Domino Math

One of the best and easiest strategies for making math fun is to turn it into a game.  And no game is better than dominoes!  I just got a new set of dominoes at Goodwill – this set goes up to double 12s.  Look out!  The bright colored dots are super exciting and the clack of those tiles on the table . . . well, who could resist!

All of my students who I tutor in math love the dominoes.  They are the most oft requested manipulative.  And the game we play is simple.  Basically it is a version of “War”.  You take a domino and either add or multiply the two sides depending on what skill you are working on.  Your partner does the same.  Whoever gets the highest sum or product takes both dominoes.  If there is a tie, both players take another turn and the winner of that round gets all four dominoes.  The game ends when all the dominoes have been used (this could take a while with my new set!).  If you are playing competitively each partner counts up the number of dominoes he or she has accumulated over the course of the game.  The winner is the one with the most, of course!

One way to vary the game is to use only certain dominoes.  For a beginner, maybe you would only use the dominoes with a blank, one, or two.  Or maybe you’d use that set plus the doubles.  If a student is having a hard time memorizing those tricky 7 and 8 multiplication facts, you could play with just those until she or he has them down pat.

It seems that math is being taught differently these days.  But the one thing that will always stay the same is the need to memorize basic math facts.  Games like this keep kids engaged better than flashcards.  Make domino math a part of your child’s daily homework routine.  It’s a great way to spend time together and do some fun learning!