead of running and getting numbers (if they continue to run and get numbers, additional will need to be made to make 2-digit numbers).
    • Using the above example: first throw would make 26, second throw makes another two-digit number to be added to 26
    • Students can use whatever strategy being taught at the moment: tenframes, ten-sticks and ones, carats with tens and ones, numberlines, etc). Showing their work could be a requirement.
  • After the equation is solved, have students identify “plus one” with the equation answer.
  • Remaining teammates check the math by using other manipulatives.
  • Equation could be changed to comparisons: >, =, and <
  • For 3rd and 4th grade, the equation can be multiplication with handwritten answer.
  • Use dice with higher numbers.
  • Use playing cards with the face cards removed.


Math > Operations & Algebraic Thinking > Add and Subtract within 20;  Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction; Represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division.

Math > Counting and Cardinality > Know number names and the count sequence; Count to tell the number of objects; Compare Numbers.

Math > Number & Operations in Base Ten > Work with numbers 11-19 to gain foundations for place value; Use place value understanding and properties of operations to add and subtract; Extend the counting sequence; Use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic; Understand the place value system.

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