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The Game of Pig

Module by: Angela Chen. E-mail the author

The Game of Pig

Intent

This activity introduces students to the game of Pig and to the study of probability. Students develop, test, and compare strategies for playing the game as they begin to consider the central problem of the unit.

Mathematics

Students will collect data about rolling a die as part of playing the game of Pig. After some experience with the game, they will be able to articulate that a strategy is a complete plan of action intended to reach a particular goal.

Progression

Students are introduced to the game of Pig.

35 minutes

Classroom Organization

Groups of 4, then pairs, followed by whole-class discussion

Dice

Doing the Activity

After students have read The Game of Pig and, in particular, “Your Assignment,” ask a few students to demonstrate how to play the game and how to keep score. Play a few turns as a class to clarify the rules. Be sure students understand the distinction between a single roll of the die and a turn. Each student should keep a record of the single rolls and the score for each turn. These records will allow students to review how the game progressed and to analyze the outcome of each turn.

After students play several turns in groups of four, have them play a game or two in pairs (as time permits) and experiment with playing strategies.

Discussing and Debriefing the Activity

Ask students to discuss some of the playing strategies they used. A basic strategy defines, for a given turn, when to roll again to try to earn more points and when to stop rolling to not risk losing the points already earned that turn. You might ask each group to post at least one of their strategies. When duplicate strategies appear, request alternate strategies.

After posing the Key Questions, emphasize that in mathematics a strategy is a complete plan of action intended to reach a particular goal. A strategy for playing Pig must tell whether or not to roll again in every circumstance in which there is a choice.

Key Questions

What do you think a strategy is?

How do you use strategies in your daily life?

What were some high scores for individual turns?

How did you decide whether to roll again or to stop?

What do we mean by the “best” strategy?

How did your strategy change as you played Pig and understood the game better?

Does this group’s strategy seem complete and clear?

How can we compare different strategies?

How might you measure whether one strategy is any better than another?

Can another group test your strategy?

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