Tic-Tac-Toe Challenge

If you are over the age of five, you probably know how to play tic-tac-toe.  If you are over the age of eight, chances are you’ve learned the tricks and may have already mastered it.  If you are over the age of 10, well it’s hardly a challenging game at all…the biggest challenge being the player who gets to go first.

Perhaps it’s time for a real tic-tac-toe challenge.


What you need:

Just like traditional tic-tac-toe, all you need is paper and a pen or pencil.  However, to more easily track each player’s moves, you may want to select a unique color for each player in addition to the traditional “X” and “O.” Start by drawing a large tic-tac-toe board, essentially filling the whole page.  Within each of the nine squares, draw a little tic-tac-toe board.  Or, you can print out this Tic-Tac-Toe Grid.


Each time a player wins a little board, that whole square now counts as a win for that player, either X or O, and the winner is the person who wins 3 large squares in a row.  (See photos above.)  It may start as simple tic-tac-toe, but it gets more difficult as you go – it’s a tic-tac-toe game that requires much attention and a bit of strategy.

What are the rules of play?

When a player fills in any square on a little tic-tac-toe board, the next player has to go to the little board in the matching part of the giant board.  You are probably thinking, “Huh?”  So here’s an example:  If someone fills in the center box on any one of the nine mini-boards (see below, 1), the other player has to make a move on the center board of the large board (2); if he then fills in the top left square on the mini-board (located in the center of the large board), the first player must now go to the top left min-board (3). As the min-boards fill up, you must avoid sending the other player to a mini-board where he or she could win. It isn’t as confusing it sounds, but it is challenging!


To see where we first discovered this fun game, as well as challenge your little game players to a bit of Tic-Tac-Toe inspired math, check out Bedtime Math’s Tic-Tac-Toe with a Twist and the wonderful Bedtime Math book series.

This is also a great “math-on-the-go” activity.  For more portable and travel-friendly education and fun activities read more at Art + Math on the Go.




One thought on “Tic-Tac-Toe Challenge

  1. Pingback: Art + Math on the Go | Design in Play

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