Sunday, January 23, 2011

Math Dominoes

Here's another review activity that I like:

To create the dominoes, you set up a table in a word document and then fill in the first box with the word "START".  Put a problem in the next box, followed by the answer in the next box, and so on.  The final box will contain the word "END".  Cut them apart domino-style, and you have a puzzle for students to assemble.

It is self-checking, because students should get to the end without any extra pieces.

What I like about Math Dominoes:  Students can manipulate the pieces as they solve.  You hear things like "Wait a minute, I already used such-and-such answer", followed by students going back to find the mistake and rearrange things accordingly.  Most students like the puzzle-like nature of the activity.

What I don't like:  If students are working in pairs, it is possible for one person to dominate and the other to coast.  I sometimes accompany this with a sheet where both partners have to show calculations.  The biggest problem I have had with this in the past is the huge variation in how much time it takes to finish.  Depending on the complexity and so on, students will finish in anywhere from 5-45 minutes.  So if you are using this for the first time you will want to have something in your back pocket for the kids who finish in five.

Helpful tip:  Make sure each set of dominoes has a distinguishing feature.  Make them in different colors, or put colored dots on the backs of them or something.  That way when you see one laying on the floor after class, you won't be pulling out your hair trying to figure out to which set it belongs.


  1. Just found your blog when you commented on mine - I LOVE IT! Keep posting awesome review ideas - I'm totally stealing your stations activity :)

    Thanks much!
    MizT (Teaching Statistics)

  2. I have MizT to thank for pointing me to your blog. Welcome! I'm definitely going to keep reading. :)

    Congrats on the new school! Wish we had one. :)

  3. Thanks to MizT for pointing people this way, and thank you both for the nice words! I am so new at this that I just get giddy with excitement over a few comments. I appreciate the encouragement! :)

  4. This is such a great idea! If you write any dominoes, will you post them for us to print out, laminate, and use?


  5. Thank you, Sam! I will . . . as soon as I figure out how to do that. :)

  6. Have you ever used the free Tarsia software? It makes it very easy to create dominos or even jigsaw puzzles with maths expressions or equations. Very easy to put in maths symbols while making a variety of maths puzzles or dominos.

  7. I am trying this out with finding discontinuities on rational functions. Something different then practice work.