Marine Dominoes



by Dave Butler

Current job is as a Marine Science Teacher at

Rancho Buena Vista High School .

Instructional Objective The learners shall be able to correctly identify key morphological

traits in order to match marine animals with others in the same taxonomic group.


Learners/Context The specific audience this game was designed for are students in Marine Science at Rancho Buena Vista High School. This game could be used with any science students from middle school to high school or beyond who have studied taxonomy and know the key characteristics of phylum in the animal kingdom.


Rationale One of the skills that the state science curriculum describes as important is for students to develop classification skills. Students need to be able to examine materials and group them according to key features. They need to be able to identify similarities and differences between objects, and group them accordingly. During the school year they will have a variety of projects that require the use of these skills.


Process The students must have some background in classification of marine animals before they can have success at this game. They should be

familiar with the following Phylum or groups of marine animals. Specifically Arthropods, Mollusks, Bony Fish , Cartilaginous Fish, Echinoderms, Coelenterates, and Marine Mammals.


Rules The game can be played by two to six players.

1. First a dealer is chosen. The dealer shuffles the deck of cards and then deals seven cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down for drawing during play.

2. The players read their cards, which contain only animal pictures and points (for scoring) to figure out the classification of each marine animal on their cards. The first player to the left of the dealer is to begin play by placing any card face up on the table or floor where the game is being played.

3. The second player must then match one of the cards in his/her hand with either half of the first players card. A match is made when 2 animals are placed together from the same group. If he/she is unable to do so then he/she must begin to draw cards from the deck until he/she is able to do so.

4. Once a match can be made the second player then places the matching card directly next to the animal it matches (the matching halves must be together in the same way that the matching numbers must be together in dominoes)

5. The next player then continues play in the same manner, making a new match from cards in his/her hand or drawing cards from the deck until able to do so.

6. Just as in dominoes the cards will begin to form a large pattern that can spread in any direction. Matches can be made wherever an unexposed card end is available. "Double" cards or those cards with the same animal on both halves are played by laying them sideways across the end of the card they are matching with. This allows play to proceed in new directions.

7. If the other players do not agree that an animal match has been made then the player challenging the match must show that the match is inaccurate. This may be done by consulting a "key" to animals that accompanies the deck. If he/she is able to do so the player who placed the incorrect match loses a turn and the play continues to the left. If an agreement can not be reached, the teacher is called as a judge to make the decision.

8. Play continues until all the cards in the deck are gone and all players have played all the cards in their hand that can be played.

9. The player with no cards or with the least number of points on his/her remaining cards wins the round. The winner subtracts his/her remaining points, if any, from the total of his/her opponents points and scores the balance from each. Rounds continue until one player scores 100 points and wins the game.

Optional Uses The game cards can also be used in other ways for instruction.

1. A concentration type game could also be played with the deck. In this variation the cards area all placed face down. Students take turns picking two cards. If they have matching attributes the players keep them in a pile. Most matches wins.

2. Another variation is to use this as an introductory activity by providing students with a key of all the characteristics and pictures of the animals. The Teacher would then shuffle the deck and tape a card to each students back. Each student may then ask any other student two questions, that may only be answered yes or no, about the animal on their back. The students may use the provided keys to formulate questions. The first student to correctly identify the animal on his/her back wins.


Card DesignThis is an example of the faces of one of the cards. The backs would not need to contain any information.


Deck Design The deck consists of 56 cards. Each of the 7 phylum is represented 16 times on the cards. Each of these 16 pictures will be of a different member of the phylum, but one in which the key phylum characteristics are present. For example there would be pictures of Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish, Halibut, Sunfish, etc. to represent the bony fish phylum. There are 7 "double" cards, one for each phylum, the other 49 cards contain different combinations of phylum's on each half. The numbers on the cards are as follows - Coelenterates - 1 point, Echinoderms - 2 points, Arthropods - 3 points, Mollusks - 4 points, Cartilaginous Fish - 5 points, Bony Fish - 6 points, and Marine Mammals - 7 points.


Design Process In the design process for this game I wanted to develop something that I could actually use in my teaching, but something that could also be easily adapted to other learning situations. I decided on this game while brainstorming for ideas. The concept of a "matching" type of game that was played in the same manner as dominoes seemed to meet the objectives I started out with in an entertaining and unusual way. The number of cards is based on the actual number of dominoes in a domino game. The rules were devised and modified from a set of domino rules. The point values on the cards are significant because they can be used to help teach and/or reinforce the additional concepts of evolution and increasing complexity/ adaptations of animal phylum. The simplest and oldest phylum (coelenterates) are given the lowest point values, while the most complex and recently evolved (Marine Mammals) are given the highest. I decided not to use some of the marine animal groups simply because I didn't have access to any pictures I thought would work well on my cards (for example sponges), and because I wanted to keep the number of groups being taught at a manageable level , and seven phylum's seemed to fit that criteria.