I saw this really cool DIY over at Momtastic for making a giant set of Yahtzee dice. I remember playing Yahtzee with my cousins when we were kids. Good times! I thought about how awesome it would be to make a set of giant dice for my family. I thought about how much fun it would be for deck parties. I thought about how my teenagers would love it. And I thought about what it would cost to purchase the materials and the wood burning set to make it.
To be clear, if I had the funds available and had a wood burning set and the skill to use it, I’d make one of those awesome dice sets in a heartbeat. But I don’t and I don’t. And maybe some of you don’t, either. So I started thinking about how I might make a set of giant dice for my family. I actually came up with several ideas, one of which I’d like to share with you now. (Thanks, Momtastic, for the inspiration!) The good news is that this set could be made with no out-of-pocket cost because you probably have most of the supplies in a closet or drawer someplace, and the ones you don’t can be obtained for cheap-to-free just about anywhere.
This dice set is made from salvaged cardboard. It should be durable enough for outdoor use on a deck or even in the grass if you don’t get it wet. And there are lots of steps with which the kids can help, making this a great home school project.
A utility knife or scissors (The utility knife is much easier!)
A cutting mat (or extra cardboard to protect your work surface)
A quarter to trace to make the dots, unless you’re using stickers
A marker or crayons or stickers to make the dots
A basket, bucket, box, or bin to use to hold and throw the finished dice
About the cardboard:
My local grocery store will give away cardboard boxes if they have them. If you shop at Aldi then you’ll have no trouble finding cardboard boxes to repurpose for this project. Check around your community and you’ll probably be able to get some free cardboard. You’re going to make 30 (36 if you want a set of 6 dice for Farkle) 4”x4” pieces of cardboard, which took a couple of decent-sized boxes. Try to get all of your cardboard in the same weight or your dice may end up “loaded” because the sides are different weights and the dice won’t roll evenly. Don’t worry if there is printing on the box because you are going to flip it over and use the plain back side. (And please forgive my lousy manicure in these photos. Blame my recent work in the garden!)
First you’ll have to cut the sides of the dice. You’ll need 30 4”x4” pieces for a Yahtzee set and 36 4”x4” pieces for a Farkle set. I measured and marked 4” strips of cardboard and then cut the strips into 4” pieces. I initially marked the cardboard with the pencil but eventually I just nicked it with the tip of my utility knife to mark measurements and then lined up my ruler for cuts. My ruler has a ridge in the middle that allowed me to keep my fingers away from the blade. If you don’t have a cutting mat you can always do the cutting on a concrete garage floor or patio and protect the surface with an extra layer of cardboard.
If you’re working with children then you may want to cut the sides during nap time and let them help with the other steps when they get up. If you have older kids then they might be able to help measure and mark the sides. They may also want to try to cut the pieces with scissors, but I suspect that’ll lose appeal pretty quickly. You’ll know better than I do if your child possesses the skill to use a utility knife safely.
Once you have all of your pieces cut then you’ll need to add the dots. Using a standard die as an example, I traced around a quarter with a pencil to mark all of my dots on the unprinted side of my pieces, then colored the dots with a permanent marker so the finished dice could handle a little dampness without the spots running. If the kids are helping then permanent markers might be a bad idea. Water based markers may run if the dice get damp. Crayons would be kid-safe and anti-run. As always, do what works for your family. By the way, repeated tracing of a quarter with a pencil gets graphite all over your hands and your work surface, which you’ll see in the following photos.
You could also skip the tracing and use stickers to place the dots. Smiley faces or stars might be cute, or you could use character stickers from your child’s favorite show or movie to create themed dice for a birthday party game.
Once all of the dots are in place then it’s time to assemble the dice. Using a standard die as a sample, lay out your sides as shown in the picture. Keeping the pieces aligned, move them aside and lay out a piece of tape that is a little less than 16” long. One piece at a time, transfer your row of four sides onto the tape, keeping the pieces close together. In my picture this is the 1, 3, 6, and 4.
Move your taped row aside and lay out another piece of tape that is about 14” long. You are going to lay your strip of four sides onto this tape so that you can add the remaining two sides according to the original layout. In my case, I laid my strip of four sides on the tape so that the second piece of tape crossed under the 6, then I added the final two sides. Keep referring to your standard die to make sure you lay out your sides correctly. After this step you should have all six sides taped into a “t” shape with some tape extending past the edges of the last two sides you added, which would be my 5 and 2.
Flip the project so the dots are down and fold up one of the single sides that you added last. Hold the overhanging tape as you bring the longest end of the strip up and start to form the cube with the dots on the outside and the tape inside. Use the overhanging tape to hold the side in place. Then bring up the other single side with the overhanging tape and secure it into place. Finally, close the last side like a lid on the box.
Using strips of tape that are a little less than 4” long, tape up each seam on the outside of the die. Then lay out and tape each of the other dice in the set.
Find a basket, bucket, box, or bin to hold your finished dice and to use as the throwing cup for your games. I wish you could have seen my teenaged daughter’s face when she saw the completed dice. She was delighted!
Have fun playing with your (nearly) free dice game. What other games does your family enjoy?
I moderate comments manually but will get them posted as quickly as possible. Please keep your comments kind and if you must disagree please do so without being disagreeable. Rude or inappropriate comments will obviously not be published.