Monday, February 27, 2012

Building Math Skills with DIY Dominoes

I don’t know what happened to our set of dominoes, but it’s disappeared. (sigh) So many of the blogs I follow have used dominoes as a math manipulative and after seeing all the amazing ways they can be used to build math skills, I was ready to jump on the bandwagon.

If I can make something rather than buy it, I will. Partly because I’m cheap, and partly because I’m crafty.

With some rarely used ice cube trays collecting dust and a big tub of Plaster of Paris in the basement, I already had everything I needed.

My son helped me measure and mix the Plaster of Paris according to the directions on the label. Using a plastic spoon, I tried to carefully dispense an equal amount of plaster into each ice cube tray compartment. 

Two trays makes 28 dominoes, which is exactly what you need for a set of double six!

I tapped the trays on the counter to release any air bubbles and level out the tops of the plaster. After about an hour, they were dry enough to release from the mold. A full 24 hours later and they were ready to paint.

I brushed one coat of black acrylic paint on each. When I was through with that, I cut a small stencil of a thin line to add in the middle of each domino with white paint. Now I stenciled that on. To add the dots, I simply dipped the end of a small paintbrush in white paint and made light contact with the domino. Click here to visit the site that I used to know what each domino should look like.

Now I waited until they dried.

For our first domino activity, I chose to make windows. My son picked a domino and placed it on the table horizontally; he found another one that had a similar number and lined it up vertically underneath so the two like numbers were next to each other. He did this with four dominoes, until it formed a rectangle shape. (Truthfully, there wasn't much of a window in the middle since our dominoes are squattier than store-bought ones.)

The objective was to see if my son could make windows that used every single domino. While we weren’t successful, it was sure fun trying! I got the idea from the NRICH website, which has tons of other fun ideas for using dominoes.

Here are just a few of the other great (math) domino activities I’m planning to do with our DIY plaster dominoes:
Simple Dominoes Addition (printable worksheets) on First School
War with Dominoes on All Things Beautiful

Note: These dominoes have slanted sides so they will not stand-up; but they are positively perfect for doing countless math activities with your kiddo!


  1.! Who-da-thunk-it? Great idea and looks like fun! :)

  2. This is very, very cool! I never would have thought of making my own dominoes--I bet they have the coolest texture too! I'm going to pin it and share it on my PreschoolPowolPackets Facebook page! Thanks for linking up at Teach Me Tuesday!

  3. you are a genius!!! Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Sharing Saturday. hope to see you again this week.