How Dominoes Can Be Used in the Classroom


A domino is a small rectangular block with a marked side and blank or identically patterned opposite sides, like playing cards. Dominoes have a long history and can be played in many ways. They are often used in games, but can also be placed in rows to form art works, or stacked up to make 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. The term can be used as a verb, meaning to cause to fall in succession or order, or to set in motion. The word is also sometimes used figuratively, to mean something that sets off a chain reaction or sequence of events.

Dominoes are a popular classroom tool for teaching math. They can be used to reinforce basic concepts, such as commutative property of addition, or to bridge the gap between using moveable manipulatives and using only symbolic representations such as numbers and equations. The simplest way to use them is by having students count the dots on one end of a domino and then name the addition equation that results (e.g., 4 + 2 = 6). Students can then apply this same concept when adding dots on the other end of a domino.

Creating an elaborate domino design can be a fun way to challenge one’s creativity and engineering skills, especially when the designs are made out of a variety of shapes and sizes. Some common types of domino art include straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, and stacked walls. When designing a domino art work, it’s important to plan out how the dominoes will fall. This can be done on a piece of paper, or using a computer program. When planning a track, it is important to consider how fast the dominoes will travel, and how much space they will need to clear when falling.

A renowned domino artist, Hevesh, creates mind-blowing displays that are almost impossible to replicate. For example, she helped set the Guinness World Record for the most dominoes toppled in a circular arrangement: 76,017. To ensure each domino in her large installations falls according to the desired pattern, Hevesh builds test versions of each section before putting them together. She then uses a camera to watch the tests in slow motion, and makes adjustments as needed.

When writing fiction, the domino effect can be helpful in creating a compelling story. For example, if you want your protagonist to do something that is against societal norms, you will need to give readers logic that allows them to justify that behavior. Considering how that action will affect other characters and the effect it will have on them can help you write an effective scene.

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