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I don’t know about you, but in our house, we are a big fan of gameschooling. What is gameschooling? Quite simply, it’s using games in your homeschooling to learn different skills. There’s no right or wrong amount of games to use, but almost every game has educational benefits. Sometimes, there are very obvious benefits – a game that is specifically designed to be educational or games that feature traditional subjects like math or history at the forefront.
But really, every game can be educational. Even if there aren’t direct educational benefits, there are benefits in terms of “soft” skills or things that you can’t measure with a test like turn taking, patience, good sportsmanship, and more. Plus, don’t overlook the benefits of just playing and having that bonding time with your children. No test can measure your bond with your child, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t vitally important to them.
Today, I’m going to focus on dominoes. Dominoes are wonderful because they are great for visual discrimination which is an important part of many skills such a math and even literacy – after all, it is those visual discrimination skills that allow us to know the difference between an m and a w. Playing with young children, they also have the added benefit of helping with number sense.
We happen to have animal dominoes, but there are tons and tons of choices. You can get traditional dominoes, of course. Animal dominoes. Farm animal dominoes. Night sky dominoes. Dinosaur dominoes. Llamanoes. Noah’s Ark dominoes. Construction dominoes. Candy dominoes. Yoga dominoes (Bonus! Practice the poses for gross motor work). I’m not saying there’s a kind to go along with every unit study, but many of them are reasonably priced and could fit into a unit study.
You can also find set patterned after your favorite books, tv shows, and movies. In general, I don’t love branded content on tv shows and movies, but they can be a good gateway for kids who might be reluctant to play. For example, you can find Paw Patrol dominoes. On the other hand, I love things themed after books – like these Gruffalo dominoes. (If you’ve never read the Gruffalo, I encourage you to do so – it’s one of our favorite books. It was made it to an absolutely amazing animated film as well).
And nowadays, dominoes come in so many fun forms that you can learn and do even more with them. They make a fraction set of dominoes if your child needs help practicing fractions in a fun and low pressure way. They also make dominoes to work on literacy with several options – sentence building, blends and digraphs, word building, short vowels, and long vowels. For younger kids, this head to toe animals provides important matching skills.
You can also build thinking skills and problem solving with something like a domino maze. We love this brand for fun single player logic puzzles that really work on your child’s thinking skills.
If you’d like to take them outdoors, you can buy a big outdoors set. Or a big foam set.
But playing a game with the dominoes isn’t the only thing you can do with them. For example, during covid, my family got really into watching chain reaction videos, including those made with dominoes. Reading Rainbow has a great episode about chain reactions in Season 1 Episode 1. Beyond simple cause and effect, this also gives you an opportunity to talk about science and physics – like potential versus kinetic energy, which is something that they talk about on Science Max, Season 2 Episode 8. Either of these shows would be a great thing to show your kids if they aren’t familiar with the concept of building with dominoes to knock them down. Of course, there are also tons and tons of these videos on Youtube. You can buy sets to get you started on this kind of building. If you already have tons of dominoes, The Ultimate Guide to Domino Toppling will help you get started.
So, you can see that dominoes are so very very versatile. You can use many different kinds in many different ways. It sort of makes me want to write a domino unit study!
Do you enjoy dominoes? What would your ideal domino set look like? Let me know in the comments!
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