To Accumulate a Rate — Integrate!

Teaching High School Mathematics

Factoring with Dice


I play a game in class called guess my dice right before we do factoring. I made this up when I taught a low level Algebra 2 class. I roll two dice that have more than six sides. (I started with six siders and then very quickly went to a local game store and bought some 8,10, and 12 sided dice.)
I tell my students that my dice add to 19 and multiply to 88 and ask them to guess my dice. I try to play this at the end of class for a week or two as I have time leading up to factoring. Then when they discover how to factor this dice guessing skill is very helpful. They always realize what I’ve done and think I’m really tricky.

Level 1: Two dice – For each level progress to higher sided dice.

Level 2: One red and one yellow (any colors) – The red die is negative. (don’t tell them)

Level 3: Two dice – Both dice are negative.

Level 4: Two dice – mix Levels 1-3. Sometimes give “fake” numbers with an impossible solution. When they give up or say it’s not possible, ask how they know they have exhausted all possibilities. – suggestion from a comment on Dy/Dan by Timstudiesmath.

Level 5: I just came up with a possible level 5. — Create a table of all the possibilities for sums and products and the corresponding values that my dice would be.

Another option but not really a level: Once students “get how to play” they can play in groups of four with one player as the dice roller.

Factoring with Dice part 2 (or more like part 0.5)


18 comments on “Factoring with Dice

  1. Pingback: dy/dan » Blog Archive » Factor Dice

  2. Pingback: Factoring Dice | Algebra 2 Blog

  3. Pingback: Factoring Dice | Algebra One Blog

  4. Ellen
    September 7, 2012

    I love that idea. (Just subscribed your blog because of it – being right at the beginning of my life as a teacher, such ideas are GOLD for me. Thank you so much for sharing!)

  5. kaleb40
    September 7, 2012

    No problem.

    I forgot to mention the negatives. Once they are kicking butt on the positives I up the dice to more sides and or go back to smaller dice and make one of them negative. I have two different colored dice, so I just make one color negative. I don’t tell them this, but they figure it out pretty quick when my numbers multiply to a negative number. Then I do both as a negative.

  6. I Speak Math
    September 8, 2012

    I like this much better than the x puzzles! Thanks for the great idea!

    • kaleb40
      September 8, 2012

      What are the X puzzles?

      • mrowen
        September 10, 2012

        Not sure if this is what she was referring to, but I do something similar to your dice game where I have students draw an X on a whiteboard, then tell them: “two numbers multiply to give 12 and add up to 7” (top and bottom spaces), and they fill in the other two spaces with the two numbers. But I like your dice idea a lot better! It makes it even more gamelike and that’s the best part of this activity.

  7. @aeakland
    September 8, 2012

    Awesome idea! I think I can use this with my sixth graders, but never mention factoring.They’ll just think of it as a fun game. When they eventually get to factoring two years from now, I’m thinking their teacher might have a much easier time teaching it. 🙂

    • kaleb40
      September 8, 2012

      Definitely, great idea. They’ll be wondering what they did differently. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Favorite Math Class Games – MS Sunday Funday | I Speak Math

  9. merryfwilliams
    September 10, 2012

    This is great! I do the “x’s” too (and they’ve helped a lot!). This will be a really fun way to get them practicing their factoring skills before we even start!

  10. Fawn Nguyen
    September 14, 2012

    Hi Kaleb. I have a bunch of many-sided dice that I bought for a different game, but I like this much better! The levels definitely kick it up a notch. Thanks!

    It’s my honor to feature you this week at

  11. Sue VanHattum
    September 14, 2012

    Kaleb, this is great! I teach college, but even there, the beginning algebra and pre-algebra students might benefit from this game. An extension to the game might be to use 3 dice, though that doesn’t really correspond to the factoring of binomials.

    I think I’d like to put this game into the book I’m putting together(Playing With Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers), would you email me if you’d like to share it there? I’m at math anthology editor (no spaces) on gmail.

  12. Pingback: Factoring with Dice part 0.5 « To Accumulate a Rate — Integrate!

  13. Pingback: My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

  14. swarovski
    March 2, 2014

    These are truly fantastic ideas in on the topic
    of blogging. You have touched some nice factors here.
    Any way keep up wrinting.

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This entry was posted on September 7, 2012 by in Algebra and tagged , , , , , , .
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