Friday, March 18, 2022

Dominoes - Putting the Story in Order #2

This is a great collaborative, tactile post-reading activity for students to apply their learning and knowledge of a particular reading using the target language. I learned this years ago at a Cambridge Latin Course workshop, and it was used in English as a culture review. However, I like doing this with a reading, since it is a twist on the "put the story in order" activity and is similar to dominoes. It requires students to recreate the story in the target language in word-for-word "chunks. NOTE - there is some prep involved prior to the activity.

  1. On a MS Word or Google Docs document, create a table in which the cells are long in height and resemble domino tiles. I usually do a table of 3x6 (18 cells) or 4x6 (24 cells).
  2. Print up the document.
  3. On the top left hand cell, on the side, handwrite "Start Here" 
  4. Now in that cell handwrite the first sentence of your reading but leave the last word blank. This may require you editing your sentence to fit the cell. NOTE - you do not always have to leave the last word blank, but I have found that visually it is easier for students to see than if a word in the middle is left blank.
  5. On the cell below it, at the TOP of that cell, write that missing word.
  6. Then below that word, write the next sentence from the story but leave the last word blank. Again, this may require you editing the sentence to fit the cell.
  7. On the cell below it, at the TOP of that cell, write that missing word.
  8. Continue this pattern.
  9. When you get to the last cell/sentence of the reading, the missing word will be written on the top of the "Start Here" cell.
  10. Make 10 copies of this table for a class of 30 - I usually use colored card stock, because card stock is firm and not flimsy like regular paper.
  11. Cut the cells into "domino tiles," and put each set in a separate plastic Ziploc bag (the snack-sized bags are good).
  1. Group students into 3's (a class of 30 would have 10 groups).
  2. Have students take the cards out of the bag and lay them out on a flat surface.
  3. Have them find the card which says "Start Here." 
  4. Tell them that their job is to recreate the reading by finding the missing word of that sentence. That word is found at the top of another card. 
  5. Like dominoes, students will line up that card underneath the "Start Here" card.
  6. Now students have a new sentence with a missing word, and their job is find that missing word.
  7. Tell students that the final card's missing word will be the one at the top of the "Start Here" card.
  8. As students begin to have less cards remaining, the activity should become easier.
  9. Optional competition - I have a bell at the front of my class that students ring when they think that they are done. I then will check that group's cards to make sure that the cards are correct.
  10. When the activity is done, have students scramble the cards before they return them so that they are out of order for the next class.
  1. I suppose one could create this digitally instead of handwriting the sentences. It would require you creating a fillable, set template where the parameters of the table do not change when typing in the sentences. If you can figure out how to do this, go for it.  
  2. This activity usually lasts around 5-10 minutes.
  3. 18-24 "cards" are a good amount - anything less than that is too quick and anything more can get long for students.
  4. You cannot have duplicate words on the tops of cards, because that would mess up groups' domino orders. Every word on the top of the cards must be distinct.
  5. Students can self-monitor their progress when they do this activity because if they "finish" but there are cards still remaining, then they have made a mistake somewhere.
  6. I have seen this activity adapted on Textivate. Since that is a pay-site, I have not used it.
  7. I have a deskless classroom, so this activity does not really lend itself well to playing on the floor since the cards are small. However, when I did have desks, I did this activity a lot!
  8. I found that students liked the tactile nature of the activity. Plus, it helped students see the story arranged visually.
  9. I like the collaborative nature of the activity, because students really do communicate with each other to find the next "domino" which completes the sentence.
  10. I do not understand why students like ringing the bell when they are finished but they do! Therefore, I have to ensure that even the last group to finish gets the chance to ring the bell.
  11. I would scaffold this activity for later in a reading's lesson plans, because students really need to know the reading well (and vocabulary) to be able to complete the sentence with the missing word.
  12. I do like how this requires students to re-read the story again in a completely different way (and to receive repetitions of understandable messages in their re-reading) but the focus isn't on comprehension anymore but on completing the sentence with the missing words.


  1. trying this in a couple of days! Thanks!

    1. Hope it goes well! Since I don't have desks any more in my classroom, I have not done this activity in years (it doesn't work well on the floor), but I really did like doing this with students. And once students got the concept, it was an activity with which they were very familiar when we would do it later.