Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Spotted Stones Linked Just Right

Sissy Gandy
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students learn to play the game of dominoes using mental math skills to solve equations that will earn points. They become fast critical thinkers in determining which unknown addend will tally up points in their favor.


The student uses concrete objects, paper and pencil, or mental mathematics to solve real-world equations with one unknown (such as, There are 28 students in the room, and 16 brought their lunches. How many are buying lunch?).


-Long, Lynette, PhD. [Domino Addition], Scholastic Inc.,
New York,1996, ISBN: 0-590-33027-6
-White cardstock cut in half (4)
-Cardstock dominoe for each student ( size of domino in
middle of activity sheet)
-Large display board such as chalk board, dry erase
board, or bulletin board.
-Color-coded set of double six dominoes (May have more
than one is available.)
-Table to play dominoes on


1. Get book from media center. (See materials)
2. Make sample dominoes from cardstock. Draw a black horizontal line across the middle of each piece of carstock. Then stick circle stickers (labels) on each half of the domino. (see associated file)
3. Trace dominoes in the middle of the activity sheet and cut out. Cut enough of these for each student to have one.
3. Set up a display board to attach cardstock dominoes to as you progress through the lesson. (You will be demonstrating how to match the number of spots so touching ends add up.)
4. Copy associated file and have activity sheet copied for each set of partners in your class.
5. Tape the activity sheets together for students to use.
6. Look at Website to build your background knowledge of the game of dominoes. It can be fun and a real challenge!


This lesson will be divided into two days.

Day 1
1. Spark students' interest by showing them the set of color-coded dominoes. Let students look at the stones and point out the spots on them. Ask: Does anyone know what these are? (Answers may vary.) Say to students: These are dominoes. The playing pieces may be called a stone, bone, or tile, and to play the game, you find two stones with the same number of spots and link them like a chain by touching them end to end like so. Demonstrate this with two tiles.

2. Explain that they will use dominoes to add and find missing addends and at first it will be easy and will get a little more difficult, so they really need to watch and listen during the lesson.

3. Read the book [Domino Addition] aloud to students. Call on students to come forward and point to the hidden domino on each page.

4. When the book is finished, tell students that in the game of dominoes, players score points. Explain that you are going to show them how they can get points. Place stone 3,6 end to end with 6,2 by touching the halves with 6 yellow dots. Attach these vertically in the middle of the board with tape on the back.

5. Have students add the ends of the stones together. (3+2) Call on a student to give the answer. (3+2=5) Explain that in a domino game, you can only score points for spots that equal 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. So if the sum equals any other number, they won't get points. Ask students; Did we get points this time? (Answer is yes.) Call on someone to tell how many points were scored. (5)

6. Write the word score on the display board and draw an oblique ( \ ) line under the word. Explain to students this is the way to tally 5 points. (When the next 5 points are scored, an oblique line ( / ) will be drawn across this line to form an -X-. The score is tallied by forming X's across the paper and each X stands for 10 points.)

7. Hold up the double 3 and turn it horizontally. It is the first double stone to be played so it is called the spinner or skipper. Touch it to the end with 3 spots. Attach it on the board. Have students add the double 3 (which is
6) to the 2 spots. Ask for the sum. (8) Ask: Does 8 score points? What is the nearest number to 8 that would score points? What number would we add to 6 (point to the double 3) to get 10? Answer is 4 because 10-6 =4.

8. Attach the 3,1 stone vertically to the double 3. Have students add the ends and give the sum. Ask students: Did we score points? and What number would we need on this half (point to 1) to score points? Help students to see that you had 2 spots and would need 3 more to score 5 points. Students are finding unknown addends without realizing it. Continue this questioning process as you link the rest of the stones.

9. Attach the double 2 stone turning it horizontally. Show students that 2+2=4 on that end. Determine points. You scored points so draw an oblique line across the other to show 5 more points for a total of 10. Remind students that an -X- means 10 points. (Stones CANNOT be played on the ends of this stone because only the spinner or first double stone can be played on.)

10. Attach the 3,2 stone by touching the 3 to the END of the double 3 to form a -+-. Tell students this becomes an end and now they should add 3 numbers to score points. Have students add the ends and give the sum. Answer is 7. Ask questions about scoring and what number could have been added to the 4+1 to score. Explain to students that if they had 5, they need either 0 or 5 to get points. So they would need the 3,0 or 3,5 stone to get points.

11. Attach the 1,4 stone by touching the ones. Have students add the ends. They will get 10 points, so draw an X by the other X on the score. Remember each X stands for 10, so we now have 20 points.

12. Hold up the 5,0. ( This is called a five blank.) Explain that this stone would not play because we didn't have any 5's or blanks. Attach it in the corner of the board away from the others. Tell students: This is all that will be done today and we will do more work with dominoes tomorrow.

Day 2
1. Review previous day's activities with the students by discussing vocabulary, how to link the stones, how to score points, how they would go about finding the stone they need to play to get points, and how to keep score.

2. Hold up the set of color-coded dominoes. Tell students to gather around a designated table to learn how to play the game of dominoes.
Pour dominoes on table face down and shuffle them. Select 4 students to be players in the game. Let others gather around the player on their side of the table. (I have done this with my class!) Instruct students that all of them may look at this player's stones, but none is to touch the stones except the player. Choose a student to be the scorekeeper, giving him paper and pencil. Scorekeeper writes each player's name on the paper.

3. Have each player draw a stone. The player with the highest number will play first. Designate that player and have him return the stone to the pile. Shuffle the stones once more. Have each player choose 7 stones and place them on their sides where only they can view them. (Observers will be able to see them, too.)

4. First player lays down the first stone in the middle of the table. (Remind students that if they lay down first, they should play a stone that counts points, like the double 5, 4,6. or 2,3.) Rotate clockwise with each player trying to score points. (Ask what stone would score points in between each player's turn.)

5. If a player can not match a stone, he would pass to the next player. The first player to get rid of all his stones is the winner and says: Domino.

6. Assign partners and have students go to a work area. Tell students they will work with a partner to create a domino game on paper. Their goal is to score as many points as they can.

7. Pass out an activity sheet and 2 cardstock dominoes to each set of partners. Read the directions aloud. Make sure everyone understands that they are to get a marker and take turns tracing the domino and drawing spots to earn points. Remind them to think of the number that would help them get points. Each player tallies his points. They are to play until the timer goes off. (Set a timer for about 10 minutes.) Take the activity sheets up when finished.


Students use mental math to add and subtract to find unknown addends to solve equations that come up in the lesson. Assess students by observing the mental process students use in finding unknown numbers and providing correct responses.

Students work with a partner to create a domino game on paper as they complete the student activity sheet. Partners use markers to trace dominoes and draw spots to equal numbers that will score points for them when possible. They will tally their own points as they play the game. Use the activity sheet to assess student particpation with a partner in that each partner has a different color marker and the work will be obvious. The teacher can assess if students can determine unknown numbers by checking the student points.


This lesson is a tribute to my dad, who had rather play dominoes than breathe! He plays in many tournaments throughout the year and placed second in the 1996 World Domino Tournament in Andalusia, Alabama. His older brother is the current World Domino Champ (1999), so you see dad's love for dominoes is contagious. They both support the idea that dominoes in the classroom build a child's mental math skills and help children become better critical thinkers because dominoes is a game of skill and strategy with a lot of luck.

You can get dominoes for the overhead to use with the class.

Domino sets are inexpensive and can be found in local stores. The color-coded sets are excellent for young children as beginning players. Instructions come in the set. After this lesson, children just need a little time to play the game. I started dominoes in my class two years ago. This year, I had former students come back and play students from this class. They loved it and looked so forward to coming in and my class was really excited about the opportunity to play.

The Website provides a history of dominoes and domino terms and language for the teacher. Dominoes are played so that the spots on touching ends add up. The multiple of 5 scoring method is used.

Be brave! I challenge you to place sets of dominoes in stations and allow time for your children to practice what they have learned.

Web Links

Web supplement for Spotted Stones Linked Just Right

This site contains additional games to play with dominoes to strengthen math skills.
Natural Math

Students can actually play dominoes online, however, it's a bit complicated. You will need to study the site first in order to help them with the technicalities of moving the pieces into place.
Yahooligan Games

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