Using Domino Math Mats


Dominoes have become a staple in most primary classrooms. They build upon dice patterns and are often used to model decomposition of numbers, building student knowledge of addition facts. They are an excellent manipulative for primary students to use and these are some examples of how students might use dominoes in the math center.

Domino Mat

The student needs some dominoes, counters and a domino mat. The student selects a domino and builds that domino on his/her domino mat. Next, the student counts the total number of dots on both sides of the domino and selects the correct number card to represent the total. The student may record this domino on the Domino Recording Sheet before clearing the mat, and choosing another domino.

Differentiation: Teachers may easily differentiate this activity by providing differentiated baggies of dominoes that effectively target the varied instructional levels of students in their classes. For example, an easy set may include dominoes with sums less than or equal to 6 while a challenging set may include dominoes with sums greater than 12.

Domino Flash Game

Play Domino Flash to help your students master the domino patterns. Each student needs a domino mat and counters. Teachers may use overhead dominoes or Domino Flash Cards (copied on card stock, and cut apart) for this game.

The teacher shows a domino for a count of 5-10 seconds, depending on the ability level of the students, then covers it. Students look at the domino as it is shown, then build the domino from memory. The teacher circulates around the room as students work, to observe student performance. After some time, the teacher asks students to describe the domino they saw and how they remembered the patterns to build. Finally, the teacher shows the domino again so that students are able to self-correct.

Center Activity: make the Domino Flash Game materials available for students to play as pairs or triads at center time. Students love to rotate playing teacher for this game!

Domino Parking Lot

Students use a set of regular dominoes and a domino parking mat. Each student selects a domino, counts the total number of dots (pips) and places the domino in that parking spot. Dominoes with the same number of dots may be stacked on top of each other in the parking spot, if necessary.

Center Activity: Teachers may use craft foam and a sharpie marker to create the parking lot mat or download the Domino Parking Lot game mat, copy it on card stock, and laminate the mat for student use. Provide sets of dominoes for small groups of students to sort.

Challenge: As a variation of the game, select target sums and give students a point for each domino they find to park in those spaces. This motivates students to search for those particular combinations and heightens interest in finding those dominoes to win the most points for the group. Have one member of the group use a Domino Parking Lot recording sheet, write in the day's winning numbers, then draw in the dots of the dominoes the group finds for those numbers.

Domino Fact Families

Dominoes can be used to introduce students to fact families. Students need a Domino Facts Template inserted in a sheet protector, dry erase marker, and some dominoes for this activity. The student selects a domino and draws it on the template (or uses counters to build the domino). He/she then counts the number of dots on each side of the domino, writing the numbers in the squares above the domino sides. The student figures out the total number of dots and writes this number in the rectangle below the domino. These three numbers are the number family the students will use to write the 4 number sentences for that fact family.

Alternately, the teacher may display a Domino Flash Card and have the whole class use the same domino for the introductory activity. In this case, the teacher should use an overhead of the Domino Facts Template. NOTE: inserting the overhead in a sheet protector allows the teacher to use dry erase markers and preserves the life of the overhead. For storage, many teachers elect to keep these often-used overheads in a binder.

Differentiation: Vary the complexity of the dominoes students use to accommodate the varied needs of learners in the class.

Center Activity: Make the materials available in the math center so that students practice fact families on a regular basis.

Do Now! Transition Activity: Many teachers opt to have students keep the Domino Facts Template in their desks so that they can use this activity as a daily part of math class, beginning or ending math class with fact family practice. Math Mats Resources

This series of pages is designed as a resource to teachers as they differentiate instruction for varied learners in the class. Each page discusses how to use the set of mats to develop mathematical understanding and support student growth.

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