Math at Home Math Access for Teachers
and Home Child Care Providers

CME Group Community Foundation



Dynamic Dominoes

Children will be introduced to a variety of beginning math concepts using Dominoes.


Content Area Standard Target
  • Numbers and Operations
  • Algebra
  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems
  • Understand patterns, relations, and functions
  • Represent and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols
  • Count with understanding and recognize “how many” in sets of objects
  • Develop understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections
  • Connect number words and numerals to the quantities they represent, using various physical models and representations
  • Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties
  • Recognize, describe, and extend patterns such as sequences of sounds and shapes or simple numeric patterns and translate from one representation to another
  • Analyze how both repeating and growing patterns are generated
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Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • Dominoes
  • Cards with numbers 1 – 12 written on them


Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the activity Introduce the Activity
  1. Explain that today you are going to play number and counting games with Dominoes.
  2. Explain that dominoes are rectangular tiles with a line dividing the tile into two square ends. Each end is marked with a number of spots or is blank. The backs of the dominoes are all the same. Domino sets are like playing cards or dice in that a variety of games can be played with a set.
  3. Ask if anyone has ever seen or played with dominoes before.
Engage the children Engage the Children

There are a variety of activities that you can do with the children:

  1. Have the children count the number of dots on each square of the tile.  Using a number card, have them match the written number with the number of dots on each of the squares of the tile.  They can add the squares together and calculate the total number of dots on the domino tile.  Once they have calculated the total number, they find the corresponding number card.
  2. The children can find matching tiles and stack them together.  For an extension, the children can find tiles that equal a certain number (7) and stack them together.  For example, they would stack one tile that has a 6 and a 1 on the tile and stack it with a domino that has a 5 and a 2 on it.
  3. Play a game of traditional Dominoes.  Line the tiles end to end by matching up the number of dots on each tile.
  4. Form stacks of a number set of tiles (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).

Additional Extensions

  • Using the numbers on each square of the tile, play addition games.  “Who has a tile that equals 5?”  Make a stack of all the tiles that equal 5. 
  • Have worksheets with blank tiles and a number next to the blank tile.  Next to the blank tile have the number 8.  The children draw in how many dots each square of the tile would need to have to equal the number 8.
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • Count – To identify the amount of something by number (e.g., "How many blocks do you have?" Point to each object while saying 1-2-3. "Count the number of dots on the tile. 1-2-3.")
  • Add – Increase in amount or number (e.g., "Add the number of dots on each square of the tile.")
  • How many – The total or sum (e.g., "How many dots are on the tile?")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Have difficulty with one-to-one correspondence.

Vertical line

Pre-K Children may:

  • Easily identify the amount of dots on the dominoes to the corresponding written number.
  • Already be able to add the two numbers of the squares on the tiles together.

Home child care providers may:

  • Help the child to organize similar number patterns-If items are randomly displayed, the child can move all items to one side in preparation for counting. If items are already arranged in a linear fashion, the child can locate the first item in the series and scan to confirm the arrangement.
  • Partition the dominoes. The child can count individual items and move counted items to a separate area on the tray. The child could also pick up items one at a time, give them a name, and replace them apart from those yet to be counted. The child could also individually touch each item to be counted with one hand, giving each a numeral name, while the other hand keeps track of the next item to be counted.


Home child care providers may:

  • Have the child compare/match/sort groups of objects into sets; then have him or her identify the number of items in each set, expressing them by name and by some pattern (e.g., clapping or ringing a bell the same number of times as the number in the set).
  • Use the numbers on each square of the tile, play addition games.  “Who has a tile that equals 5?”  Make a stack of all the tiles that equal 5.


Books Books
  • Domino Addition by Lynette Long (Boston: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc., 1996)
  • The Little Giant Book of Dominos by Sterling Publishing Co. (New York: Sterling Publishing, 2003)
Music and movement Music and Movement
Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • Take this activity outdoors and measure various objects mentioned in the book, Jack and the Beanstalk.  The children can use any instrument to measure.  We are just using beans because they go with our Jack and the Beanstalk theme.  Have the children measure the height of a tall plant or an actual beanstalk.  The children can measure the width of a tree or the circumference of a tree, the height and width of a large leave or tall flower.  Have the children guess “how many beans tall” they think that the object will be and they can then measure to see if they are correct.

  • Grow beanstalks.  With all the bean measuring, take time to observe how beans grow.  A simple way to plant beans is to use cotton balls, water, plastic baggies, a bowl of water, and lima beans.  Before introducing the activity to the children, soak the lima beans overnight to speed up the process.  Have each child dip their cotton ball into water and place them in their baggie.  They should use enough cotton balls to fill the bottom of their baggie.  Next, each child will add lima beans to their baggie.  Remind the children that the beans need space to grow and need 4 or 5 days to sprout.  Once the children finished adding their cotton balls and beans to their baggies, close up the baggies and tape them to a window (make sure the baggies are sealed tight so they hold in the moisture).  Wait and see what happens. Talk about the growth of the beans as they start to shoot out some sprouts.

Explore links Web Resources
  • An important part of school readiness is getting children familiar with measuring and estimating using standard and non-standard units of measure. For example, kids learn how to use their footsteps to measure the length of a room. This interactive game asks kids to estimate the height of an object using a variety of non-standard units of measure — tires, donuts, coins — just as George measures himself with licorice whips on the TV show. The Man with the Yellow Hat then counts aloud to see if the estimate is correct. This gives your child practice in counting, as well as in testing a simple hypothesis.
  • Dinosaur Train sparks children's interest in life science and natural history. As they explore a variety of animals, children develop the inquiry skills and knowledge needed to help them think, talk and act like paleontologists. Dinosaur Train's educational goals are to:
    1) Spark children’s interest in science, especially life science, natural science and paleontology.
    2) Develop children's inquiry skills to help children think like scientists, by engaging in the following behaviors: asking questions, making observations, making predictions, making connections, forming hypotheses / developing possible explanations, investigating and exploring the natural world, drawing conclusions, and sharing findings with others.
    3) Provide core science knowledge to enable children to explore the worlds of life science, natural science and paleontology.
    4) Inspire children to visit local science and natural history museums, go on "fossil hunts," and conduct their own explorations and investigations about the natural world.
  • Shows children how to use a ruler to measure items in inches and/or in centimeters.



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