Two Player Games for Staying Inside

I have always loved playing games, and I married someone who loves them just as much as I do. Justin and I are both competitive and love strategy so we thrive on the energy of a great game. Throughout our marriage we have had countless game nights – we love having friends over to play games and we’re always up for learning something new. We’ve accumulated a lot of games over the years and while we generally choose games that we can play with more people, we have also collected some games specifically for their 2-player options because we love the occasional date night game at home!

In these strange days of social distancing, we are spending more time than ever with each other at home. One silver lining to this is that it’s given us the opportunity to spend lots of quality time with each other in the evenings once our kids are in bed. Of course, we’ve watched our share of Netflix too, but we’ve also pulled out puzzles and games and had a lot of fun with some friendly competition to take our mind off the anxieties of the world.

Today I thought I’d share some of our favorite games to play with one another at home. There are always classic options like Scrabble or Uno, but I thought it’d be fun to share some other games we enjoy in case anyone is looking for a fun option to play now that so many of us are staying home.

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Our Top Favorites

Citadels

This card-building game involves choosing characters, building cities, and collecting resources. It’s pretty quick to learn and easy to play but does involve quite a bit of strategy and secrecy. We have actually never played it with more than two players so I can’t speak to it as a group game, but we really enjoy it as a two player game!

Carcassonne

This game involves drawing tiles and laying them down to essentially create a giant, interconnected medieval world. You are building off one what everyone else lays down, but the strategy involves being able to stake claim on what is being built. We enjoy this game as a two-player but it is also really fun as a group game. We even bought the expansion pack so we can play with up to 5 players. It is recommended for ages 8+ and I think it would be a great option for a family game night as well!

Takenoko

This quirky tile-building game involves accumulating points based on completing card objectives in cultivating land plots and growing different species of bamboo. I think it’s pretty easy to get the hang of and we have played with both two and four people – equally as fun!

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries

I love the Ticket to Ride board game franchise, but most games are for at least 3 players. We were thrilled to find this version, which is a smaller game board and meant for only 2-3 players. Ticket to Ride involves creating train routes between destinations and involves a lot of strategy, yet is really easy to learn and relatively quick to play.

Hand and Foot Card Game

If all you have are a couple decks of regular playing cards, Hand and Foot is a great option. It’s kind of a rummy-style game where you try use multiple decks of cards to try to generate “books” of the same type of cards (a book of 7’s, a book of queens, etc). When we first started dating, Justin and I used to play this game all the time with my roommates and we had so much fun, but it is also a fun game for two players (instead of 4 people working in 2-player teams, each player just works on laying down their own books). Everyone’s rules are slightly different, so I would suggest googling a few different versions and figure out what works for you!

Honorable Mentions

These games are ones we have that have a 2-player option and are still decently fun, although we ultimately prefer to play with more people.

Rummikub

This tile-laying rummy game is a classic! I will say playing with only two players does make the game seem slower overall. Justin and I just played this last night and there were several rounds in a row where we each were stuck and kept drawing tiles. With more people, there is usually someone who can lay a tile and alter the playing options so the game seems to move faster. Still, it was a decently fun option for two players!

Forbidden Island

This cooperative game has players working together to gather all of the islands treasures before it sinks. This isn’t our go-to game for two players, but it’s a good option for when we need a little variety. And it’s nice sometimes to have a game where you work together against the game itself instead of competing with the other player.

Potential 2 Player

These games are all games we own that include a 2-player variant; however, we have not played them with just two players yet so I can’t actually verify that the 2-player version is fun. Before this social distancing is done, we’ll probably play many of these games and I’ll be sure to report back and update with my thoughts once we do! I can say they are all winners for more than two players, so if you happen to be socially distancing with older children or more adults, these are great options!

Codenames

Phase 10

Rook

Seven Wonders

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Exploding Kittens

 

What are your favorite games to play? I’m always up for learning about other options! 🙂

 

Teacher Tuesday: Dice Edition

Another Teacher Tuesday is here!

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I do a lot of remediation with my students, particularly in math. While I am a special education teacher, I do a lot with the whole class because there are many students without disabilities who still struggle with retaining math facts.

I’ve come up with several games and activities to play to practice the facts in new ways so they get exposure to the facts and practice them while staying engaged the whole time.  All the activities I’m sharing today are done with dice. I have found that while many multiplication games feel “baby-ish” to my middle schoolers, they love to roll the dice for these games. It allows them to take some ownership in their math facts since they’re the ones “creating” the facts  and it’s a nice break from yet another worksheet.

Easy ways to practice multiplication with dice

1. Simple roll and multiply. First up is extremely simple. The students get two die (di? dice? I’m never sure with this one.) Because I had green and white available, students got one of each but you can use the same color. They roll both and multiply the two numbers together. They then have to write the multiplication problem down and roll again to create a new problem. I like this too because it is self-paced. If a student has to think for five minutes to remember what 3 x 6 is, no problem! The rest of the class isn’t held up.

Variation #1 of simple roll and multiply. Students get three dice. Here I gave them two green and one white. They roll the white to get the first number in the multiplication problem. Then they roll BOTH green dice together and find the sum of the numbers rolled. This gives them the second number in the multiplication problem. This involves a little more higher-level thinking but my students caught on quick!

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And yes, I let the students write on their desk! They use an Expo dry erase marker and it wipes right off with a paper towel and a small amount of dry erase board cleaner. No damage to the desks and the students LOVE it!

Variation #2 of simple roll and multiply. Same as above but students get four dice. Here I gave them two green and two white. They roll both white together and find the sum to get the first number in the multiplication problem. Then they roll both green dice together and find the sum of the numbers rolled to get the second number in the problem. I like this because it asks them to do two operations, which is a skill they will need to use a lot as they move forward in math! I would not do this variation until they are solid with the simple roll and multiply.

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Multiplication Chart Fill-In. Here I gave the students blank multiplication charts and dice. I gave them four but you could make it work with two.

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The goal of this activity was to fill in as much of the chart as they could in a certain amount of time. They couldn’t just fill it in though, they had to roll the multiples!

I gave them one minute with rolling just TWO die. The rules were the same as the “simple roll and multiply” above. I did let them fill in both squares for each problem (2 x 3 = 6 and 3 x 2 = 6) because it was a good opportunity to expose them to the commutative property of multiplication.

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After one minute was up, I had them roll three die. Same as the variation of the simple roll and multiply above: the single di was the first number and the sum of the next two di was the second number in the multiplication problem. My students were so used to all the variations of the simple roll and multiply that they could easily transition to this without getting confused. Then I gave them one minute with rolling all four dice (sum of first two = first number, sum of second two = second number).

Multiplication with dice (3)-001 Multiplication with dice (4)-001

Variations: 

1. Continue 3 minute cycles for however much time you have (last 15 minutes of class? Do five one-minute cycles of each. Just a few minutes? Do one or two cycles of each)

2. With one or two minutes left at the end of this activity, tell the students to put down the die and now fill in as many as they can on their own.

3. Turn it into a competition

a. First student to get thirty boxes filled in gets a prize.

b. First student to fill the whole chart gets a prize.

c. All students get a prize as they get thirty/whole chart/etc.

4. If your students are just beginners, give them only a 6 x 6 multiplication chart and have them fill in using the simple roll and multiply.

Whole Class Activity: Multiplication Dice “Bingo.” I’ll admit, this isn’t truly Bingo; however, my students still had fun with it. Each student gets a Bingo chart with products in it. I got simple charts here but you could make your own to reflect the specific fact families you want to work on.

Students would come up one at a time to roll two giant foam di in the front of the room (this was fun for them because I allowed them to gently bounce it off the wall if they wanted.) The student would roll the di, following the simple roll and multiply rule, and tell us the product. For example, if he rolled a 2 and a 5, he would say “2 x 5 = 10.”

I would have 2-3 students come up and repeat the same process, then I would switch and have the next 2-3 students do the first variation of the simple roll and multiply (first dice rolled = first number, second roll uses two di and the sum = the second number). For example, the student may now roll a 3 on the first roll and a 4 and a 5 (4 + 5 = 9) on the second roll so she would call out “3 x 9 = 27.”

The next 2-3 students would do the second variation of the roll and multiply (first roll uses two di, sum = first number; second roll uses two di, sum = second number). This student may roll the two di and get a 1 and 4 (1 + 4 = 5) on the first roll and a 3 and 5 (3 + 5 = 8) on the second roll so he would call out “5 x 8 = 40.”

This activity sounds rather complex, but even my lowest students understood the concept once I demonstrated each type of roll (keep in mind they are sixth graders). They all enjoyed it! The standard rules of Bingo apply: once you get five across or down, call out “Bingo” and tell us all the multiplication facts you got.

You may be thinking “why are we even bothering with dice?” You make a valid point. These activities can all be done without dice. However, I have found that the students stay engaged and practice their facts more if they are actively involved. They really seem to enjoy rolling the dice and it is a new, fun way to practice the same facts over and over.

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Today I had a doctor’s appointment, so no school outfit to share. I have to admit it was nice to spend an entire day in sweats! Whoo hoo!