Dominoes Parking Lot Game

Adapted from Berg (2012), Kawas (2007), and Mascott (2010).
Lesson by Jamie Rechtsman

To view a detailed lesson plan, please click here

quick lesson final


Demonstrate an understanding of numbers, using concrete materials to explore and investigate counting, quantity and number relationships
One-to-one correspondence
Sort classify, and display a variety of concrete objects, collect data, begin to read and describe displays of data, and begin to explore the concept of probability in everyday contexts

Grade 1
Read, represent, compare and order whole numbers

Solve problems involving the addition and subtraction of one digit whole numbers
Collect and organize categorical primary data and display the data using concrete graphs and pictographs



Whole class introduction; Independently or small groups, and/or learning centre.


  • Assorted Dominos Set (can be card stock version if wooden set not available)
  • Domino Parking Lot laminated template (1 for each student participating in activity)
  • Optional: Recording Sheet and Pencil
  • Optional: Learning Centre Set-up: (electrical) tape and numbers to form Domino Parking Lot gridlines

*Download lesson plan for appendices. 


Students are given the challenge of placing dominoes in their corresponding parking spot according to the number of dots/pips represented on the domino. This activity can be played independently, in pairs or groups, or as a learning centre activity (e.g. turn table into the parking lot template with electrical tape and number cards). In addition, the game can be easily adapted to adjust the level of difficulty, the amount of time needed to play, and the concepts explored through the game (e.g. include a graphing and probability component to the game by recording the configurations and displaying/inferring the numbers that have the most/ fewest possible combinations).

Rules of the Game

The object of the game is to fill the game board with twelve dominoes in their corresponding “parking spots”. This can be done as a race (where only 1 domino can be placed in each spot) or as a more relaxed version (which would allow for stacking multiple dominoes in each spot).

  • If played as a race the rules would be:
    • Place all dominoes adding to 12, facing up or down (more challenging), on playing surface
    • Players take turns ipping over a domino and counting the total number of dots
    • Once the student has determined the total number of dots on the domino, the player “parks” the domino in the corresponding parking space on their own personal game board
    If the parking spot on the game board is full, the player places the domino back and the player’s turn is over
    • Continue taking turns until a player has lled the board: has one domino correctly placed in each number spot
  • If played with the more relaxed version- follow the same rules as above except:
    • Dominoes can be stacked in the same parking spot
    • If played in pairs or small groups a larger template or learning centre table as a template may be necessary


  1. Introduce the game by stating that they are going to play a number and counting game using Dominoes pieces.
  2. Ask if anyone has ever seen or played with dominoes before. Explain that they are rectangular game pieces (similar to cards) with a line dividing the tile into two square ends. Each square is marked with a number of spots (pips) or is purposely left blank.
  3. Draw a domino shape on the board, and ask a volunteer to select one domino from the stack. Ask the volunteer to count the number of dots on the first half. Draw that number of circles in that space on the board, and do the same with the other half.
  4. Ask the students to count the total number of dots and to raise their hand if they have an answer. Write the total number of dots on the board.
  5. Present the Game Board Template to the students and explain that each domino has their own special spot on this game board. Inquire whether someone can guess where they are supposed to place the domino we were just working with.
  6. Lead the students to understand that they should rst count the number of dots on the domino and then place the domino on the template in its corresponding spot.
  7. Practice this procedure a few times as a class in order to support the students’ understanding of how to count and sort the dominoes. The teacher can deliberately place the dominoes incorrectly as a way of assessing the class’ understanding and to see if the students will “catch the teacher’s mistake”.
  8. Explain the rules of the game version you chose (game version chosen will depend on the needs of the students and various practical considerations).
    • For example, in the learning centre activity students will need to work cooperatively taking turns sorting and stacking the dominoes.
    • If played as a “race”, students will each need their own personalized game board and will need to be instructed to ll each slot with just one domino.
    • Students can also play the game individually with their own pile of dominoes and personalized game board. Whether they want the more relaxed version or to race against the clock is up to the teacher (and student).
  9. Verify whether the students understand how to play the game and ask if there are any questions.
  10. Distribute materials (dominoes and personalized game board) or allow some students to go to learning centre, which will be set-up with the necessary materials.
  11. Observe and assess the students as they play the game. Ask them to share their counting strategies and explain how they “see” the total. (I saw 1 and 2. I know 1 plus 2 is 3 so I placed it in the #3 spot.)
  12. Introduce variations depending on age, interest, and time. In addition to making the game more competitive or cooperative, students and/or groups can be given further extension activities.

Questions to Extend Student’s Thinking

  • How did you know where to “park” your domino? 
  • Can you show me how you count (or add) the number of dots? 
  • Is the total number of dots the same even if I ip the domino around? (e.g. regardless of how a domino is oriented 3 and 4 is always 7.) 
  • Which number was the hardest to find? Why do you think so? 
  • Which number came up the most (if stacking instead of 1 per slot method)? Why do think it came up the most?

Look Fors

  • How are the students counting/ adding the number of dots on the domino?
  • Do the students subitize? Or are they counting all of the dots individually?
    For example, are they using more basic counting strategies such as one-to-one correspondence, and counting up or are they using more advanced skills like counting on, and retrieval.
  • Using more advanced skills suggests that the student is becoming proficient at subitizing.
    Notice whether students are able to correctly place the dominoes in their corresponding spots.
    Are they making any counting errors? If so, what patterns can you see underlying these counting mistakes? What can be done to support the student in correcting their errors?


  • Students can use subtraction to find the dominoes’ corresponding parking spot. Students will subtract the domino side with the larger number of dots from the smaller side to find the difference and place the domino in the number slot that corresponds with the difference.
  • Students can be given Recording Sheets and pencils and be asked to keep a record of the different addition equations and fact families they come across while playing the game. (See Recording Sheet in appendix)
  • Graphing component can be introduced in a follow-up activity in which class discusses which number totals were seen the most/least (This extension activity is best supported when the relaxed stacking version of the game is played and recording sheets are utilized.)


Berg. (2012). Domino Addition Parking Lot. Retrieved from http://

Kawas, T. (2007). Using Domino Math Mats. Retrieved from

Mascott, A. (2010). Domino Parking Lot. Retrieved from parking-lot-dotty-counting/