Domino learning game

Degree programme: Medieval and Renaissance Archaeology. Course: Historical Archaeology. Study level: Semester 1, BA. Size of class: 25.

Motivation for the activity

I wanted to make sure that the students understood the importance of getting off to a good start when studying the syllabus, but without being too strict on them. I also wanted to focus on a part of the syllabus which I know students tend to neglect.

Central learning objectives for the course

The course provides a basic introduction to the sources and knowledge formation of the course, and the students are also introduced to the main features of Denmark’s historical development and material culture from the Viking Age to the Renaissance. This activity was developed to support the latter part of the course objectives. 

Central learning objectives for the activity

The aim of the activity is to:

  • Use games to support a part of the teaching which contains a lot of facts (this activity contains: the years of historical events, the kings of the Middle Ages and modern times, the characteristics of the periods).
  • Help the students understand that pictures are a central part of the course syllabus and not just an illustration of texts, and that they should be studied as much as the texts (this activity contains: practising recognition of central buildings and objects from the period using pictures from the syllabus).
  • Help the students build a good foundation for the subsequent courses on the degree programme.

Description of the activity

The teacher produces the game, which consists of about 60 cards. In the game, the students have to match specific years with important historical events, match pictures of key buildings with their locations, match historical periods with special characteristics etc.

The cards can be combined in different ways, but some solutions are better than others. This is to ensure that all the cards can be used.

You should set aside 45 minutes for the exercise and divide the students into small groups. Some groups, but not all, will finish the exercise within the allotted time.

Each group is given a game, and the cards are distributed equally between the players. Any leftover cards are placed on the table and used as a starting point for the game.

There are two ways to play the game:

  1. Each player keeps their hand secret and the players take turns to place as many cards as they can in a row on the table. The first player to get rid of all their cards wins, so the other players need to object if any cards are placed incorrectly.
  2. The players reveal their hands and work together to place the cards correctly.

During the game, the teacher walks round the classroom and facilitates the process if the game gets stuck (especially at first, because there are a lot of cards). The teacher is also the referee in case of any disputes, and points out any mistakes (more or less discreetly) if the cards are matched incorrectly. 

Outcome of the activity

The activity serves as an informal and relaxed way to summarise a number of facts. The combination of competition, game and repetition works very well.  The game gives everyone the opportunity to be active and play a part. Students often ask to take the game home – even when studying for exams.

The exercise as a wake-up call: 

  • Students need to start studying – and learning – the syllabus.
  • Some students need to change the way they study: they might read a text but forget to study the pictures, which are important for the course and contain independent information. This problem is revealed during this exercise, since students often find it hard to identify monuments and objects in the game. 

Useful tips

The game can be adapted for use in any course containing questions and answers which can be expressed concisely.

The students can easily produce similar games and use them to revise the syllabus.


Read more about:

  • THEME: Activities in sessions