Dice Bowl (large group game)(and also a tidbit about The Big Cookie)

Dice Bowl is a great centerpiece for a theme club, or a great non-club night event. As best we know, it started about 20 years ago in Detroit Lakes, MN – just down the road a piece from Castaway Club. (Which, btw, is where the Big Cookie originated. Seriously. More on that here. I digress.)

What you need:

  • dice (enough for every 2 -4 kids, depending on how you organize the game)
  • scratch paper for keeping score (for each kid)
  • pencil/pen for keeping score (for each kid)
  • Dice Bowl Score sheets (PDF file is here: dice-bowl-score-sheet )
  • bell/airhorn/whistle/loud voice/other noisemaker to indicate when a round is finished
  • chairs for each kid & leader and tables for groups of 2-4 people*
  • Dice Bowl event slide show (downloadable from the links in this post)

Setting up the game:

  • TABLES: Organize kids and leaders into small groups called “tables.” Table number 1 is the Head Table. It has TWO players only. Number the other tables consecutively in a logical order.** This is important for movement at the end of each round. The highest numbered table is the starting table. All tables other than the Head Table should have 3 or 4 people, depending on the size of your group and room. ***
  • DICE & DICE BOWL SCORING SHEETS: Give each “table” a single die and a “Dice Bowl Scoring” sheet for reference. ****
  • PLAYER SCORE SHEETS: Give each player a scoresheet (plain scratch paper) and a decent writing instrument. *****
  • REFEREE: This person (a leader) stands at the Head Table to start rounds, end rounds, calm chaos, and other necessary functions in middle school ministry.

Playing the game:

  • Dice Bowl is played in rounds. For each round, 21 is the magic winning number. This only matters for people at the head table
  •  Referee starts each round.
  • Each player rolls the die and writes down their score per the Dice Bowl Scoring sheet (1=1, 2=erase score, 3=3, 4=4, 5=10, 6=6). Be sure people add as they go so you don’t have to wait for long arithmetic tangles at the end of each round.******
  • Play continues until someone at the Head Table scores 21. Referee rings the bell/whistle/airhorn/whatever and play stops at all the tables. Some people at other tables might have a higher score than 21. That’s fine. Round one is finished.
  • The player with the highest score at each table puts an X at the bottom of their score sheet, then moves up to the next table. The winner at the Head Table stays there. The loser at the Head Table moves back to the starting table.
  • Each player starts each round with a fresh score – don’t carry over tallies between rounds.
  • Play continues for a designated amount of time or number of rounds.
  • People with the most round-winning Xes win.

Dice Bowl is easy, fast-moving, and inexpensive. In others words, perfect for WyldLife!

Other stuff:

*Because everyone will be tallying their own scores, it’s most convenient to have the “tables” sit at real tables – so those cheap stubby golf pencils can actually gain some traction and make a mark on the paper. (Invest in some decent pencils or pens. Seriously.) But “tables” can be on the floor if needed. If so, give each kid a book, magazine, or piece of cardboard to support their scoresheet.

**If you have banquet-table markers, use these to identify the table numbers.

***The number of kids at each table really isn’t all that important. The more people at each table, the fewer chances for individual kids to move up to the next table. The fewer people at each table, the more tables you need.

****If you have enough dice, let each player use their own. It feels … grown-up.

*****Really – just burn the golf pencils. Can we stack hands on this???

******Be on the lookout for kids with math struggles who might find it difficult to keep a running tally of their score. Casually and inconspicuously help them as needed.


Posted by Crystal Kirgiss (WyldLife Leader, Raceway Regional Trainer)

One thought on “Dice Bowl (large group game)(and also a tidbit about The Big Cookie)

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