History of tic tac toe
Did you know that the origins of ‘tic tac toe’ can be traced all of the way back to the times of ancient Egypt? That’s right! The original name for tic tac toe is actually ‘terni lapilli’. This translates to ‘three pebbles at a time’. Instead of being able to write a shape, such as an ‘X’, or an ‘O’, it was played by only having three pebbles and having to move them around the board continually to make ‘three in a row’.
If you are lucky enough to ever visit Rome, there are lots of tic tac toe sketches around to be found, as it was played so regularly. The game has even been found on roofing tiles!
Tic tac toe also used to be played in another format, where people would shut their eyes, throw a pencil at a number marked on the grid, and total up their scores. You could compare this to playing darts blindfolded! Although that probably isn’t recommended…!
The game itself helps to teach children strategy, by planning their next move to get three shapes in a row.
Tic Tac Toe is possibly one of the oldest games devised, dating all of the way back to 1300 BC. This game is still popular in modern times and is regularly played in classrooms, school playgrounds, and, at home.
How to play tic tac toe
Tic tac toe is a strategy game. The player devises a strategy to be able to get three shapes in a row, which will declare that player the winner.
There is no cap on turns you can take to get three in a row, but once the board is full you will either win, lose or draw. The board is a 3×3 grid. The person who gets three of their shapes in a row either across, down, or diagonally, will be the winner.
Historically, the person who is ‘X’ will go first, but if you are using one of our cool character boards, we will let you flip a coin for who goes first! The tic tac toe templates can be used from ages 3 and up. It is also a nostalgic game for adults and is universally played all over the world.
How does playing tic tac toe benefit my child?
Whilst tic tac toe is a very simple game, it can benefit your child in many ways. One way is by developing your child’s problem-solving skills. By playing the game, your child will start thinking about where the other player may be planning to place their next move, and how to solve the problem of if their space on the grid was taken. It can also teach meaningful life lessons such as playing fairly, taking turns, and devising strategies to win if the first strategy didn’t work. This can also be applied to everyday life. Tic tac toe can also help with improving your child’s skills in maths by using the principles of probability, making logical moves in the game.
Playing tic tac toe can also increase your child’s observation skills. As they play the game, the child will start to observe their players’ moves to be able to predict their competition’s next move. The game can also help to improve your child’s hand-eye coordination as they plot either an ‘X’ or ‘O’ on a square in the grid. Also, helping them with holding the pencil and draw an ‘X’ effectively.
Printable tic tac toe board
Here at justfamilyfun.com, we have a huge range of FREE printable tic tac toe boards to choose from! We have a classic ‘X’ and ‘O’ board, a Christmas board with Santa’s and elves as your shapes, a Halloween board with pumpkins, a unicorn tic tac toe board, a football tic tac toe board, an apples and oranges board, a mermaid board, and many more! There really is a design for everyone to choose from. The best part is that it is free and printable so you don’t even need to leave the house! The designs are in PDF format and can easily be printed on to A4 paper. There is also a board with multiple tic tac toe grids on so you can play multiple games at one time, if you’re up to the challenge!
Multiple tic tac toe board
Play one, or multiple tic tac toe games at one time with this board! If you wanted to make it even more of a challenge, you could even time yourself playing and see who can complete the grid the quickest!
How to play: Draw an ‘X’ or an ‘O’ in turns in the square on the grid. The first person to achieve three in a row wins.
How to print: Download your PDF here.
Play time: As long as you want! You can simply use pencil and rub out your symbols and start again!
Printable tic tac toe instructions are provided.
Santa tic tac toe board
This tic tac toe printout would be a perfect stocking filler! A great little game to play on Christmas morning! Also, providing the perfect distraction from the question ‘when is dinner ready?!’.
How to print your tic tac toe sheets: Download your tic tac toe sheets here. Simply use scissors to cut out the Santa’s and elves to begin playing.
How to play tic tac toe: One player assigns to the Santa character, and another assigns to the elves character. Each player takes it in turn to place their character on the tic tac toe grid. Whichever player reaches three in a row first wins. If neither player manages to reach three in a row, this is classed as a draw.
What it includes: Printable tic tac toe board with icons and printable tic tac toe instruction sheet.
Burger and Fries tic tac toe
Are your kids always thinking about food? Then this theme may be the perfect tic tac toe grid.
How to print your tic tac toe template: Download your tic tac toe printout here. (Please insert your link)
How to play: Simply cut out the burger and fries icons using scissors. Each player will be assigned either burger or fries as their icon. Each player will take it in turns to place their icon on a square on the tic tac toe grid. Once a player achieves three icons in a row either, across, down, or diagonally, that player will be the winner. If neither player has managed to achieve three in a row, this will be classed as a draw.
Unicorn Tic Tac Toe Board
Our unicorn tic tac toe board will provide a little magic to your game!
Pumpkin Tic Tac Toe Board
The Pumpkin tic tac toe board is great for spooky season games and parties.
Police and Fire
Neee Nooor Neeee Nooor! Did anyone call for Police or Fire Tic Tac Toe?
Monsters Tic Tac Toe
Raaaahhh! It’s monsters tic tac toe!
Mermaid & Fairy
Play Tic Tac Toe under the sea and with a sprinkle of fairy dust.
Hearts Tic Tac Toe
Wear your heart on your sleeve with this tic tac toe board.
Football Tic Tac Toe
Score a hat trick when you get three in a row with our football-themed tic tac toe template.
Perfect little game deciding who can go first on the Easter egg hunt!
Face Mask Tic Tac Toe
A good way to remind the kids to be safe and wear a face mask!
Balloons Tic Tac Toe
A great little party game for birthdays! A perfect addition to party bags that won’t break the bank.
Dinosaur Tic Tac Toe
If your child is dinosaur crazy, take a walk on the wild side with this tic tac toe template.
Apples and Oranges
Use the Apples and Oranges tic tac toe board to encourage your kids to eat more fruit!
Classic Tic Tac Toe Board
Tic Tac Toe with no frills, an absolute classic!
What else is tic tac toe called?
You may not have heard of this ancient game like tic tac toe before, but you may recognise it with another name. As this game is an old classic, it has evolved to many different names around the world.
The British commonly call the game tic tac toe ‘noughts and crosses’. Nought being another word for zero.
American and Canadian citizens often call the game ‘tic tac toe’, or ‘tic tat toe’.
You may also have played variations of the game such as, ‘connect 4’, ‘three men’s morris’, ‘toss across’ and ‘mojo’. Many of these games follow the same principles of ‘tic tac toe’ where the aim of the game is to achieve three in a row.
Why is a draw called a ‘cats game’?
This saying comes from the fact that once a game of tic tac toe is a draw, there is no way either player can win. Just like how a cat can not catch its own tail!
Did you know…
The game tic tac toe was played in Ancient Rome? It was first played around 1300 BC.
Did you know…
Tic tac toe grids have often been used as a feature in-game shows, such as the price is right?
Did you know…
Tic tac toe help children’s brain development? It helps children devise strategies to be able to overcome obstacles and apply to everyday life.
Did you know…
A ‘fork’ is called an opportunity where a player has two options to win the game?
Did you know…
Playing tic tac toe can help your child with maths? This is because the game is played using the skill of probability. Your child will find winning solutions to the game by gradually weighing up the probability of where they place their icon, how likely it is they will win, and apply this to their next move.
Did you know…
There are 255,168 possible ways to win tic tac toe? How many different ways to win do you think you will be able to find?
If you have enjoyed this gaming activity, why not take a look at some of our other FREE PDF printouts such as our weather chart, earth and space workbook, or even, try our colouring pages where your child’s artwork can be featured in our gallery!