Have you ever played dominoes? Some children like to play games with dominoes, while others prefer to stack them on end in long rows to see them fall. Regardless of how you use them, dominoes are fun to play with!

Dominoes are the individual pieces of a domino set, which usually contains 28 dominoes. Dominoes have many nicknames, including bones, cards, tiles, stones, spinners and tickets.

Each domino is a rectangle that is divided with a line down its middle to separate its ends into two squares. Each end is either blank or has a number of spots — called pips. Dominoes are like dice or playing cards in that they can be used to play many different games.

Traditional domino sets have one unique piece for each possible combination of numbers from one to six spots. These sets are often called “double six” sets because the piece with the highest value has six spots on each end. Other sets with more dominoes are available, up to “double 18” sets that contain 190 dominoes.

Dominoes got their name from their resemblance to Italian carnival masks — called domini — that were white with black spots. These masks got their name because they looked like French priests’ hoods that were black on the outside and white on the inside. The name ultimately comes from the Latin word dominus, which means “lord” or “master.”

The most basic game of dominoes requires two players and a “double six” set. The 28 dominoes are placed face down in a pile — called the stock or boneyard — and each player chooses seven dominoes.

One player begins the game by playing one of his or her dominoes. The other player will then try to play one of his or her dominoes by placing it next to the first domino. The catch is that it has to have an end that matches the same number of pips as one end of the previously-played domino.

If the second player does not have any dominoes with matching values to the one already played, he or she must choose another domino from the boneyard until a domino that can be played is chosen. This pattern continues until either one player wins by playing all of his or her dominoes or neither player can play.

Of course, this is just one simple game using dominoes. There are many other possible games that can be played with a traditional domino set. Some of the games can be very complicated with lots of rules to remember!

Not everyone uses dominoes to play these types of games, though. Many children prefer to use dominoes as toys that they can stack on end in long lines. If spaced properly, the first domino in the line can be tipped over, which causes the next domino in line to tip and so on and so forth.

Very complex designs can be created by stacking dominoes in this way. Playing with dominoes in this way led to the common phrase, the “domino effect.” The “domino effect” is used to describe a series of events that starts with one simple action that ultimately leads to much greater — and sometimes catastrophic — consequences.

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    • Hi there, Julie! Thanks for letting us know you think today’s Wonder ROCKS! We appreciate hearing that and are SUPER happy you stopped by Wonderopolis for another visit today…WONDERing is FUN! :-)

  1. Hey! This Dymia and that was amazing. I would like to ask a question though, how long did it take you to do all that even with the clean up? And how long did it take the dominoes to fall? Thanks, Dymia

  2. I Like The Dominoes Video A lot, I Especially Love The Unique Colors And Types Of Dominoes They Have. I Also Like Coming To This Website To See Cool New Videos And Discover New Things.

    • Thanks for sharing such an AMAZING comment with us today, Quiyana! We’re so SUPER happy to hear that you like visiting Wonderopolis and learning new things here with us! That ROCKS! Thanks for being such a GREAT Wonder Friend…have a GREAT day! :-)

  3. The video was so fun to watch. I’m not much for playing dominoes, as I am for playing WITH them. When I have them, I like to see what kind of pattern I can make with them. Then, I knock them down and watch the black and white chaos unfold. Thanks for this cool wonder!!

    • We bet you make WONDERful creations with your dominoes, boyWONDER! Thanks so much for sharing your GREAT comment with us! We appreciate your creativity! :-)

    • We agree with you about that, Darcy! It IS good to learn new facts and Wonderopolis is a SUPER FUN place to do just that! Thanks for checking out today’s Wonder and sharing that you thought it was WONDERific! We like that word a LOT! :-)

    • We think that’s AWESOME, Gabrielle! We also think playing dominoes is FUN! Thank you for stopping by today’s Wonder of the Day® and sharing your comment with us…we appreciate you! :-)

  4. Hi!
    My name is Mia and I go to New River Primary School.

    I really like what you have done.
    It must have taken a long time.
    You guys are too much.

    From Mia

    • What a super nice comment, Mia! Thank you so much for the WONDERful things you said about Wonderopolis! We appreciate you and your classmates from New River Primary School stopping by today’s Wonder and visiting us! :-)

  5. Hi!

    My name is Nesion. WOW that video post is so awesome. It must of took you ages to do that. Well done.

    • Hi there, Nesion! We’re SO GLAD you liked today’s Wonder of the Day® about dominoes! Thanks for letting us know by leaving us your GREAT comment! :-)

  6. I just love to play with dominoes, I also like the video you showed to me. There must be like a 1,000 or something, but I tell you there is a lot. I also heard and saw on a show that a kid used popsicle sticks each an X together going around, and when he pulled 1 up, they all made a wave to the end!

    • Dominoes sure ARE fun to play and construct with, Carlos! We think we have seen the show you are talking about with the boy and the popsicle sticks! It is a fun show where the people get clues and have to guess what the boy or girl does, like break-dancing on roller skates, or being the best at playing air hockey! We like guessing things, too! We even made guessing a part of our Wonders of the Day® (the “Wonder what’s next?” section)! :-)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Preston! Thanks for sharing your comment about dominoes! We Wonder if you have a favorite new fact that you learned from this Wonder? :)

    • Thanks for reminding us, Jajar! We didn’t mean to leave our Wonder Friend Preston without a response! Phew! Thank goodness for great Wonder Friends like you! :)

    • How awesome, Chase! We’re glad you really liked WONDERing about dominoes with us! Thanks for ranking that Wonder #2 in your book! How very cool, Chase! :)

    • We can’t take credit for the Wonder video, Chris C, but we think the domino set up was INCREDIBLE! We bet it takes a lot of patience and planning to make that happen! :)

  7. I am amazing at dominos that I play with my sisters and brother: Johnny, Elise, Catherine Natalie, Mary, Therese, and Elaine! And I win a lot!

    • We’re so glad that you and your siblings enjoy playing dominos together, Bridget! We hope you are feeling better soon, too! :)

  8. I like playing games. Do you know of a computer game named Free realms? If not it is cool and you can meet friends. I know because my sister has a laptop like me. We meet almost everyday on free realms.

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Ivy! Thanks for sharing more information about that computer game– it’s cool that you can communicate with others over the Internet! It’s similar to how Wonderopolis works! Have a great day! :)

  9. I never really thought about using the dominoes that way. Cool! Now I know how to use them both ways!

    Great article!

    • We bet you’re in for a treat, Michael! We hope you and some friends have a great time planning your dominoes design! :)

    • Hey there, Vincent! We’re glad that you’ve been WONDERing with us today! We know that sometimes math doesn’t seem very fun, but we’ve learned that it’s part of our every day life– we use math every single day! Do you play an instrument, or tap your toes to a favorite song? Counting is used when you tap your toes in rhythm! Or perhaps you cross a bridge in your town? Architects and engineers used math to build that bridge and make it sturdy for you to cross it! Math is everywhere, and it can be lots of fun! :)

    • We agree, basketball lover! That Wonder video certainly showed how cool dominoes can be! We aren’t certain about how long it took to set up and clean up all the dominoes, but we think it would take a shorter amount of time with some teamwork! :)

    • Can you imagine setting those dominoes up, Wonder Friend Tristin?! It must have taken teamwork, planning and lots of patience! We are so glad you visited us today! :)

    • Great question, Carlos! We’re not sure how many dominoes there were… but nearly too many for us to count! :)

    • Great question, Wonder Friend Oscar! It’s a challenge to place multiple dominoes next to one another, so the more you can place and successfully tap, the better! We Wonder if you have played dominoes, Oscar? :)

    • Thanks for telling us, Avery! We’re so glad you have been WONDERing with us today! HOORAY for Wonder Friends! :)

    • We bet you could create a domino effect with some practice, Madalyn! Thanks for sharing your comment today and WONDERing with us about dominoes! :)

    • Well thanks so much, Madalyn! We are smiling from ear-to-ear thanks to your awesome comment! We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How do you play dominoes?
  • Why are they called dominoes?
  • What is the domino effect?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready to play dominoes? If you have a set of dominoes, grab a friend or family member and start playing.

If you have a lot of dominoes, feel free to go beyond a simple game and try to set up a fun domino course. Can you set up all the dominoes in a row, so that they all fall down when you tip the first one in line?

If you don’t have any dominoes, don’t worry! You can play dominoes online on your computer! Can you beat the computer? With a little practice, we bet you’ll be a domino pro in no time!

Still Wondering

In Illuminations’ Seeing Doubles lesson, children learn to focus on dominoes with the same number of spots on each side and on the related addition facts.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will have you relaxing to the sweet sounds of the ocean!

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