Make Math Fun with Shut the Box

Every now and then you come across something tried and true - something that just “works”.

When a dear friend gave this little number game to my son for his birthday he was HOOKED. (All I heard for the next week was the sound of dice clacking on wood - I thought we had struck gold because he was so ENGAGED.)

After he asked the rest of us to sit down and play we were all hooked, too. As a homeschool mom I of course thought of the fabulous educational value and how we could use it in our math studies.

A big part of enjoying math is making it fun, right?

We own a lot of math games, but it was just nice to have one that was so SIMPLE, and could be played alone when needed!

Now I’ll tell anyone who will listen about this game, and it’s the first one I bring out when we have younger kids at our house who need something to occupy them!

Shut the Box Instructions

Shut The Box is very easy to play - which is why this is a great game for they younger set! We have found, however, that it is a lot of fun to play with older siblings. In our family, the grandparents particularly loved to play this with the kids.

(We even gave it as a Christmas gift to our granddaddy last year!)

We have a small 4 person Shut the Box that stayed in our van for quite a long time - you would be amazed how much it got used while we were waiting places!

You can start with a basic Shut the Box game.

  • Make sure all of the wooden tabs are up (your box is fully “open”).

  • Player 1 rolls the dice and calculates the SUM of the two numbers. Player 1 then chooses shut the numbers that have the same sum as what was calculated from the dice roll. (for example: if the sum is 6 they can close just the 6, or the 2 & 4 or the 1 & 5).

  • If the numbers 7, 8, 9, and 10 are all covered, player 1 may choose to roll one or two dice. If any of these numbers are still left open, the player must use both dice. (some games go up to 10, and some go to 9, just depends which you are playing)

  • Player 1 continues rolling dice, calculating the sum and “shutting” numbers until they can no longer continue.

  • If all numbers are crossed out, the player says “shut the box”. If not all numbers are crossed out, player 1 calculates the sum of the numbers that are not crossed out and that is their score.

  • If “shut the box” is achieved, player 1 records a score of “0”.

  • Player 2 then goes through the same process and follows the same rules as player 1.

  • The player with the lowest score wins!

  • You can also play the game where Player 1 and 2 alternate rolls - it’s up to you!

*For video instructions how to play, click here.

Additional Shut the Box Math Ideas

Once you have played Shut the Box a number of times, your brain will start to devise other ways you can play the game - and other math concepts you can reinforce.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Practice averages with Shut the Box. For example, play 5 rounds of the game and then determine what your AVERAGE score is. You could even bring in terms like mean, median, and mode if you’re getting creative!

  • Keep a running Shut the Box tally sheet - sit down for short spurts to keep the game going for a long time in your home. Keep the tally sheet tacked on your refrigerator.

  • While playing Shut the Box, have your child put down the numbers for their SUM, but then ask them after that to tell you what the PRODUCT of their roll was (just a little extra thinking), too.

  • Ask your child to play Shut the Box alone. Give them a piece of paper with the numbers 1-20 and have them record their score for 20 rounds. Circle the LOWEST round. Put a box around the HIGHEST round.

  • How many rounds can your child play in 15 minutes? Set a timer for fun.

Get creative!

Ask your kids to come up with ways to play Shut the Box, too.

I’ll tell you a fun story:

A few nights ago my 14 year old was “bored”. His PlayStation time was over for the day and he had exhausted other options. I sat down on the couch and started playing Shut the Box by myself. Pretty soon he joined me. We spent an hour having a Shut the Box tournament - an unexpected surprise for him, and a great time for me to spend some time with him.

Now our Shut the Box game has been put back out in our family room so we can play again soon.

I hope this becomes a good thing for your children, too!

Have you ever played Shut the Box?

Let me know in the comments below.

Celebrate National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Want to win the fun mom award?

Make a BIG memory for your children with just a little bit of effort.

Take a plain old ordinary day and turn it into a celebration! 

August 4th is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Here's what I'm thinking...

Don't let your kids know it's coming - just wake them up in the morning, cancel homeschool for the day, and tell them you are going to make cookies, eat cookies, read books, play games, and anything else that might strike your fancy along the way.

(I did this once and declared a boring Thursday Angry Birds Day and my kids STILL talk about it.)

Celebrate National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

I'm going to throw out a bunch of ideas in this post... Feel free to use as many or as few as you would like.

Just have fun with your kids and make some memories.  (I'm thinking memories with cookies are pretty good, right?)


Five Chocolate Chip Cookie Facts

  • Americans eat an average of 18,928 cookies in their lifetime
  • The chocolate chip cookie was invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938. Her husband ran the Tool House Inn - do "Toll House" cookies sound familiar? Nestle's bought the rights to the name. And you know the rest of the story!
  • Chocolate chip cookies were first called "Butterdrop Do Cookies".
  •  The world's biggest chocolate chip cookie weighed 40,000 pounds and had a diameter of 101 feet. It was created in 2003 by The Immaculate Baking Company in Flat Rock, North Carolina.
  • It's America's favorite cookie. 53% of American adults prefer chocolate chip cookies over peanut butter cookies (16 %), oatmeal cookies (15%, and any other variety.


Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes

We use two of the very BEST chocolate chip cookie recipes in our house - and they come from both of my children's grandmothers. I love it that these cookies have memories attached to them - the time spent and the love shown through these cookies made an impact on my children. 


Grandma Jane's Chocolate Chip Crispies

These cookies are just different - and everyone wonders why they are so crispy.

If you look at the recipe, you'll see the secret ingredient that adds just the right crunch - and here's a tip: these cookies freeze well and are actually super yummy straight out of the freezer!

Grandma Jane's Chocolate Chip Crispies
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Grandma Jane's Chocolate Chip Crispies


  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups Crisped Rice Cereal (Rice Krispies)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in cereal and chocolate chips. Drop tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 2 in. apart.
  3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around edges. Cool cookies on cookie sheet 3 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack; cool completely.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Grammy Ruth's Chocolate Chippers

These cookies are made with shortening, which makes them very light and crunchy. 

Look out, I remember these literally VANISHING one Christmas holiday when my mother-in-law made them. 

I made these for a birthday party one year - with vanilla ice cream in the middle. All of the kids loved the ice cream cookie sandwiches! 

Grammy Ruth's Chocolate Chippers
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Grammy Ruth's Chocolate Chippers


  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 6 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Cream shortening, sugars, egg, and vanilla till light and fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture; blend well. Add chocolate chips. Drop from teaspoon 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from sheet immediately. 
Created using The Recipes Generator

Read Books About Chocolate Chip Cookies

From learning about the inventor of the chocolate chip cookie to having fun with the classic rhyme "Who Stole The Cookies From the Cookie Jar?", these books will set the stage for your baking adventures (or fill some time while you're waiting for your cookies to bake!).

Or, you might want to bake your cookies, serve them with a glass of milk, and have read aloud time while you are enjoying your delicacies!

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (If You Give...)The Cookie Loved 'round the World: The Story of the Chocolate Chip CookieThe Chocolate Chip Cookie Queen: Ruth Wakefield and Her Yummy Invention (Inventors at Work!)Mimi's Adventures in Baking Chocolate Chip CookiesThe Last Chocolate Chip CookieWho Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?


Serve Others With Cookies

Once your children have baked their cookies, it would be a lovely idea to share them with others.

  • Deliver several dozen to your local fire and police departments.
  • Deliver to neighbors
  • Visit a local nursing home and deliver your cookies
  • Invite friends over for a chocolate chip cookies & milk social
  • Freeze batches of cookies to have on hand when you think someone needs a pick-me-up


Chocolate Chip Cookie Math Games

We can always sneak in some learning, yes? 


And, I'm happy to offer you this adorable Chocolate Chip Memory Game: 17 pairs of matching cards for your children to learn from and enjoy! 

Download Your Matching Cards Now



I hope you have OODLES of fun on National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! (and remember, you can celebrate this day any old time - it doesn't have to be August 4. Any day with our children is cause for a celebration, don't you agree?)