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Thursday Tool School: Math Tools for Computational Fluency

This month will be a little different than last month. Instead of featuring a specific math tool, I will feature math tools that can be used to practice computational fluency skills. Today's math tools are dominoes. Dominoes are one of those versatile tools that have many purposes. I realize that dominoes are not a standard math tool, but they are great to have laying around. If you don't have any in your classroom, you can pick some up at the dollar store (usually one dollar per set).

The activity I am sharing with you today is called "Boneyard Numbers." What I love about this activity is how it can be adapted to meet the needs of all students. Whether a student just adds everything together or goes out on a limb and tries to use all of the operations, the activity can meet his or her needs. For this reason, "Boneyard Numbers" makes a great station and fast finisher activity.

Here's how it works:

1. With a partner, spread-out one set of face-down dominoes. This is called the boneyard.

2. The tallest player goes first.

3. In turn, each player grabs two dominoes from the boneyard.

4. Using the four numbers indicated on the dominoes, create a number sentence using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/ or division with a final result of any number from 0 to 12.

5. Once a target number is reached, cover the number on the game board with your marker.

6. Continue playing until someone covers four numbers in a row, column, or diagonal.

**Note:** Some students will ask if they can use exponents. This is completely up to you. I sometimes tell students that they can only square numbers. Squaring a number does not affect the four digits on the dominoes and can be used even if the student's set of dominoes does not include a two.

Here's an example:

Since my numbers are 6, 5, 5, and 3, I can write:

* 6 x 5 ÷ 3 - 5 = 5 OR

* 6 x 3 x (5 - 5) = 0 OR

* 6 + 5 + 3 - 5 = 9 OR

* 3^2 (3 squared) + 6 - 5 - 5 = 5

There are many other ways to use the numbers. The number sentences above are just a few combinations.

**Note:** Students who have experience following the order of operations should do so here as well. Younger students may not be aware of the order of operations and will usually just write the numbers in the order in which they plan to complete the operations. This is okay as long as they can describe the order correctly.

**Free Resource Alert! **Click here for a free download of the "Boneyard Numbers" game.

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