I found an old set of dominoes at my parents place over the holidays.
Not the kind of dominoes with dots on them that you use for playing a game, but the kind that you set up in a line and knock down, and I had an inkling that my eight year old might enjoy them.
Boy was I right!
All it took was one YouTube video and he was domino crazy!
We started out with the basics – setting up a line of dominoes and knocking them down.
Just this simple activity required Morgan to think about cause and effect, to plan ahead, to estimate distances, and to use some very refined fine motor control to set up the dominoes.
Once he had a handle on the basic concept he was very keen to build something huge and spectacular, and he began his planning by watching a few YouTube videos.
There are thousands of amazing domino rally videos on YouTube! You could spend a whole week just trawling through them, so here are a couple of our favourites to get you started.
This domino rally is truly epic! 543210 dominoes and all kinds of tricks and special effects!
This video shows lots of very cool set ups and tricks.
Morgan and I both love the domino rallies that make amazing pictures, and this ‘Starry Starry Night’ one is amazing!
Even though the kinds of epic domino rallies we’d seen on YouTube were a bit ( a lot!) our of our league that didn’t stop us from thinking big and wanting to learn a few tricks.
We learned the basics of how to build a domino wall from this video…
And then we modified it a little to make our own pyramid style wall, with a Lego guy on top… of course!
We were inspired to add some other items to our domino rallies by this really cool video…
Morgan got out his Lego Chain Reactions set (Amazon affiliate link, Aussies you can get it via Booktopia) to create a marble chute and run, we used a section of a marble run kit, and lots of different Legos to add ‘Rube Goldberg Machine’ type elements to our rally. And we added some more Lego minifigs, of course.
With lots of trial and error, lots of disastrous knock downs, and a few failed rallies we learned a few tips and tricks for setting up domino rallies…
- You need a large, flat, very stable, surface. We found it easier to set up on our dining room table rather than sitting on the floor.
- This is not a quick activity, be prepared for it to take a while to set up.
- It works better if you think about, and plan out the whole rally before you start setting up.
- You can add more than just dominoes to your rally, marble run pieces, Legos, and cars are all fun additions. Lego minifigs will fall over like dominoes if they are all the same height, and you place them carefully!
- Build your domino rally in sections. Take out or lay down a domino between each section, that way if you do accidentally knock over a domino it will only take out one section rather than knocking down the whole thing.
- Experimenting with a few simple tricks is loads of fun – build a basic wall, make the rally go in two directions by having one domino knocking down two placed side by side, or have the dominoes fall and push something like a car.
- Don’t worry if you have some failures, just knock over the next domino by and to keep the rally going.
- Make sure you video your knock down so you can watch it over and over!
Here is a photo of one of our favourite set-ups.
We used a lego man to start the dominos going up the stairs, then a marble run, then a Lego machines marble chute. We also did a split section with one line of dominoes doing off to knock down a pyramid, and the other going off to make a diamond and push a Lego car off the table.
You can see the dominoes laying down leaving gaps between each section. We carefully stood these back up in place before starting the rally.
It took Morgan an I about 20 minutes to build.
And here’s what the set up looks like and on the knock down on video…
I was amazed by how much patience and perseverance Morgan showed while mucking around with the dominoes, not to mention using planning skills, making hypothesis, exploring through trial and error and experimenting with measurement, structure and chain reactions. There are so many learning opportunities packed into these little rectangles!
Have you got a few sets of dominoes in your cupboard? Dig them out and set up a domino rally or two!