Monster Dice Fight

Monster Dice Fight is a proto-D&D game for preschoolers. My husband was eager for our sons to get big enough to play D&D with him, and I suggested they were big enough now -- if we adjusted the game. I had recently been in early learning standard presentations, so that was on my mind as well.

Players: 2 or more

Materials Required:
Paper or coloring sheets
Crayons
D10 dice (be careful! they are choking hazards!)
Scoresheet

The Game:
1) Draw or Color Monsters. Each player (including adults!) does this. Older children can draw their own monsters on blank sheets; younger children can color in monsters from a coloring book or that you can print off the internet. Searching "monster coloring pages" pulls up dozens of sites with free coloring pages of various sorts of monsters.

While coloring, encourage children to invent backstory for the monsters. With young children, we talk about how the monsters are friends and having a wrestling contest to see who is stronger. With older children, we make up stories about the monsters attacking a town to get coconuts to eat or whatever. We let the children take the lead; the stories often closely resemble the plots of books we've read recently

2) Name the Monsters. Each player comes up with a name for his or her monster, which is written on the score sheet. Children who can write letters can write their monster's name on the monster's page and practice letters. For beginning writers, we write out the name they decided and let the child copy the letters on to the page.

3) Roll Dice. The storytelling gets to a point where the monsters must fight. Each player rolls a D10 and states what their number is. The adult/gamemaster writes down each number next to the monster's name, and children old enough to compare numbers declare which number is the largest and, therefore, which monster wins.

4) Do It Again! Monsters may fight several times in a row (rolling dice is fun!) or spaced out within the storytelling portion of the game. Player may count up which monster wins the most fights or may simply count each fight as it goes. When you're bored of those monsters, color new ones and start again!

We generally do some coloring, do some dice-rolling, color some more, roll some more, and so on, but some children may prefer to keep each section separate.

Learning Standards:
I am not an early childhood or curriculum expert, but there are many Illinois Early Learning Standards that you can work on with "Monster Dice Fight."

Under "Language Arts," children practice imaginative and collaborative storytelling, learn new words from adults describing their monsters, respond to questions about their monster's appearance and actions and increase the detail they provide. They also may practice writing and phonetic spelling when writing down the monster's name, as well as recognizing each monster's name on the "scoreboard."

Under "Mathematics," children recognize the numbers on the dice, and compare which number is larger/smaller to decide which monster "wins." They may count up the number of wins for each monster. They may also use size words (height, weight, etc.) in describing the monsters or their activities. If there are more than two monsters, using ordinal numbers such as "first," "second," and "third" to describe how each monster "finished" in the battle. Parents might also encourage children to use dice with pips (dots) and count up the pips, or for each monster to use two dice and add up the numbers (or count up the pips) on both dice. Choose dice with an appropriate number of sides for children to accomplish the math. A younger child might be given a D12 where he can recognize all the numbers, and an older child 2 D6s where he has to add them up. It is easy to create buffs or debuffs where children must add 1 to each roll or subtract 2 from each roll.

Under "Science," children collect and compare the "data" about the dice rolls on the scoreboard and analyze it to decide which monster wins overall. Parents might also use the game to transmit specific scientific data, by setting it in a particular environment (desert, jungle), by choosing real-life monsters (tigers, bears) and adjusting the game accordingly, or by talking about ideas like predators (forward-facing eyes, claws) or reptiles (cold blooded) or so on and how these might affect each monster.

Under "Social Studies," children must engage in basic turn-taking as with many games. Parents might also introduce maps to the game as it grows more complicated. 

Under "Physical Development," Monster Dice Fight utilizes fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in the coloring, writing, and dice-rolling (and writing tools for the first two tasks). There is a minor emphases on safety (don't eat the dice) and children must follow rules for simple games.

Under "The Arts," children participate in dramatic and visual arts play through Monster Dice Fight's storytelling and coloring activities. They also describe and respond to their own creative work and that of others, working both alone and collaboratively.

For "Social/Emotional Skills," children may label their monster's feelings, talk about why monsters might be fighting or cooperating, express excitement or frustration when they win or lose a battle, and follow the rules of the game. They may show engagement in the sustained task of the game. It gives them a way to interact as relative peers with familiar adults, as well as with same- and different-aged children. Because the game is very verbal, children must use their words to participate and must listen to others to develop the cooperative nature of the game.

Parents can adjust the game in a variety of ways to help their children with specific developmental tasks, and can at the same time create appropriate challenges within the game for children of different ages. An 18-month-old might sit on a parent's lap and scribble on the monster and roll the die with help while a 3-year-old gives his monster a name and compares the rolls to decide which is largest. A 5-year-old might be given the job of adding and subtracting multiple dice and maintaining the scoreboard. The game is easy to learn and can be played by any number of adults and children, and it is fun for the participating adults.

Enjoy Monster Dice Fight!

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