Dynamic Dominoes

In this lesson, children will be introduced to a variety of beginning math concepts using dominoes.

Lesson for:

(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:

Numbers and Operations

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • 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

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Counting with understanding and recognizing “how many” in sets of objects
  • Developing an understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections
  • Connecting number words and numerals to the quantities that they represent, using various physical models and representations
  • Sorting, classifying and ordering objects by size, number and other properties
  • Recognizing, describing and extending patterns such as sequences of sounds and shapes or simple numeric patterns and translating from one representation to another
  • Analyzing how both repeating and growing patterns are generated

Dynamic Dominoes

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Dominoes
  • Cards with numbers 1-12

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce 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 dots 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.

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

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

Additional Extensions

  • Play addition games using the numbers on each square of the domino. Say: “Who has a tile that equals five?” Make a stack of all of the tiles that equal five.
  • Make worksheets with blank tiles and a number next to the blank tile. Next to the blank tile, write in the number eight. Ask the children how many dots they would need to draw in each square to equal the number eight.

Step 4: 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?”)

Early Math Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Have difficulty with one-to-one correspondence
Child care providers may:
  • Help the child organize similar number patterns (If items are randomly displayed, the child can move all of the items to one side in preparation for counting. If the items are already arranged in a linear fashion, the child can locate the first item in the series and scan the series to confirm the arrangement.)
  • Partition the dominoes (The child can count individual items and move counted items to a separate area on the tray or pick up items one at a time, give them a name and place them apart from the items that have not yet been counted. The child can 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.)
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Easily identify the number of dots on the dominoes and match them to the corresponding written number
  • Already be able to add the total of the two squares on the dominoes together
Child care providers may:
  • Have the child compare/match/sort groups of objects into sets; then have the child 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)
  • Play addition games using the numbers on each square of the domino (Say: “Who has a tile that equals 5?” Make a stack of all of the tiles that equal 5.)

Suggested 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

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, including beans, which reinforce the Jack and the Beanstalk theme. Ask the children to measure the height of a tall plant or an actual beanstalk. The children can then measure the width of a tree or the circumference of a tree or the height and width of a large leaf or tall flower. Ask the children to guess “how many beans tall” they think the object will be and then tell them to measure to see if they are correct.
  • Grow beanstalks. With all of 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. Tell the children to dip their cotton balls into water and place them in their baggies. They should use enough cotton balls to fill the bottom of their baggies. Next, the children will add lima beans to their baggies. Remind the children that the beans need space to grow and will take four or five days to sprout. Once the children finish adding cotton balls and beans to their baggies, close up the baggies and tape them to a window. Seal the baggies tightly so that the beans do not dry out. Wait and see what happens. Talk about the growth of the beans as they start to shoot out some sprouts.

Web Resources


Comment on this lesson