CGGC (9YO) – Domino Day – Domino Art

Sorry I haven’t posted sooner.  I am at the Blogher Conference in San Diego and my head is just full of new ideas (and my life is now full(er) with new friends).  I’ll fill you in later, but just wanted to offer my version of “the dog ate my homework”.

Okay, enough excuses.

I wanted to share the process for developing the artwork the boys created for Domino Day.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited they were….

Look at the excitement, the joy. See how R.J.’s eyes light up? No?

Okay, maybe at the beginning it was a little overwhelming.

For all of  us.

I found this project on a great website:    Robert Bosch, and his associates, developed templates for these art projects using a mathematical technique called integer programming.  This helps them find the best way to position the dominoes.   (It’s always good to mention the integer programming bit. It makes this project sound VERY important!!!).  Be sure to check out the site.  Very impressive work.

Domino Art:

Here is what you need:

–  7 boxes of 9 spot dominoes.   (The project only calls for 6 boxes, but I found some dominoes broken and then the boys “lost” a couple.  And….[insert alarm bell here]  I needed the extra pieces.  More on that later.)

–   Foam Board for each of the artists

Every domino set I found at the actual physical stores I went to were either white or beige and had colored spots or pictures of animals.  Not so useful.

You need to get dominoes that are black with white dots.  On Bob’s recommendation, I ordered dominoes made by the Pressman Toy Company.  They are really inexpensive (like $5.00 a box) and you can always use them for domino tumbling later (I’ll talk about that another day).

You can buy them here if you want  (this links to Amazon), but please don’t feel compelled.

Oh, and you will need plans and permission to use them.

I received permission from Bob ( to make this with the kids.  If you are going to attempt this, you will also need to ask for permission.  He is happy to oblige, but just asks that you credit him with the work and that you send him a picture of your completed project.    We did both.

Because we had the three boys working on this, I decided that it would be best if I divided the project into three parts and let each one work on their part individually.

Now, let me tell you my dirty little secret.

Putting the chart together (above) was very entertaining, but it took me a really long time!!! And, quite frankly, I was not able to make this work with only 6 sets of dominoes.

Okay, okay, I know.  The intent was to have the kids work with me (or, probably, on their own) to figure out whether the dominoes were vertical or horizontal.   Sounds simple.  But, it was quite a challenge.  

If it helps, I can admit that as I worked on the plans, I felt guilty. Really guilty. For 15 hours (I’m not even kidding) I kicked myself because the boys weren’t working with me on figuring this out.  At the same time, I was so thankful I had done this ahead of time (a week before). I think I may have prevented an outright revolt.

Wait, did I say 15 hours?  Okay, maybe I don’t feel so guilty any more. I’m the Grandma. This is supposed to be fun.   

You can decide.  If you want to really challenge yourself and the child in your life, and if it’s a rainy day, and if your child is patient and you don’t get easily frustrated, I think this would be a great project to attempt from start to finish.  (The plans on the site provide some hints, but they do NOT give the whole thing away.)       

Now that I have that off my chest, let’s get back to the plans.

The boys built their section of the final picture on foam board.  That way we were able to slide them all together when they were done.

You really need to be organized to start.  Trying to find the domino you need in a pile of unorganized dominoes would be fruitless.

So the first thing you need to do is organize the dominoes into neat piles.

I had thought the boys would enjoy stacking the dominoes into neat piles.

I was wrong.

They did NOT enjoy stacking dominoes into neat piles.

So, I sent them outside to play ball.

And I stacked the dominoes into neat little piles.

Start with the tiles with blank on one end.  You will have 9 piles.  (I really enjoyed stacking dominoes into neat little piles. Don’t judge).

Then a row of tiles with 1 spot on one end.  You will have 8 piles.

Then…well, you get it.  All the way down to the final pile with 9 spots.  There will only be one pile.

Once that was done, we were able to begin.

Each of the boys had their plans, and were responsible for their part of the final picture.  They took turns telling me which domino they needed for their part of the picture.

I was the “Domino Master”.

That seemed to work best.  Sometimes, they would call out two or three at a time and then I could help any of them that got messed up.

It happens.

As you can see, still the not the big, happy smile we are used to from Ben.

And yes, at times there was a bit of ….let’s call this confusion.

Still…no smile.

On the bright side, they didn’t stage an outright revolt!!

But…as the art took shape, look what happened….

The energy level began to pick up.

R.J. gave a glimmer of a smile…

Charlie was downright confident.

I got a big “thumbs up” from Ben.  

Ultimately, it was a highly successful, and satisfying, activity.   Even with the help, it was pretty challenging.   It took them about 2 hours to finish.

The boys suggested that we do this over Thanksgiving with the big group.

I think I’d rather mummify the turkey….


In case you haven’t guessed….it’s Abe Lincoln!!

Signing off now,

The Domino Master.

Category: Camp, Domino Day
Tags: , , , ,

(3) Comments and (3) Replies

  1. Natalie V2 | August 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Reply

    Hello Jill, new friend.
    I am so glad you gave me a warm inviting smile when I walked into Friday’s seminar. I am glad too that I sat next to you. I have your card! It works! I found your blog. What an amazing experience BlogHer was. I look forward to immersing myself in your blog, which on first impression looks full and thoughtful. It was nice meeting you!

    • Jill H | August 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Reply

      Natalie, I am SO glad we met. You just made/make me smile. I have visited YOUR site (, and am in love with your family, point of view and loverly G/PG humor. I am now stalking er following you, so hope we can stay in touch…..

  2. Linda C Smith | August 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Reply

    Hi Jill, it was a pleasure to meet you at BlogHer. I admit I was totally overwhelmed at first but finally got in the groove of it all by the end of Saturday! I’m a grandma of a 4-year old grandson and when he gets older I think he will love the domino challenge. Thanks for sharing that and I love the photos. – Linda

    • Jill H | August 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Reply

      Thanks, Linda. I enjoyed meeting you as well. You are right a little overwhelming…so much to see/do and so many to meet/enjoy!!!! I’ll be having Camp for my 3 and 4 year olds next week, so should have some fun stuff you can use!!!

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  5. carson hart | April 22, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Reply

    thats so cool and it does look like Abe Lincoln

    • jill | April 30, 2015 at 11:21 pm | Reply

      Thanks, Carson. Maybe we’ll try something like this at our Camp this year!! Love you..Grandmama xoxoxoxox

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