Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How does playing dominoes count for math class?

One of our school activities this week was dominoes.  Here's how I use it to cover specific math objectives.

First, let's remember that there are math skills built into the game of dominoes.  Understanding the rules of dominoes requires matching and pattern making skills.  Trying to win the game develops analytical and strategic skills which are valuable in mathematical problem solving all the way to the collegiate level.

When my kids were first learning to count, I would point to the animal that was laid down and count how many there were.  When they felt comfortable, they imitated me.

Now that my four-year-old is comfortable counting past six, and interested in addition (benefits of following a sibling!), I point out that there are six bees and six more bees.  "How many is that all together? One, two, three...eleven, twelve!" 

During the course of our game she interupted me.  "No, Mom, let me count."  While I do believe my child to be exceptional, I think most kids will do this naturally if it's modeled on a pleasant way.

My five-year-old has the concept of addition down and needs to work on counting higher numbers.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce multiplication.  "Look, we have four sets of donkeys and each set has four donkeys in it.  How many does that make?  One, two.."  We also used some skip counting.

A key to making this an effective lesson for my children is  that I never require them to count.  I just model happily on every turn.  When they are ready, they copy.  Requiring them to stretch for a new skill would add stress and take away not only the fun, but also the effectiveness of the lesson.

Does just playing dominoes cover a sufficient amount of math?  It depends on what your objective is, and how you play.  For my objectives this week, I believe it did.

What games do you enjoy at math time?

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