Math Games Using Dominoes

Math games have always been part of our math time.

I love the fact that any time I introduce a math game, I know I’ll have instant buy-in from my students. Not only do kids enjoy playing math games, but they get focused practice on lots of math concepts.

Here are a few math games using dominoes! All of the games can be tweaked up or down to make them work for a number of grade levels or for a student’s particular needs.

1. Bigger – Smaller Numbers

This game can be played in a number of ways. Students will be using dominoes to build larger or smaller numbers. One idea is to have students alternate.

So, the first round they would build the largest number possible and the next round would be the smallest number possible. One thing I like to do is to use a More/Less Coin that I make ahead of time. This is a simple plastic or foam circle. I attach a circle sticker (or you could use a sharpie) on one side with the word “more” and the other side with the word “less”.

That way at the end of the game, no one knows who has won until you flip the more/less coin. If more is shown, the higher number wins and if less is shown, the smaller number wins. I like this because it adds suspense to the game and because no one feels the need to give up before the game is over if it becomes obvious that there is no chance for winning.

Here’s how to play:

Students place all dominoes face down. Each student flips two dominoes over, and places the two next to each other to create a four-digit number. A bit of logical thinking goes here. To create a large number, a student will place the largest number in the front. For a small number, the smallest number will go in the front. The student with the winning number keeps the dominoes.

Variation:

To make this a decimal game, make a domino mat (kids can use scratch paper or you can make a pretty one using colored paper and possibly laminate it too). On the mat, place a dot to represent a decimal.

There are two possible decimal games I like to play. In the first version, students place the first domino in front of the decimal point to represent a number with tens and ones (for example, 4 and 2 would be 42). The other domino goes behind the decimal to make a tenth and a hundredth.

In the second, students line up both dominoes behind the decimal to create a number up to the 10,000th place. Again, students compare numbers to decide who wins, either larger or smaller as determined before or with the More/Less coin.

2. Domino Sort

In this game, students are working on prime and composite numbers. You’ll want to create a Prime/Composite coin just like the More/Less coin described above for this game.

Here’s how to play:

Students place all dominoes face down. Each student takes a domino and flips it over. You can decide if the sides are either added or multiplied together to get a number. Each student tells his/her answer and says if it is prime or composite (for example 11 is prime).

The Prime/Composite coin is flipped and if it lands on prime, all students with prime numbers can keep their dominoes. The students with composite numbers put theirs in a discard pile. The same process would happen if the coin said composite, but students keep their composite dominoes and discard prime dominoes. The student with the most dominoes at the end is the winner.

Variation:

For younger kids, instead of prime and composite, they can focus on even or odd. After flipping a domino, the sides are added and then the students determine if the sum is even or odd. The dominoes are then sorted into small bowls or baskets. There are three possibilities for this game: both sides are even, both sides are odd, or one side is even and one side is odd.

3. Domino War

This is a classic card game that can also be played using dominoes.

Here’s how to play:

This is a game for two students. First, students place all dominoes face down. Each child places his/her hand on a domino, ready to flip it over. The first player (rotating turns so each person gets a chance to do this) whispers, “Ready? Go!”

Students then flip the domino, multiply both sides of it together (for example 2 and 4 would be 8) and say the answer quietly. Whoever says the answer correctly first wins both dominoes. The person with the most dominoes at the end wins.

Variation:

Students can also play the game and add the dominoes or subtract them (subtracting the smaller side from the larger side of one domino, or with two dominoes, the smaller sum from the larger sum). To make it more challenging, students can flip two dominoes and multiply their sums.

4. Choose Three

For this game, students need either scratch paper and a pencil or a whiteboard with an expo marker.

Here’s how to play:

Place all dominoes face down. Students choose three dominoes. First, they multiply the sides together for each domino (for example, a 5 and a 6 would be 30). After finding the sums of each of the three dominoes, they add all three dominoes totals together for a grand total.

Then they use the More/Less coin and flip to see if the person with the larger or smaller number is the winner and keeps the dominoes.

Variation:

Choose Five would be the same process but students would flip over 5 dominoes to make the adding more challenging.

5. Race to 100

For this game, students need either scratch paper and a pencil or a whiteboard with an expo marker.

Here’s how to play:

Students place all dominoes face down. Each student flips a domino and multiplies the two sides together. Then he/she writes down the total to keep a running total. Players continue to flip dominoes at the same time and each player multiplies the domino’s sides and adds its total to the former totals. The first person to reach 100 wins!

Variation:

To make the game easier, students can add the dominoes and make it a Race to 50. To make it more challenging, students can flip two dominoes at a time, multiply their sums, and make it a Race to 500.

Another variation which includes subtraction practice is called Countdown to Zero! Students each start with 100. The domino is multiplied as before and is then subtracted from the running total until the player reaches zero and is the winner.

6. Rounding Game

For this game, students need either scratch paper and a pencil or a whiteboard with an expo marker to write rounded numbers.

Since each domino has two spaces, the place values will be set, depending upon how many dominoes are used. If students use one domino, they will be rounding to the tens place. If two dominoes are used, students may round to the tens, hundreds, or thousands place.

Using two dominoes, you can tell students which place to round or if they are able, you can tell them to round to the tens for the first three games, the hundreds for the second three games, and the thousands for the third three sets of games.

Here’s how to play:

Students place all dominoes face down. For a simple game to round to tens, students flip over one domino. They can decide which way the domino is facing (for example a 3 and a 6 could be 36 or 63).

Students round their numbers, write it down (so they remember it and can refer to it) and tell their partners their answer (for example, 36 rounds to 40). Students use the More/Less coin to determine the winner.

Variation:

This game can also be played as a decimal rounding game. Students can make a scratch paper domino mat with a decimal point in the middle or you can make decimal mats using colored paper.

The game can be played with one domino behind the decimal point, so students have a number with a tenth and a hundredth and would be rounding to the nearest tenth.

It can be played with two dominoes behind the decimal point, so students have tenths, hundredths, thousandths, and ten thousandths. They can round to any of those places except the ten thousandths.

A third alternative is to use two dominoes and place two in front of the decimal (ones and tens) and two behind the decimal (tenths and hundredths). Students can round to tens, ones, or tenths using this format.

7. Fraction War

For this game, students need either scratch paper and a pencil or a whiteboard with an expo marker to work on fraction problems.

Here’s how to play:

Students place dominoes face down. Each student flips over one domino and places it down vertically (like a fraction) with the smaller number on top (the numerator).

If the domino has the same number on the top as on the bottom (for example, four fours), the student automatically wins since the fraction equals one and it’s somewhat of an unusual domino.

If the domino is blank on one side (which means zero), the student automatically loses that round since zero of a fraction is always zero.

For regular dominoes, students need to compare domino fractions to determine which is larger and which is smaller. This comparing of fractions may be done mentally in some cases (if you’re okay with that) or it can be written down. Students flip the More/Less coin to determine the winner, who keeps the dominoes.

Variation:

Besides comparing fractions, students can play a game multiplying fractions. You can have them play with the rule that the fastest correct answer wins.

An alternative is that both players work on multiplying the fractions at the same time on whiteboards. They cover their answer until both players are done and then uncover their answers.

Each correct answer wins his/her own domino and if the other person is incorrect, will win his/her domino as well.

*** Don’t have real dominoes right now? These FREE Dominoes by Digital Classroom Clipart are great printables.

Click here to grab the free domino set.

I hope this has given you a few new ideas for domino math games! If you’re looking for more engaging math resources, I also have some awesome task cards for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade.

Each bundle has 30 sets of math task cards (one for every standard) which are great for centers, one on one, or for whole-class games.

Want some free math games using playing cards? I wrote a post on Upper Elementary Snapshots that you might want to check out Math Games Using Playing Cards.

Also, if you’d like some free and fun math games using dice, you might like this post: Math Games Using Dice.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Hi, I’m Jenn! I love to create resources that hit standards, are engaging for students, and save teachers time. It’s my goal to help you help your students have fun while learning! Thanks so much for joining me here!

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