The Domino Effect

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SWBAT record an addition equation using dominoes.

Big Idea

Young children need concrete models to build from when learning to add and subtract. Using dominoes allows them to understand how quantities and numbers relate as well as understand how two smaller groups combined create a larger group.

Daily Calendar and counting review

15 minutes

Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.

Calendar Time:

We do calendar on Starfall every afternoon.  This website has free reading and math resources for primary teachers. It also has a  “more” option that requires paying a yearly fee. The calendar use is free. A detailed description of Daily Calendar math is included in the resources.

Counting with online sources: Today we did counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. We watched two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) because some of my students students were still struggling with identifying numbers correctly in random order. We watched "Shawn the Train" and counted objects with him to refresh our memories on how to count objects to ten and to reinforce one to one counting. Since we have started the second quarter of the school year, we added to today's counting practice: counting to 20 forward and back, counting by tens to 100 and counting to 100 by ones to get a jump on our end of the year goals.

Direct Instruction

10 minutes
Understanding that putting two groups together means addition seems to come easily for many kinders, but writing out the problem in a standard algorithm can be a challenge. They struggle mostly with the order of the symbols. This game helps them walk through addition step by step several times. The line found on the dominoes is a benefit because it serves as a reminder as to where the addition sign should go.
To begin the lesson, we review our student friendly objective because I want my students to focus on the math more than on the playing of the game:
"I can add two numbers together to find the one number it is the same as."  Once the kids understand that "the same as" is the same thing as "equal to" we will change our vocabulary.

Before we play Domino addition we review what the addition and subtraction signs mean. I hold up the addition sign and ask, "What is this?" Kids answer, "Addition sign!" I ask, "What do you do when you see it?" Kids say, "Get more!"

I hold up the subtraction sign and ask, "What's this?" Kids answer, "put (or take) some away!"

I hold up the equal sign and ask, "What is this?" Kids say, "Equal sign!" I ask, "What does it mean?" Kids say, "Same as!"

Then we move on to play the game:

Here's how we prepare to play the game. 

I choose a high achieving partner who I introduced the game to at an earlier time during the day so she could help demonstrate how to play.

I named myself partner A and the student partner B. I put three dominoes in front of us, one white board, a dry erase marker and a wipe cloth. My partner and I demonstrated how to play the game:

Me: Partner A will go first while Partner B rally coaches (observes and advises when necessary). First I take the domino off the top of the stack. Next I count the dots on the left side (just like when we read stories, we count the dots on the domino left to right, top to bottom) and I draw and write down the number of dots I counted (there were 4 so I drew 4 dots and wrote the number 4). My partner watches what I'm doing to make sure I am doing the problem correctly. She politely corrects me if I do something wrong (I model this on the third domino demonstrated)

Me: I want to add the dots together. What sign do I need to write?

Kids: The addition sign!

Me: That's right! I draw the addition sign. Now I'm going to count the dots on the other side, the right side, of the domino and write that number down on the other side of the addition sign (I draw 2 dots and write the number 2). Okay, now what should I write?

Kids: The equal sign!

Me: Very good! "Air draw" it for me so I can know what to write. (Kids draw an equal sign in the air with their fingers. Now I can count all the dots together to see how many dots are on this domino altogether and I write it down (I only write the number 6).

I hold up the whiteboard for my students to view along with the domino. I ask the kids if what my board shows represents (key vocabulary - I make them use it!) what the domino shows.

Kids: Yes!

Me: Let's read it together (I point as we read): 4+2=6 then I wipe off the board and hand the board, marker, and wipe cloth to my partner. I demonstrate putting the used domino in the discard pile. My partner then takes the top domino and demonstrates for the class how to play Domino addition while I rally coach her.


15 minutes

I assign math partners (rally coaches): I strategically seat my students so they are partnered up High with Medium low, Medium high with Low (near peer partnerships). This way everyone can help each other play without getting frustrated. The kids wear their stickers for 6 weeks and then I change them. The groups are fluid so a Medium Low student who suddenly blossoms can be made a medium high or a high. I use stickers that go with holidays or seasons. I label the partners A and B, 1 and 2 or according to the season (pumpkins and bats). This eliminates confusion as to who will go first in playing a game. Rally coaches watch each other as they work and either agree and confirm what their partner does or they respectfully disagree and ask them to work the problem again.

I place one stack of dominoes with every two students (learning partners) and tell the kids not to touch them until they are told to. I am very strict about this because if they move the dominoes before we play, it delays the game and then they become distracted and are not able to follow directions well.

I give each pair a whiteboard, dry erase marker and a wipe cloth. I tell the students to leave the materials alone and not touch them until I tell them they can. I have them hold their hands in the air and then place their hands in their laps before I pass out the materials. I do not give materials  to anyone who does not have their hands in their lap, and I take the materials away if anyone touches them before they are instructed to. The kids really like this addition game, so they do a very good job following directions and not touching the materials until I tell them to. I celebrate when I do not have to take anyone's materials. Yahoo!

Once every pair has the materials, we once more review the signs that we will be using for the game. I hold up a picture of an addition sign. I ask them what it means when they see this sign (+)?

Me: "What do you do?"

Students: "Get more!"

Next, I show them the equal sign.

Me: "What does it mean?"

Students: "The same as!"

Me: "What does the same as mean? What do we need to do?"

Students: "You have to count how many!" (They count the total number of dots that are on the domino.)

We do one round of domino addition with Partner A as the mathematician and Partner B as the rally coach and one round with Partner B as the mathematician and Partner A as the rally coach.

Once the kids begin to play on their own, I roam the room. I am checking to make sure the kids are writing the equations accurately and that the partners who are rally coaching are doing an effective job.


10 minutes

In order to share our new understandings and explore what we've learned, we take five to ten minutes to discuss our experience with the domino game. I ask the students the following questions and we record the responses on chart paper (I take 3 to 4 answers per question):

What is one thing you learned from playing today's game?

How did this game help you with addition?

What did you like about this game?

What would you change about this game?

Through these questions I can reflect on the value of this activity and assess (in part) what information and skills my students gained as well as address any misconceptions that may arise. This type of closure also allows the students to have input in the types of activities we do in the classroom which creates "buy-in". Having buy-in from my students deters behavior issues and increases achievement because they are more actively engaged at all times.

Exit Ticket

5 minutes

We put up our private offices (two file folders stapled together) and I use this form as an exit ticket. As I collect the exit tickets, I place them into three piles:

Meets expectations: 0-1 incorrect components (as in any component - counting, writing the correct number (reversals okay), wrong total)

Approaches expectations: 2-3 incorrect components

Falls far below expectations: 4 or more incorrect components


I use this information to form small group experiences or lunch bunches if needed (math in place of recess if time does not allow for small group time).

Approaches: I meet with them to see if the errors were from rushing or from lack of understanding. I have their rally coach join the conversation because their job was to monitor for accuracy and correct application of the signs.

Falls far below expectations: One on one interactions happen to walk the child through the process of addition to see what steps they do not understand and where he or she is getting confused.