Canoga (Also Known as Shut the Box)


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Canoga, also known as Shut the Box, Tric-Trac, Klackers, Zoltan Box, Batten Down the Hatches, and High Rollers, is a great game for developing number sense, fact fluency, and strategic thinking. It can be played alone, with a partner, or even with three or four people. The beautiful wood versions can be a little pricey, so here’s an inexpensive homemade version that will allow everyone to play (which is especially nice when first teaching the game to the class). Students choose between a regular (numbers 1–9) game board and a more advanced version (numbers 1–12).

We laminated ours on colorful tagboard, and they have held up very well over the years.


Each player needs a game board, place markers, and two dice.

After rolling the dice, the player covers up any number or combination of numbers to match the sum of their roll.

For example, if they rolled a 3 and a 3, they might choose to cover the 6, the 5 and 1, the 4 and 2, or 1, 2, and 3.

Traditionally, this player continues until they are “busted” (can’t place a marker), which is fine when playing alone, but we take turns when playing with a partner.

When both players are busted, they total the remaining visible numbers on their board. The partner with the lowest total is the winner. Students who are playing solo play again and try to beat their previous score.

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