Yesterday we played Skunk in math class to explore chance. I chose this game because it’s simple, has the kids stand (fights against sleepiness in the morning), and can be altered to suit your teaching needs. I also added an incentive: the winner in each class would get a free cookie dough cupcake from our upcoming Valentine’s Day prom fundraiser bake sale.
I plan to bake the Little Miss Runshine cookie dough cupcakes and add a little cookie on top. This prize caused much clamoring for topping with cookie dough oreos and insisting that I price them at $30 per cupcake. I am sad to find out that the cookie dough oreos have received unfavorable reviews; I may have to make my own from Oh Bite It’s recipe.
To start the game each player makes a score sheet like this:
Each letter of SKUNK represents a different round of the game; play begins with the “S” column and continue through the “K” column. The object of SKUNK is to accumulate the greatest possible point total over five rounds. The rules for play are the same for each of the five rounds.
At the beginning of each round, every player stands. Then, a pair of dice is rolled. (Everyone playing uses that roll of the dice; unlike other games, players do not roll the dice for just themselves.)
A player gets the total of the dice and records it in his or her column, unless a “one” comes up.
If a “one” comes up, play is over for that round and all the player’s points in that column are wiped out.
If “double ones” come up, all points accumulated in prior columns are wiped out as well.
If a “one” doesn’t occur, the player may choose either to try for more points on the next roll (by continuing to stand) or to stop and keep what he or she has accumulated (by sitting down).
Note: If a “one” or “double ones” occur on the very first roll of a round, then that round is over and each player must take the consequences.
As recommended, we played a practice round. I had a student up at the front call out the sum of the dice on each roll while I put the results on the whiteboard. Some students began articulating their strategies (e.g., one would always sit after the 3rd or 4th roll in a round, one tried to peek around at the others’ score sheets so he would know how much to bet). Another claimed that he could predict exactly what I would roll (which sometimes got creepy when he was right). The thing that made me the happiest: students asking if we could play again because “that was fun.”
We used Skunk to practice finding experimental probabilities (using the game results to show the probability of rolling a given number, or greater than a given number) and to review terminology like trials, outcomes, frequency, and relative frequency. I then used it to explain the concept of sample space (starting with sample space for rolling a die, then sample space for rolling two dice). I wish we had longer class periods so that we could spend more time discussing chance and strategies (from the NCTM prompts) in addition to doing practice IB problems. I may bring back Skunk again or switch to Pig.
I would love to get the original Skunk game (found via All About Fun and Games)!