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Using Dominoes to Teach Math

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Take advantage of these ready-to-go math manipulatives by using dominoes to teach math!

Using Dominoes to Teach Math

Why You Should Use Dominoes in Math

Dominoes have distinct advantages as math manipulatives.

The Price Is Right

Dominoes are readily available and inexpensive.

You can purchase this set of dominoes for under $10.

They Use Dots

Dominoes use dots instead of digits, and that can be an advantage.

Seeing dots helps students visualize math operations in a way that is impossible with digits alone.

They Work Across Multiple Ages

Unlike traditional manipulatives, which only work well for a season, dominoes grow with the child.

You can use them from early elementary up to middle school.

They Have Appeal

Dominoes are a game, so kids are typically excited to use them in math.

They Make Math Hands-On

Any time you use hands-on math activities, you increase engagement and retention of the topic.

Using Dominoes to Teach Math

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Ideas for Using Dominoes in Math

Check out these ideas for using dominoes in math.

Basic Counting

Practice counting with young learners.

You can turn the dominoes to the blank side and use them as math counters.

Or, you can count the total number of dots.


Once a child is a confident counter, he can count a set of dominoes and arrange them from the fewest dots to the greatest.

Basic Addition

Make addition visual by adding the dots on each side of the domino.

You can add the dots on two or more dominoes for more advanced students.

Basic Subtraction

Introduce subtraction by having students subtract the dots on one domino from the total number of dots on another.

Arrays and Multiplication

Use the blank side of dominoes to create arrays (rectangles of evenly spaced dominoes).

The arrays introduce the concept of multiplication (a rectangle of 6 x 4 dominoes contains 24 dominoes).

Basic Division

You can also use dominoes to practice division. You can do this by using arrays or divvying up the dominoes into separate piles.

For example, “Here are 24 dominoes. Divide them evenly among three bowls. How many dominoes are in each bowl?”

Using Dominoes to Teach Math


Dominoes are perfect for teaching fractions because the dots are separated by the bar in the middle.

How many dominoes are on one side of the domino? (That’s the numerator.)

How many dominoes are there in total on the domino? (That’s the denominator.)

Place Value

Sort out the dominoes with a blank on one half and numbers 1-9 on the other. These are your digits 1-9.

Use these domino digits to teach place value. You can move them around in the number and explore how their value changes.

Number Bonds

Introduce the concept of number bonds with dominoes.

The halves of one domino visually represent the relationship between numbers in addition.

You can also use three dominoes that belong to the same fact family to show number bonds for subtraction problems.

For example, pick three dominoes with three, six, and nine dots, respectively.

Show how they relate in a number bond on paper and with dominoes.

You can also give your child two dominoes from a subtraction number bond and have him select the missing domino from several options.

Using Dominoes to Teach Math

Addition Game

Play “Domino Addition War.”

Each player gets a pile of face-down dominoes. Each person selects two dominoes from their pile. They add their respective sums.

Whose sum is larger? That person keeps all four dominoes.


Explore symmetry by creating symmetrical designs with dominoes.


Practice measurement concepts by lining up dominoes to measure lengths or widths.

How many dominoes long is this book? The placemat? The pillow?

Any item of standard size can be a unit of measurement. Why no dominoes?


Use dominoes to create shapes and angles.


Dominoes are classic examples in probability problems.

Assemble a set with all the combinations of the numbers 1 and 6 (so their totals range from 2 to 12).

You can use dominoes to run experiments and demonstrate probability problems like:

What is the probability of a domino having a total of over 7?

You pull two dominoes from a pile. What is the probability that their total will be 10?

Using Dominoes to Teach Math

How to Use Dominoes to Teach Math

Using dominoes to teach math is a brilliant and easy way to showcase many math concepts.

Get those dominoes out of the game closet and into today’s math lesson!

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