An interesting and mathematical way to organise the weekly chores roster in your household can be as easy as rolling two dice or selecting one card from a pack. Depending on your approach, you can teach your children, and maybe even your partner, a lesson in probability at the same time!

Let’s say you have the following eleven household chores:

  • put the bin out and bring it inDice five

  • vacuum

  • pack the lunches

  • feed the cat

  • clean the shower

  • clean the toilet

  • hang the washing out

  • dust surfaces

  • water the pot plants

  • rake up the leaves

  • empty the kitty litter tray.

Write each chore on a strip of card and allocate each chore a number between 2 and 12, for the total scored when rolling two dice. If you like you can stick a magnet on the back of each chore card so that you can create your weekly chore chart on the fridge. A chart with each person’s name can be displayed on the fridge, ready to be allocated a task.

Each week, each member of the household can take it in turns to roll the two dice and see which weekly tasks are theirs this week. So, if your partner rolls first, and gets a 3 on one dice and a 4 on the other, they have just been allocated the chore with the number 7 written on it.

Saturday Scrum Sprint 01

Allocating tasks in this way takes the onus off you to manage the tasks and the associated arguments and whining that no doubt follow! It gives everyone participating a sense of equity and ownership as each week they will have different tasks to complete, tasks that have been allocated by their own hand rolling the dice.

I often allocated students to groups by generating a random number on my calculator. They love the sense of it all being the luck of the draw and that each new group-work activity means a new combination of people to work with.

I also check homework completion in a similar way. Each student on my roll has a number allocated to them between say 1 and 30. I then generate about 12 random numbers (between 1 and 30) on my calculator. Whoever’s number comes up has to show me their homework from last night. It certainly keeps my students on their toes as they never know when they’ll be called upon to show me their homework. They have a sense that it is fair and equitable and it adds an element of fun to an otherwise onerous task.

The members of your family should soon see that rolling two dice is not a fair method for allocating tasks because the results on the two dice are not all equally likely. Rolling a result of 2 has a 1 in 36 chance of occurring, whereas rolling a 7 has a 1 in 6 chance. In fact, you might like to have a lot of fun with this at first and allocate the task you enjoy the least the number 7 so that it will be more likely that one of your family members is allocated this chore before it is your turn to roll the dice!

collaborative vacuuming - _MG_1332

Once you are challenged on this method being unfair, it is a great time to have a discussion on the likelihood of the possible outcomes of rolling two dice. You can then sit down and discuss other methods to randomly assign these chores – from using the random number generator on your child’s calculator, to using the random function on an excel spreadsheet or even this cool site.

This is a great way to add some variety to the weekly chores and at the same time give your family an opportunity to explore chance and the elements which constitute a fair game. Give it a go this week and tell us all about how it went and how long you can get away with using two dice to allocate the chores!

Photo credit: demandaj / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA