Play With Me – Skully Dice

Welcome to CthulhuMom Games – a blog about my experiences raising child in a gamer family.

This month is another edition of “Play With Me” and probably one of the most versatile games we’ve played with Yog. I mentioned it in last month’s post, so I thought it would be nice to explain to you exactly what “Skully Dice” is.

Our copy of Pirate Dice
Our copy of Pirate Dice


After the first Pirates of the Caribean movie came out, Milton Bradley produced a version of their Liar’s Dice game to match the version played in the Disney movie. The re-skinned game was thematically named Pirate’s Dice. The plastic cups look like the beaten up, barnacle covered cups in the movie. The dice are standard six sided dice with the one pip being represented by a skull and cross bone. It was this design on the dice that inspired the name of the game we play.

The actual game plays exactly like the original Liar’s Dice, but at 2 and a half Yog wasn’t ready to play the full version of this game. However, she was fascinated by the box artwork (again we remind ourselves that we call her Yog – of course she’s fascinated with the piratical artwork at an early age).  So we pulled out the game so she could play with it, figuring that as long as we made sure she didn’t try to eat the dice (something we didn’t have to worry too much about, she was never one to put tons of non-food items in her mouth) this was a game she couldn’t harm much. As Yog inspected the pieces we realized that while she was just starting to learn numbers, the skull and crossbones design was easily recognizable to her. This inspired us to create a game for her using these pieces.  Each player gets five dice and a cup. The dice go in the cup and vigorous, at times full body, shaking occurs and then the cup is placed mouth down on the table (or in our house, often the floor). Each player takes turns revealing their dice and counting the number of skulls she rolled. She who rolls the most skullies wins!

That’s it. That’s the entire game. We were playing this with Yog when she was under three. What I love about it is that at a very young age it encourages sorting and counting skills. After counting everyone’s skulls we repeat everyone’s total and ask Yog who wins, in the beginning helping her determine number order. Since it’s played in very short rounds it’s perfect for short attention spans and the game can end whenever your little one (or you!) need it to. Yog also loved the noise and activity factor. Sometimes she dances around the room shaking her cup before dumping out her dice. Sometimes I join her. It’s for the exercise, I swear!

To take it to the next level you could write the scores from each round down and play to an agreed upon total score. Or decide to play a certain number of rounds. In either case high score will win. When your little one is ready, put her in charge of tallying the score to boost those math skills.

This is probably one of the easiest games for a parent to get his hands on. While we have the official Pirates of the Caribbean Pirate Dice game with skull on the dice, this game can be played with any  dice you have. Simply choose one set of pips to be the goal. Or if you’re artistic, paint one side of your dice or put stickers on them. If five dice are too many, use three. If five dice aren’t enough, add more.  Don’t want to share your dice with your little one (no one is judging – we all have certain dice we don’t share!) use this as excuse to add to your dice collection or start your little one on the path to her own collection. The other thing I love is that with the proliferation of various dice in size and material you can play this game with pretty much any age. Get a set of large foam dice and start your toddler on her way to owning the high seas of die rolling. We use the cups for the sense of mystery and tension, but they’re not necessary to the game, you can just roll the dice. If you are putting together your own set, there are tons of plastic tumblers you can purchase to theme your game however you choose. Or check out the recycling bin and make an art project out of creating your game! Have your child decorate cleaned out plastic containers and use those as your shaker cups.

The room for growth in this game is pretty much unlimited as, when it comes down to it, you’re rolling dice. You can do math games, matching games, or you know, Liar’s Dice. I have seen various sets of dice with rules marketed as stand-alone games. Search for “dice games for kids” online and you’ll get a ton of sites with various games for you to play with your little gamer.

I hope you have been inspired by this to get the dice out and start rolling them with your little one. Please share your favorite kid friendly dice game in the comments.

Until next time – Happy Gaming!



Game On!

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