All Activities U Pick Your Pony
for parents
for teachers

Pick Your Pony

Practice addition by placing your bets on ponies 1 through 12. First to the finish line wins!

Ages: 4-9
Players: 2-3
Time: 10-20 Minutes
Type: number games
Location: tabletop
Share This Activity
Ages: 4-9
Players: 2-3
Time: 10-20 Minutes
Type: number games
Location: tabletop

Instructions

First, set up the racetrack for your ponies. Divide your paper into 12 "lanes" by drawing horizontal lines across. (See Learning Notes below for tips.)

Draw vertical lines to split each lane into at least 6 spaces. Write the numbers 1 through 12 down the left column, and write "win" in each space in the right column (or color the column red, or anything to mark it off as the finish line).

Pick Your Pony board with dice and tokens

Each player has three tokens of their own color to use as ponies. (Coins or checkers would work well. Just make sure you can tell each other's tokens apart). Take turns placing your ponies on numbers.

Tokens set on the game board

Now it's time to open the starting gates and let those ponies run! Take turns rolling two dice. Add the numbers on the dice. If the sum of the dice equals a lane with a pony, move the pony up one space, even if it's your opponent's pony.

The first player whose pony reaches the finish line wins!

The first token advancing on the game board
Pony #6 moves up to get things started.
The blue token moves into the Win lane
Pony #6 reaches the finish line first. Blue wins!

As you play, notice which ponies move ahead most often. Certain numbers, like 7, can come up in a few different ways (1 + 6, 2 + 5, 3 + 4), whereas others come up less frequently (12 = 6 + 6) or not at all (1 = 1 + ???). It's best to let kids notice these patterns naturally, through playing the game, then ask leading questions: "Wow, you're right! 7 has always been a pretty good pony! Why do you think that is?" See Learning Notes below for more information on the probability of rolling each sum.

Don't forget: it's Beast Academy Playground, not Beast Academy Study Hall. Change the rules, be silly, make mistakes, and try again. The Variations and Learning Notes are here for you if you want to dive deeper, but not all of them apply to learners of every age. The most important thing is to have fun.

Variations d

More Players:

This game works well for up to 3 players. To prevent Player 3 from having a big disadvantage placing ponies, consider placing ponies in this order: Player 1, Player 2, Player 3. Then Player 3, Player 1, Player 2. And finally Player 2, Player 3, Player 1. (Or just play 3 total games, letting each player have a turn placing first.) You might also consider continuing play after the first pony wins and declaring a second-place and third-place winner.

Sum or Difference:

After you roll the dice, choose whether to add or subtract the numbers that come up. Even if the sum or difference of the dice won't result in one of your ponies advancing, you can try to prevent one of your opponent's ponies from moving forward. This variation changes the best pony to place your bets on dramatically!

Four Dice:

On your turn, roll four dice. Separate them into two pairs however you like. The sum of each pair determines which pony to move up.

Classroom Tips d

Play Pick Your Pony to practice addition and probability.

Discussion Questions

  • How many horizontal lines do your need to make 12 rows on your game board?
  • What strategies can you use to make the rows and columns equally spaced? How does this relate to fractions?
  • How many total boxes are on your game board? What strategy did you use to calculate this?
  • How did you decide where to place your ponies? Do some numbers come up more often than others?
  • Can you figure out all the possible outcomes from rolling two dice? Can you organize this information to help you pick the best numbers for your ponies?

Alignment with Beast Academy Curriculum

  • Level 2, Chapter 8: Strategies (+ & -)
  • Level 3, Chapter 3: Perimeter & Area

See Variations and Learning Notes for more ideas on how to adapt this activity and incorporate it into your classroom.

Learning Notes d

Probability:

Play a few rounds together, and have children record how far each pony advanced at the end of each game. After several rounds, ask which numbers seem to have a better chance of winning. Which numbers did especially badly? (5, 6, and 7 seem to come up a lot, whereas 2 and 12 don't, and 1 is actually impossible.)

Explore why numbers closer to 7 are rolled more often than numbers like 2 or 12. For instance, notice that 7 can result from 1 + 6, 2 + 5, or 3 + 4, whereas 12 can only result from 6 + 6. It's tempting to conclude that this shows rolling a seven is 3 times as likely as rolling a 12, but it's actually 6 times as likely. Make a chart to see all the possible outcomes of adding two dice.

Probability chart of rolling two dice

Help children to produce, then interpret this chart, which shows that there are 36 equally possible outcomes. 6 of these are a sum of 7, so 7 is the best pony to bet on, with a probability of 6 out of 36, or 1/6, of being rolled. A 12, on the other hand, only has a probability of 1/36 of coming up on a given roll.

Drawing the Race Track:

Dividing a paper into 12 lanes is a good opportunity to practice some spatial reasoning. It's usually easier for us to visualize splitting something in half, or even in thirds, than it is to visualize splitting into fifths or sixths. Since 12 can be split in half with no remainder, we can start by dividing our paper in half. Now we know the top and bottom half will each need to have 6 lanes. We could split these in half and then thirds, or thirds and then halves.

One line drawn down the middle of a piece of paper
First split in half.
A paper split into six equal sections
Then split each half into thirds.
A paper split into twelve equal rows
Then split each third in half. 12 lanes!

What do you think of this activity?

We're always looking to improve. Submit your feedback to us below.

Share This Activity
Materials
  • 6 tokens (3 of one color, 3 of another)
  • 2 dice
  • paper
  • pencil
Learning Goals
  • spatial reasoning
  • strategic thinking
Image of Ms. Q

Ready to level up?

Keep problem solving with Beast Academy’s full math curriculum for students ages 6–13. Check out our captivating comic book series and immersive online platform.

LEARN MORE

Bring problem-solving to your classroom

Keep your entire class engaged with a full book and online math curriculum, for students ages 6–13. 98% of teachers say they’re satisfied with Beast Academy.

LEARN MORE
Image of a BA book

Recommended Videos

Image of Ms. Q

Ready to level up?

Keep problem solving with Beast Academy’s full math curriculum for students ages 6–13. Check out our captivating comic book series and immersive online platform.

LEARN MORE

Bring problem-solving to your classroom

Keep your entire class engaged with a full book and online math curriculum, for students ages 6–13. 98% of teachers say they’re satisfied with Beast Academy.

LEARN MORE
Image of a BA book