How to make homemade tic-tac-toe games with your students

Hi! And... HAPPY SUMMER! I am officially on vacation and I am so excited to have time to myself, to relax, to rewind... to attend summer institutes and do professional development, to get through my massive to-do list for TPT and for my new house... haha. But in all seriousness, I am very happy that summer is here. In fact, this is what some of my co-workers and I looked like the moment we pulled out of the school parking lot:
I'm on the left!
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Father's Day and my ideas for our Tic-Tac-Toe game gifts. Well, they worked out even better than I expected, and I have been working on a little how-to blog post for you guys for next year, since I couldn't find one when I wanted to make them!

I am going to write this post in English, because I have some new followers who don't speak French, even though I made our game with the letters P and A (which spell PAPA in French). But, if you don't teach en français, you could make this game with any combination of letters and colours for any holiday! D and A for Dad, M and O for mom, hearts and circles, or X's and O's like original Tic-Tac-Toe. It makes a perfect parent gift!

- cardboard cut into squares of desired size (I used some of my collection of Scholastic boxes)
- liquid paint (I used the kind Scholar's Choice sells in the big bottles)
- Model Magic - white (my original plan was salt dough, but we were very short on time. The Model Magic worked even better than I expected, though!)
- Washi tape (I have a massive collection, but most came from Michael's or Staples)
- Mod Podge (optional but strongly recommended)
- sponges (I bought rectangular dollar store sponges and cut them into thirds)

First, I covered all my tables with newspaper/recycled chart paper. An important first step when sponge painting is involved! Each student was given a sponge. Because I am not the MOST organized teacher, I lined up all available paint colours on the counter and asked my students to think about which one their father would like best. Then I asked "Who would like.....?" and if I named their color, they raised their hand and *patiently* waited for me to come around and squeeze a blob directly on their cardboard. I personally don't like wasting paint (I don't have a budget for it), and it was important to me that they pick just one base color instead of going paint-crazy. They have many opportunities throughout the year to go paint-crazy. :) So, for this activity, I did not put out multiple dishes of paint on each table.
Some students "sponged" their paint, some rubbed. Whatever, it's their project!
We did both sides with this base color.

Once they were dry, we repeated the process with a second color. A sponge, a blob on the cardboard, and they were good to go! I encouraged sponging rather than rubbing a little more strongly for the second color.
The blue on green was my favorite! 
Once they were dry and my students were occupied with working on their Father's Day books, I called them over one by one to select from my massive collection of Washi tape. I MAY have succumbed a little bit too much to my Washi tape addiction last summer... and was happy to find a use for a bunch of it! We were super short on time, so I put the tape on for them - but they would definitely be capable. Then we Mod Podged! Modge Podging is optional, but I recommend it. It ensured that the tape stuck well with no peeling edges, and gave it a great shine. 

... I had a LOT of Washi tape options!
To make our letters, we used Model Magic. I have used it before, but for this project, it surpassed my expectations! It was a great texture and held together really well. All my students were successful in forming their letters after I modelled how to make a snake and then form it into the right shape. It dried quickly, and was nice and light. If a student dropped a letter on the floor, no harm was done - I am not sure the same could have been said had we used clay or salt dough as originally planned. It is also nice and white, so no matter the paint color students chose, it looked great. When we painted these, we used to same kind of paint as the boards - one colour for the Ps, and another for the As. I did pass out paint in dishes this time. ;)
Our fingers got a little dirty :)
We Mod Podged our letters, too, to give them a nice shine and protect them from having the paint rubbed off. We only had time for one coat of paint, but in future years I would like to have them do two. I gave each child a gallon-sized Ziplock bag and a big label that they decorated and we put the game and all the pieces inside. We worked on this project over the span of 4 days, but we were rushed - next year I will not plan for it the same week as our class trip, and I will get them to make their letters on a Friday to give them more time to dry over the weekend.

Well, that's all there is to it! Let me know if you make this project with your students next year - I would love to see their finished projects! :)


  1. This is a super cute idea! Love how you used the artwork for the tic-tac-toe board...genius! Pinning to Pinterest!

  2. This was such an original idea! I could totally see using this to practice sight words. Thank you for the how to!
    Natalie Lynn
    Collaborating in Kinder

    1. Great idea! I was a little sad to send the games home - if we made a sight word version, we could keep it in the classroom ;)

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