Dominoes are great for toddlers and pre-schoolers. They help with grasping the relationship between numbers and amounts, and importantly, the quantity of zero. Depending on the set you have, they are great for teaching colours too. I have a Cardinal set that uses a different colour for each number of dots. The other thing I love about dominoes is that most sets have great tactile value. The ones we use are pretty heavy,smooth and shiny. I love fiddling with them. They make a lovely “clack” sound when they touch each other. I have seen metal sets and wood sets that would also be awesome for this reason.
Here are a few activities suggestions:
1. Make a train track. Work together to line up the tiles end-to-end, making a long ‘train track’ then drive a little train along it. The Cardinal set I have came with little trains but they could be a choke hazard so whatever safe sized vehicle you have on hand will do just fine. Preschoolers might be able to work at matching the amounts of dots/colours as they make their line (don’t insist, let it be fun)
2. Train station. Gather all the dominoes that have no more than five dots on either side. You will have 21 tiles. Put one of the ‘doubles’ into the center and show how to pull the matching pieces into the ‘station’ . Choo choo! You can use the little starter piece from the set or just pull the tiles up to the double. Its great for visual quantity recognition.
3. Sum sort. Write the numbers 1-10 (or start with 1-5) on a piece of paper spaced out. Count the dots on both ends and add them together. Place the domino in front of the number that shows the sum. Continue until all the tiles are sorted .
4. Build a Castle. Dominoes are fun to just build with too. Great for hand-eye coordination and balancing.
5. Let’s not forget everyones favourite thing to do with dominoes….
A double twelve set of dominoes will run about 20.00 so they are a fantastic math manipulative and fun family game. Happy playing!