strategies banner

Vocabulary Dominoes


Students make connections between important words and concepts in a domino-type game.


  • Prepared Vocabulary Dominoes – 1 set for each group
  • Vocabulary Dominoes template (English/Spanish)
  • Index cards and a list of words (if students create the dominoes)


  1. Organize students into pairs or triads.
  2. Provide each group with a set of Vocabulary Dominoes with important terms and visuals. For example:
  3. Determine the first domino played as the “spinner” to begin the game.
  4. Students place the remaining dominoes face down, mix them up, and take turns drawing dominoes from the pile until all the dominoes are distributed.
  5. Students take turns matching one of their Vocabulary Dominoes with a domino on the board, explaining the connection between the 2 terms or visuals.
  6. Students continue taking turns and making connections until all dominoes are played.
  7. Observe students’ thinking and clarify/verify as appropriate.

Classroom Management

  • Model the strategy using real dominoes, then “fishbowl” the activity where a few students rehearse the strategy while the class observes.
  • Model how the domino connections can be vertical or horizontal to create many different “legs.”
  • Time Saver: Provide 8-10 words/visuals and have students create the Vocabulary Dominoes using index cards.


  • Promote access by providing descriptions of words/visuals or allowing students to use notes/journals.
  • Promote access by pairing with supportive peers and/or allowing students to preview the vocabulary before the activity.

Think It Up!

  • Have students think more deeply about the concept by responding to a Think It Up prompt as an exit ticket or journal entry:
    • Evaluate which dominoes were the most difficult to connect and describe them in detail.
    • Sort the word/visual dominoes into categories.
  • Encourage students to use lead4ward’s Thinking Stems (English/Spanish) to frame their responses, if needed.