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Pregnancy and Parenting

Domino Days

By Debbie Rodgers


The hot and hazy days of July are here! Some of you are planning lazy days at a cottage this summer, while others are preparing for road trips. Many of you are simply enjoying the weather by lounging in your outdoor space at home. No matter where you are, however, the parents and grandparents among you are wondering how to avert the common refrain of children let loose from school: "I'm bored!"

Summer days were made for playing. I remember growing up in the `50s and early `60s, spending hours engrossed in board games, tile games and cards while a breeze blew across the porch.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whatever the weather, whatever your age group, dominoes are the perfect activity. Dominoes are especially great because they don't blow away like Monopoly money, they're small and portable, and they don't break.

Although tile games have been in existence in China for about 1,000 years, the European domino set with which we are most familiar in the western world first came into use in Italy around 300 years ago. It is from these European roots that we take the word "domino" which in Italy and France refers to a black hooded cloak, lined with white, once worn by priests.

The traditional European domino set consists of 28 black and white pieces. Each domino originally represented one of the 21 results of throwing two dice. One half of the tile is set with the pips from one die and the other half contains the pips from the second die. In addition, there are seven dominoes with the values that result from throwing a single die with the other half of the tile left blank.

This traditional set is called a double six set, since the highest tile is – well, a double six. There are larger sets available – double nine has 55 tiles; double twelve has 91 and double fifteen, a whopping 136. The double six set provides the fastest, easiest games with the larger sets providing greater challenge and greater time requirements. Our double fifteen games usually last one to two hours.

There are many different games that can be played with dominoes. Here's a small sample. For detailed instructions on playing each game, visit

For very young children, you may wish to use a set of dominoes with pictures rather than dots. As children learn to count, you can teach them the fast, simple games of Draw or Block. As they master additional skills, they can move on to Concentration or the popular Five-up. Chicken Foot is a simple game played with a double nine set.

Older children and adults will no doubt enjoy a game of Mexican Train, which is usually played with a set of double twelves or higher. Many adults also relish the bidding strategy of Texas 42, a card game converted to dominoes in the 1960s.

The possibilities with dominoes are seemingly endless – there are countless games with numerous regional and national variations. Why not pass down the knowledge of this simple fun to your children or grandchildren – or make your next adult get-together a domino night? It's perfect outdoor fun.

About the Author:
Debbie Rodgers owns and operates Paradise Porch, and is dedicated to helping people create outdoor living spaces that nurture and enrich them. Visit her on the web at and get a free report on "Eight easy ways to create privacy in your outdoor space".
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Pavilion Double Twelve Color Dot Dominoes
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