Math with Your Kids (Installment 1 of an Occasional Series)

Feb 7, 2015 | Fountain Valley

Are your children having difficulty mastering addition facts?  You can help.

One of the best tools you can use is a set of dominoes.  Dominoes make wonderful “stealth” flashcards, and practice sessions using dominoes can be disguised as games.  Your children will enjoy showing off their growing game-playing skills.

The easiest domino sets to buy are “double-six” sets.  A better choice, though harder to find, is a “double-12” set.  A double-6 set has 28 dominoes with numbers from 0 (blank) to 6.  A double-12 set has 91 dominoes, with numbers from 0 (blank) to 12.

Make up little games with easy rules.  For each game, start small, and keep increasing the level of difficulty.  Be playful and patient.  Make sure your child is having fun.

Your first objective is to help your child start to “see” the number of pips on one side of a domino without counting them.  To begin, select just the dominoes that have no number on them larger than 3.  There are 10 such dominoes.  Put all 10 dominoes on the table, face up, and a little to one side.  Pick one domino and place it in the center of the playing area.  You and your child are going to build the longest row of dominoes you can.  There is only one rule:  where two dominoes touch, they must both have the same number.  A blank can only touch another blank.  A 1 can only touch another 1.  And so on.

Building a long line of dominoes is harder than you think.  Try it.

If your child prefers a competition, then as soon as they are ready, start taking turns selecting a domino to add to the line.  The game is over when somebody cannot add another domino.  The player who added the last domino is the winner.  Any number can play.

As your child gains skill, add dominoes to the game set.  First, add the dominoes that have a 4 on them.  (There are 5 such dominoes.)  Later, add the dominoes that have a 5 on them (6 of them).  And so on.

This simple game will establish a strong foundation on which your child can build more advanced skills.  In future posts, we will describe more domino games that will progressively help your child master their addition facts.

Math with your kids.  And have fun doing it.