We’ve played Shut the Box for years at my parents house and it’s such a fun and simple game. I love that it has a bit of strategy to it but can really be played by anyone who can read dice.
I love having this DIY version at home so we can play whenever we want as well.
What is Shut the Box
Shut the Box is a simple dice game that has been around for so long we don’t even know its origin. It’s also been known by many different names over the years.
The goal of the game is to roll your dice and ‘shut’ all of your boxes.
The first person to clear all of their boxes wins (or if playing alone, the game ends when all the boxes are cleared).
Follow our video
We shot this video to show exactly how to make the game and then how to play.
How to Play Shut the Box
The first player rolls two dice. Add up the dice and then ‘shut’ one of the boxes.
For example, if you roll a 5 and a 3, your total is 8. You can either shut the number 8 or the numbers 5 and 3.
Some variants let you close any number of boxes as long as they total what you rolled. So if you rolled 2 and 3, you could shut 5, 2 and 3, or 4 and 1.
Keep rolling (and taking turns).
If you cannot shut any boxes on your turn, you skip your turn.
You cannot shut a box if you can only partially use your roll. For example, if you roll 3 and 5 but you’ve already placed down 8 and 3, you cannot just put the 5 down. You must use your entire roll.
The first person to shut all of their boxes wins.
The strategy comes into play in the beginning. It’s hard to get a 1 if it’s the last number you have left. But really, it’s all left to the random roll of the dice.
How to Make Your Own Shut the Box
I encourage you to look at what we’ve built and make your own model. There isn’t just one right way to do this!
But you are also welcome to follow along with our model. It’s fairly simple doesn’t require a lot of unique pieces.
Materials you’ll need (as pictured above):
- Base plate
- 11 – 2×4 tall pieces (9 colorful, 2 gray)
- 8 – 1×1 tall pieces
- 9 – 2×1 with a hole pieces
- 10 – 1×4 tall pieces with holes
- 9 – 2×2 smooth top pieces (preferably white)
- Multiple – axles with stops. We used multiple lengths based on what we had.
- 6 – 1×4 tall pieces
- 1 – 1×2 tall piece
- Dry Erase Marker
If you want to make the game on each side of your base plate, double the numbers above. You’ll also need some single width tall pieces to enclose the game for the dice.
Start by placing down the two gray 2×4 tall pieces on either side of your base plate. We placed them 1 stud in.
Next, use the 1×4 and 1×2 pieces to make a front line.
Add your 1×1 pieces. There should be 2 studs between each of the 1×1 pieces.
Next, make your box lids (for lack of a better term. This is the part that will swing to close the box).
You’ll need 9 of each of these:
- 2×4 tall pieces (colorful, if you can)
- 1×2 tall piece with a hole
- 2×2 flat piece with a smooth top (preferably white)
Place the 1×2 tall piece with a hole under the 2×4 piece – in the middle.
Then put the 2×2 flat with a smooth top piece on top, on the opposite side of the 1×2 on the bottom.
Construct all 9 of these the same way.
Now you need to add the axle. This is the part that will allow the top piece to swing. We had to use varying lengths of axles because it’s all we could find. If you don’t have this exact piece, get creative! What else could you use in it’s place?
Slide your axle through the middle hole in a 2×4 tall piece with 3 holes. Then slide it through the hole in your top piece, and through another 2×4 tall piece with 3 holes. Then place it on your board.
Keep adding axles and pieces all the way across. We had to alternate the direction of the axles to get them all to fit. Use what you have and make it work!
Test them out and make sure they can move up and down. Sometimes our LEGO would get a little off center when there were in the down position. If you have this problem, you can build up the 1×4 tall pieces in the middle so they stay centered. Overall, it wasn’t a problem for us. I just reminded the kids to be gentle when re-positioning the pieces.
Lastly, use a dry erase marker to add numbers to each of the 2×2 flat smooth top pieces. If you use a dry erase marker, the numbers will come off when you’re done.
If you want a two-player version, just do all of this again on the opposite side!
Where to Buy Shut the Box
Really, this is a game worth owning. As great as the LEGO version is, it would definitely be worth it to buy your own standard version.
I’ve seen them come in single player versions and all the way up to 4 player.
The nice thing about the multiplayer versions is that they can still be played alone.
I love that this version closes and latches. Great for traveling. It also goes up to 12.
You don’t usually set them set up with the numbers in the middle, but I like how this looks! And the dice are so colorful.