Games that Teach – Yahtzee and Adding

So I think I can add fast. I’m pretty sure I can. Small numbers are simple for everyone, and obviously larger numbers are harder, but I think I’m pretty good all around at quick adding and small multiplication (which is adding).

After a while of just “being good” at it I started to wonder why I was. It’s not like I’m that different from everybody, and it’s certainly not like I have the lamest super power ever. I think I finally figured it out.


Yes, that little dice rolling game that your grandparents play sometimes. In case you forgot the rules they involve adding up the total of the dice in most cases. In some cases it is all the dice and in some it is a specific type of dice but it still requires simple addition. And with final scores of about 250 per game all that adding adds up.

Now quick adding isn’t particularly necessary for this game, but it certainly helps. And my mother and I have played so often now that we basically know what moves we are going to make before the dice have lost all of their momentum. And when one is hastily passing the cup to another person, it comes in handy to be able to add the final total when you are scooping the dice up. Of course I’m not perfect at this and sometimes I need to pause but those times are few and far between.

Now, has this helped me in any way? Yes. That would be the short answer. Being able to add quickly was immensely helpful in may math class where I finished 20 or so minutes before everyone else (except for the two people who were about as speedy as me). Now, I’m not saying the Yahtzee was the sole reason for this but it certainly helped. And the modular system for adding used in Yahtzee is still the basis for my mental addition. It may not be the best or most efficient way, but I think it makes the most sense.

Playing Yahtzee with other people, especially children, seems to improve the adding capacities of those people. Or vice versa: a person who adds fast tends to like Yahtzee. I would definitely play this with kids as a way to strengthen their adding skills and teach them how pushing their luck can sometimes backfire.

It’s really a great game that most everyone can enjoy. It can take a lot of players (technically an infinite amount) and helps them socialize and train their brains. I think it really helped me and I hope it has, can, and will help other people.

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