Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shut the Box, aka Beat the Sailor: Fun with Number Combinations

"Wanna play UNO?" 


"How about Shut the Box?"

"No! I want to go to finishing school!"

"I'm not sure we have one around here."

"But we can do it at home."

"True.  I know!  Every fine young lady needs to know how to outsmart a sailor."  Noooo...there was nothing at all off color implied here, it's just that... "Shut the Box is the sailor's game, you know.  Part of your finishing could be to learn how to beat them at their own game!"


"Because fine young ladies also need to learn to be smart and strong and know how to think for themselves."

"Okay!  Let's play!"

And, in case you didn't know, Shut the Box is fabulous for practicing combinations of ten [Edit: That's not what I meant!  I meant finding different ways to make the number you roll with the two dice.  Duh!].  And then you add up the leftover points, which can go into the twenties if you haven't yet figured out all the strategies.  (She's been doing all this in her head, sometimes with fingers for the larger numbers.)

And...once she is really strong with tens we can move on to a game that didn't quite work a few weeks ago -- 'Tic Tac 15'.  The stronger she gets at adding, the more adept she is at skip counting and figuring out her own answers for questions that require multiplicative thinking.

For instance, we were at the grocery store the other day, walking through the wine section (I know, I know, this all has a sordid cast to it, but really, it's all circumstantial and quite innocent).  There was a case of bottles and a sign that said "$10.99 a bottle".  I didn't even notice it until, unbidden, she started counting, "Ten, twenty, thirty...."

She was trying to figure out how much the whole case cost!  Next time I'll try to keep my wits about me and mention that $10.99 is actually very close to $11.00 and then I show her the fun in skip counting by elevens!

p.s. In case it isn't clear, I'm taking the role of the sailor.  I'm also the coach -- I've been walking her through the strategy of shutting the higher numerals first (sort of like in UNO) so you don't get stuck with those points at the end, but on my turn I play more erratically so that she wins.  For now, anyhow.   At some point we'll move on to timed rounds or something even more cutthroat.  It is a sailor's game, after all.


  1. Interesting. I'll have to look up how to play this with multiples of ten. We play it now, but just by adding the total of the dice, or subtracting if he feels like it.

  2. Oh, Lora, it's much simpler than multiples of ten. I think I'm going to have to edit that to say what I really meant -- that it's good for finding different combinations of one number -- you know, if you roll a 3 and 5 (meaning 8) you can shut those numbers, or two 4s, or a 1 and a 7, etc. Thanks for catching me on that one!

  3. This game is also a hit at our house.

    1. It's sort of addictive, once you get the hang of it. The day after I posted this, my daughter 'shut' the box three times! And, we figured out how to play when we're out and about -- We just draw the numbers in little boxes on a napkin and cross out the numbers as we use them. I keep dice in my purse just for this purpose (plus the odd grouping game).


Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!


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