Inside: this Star Wars game makes practicing doubles and near doubles so much fun your kids will beg you to print out more game pages
When I tell my homeschooling friends that I follow Common Core State Standards, they gasp in horror. Isn’t the main reason to homeschool to get away from that despicable requirement?
Then I explain. I look at the Common Core website for the list of base skills and concepts and teach them to my kids in the most fun way possible. One of the key principles of Common Core is to provide high-quality academic standards, and I’m all for high standards.
When I discovered that the next skill we must practice is Doubles (2+2, 3+3, etc.) and Near Doubles (or double plus one as in 2+3), I had to ponder it for some time. How much fun can elementary kids get from practicing doubles and near double in a traditional way? Not much.
Why practice doubles and near doubles?
Mastering doubles and near doubles is one of those fundamental tasks that help develop number sense and confidence with numbers. I could see the proof of that when my older kids were learning multiplication. It was our very first Multiplication Table day with my six-year-old, and even though we played many games that promoted the same idea, I never actually explained what Multiplication Tables were at that point. Right after we covered the 2s, my daughter asked to do 7s. I said,”It would be too hard,” but she insisted we try. My daughter was talking aloud through her calculations. I said, “7×2” and she said, “Well, it’s just double seven, so 14.” When we got to “7×4,” she said (and bear in mind that it was her first day with this concept), “Well, the way I see it, it’s just two doubles, 14 + 14 = 28.”
I was really impressed when she made that connection! What’s more, since she didn’t have to calculate 7+7 because she knew it as a fact, her mind was free to roam and make higher order calculations. Practicing all those doubles really paid off!
One can’t get proficient in math without first developing automaticity with the basics because it opens up a space for higher, more creative math. It’s like learning to play the piano. When you are starting out, you have to practice scales and actively think about accuracy and timing. Once you master technical skills, you can get creative and start experimenting with making your own unique, beautiful music.
So to make practicing this skill over and over again fun, I linked it to the topic my kids are interested in right now, Star Wars. How much fun can elementary kids get from practicing doubles and near double with Darth Vader? A lot of fun!
My kids loved this game! I didn’t even have to invite them to play it. I would walk into the kitchen after putting the baby down for a nap and find dozens and dozens of filled pages covering the floor. When they ran out of recording sheets I printed for them, they drew the domino shapes by hand and kept playing!
Make sure your child understands what is double and near double and why we need to know it.
The easiest way to make a big number is to double a small number. When the number is added to itself, we call it a double.
1+1, 2+2, 3+3, 4+4, 5+5, 6+6.
Near Doubles build on the idea of doubles and helps us do calculations faster. Instead of adding the number to itself, we add it to the number that follows it. 1+2, 2+3, 3+4, 4+5, 5+6. You can also think of near double as Double+1.
For example, 2+3 is a double two plus one, or 2+2+1. If you have four match cars and someone gave you five more cars for your birthday, now you have 4+5, and in your mind, you might break 5 into 4+1, so that 4+(4+1)=9
Star Wars Game
What you need
Two six-sided dice per player
Two colored pencils (we picked blue and red)
Record sheet (our recording sheet or just draw one by hand)
Star Wars Characters (or any other characters that appeal to your kids. We played Cinderella Vs. T-Rex once and apple Vs. banana. The loser got eaten!)
How to play
- Throw two dice. Each throw is one battle.
- Copy the two dot patterns from the dice onto the shape on the board, drawing each dice pattern separately on either side of the same domino shape.
- If you get a double, color the whole domino the first color you picked. If you get a near double, color the whole domino shape the second color you picked. In our game today, boys decided that doubles go to Rebels (blue color) and near doubles go to Empire (color red).
- When the game is up, write down the score (i.e., 5:4) and celebrate the winning side.
- When more than one kid is using the same record sheet, invite them to take turns throwing dice.
- In the beginning, kids will be counting the dice spots by touching each spot with a finger, but as they getter bet with it, encourage them to recognize the patterns without counting the spots.
- Make it more advanced by throwing four dice. Add two dice and record the number on one side of the domino shape. Add the other two dice and record the sum on the other side of the domino shape. Watch for doubles and near doubles.
Use the empty template to come up with your own theme. Skittles Vs. M&Ms? Red Sippy Cup Vs. Green Sippy Cup? Broccoli Vs. Baby Carrots (the loser gets eaten!).
Some Other Star Wars & LEGO Ideas For You