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Probability Math Game Ideas

Chips, cards and dice are great manipulatives.

Perhaps one of the hardest mathematical concepts to teach children, probability can be demonstrated easily through the use of probability math games. It just takes a little thinking outside of the textbook in order to brainstorm ways to create games for children to learn this aspect of math.


According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, probability is "the ratio of the number of outcomes in an exhaustive set of equally likely outcomes that produce a given event to the total number of possible outcomes." Additionally, it is defined as, "The chance that a given event will occur."

More simply, it is the likelihood that a specific event will occur. Put in those words, the concept of probability seems very simple. However, there are a lot of aspects to consider when figuring the probability of an event, and these concepts need to be demonstrated to children in a way in which they can understand and comprehend.

Sometimes the best way to teach is to play. Games that demonstrate probability principles also reflect how the concept is utilized in everyday life. Probability math games are a great way to teach this concept.

Probability Math Games

While there are some specific games offered by companies that specialize in educational games and toys, other games can be created to teach these concepts. It only takes a little creativity and ability to think about the concept outside of the classroom to come up with some of these ideas.

Fish Tank

This is an online game found at the BBC website that has players indicate the probability of catching a red fish. There are three levels, fun sound effects and simple graphics that will interest a child for a time. This game could adequately serve preschoolers to middle school-aged children. Each level encourages thinking about the concept of probability in different ways. For instance, Level One asks players what the probability of catching a red fish is based on the number of fish currently in the tank. Level Three questions players about the number of fish needed in the tank based on the already established probability of catching a red fish.

Game of Pig

Designed for two or more players, this game has players roll the dice as many times as wanted, keeping track of the total of the sums that come up on each roll. The catch is that if the player rolls a "1," the player's turn is ended, and the score for that turn returns to zero. If both dice reveal a "1," then the player's turn is ended and the accumulated total becomes zero.

After playing for awhile, students are asked about the chances of rolling too long and rolling a "1" or a double "1."

Two-Dice Sums

This is a great game for elementary school age children. Two or more players compete with two dice, 11 counters, a counter strip that lists all numbers two through 12 and a sheet of paper for recording results. The object is to remove all counters in the fewest rolls of dice as possible.All counters are arranged by the players on the counter strip. As players take turns rolling the dice, the sum of each roll is removed from the counting strip. Players should keep track of how many rolls it takes them to remove all counters from the strip. This helps students learn the rules of probability with dice.

Card and Gambling Games

Children can be taught the rules of probability with simple games like Black Jack, Roulette and Poker. While some find it questionable to expose children to these games, it can't be disputed that they demonstrate the concepts of probability well. Once children learn to recognize cards and their values, they start to recognize how often the cards come up. This is an excellent way for children to see the real world aspects of probability.

Science Fair Projects

Many children learn probability with simple science fair projects. They create a hypothesis about the number of times an event will occur. For instance, in a coin toss, they can graph it and then demonstrate how probability occurs.

It's relatively simple to teach children math with probability math games.


Probability Math Game Ideas