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Shut the Box

This is a paper and pencil version of an old game. It is fun for young children and anyone can enjoy the game of chance mixed with the fun of finding a strategy. There is even more opportunity for conversation about odds and probability.

Task Instructions

  • Write the numbers 1 through 9 in a horizontal row on the paper.
  • Player 1 rolls the dice and calculates the sum of the two numbers. Player 1 then chooses to cross out numbers that have the same sum as what was calculated from the dice roll.
  • If the numbers 7, 8 and 9 are all covered, player 1 may choose to roll one or two dice. If any of these numbers are still uncovered, the player must use both dice.
  • Player 1 continues rolling dice, calculating the sum and crossing out numbers until they can no longer continue.
  • If all numbers are crossed out, the player say’s “shut the box”. If not all numbers are crossed out, player 1 determines the sum of the numbers that are not crossed out and that is their score.
  • If “shut the box” is achieved, player 1 records a score of “0”.
  • Player two writes the numbers 1 through 9 and follows the same rules as player 1.
  • The player with the lowest score wins.


Player 1 and 2 can choose to play 5 rounds, totaling their score at the end of each round.  The player with the lowest total score wins the game.


  • Two dice
  • Paper and pencil