The Domino Effect

The domino effect describes any chain reaction that begins with one action and leads to other actions, all in a predictable order. A great example of the domino effect is a line of thousands of dominoes set up in careful sequence, ready to fall with just a tiny nudge. Just like those unmoving dominoes, our characters have inertia—that is, they resist motion until an outside force pushes or pulls on them. The same is true of their goals: They’re reluctant to shift until an emotional change occurs in the character and triggers them to do so. This is why it’s important to ensure that each scene in your novel builds on the previous scenes, just as a domino chain should be connected logically and in sequence.

A domino (also called a bone, a card, a mener, or a tile) is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular block with one side bearing an arrangement of spots or dots and the other blank or identically patterned. A domino’s identifying marks, usually an arrangement of six pips, resemble those on the face of a die. In some games, the domino is marked with a number value other than those of the pips (for example, an “opening double” is a double-six).

Dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide. This length makes them easy to stack and re-stack, as well as easier to match with other dominoes of the same value.

Many different games are played with dominoes, some involving matching the ends of the pieces and others requiring players to arrange them in lines and angular patterns. Some of the most popular domino games include:

The earliest sense of domino, from both English and French, referred to a hooded cloak or mask worn together with a long garment, such as a surplice, at masquerades. Another, earlier sense referred to the piece of the same name: a black domino contrasting with the white surface of a priest’s surplice.

Using the Domino Addition Activity, students can learn to identify domino values and use those values to build addition equations. The teacher selects a domino from a bag or stack, and the class calls out its value. The teacher then places the domino on a table and draws the dots from the chosen domino on another domino, demonstrating how to form an addition equation based on the numbers of dots on each end. The class then names the equation and writes it on a worksheet. The teacher repeats the process with several other dominoes. When the class has learned to do this, they can begin to work independently with a small set of dominoes.

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