On Saturday we had a visit from four friends – my college roommate, her husband, and their two sons, who are six and three.

The three year-old and I found, in a box of old games, a cribbage board.  He was enamored of the board when he saw the hidden compartment which houses the little pegs.  He also liked the surface, with a track corresponding to each of the three peg colors in the compartment.  He decided that we would each choose a color and then move the pegs around the board according to what we each rolled on a  six-sided die.

He is mostly confident at counting up to six, but has trouble distinguishing between the four and the five on a die.  I was reminded, when I noticed this, of how much math learning will take care of itself in the course of dice games played with young children.

I didn’t have to do any instructing about this four and five thing, though I’d have been willing to if I’d been asked. I just counted out four each time I rolled a four, and counted out five each time I rolled a five.  When he wasn’t sure which he’d rolled, he’d say one or the other, lifting his tone slightly at the end, just enough of a question for me to confirm or correct whichever he’d chose. After a few rounds of this he stopped getting the two confused, and stopped reading the numbers as questions, because he knew he had figured it out.

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