It all started with Dr. Seuss and celebrating his birthday with the rest of America. We had a tic tac toe game for the children to cut out and learn how to play. The game pieces consisted of birthday cakes and stovepipe hats. Some children understood “three in a row” while others struggled with it. Some were learning to strategize their next move and others wanted to cover every space with their game pieces. We wanted the children to have fun playing games, experience winning and losing and reinforce their math and fine motor skills. At the end of the day we packed their game boards and pieces in ziplock bags to take home and play with their families.
The next day we set up a giant board on the floor and divided the children into Team X and Team O.
We also set up a center with mirrors and geo boards inviting the children to create game boards.
Some children deconstructed the tic tac toe board and continued to play creating new rules.
We opened up the whole room inviting the children to design their own tic tac toe board using ANYTHING in the room. Again, for some this was an easy concept, for others the spacial placement was a challenge. We used the white board to count how many lines were used (4) and how many spaces were needed (9).
As a result the children went all out in their creations.
Next, using each others boards, we asked the children to find game pieces and a partner to play the game. They understood that game pieces had to be unique to each player and not limited to X’s and O’s.
And those that chose to use X’s and O’s went beyond writing them and created their own uniques letters with loose parts.
This child wanted to use Lego pieces to create X’s and O’s. The “O” was particularly difficult and he kept at it until he was successful.
This is another example as an educator how not to rush to judgement. I could have easily said, “Why are you playing with Lego’s?” Instead I asked, “Tell me what you are trying to do with those Lego’s?” The answer was simple, “I am trying to make an O.” Just because we may not see their process doesn’t mean they do not have a viable well thought out plan. We just have to wait for it and listen.
And of course since it was Forest Friday, we had to create game boards in the forest.
I fully intended to end this post here but I saw this post on Facebook . Middle school students were playing tic tac toe with two teams and using hula hoops as their game board. (Several parents saw the same post and sent me a message to watch too). This was a no brainer, we had to try it. I knew my PreK kids could do this. First thing Monday morning, we set the room up with nine hula hoops.
We divided the children into two teams and used bean bag shapes and beanie baby animals as game pieces. Game on.
This set the stage for the children to organize their mind and body simultaneously. Not only did they have to race, they had to decide where their game piece was going to go and race back to their team. So many skills being used, including executive function, self regulation, and critical thinking. And they did it beautifully all while laughing, cheering and collaborating. We brought in scooters, first we tried single then we doubled up to challenge collaboration and strategies. Again while racing, they had to figure out how to move together, get their quickly and agree on game piece placement. (As an observer this was incredible to watch them negotiate with one another. At one point a team lost the game because negotiations lasted too long!) They took it all in stride.
Afterwards, we had the children document their tic tac toe morning in their journals.
Later that week, with warm temps outside we gave the children cups of water and paintbrushes and let them paint up the play ground. Tic Tac Toe boards were everywhere.
What started out as a simple game turned into three days of engaged play where the children exercised their minds and bodies. Teachers joined in the game too. The children loved seeing their teachers race.
When was the last time you raced a 4 year old in tic tac toe?