I fell upon this post at What Do We Do All Day? sometime last year all about the game Tenzi, and I am SO glad! Tenzi is a brilliantly simple game that was an instant favorite for me, my daughter, and my students.
Basically you need twenty dice between two players. It is easier if they are two different colors, but certainly not necessary. Each player has ten dice. At the same time both players roll their ten dice.
The players then look at their dice and select the number that came up the most. So, when looking at my ten, I see that I had managed to roll “2” three times. So I would KEEP those three 2s and decide to “roll for 2s.”
My daughter, at the same time, rolled four 1s, so she is rolling for 1s.
We then pick up the rest of our dice (all of mine that were NOT 2, all of hers that were NOT 1) and roll again. We continue rolling until one of us successfully rolls all of their given number. The first to do this is the winner!
The game is fast and furious, and only takes about two minutes from start to finish. The goal from an educator’s stand point is to work on subitising. This is the child’s ability to quickly recognize a number formation as a given number without counting. Most of us, as adults, can roll any number on a standard die and know immediately what we rolled. We don’t count the dots one by one, but many students do. Tenzi helps them to internalize these formations quickly.
We are on school holidays at the moment, which means two weeks of vacation between terms. My daughter and I were looking for something to do, and we decided to play Tenzi. At the moment life is very exciting because she is the same age as my students, so I can double dip on both sides with lots of ideas, fun, and games.
Our problem was that we did not have twenty standard dice at home (who does?!) I was ready to give up, but she went scavenging and found twenty dice. However, they were not standard dice. She returned with some standard, some dice with the numerals written, some eight sided, and some twenty sided dice. At first I hesitated, but I am so glad we pressed on!
Without even trying, she had differentiated the game for me. By playing with mixed dice, the player has to be able to quickly identify some dot cubes and some written numerals, connecting both to their quantities. In addition, having some dice with twenty sides meant that we were regularly rolling numbers 1-20 rather than only 1-6. This was such a simple way to make the game more challenging!
And better yet, it gave a great way to teach a bit about probability. Obviously you are more likely to roll your given number quickly on a six sided die than on a twenty sided one. In fact, my daughter and I played one round where she had all six sided dice and I had all of the misfits. Sure enough, she won! What a simple way to demonstrate chance.
Twenty dice (especially several sets of twenty) is a lot. However, they are well worth it. A trip to the dollar store will give you weeks and weeks of fantastic games!