Word Tic-Tac-Toe: 4 Ways

We have been playing a lot of sight word tic tac toe lately!  We have tried four different versions of the game.  What I love about all four versions is that they offer a multi-sensory approach to learning.  That means the games appeal to visual, auditory and tactile learners alike.  Better yet, the three senses are are simultaneously stimulated while playing, so the information is more likely to be stored in memory.

Tactile learners get to write the word or manually manipulate an X or O… Visual learners get to see the word written several times on the game board (or on flash card or word bank, depending on which version you go with)... Auditory learners benefit when players read the word in play aloud.

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support.

  Here's a look at the different versions we've tried:

 Reading-only version

Write sight words/spelling words on a tic-tac-toe grid.  Players take turns to read a word, then cover it with either an X or an O post-it.

You could also leave the game grid blank and write spelling words on the post-its instead of X's and O's.

**If you use the printable game board that we used,  1-3/8 Inches x 1-7/8 Inch Post-It Notes work best.

This version is best for…

  • Young children whose particular learning objective is to read sight words but not necessarily memorize how to spell them.  I do not expect my preschool or Kindergarten level kiddos to memorize the spelling of sight words.  It's great if they DO, but my goal for them is just to be able to read them in a sentence with fluency.  This game is a great way to practice!

  • Children who do not like to write or are not yet able to write the words.  All they have to do is read the word and stick on a post-it, no writing required!  My middle child was ready to read long before he was able to write efficiently, so I know the value of games like this!

One word per player 

Similar to traditional tic-tac-toe, but in this version each player choses just one spelling/sight word to write.  The object is to write your word rather than an "x" or an "o."  The first player to get three of his words in a row is the winner.

This version is best for…
  • Young learners who are having trouble with a word, or to introduce new words. This version offers lots of repetition for a particular word.  Max got 5 new sight words for the week, so we played several times so he would get to write all of his new words a few times.


Word Bank  

Create a word bank of 9 spelling/sight words and gather writing utensils in two different colors.
Each player will choose a color to write with.

When it is your turn, choose a word from the word bank and write it in a game space (in your chosen color).

The first player to get three in a row is the winner!

This version is best for...
  • Reviewing past spelling words.
  • Words that have a similar spelling pattern, the repetition offers lots of practice.  This version is used in the Ready2Read program to practice word families (for example, -at words such as cat, bat mat).  We worked on long U words and discussed which were pronounced with the full U sound, versus the /oo/ sound.  

Flash Card Version

Prepare the game: you may need to make some word cards from index cards if you do not have  flashcards (we used our All About Spellng word cards).  Then either laminate the game board, use a page protector, or a dry erase center so that misspelled words can be erased.  We used our Crayola Dry Erase Center-- it makes erasing much easier.

Once your game board is ready, make sure you have a different color writing utensil for each player, pile cards face-down, and you are ready to play!

To play, choose a card, read it, and spell it out loud...

Then hand the card to your opponent.

Spell the word by memory, while your opponent holds the card to check your spelling.  Remember, each player should write in a different color to help keep track of who wrote each word.

We made it a rule that if anyone misspells a word, he would have to erase it and his opponent may then write in that space if desired.  They definitely double checked every word, hoping to catch a mistake for a better chance to win!   If I'm playing, I misspell words on purpose just to keep them on their toes and make them REALLY look at every word and its spelling.

This version is best for...
  • Mixed review of past and current sight/spelling words. 
  • Of the four versions we tried, I think this one is the most beneficial because it requires spelling from memory, and it gets the child interested in his opponent's words as well as his own. 

Free Printables!
If you would like to print the three Word Tic-Tac-Toe game boards, along with printable instructions for each version described in this post,  click the link below:

If you are looking for more ways to make learning sight words fun, here's another fun activity that my kids LOVED:
Planting a Word Garden

Don't be a stranger!  Keep up with us on Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin'

Thanks for stoppin' by!


Harold and the Purple Crayon Activities

Harold and the Purple Crayon was our Five in a Row selection for the week.  This book presents a lovely opportunity to explore creativity, especially in writing and drawing.  We enjoyed some inspiring go-along books with an art theme, and made creativity our primary focus of the week.

Snack and Story Time

We started the first day of our row after lunch.  We changed into purple shirts, snuggled on the couch  to read Harold (and other books that inspire creativity), and ate purple crayon cookies!

Progressive Setting and Story Telling

After we read the book, we discussed Crockett Johnson's choice to use a progressive setting.  We learned that a progressive setting is one that changes and develops throughout the story, as opposed to a fixed setting.

We moved into the schoolroom so the kiddos could try creating a progressive setting of their own.  They each got their own long roll of easel paper taped to the floor to create their story settings.

They each walked along their creations and told a story to go along with their purple drawings.  Here are some of my favorite experts from each of their stories:

Sam and the Purple Crayon:
"He looked up on the beautiful sky, and didn’t look where he was drawing!  He drew a turn by accident.  He fell down with the purple crayon drawing right next to him.  Then he drew some ground."

Max and the Purple Crayon:
"First Max was perfect in the crayon world."  
"….then I went on a boat then I had dinner with a skunk and a giraffe.  Then the skunk farted. (Do you see the skunk spray?)."   
"….He didn’t know which window would be his so he made a bunch of windows.  Then he asked a dentist (dentists are really smart in this) and he said that the tallest building could be his.  So he went in the tallest building and he made the bed and fell right asleep.  He dreamt of more excitement that he would have in the morning."

Literary Devices- Puns

We discussed how writers can bring humor to their stories through the use of puns.  In the book, Harold  "made" his bed (by drawing it) and "drew" up the covers.  We added "puns" to our FIAR notebook builder as one of the "Tools Writers Use." 

Choices Artists can Make:  

 Perspective-Vanishing Point 
The first art lesson we learned from Harold was creating Perspective using a vanishing point.  Harold did it when he created a path to walk on in the beginning of the book.  (Note: There is not a page in the FIAR Notebook builder like the one below, I made this one to better fit our needs).

We also learned about foreshortening but did not include it in the notebook.  In the book, Harold drew a picnic blanket, using a foreshortened square (which is more of a diamond shape when drawn) to create depth and the illusion that the blanket was laying on the ground.

We looked at the picture in the book and in the examples in the FIAR manual and discussed it, but they were not interested in trying the technique for themselves.

Pie Picnic
In the story, Harold has a picnic with just pie (but it was the nine types of pie Harold liked best!)  We laid out a vinyl tablecloth and I set out the ingredients (pudding and graham cracker crusts) for the nine pies of our own pie picnic.  Sam made most of them, but each kid made at least one.  You might notice that there are only eight pies in the photo.  Yes, one was eaten before I had a chance to snap a pic!

Later we had the art lesson mentioned above about foreshortening, since it was about the way Harold drew the picnic blanket.  I had planned to also do a lesson on fractions to go with the pie picnic theme, but we didn't get to it.

Window Markers
We bought some Crayola Washable Window Markers (affiliate link) recently, and the kids had a ball drawing on the window!  I thought it kind of complimented the part of the story where Harold is searching for his bedroom window.

For spelling practice, I asked Sam to write his daily sentences on the window instead of paper.  I thought it would be a fun way to incorporate our Harold/art theme and break up the sentence writing monotony.  He was excited about the idea of it, but grew tired of it quickly.  He only wrote a couple sentences and didn't want to do it the rest of the week.  He would much rather draw pictures- go figure!

Story Sequencing Cards

We made some DIY story sequencing cards to go along with the story.  I simply photo copied several pages from the book onto cardstock and cut them out.  Since the illustrations are so simple, it doesn't take much ink.  

I gave each of my kiddos a few cards to hold as I began to read the story.  They had to listen carefully, and when I read a page that described one of the picture cards they were given, they got to put it down on the floor.  I did't get a photo, but we put them all in a line in sequential order.  It's a fun way for kids to interact with a story, gain comprehension, and improve listening skills.  This was definitely a favorite activity of the unit!

Sam and I cut out the cards together and we ended up with a bunch of text cards.  So I decided to use those too!

The object was to spread out the picture cards, draw a text card and read it, then match it to a picture card.  I liked this activity because it keeps a certain someone from relying too heavily on the illustrations to "guess" the text.  (Note:  the key words here are "too heavily."  It is beneficial for children to use illustrations to figure out words they find difficult as a reading strategy).

Preschool Trays:

Purple Crayon Play Dough- Made with purple crayons!
We used the crayon play dough recipe from Sugar Aunts,  which uses crushed crayons as the coloring for the play dough.  Could there be a more perfect craft for a Harold unit??  

I took the photo of the tray and activity after it had been enjoyed many times!  It includes a moon (because everywhere Harold went, the moon went with him), a P to make "Purple Play Dough P's and review the /p/ letter sound.

Beginning letter sound worksheet- colored with a purple crayon!

I have the whole alphabet of letter sound coloring pages from The Measured Mom printed out.  We are not doing letter of the week, but when the opportunity comes up to reinforce a letter sound, I like to pull one of these out!

Fine Motor:

Cityscape Cutting Practice

In the book, Harold drew a city full of buildings (and windows), hoping to find the window to his bedroom.  To go along with the city scene in the story,  I drew a quick cutting practice page for Corinne.

The wide rectangles create simple straight lines for easy cutting (using card stock helps too).  As she cut, the upper portion of the paper got in her way, so I cut it off for her.  After that, she was ready for some serious cutting practice!  

Tracing Harold's "waves" with a purple crayon

I chose several wave-like patterns for Corinne to trace with a purple crayon. The "waves"are intended to mimic the scene where Harold's shaking hand accidentally creates water.  I got these Prewriting practice printables from 3 Dinosaurs.   There are many tracing pages to choose from, and they are all free!  I find them to be useful as an activity Corinne to do alone, alongside her brothers.  She loves to sit at the table and do work with the older kids!


I wrote a separate post about this tray.  I really didn't realize how much could be learned from this very simple activity until I began writing about it!  If you would like to read about the skills Corinne used, please check out Harold and the Purple Crayon Window Counting.

Go-along Books:

Don't be a stranger!  Follow along through Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin'

Thanks for stoppin' by!


Harold and the Purple Crayon Window Counting

Corinne had her own preschool trays to go along with the Harold and the Purple Crayon Unit we did as a group as part of our Five in a Row curriculum.  Since so much learning was incorporated into this one simple activity, I decided to make it a separate post.   

Counting Harold's windows

In the book, Harold wants to find the window to his bedroom.  He begins by drawing a building with many windows, hoping one of the windows would be "his" window.  He then proceeds to draw many buildings with many windows in the quest to find "his" window.   The Five in a Row manual suggests re-creating the scene in the book that shows the city full of buildings that Harold drew, so I came up with this activity.

It's very simple to make and set up.  First, I drew a moon, of course, and bunch of "blank" buildings.  Then I set out a stack of number cards between 1-10 (ours are from our RightStart math curriculum, but it would be very easy to make your own).  Corinne chose a number and decided where to place it.  Then, with purple marker, she drew the correct number of windows in the building.  

Skills she worked on:
  • Number recognition
  • 1:1 correspondence- One object represents the number one, two objects represent the number two, and so on.  (It has taken some time for Corinne to master this concept- I was thrilled to watch her stop at the correct number of windows with no problem!).  
  • Critical Thinking (assessing size)-- Choosing a taller building to to house a larger quantity of windows, and vice versa.  The first couple times she picked up a number, I helped a bit…. "Two.  That's not a very big number, do you think it should go on a bigger building or a smaller building?" After a couple times, she was on her own.  She thought through each number carefully and strategically placed it over a building, and talked through her thought process as she worked! 
  • Fine motor-  Drawing the windows.
  • Odd/Even Numbers- We have been learning that (pictures of) even numbers have a "buddy" and can be grouped in two's, as opposed to numbers have that have one "odd" number when grouped in twos.  The odd numbers always have one that is missing buddy.  She looked at each building and decided if each window had a buddy or not.  Then we went through and named the odd-numbered buildings and the even-numbered ones ("Buildings with 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 have buddies, they are even numbers.  3 and 5 do not have buddies, they are odd numbers.")

Other posts you may like:

10 Books that Inspire Creativity - A list of books that go along nicely with Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Harold and the Purple Crayon Activities- This window counting activity was just one of many- check out what else we did!

What does My Child Need to Learn? (Age 2-Grade 2)- This post outlines a list of preschool learning objectives, including the skills Corinne worked on in this activity.

Don't be a stranger!  Follow along on Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin'

Thanks for stoppin' by! 


10 Children's Books That Inspire Creativity

While "rowing" Harold and the Purple Crayon,  I sought out books with an art or creativity theme as go-alongs.  All of the following selections compliment Harold (and each other) nicely.  So many of the books we read could also stand alone as an art-themed literature unit of its own!

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

  Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
This book is a classic, and for good reason!  It is easily one of the most creative children's stories I have ever read.  As the reader, you are instantly whisked into Harold's imagination.  As he draws a scene, he "lives" what he draws.  He draws scene after scene, creating a cohesive story.  It is a wonderful invitation to children to create there own stories through picture-- and imagine they are living their creations!   

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
A young girl named Vashti is frustrated in art class, so her teacher encourages her to "make a mark and see where it takes you."  Vashti responds by making a dot, just a dot, believing that she could not make  anything better.  To her surprise, her teacher framed her dot! Vashti is then inspired to make more dot pictures, believing she could make a better dot than the one her teacher framed.  She experiments with different mediums and different perspectives.  What she thought was just a dot became the inspiration for a gallery of artwork, and she discovers that she is an artist after all.  It is a very sweet story that encourages children to explore their potential.


Lunchtime for a Purple Snake by Harriet Ziefert
This is a cute story of Jessica and her grandpa, who work together to create a single painting.  Jessica learns about color mixing and how to turn her mistake into "something good."  It would be fun to co-create an original painting or drawing with your little one after reading this story together.  The illustrations and simple text make it a good choice for younger children, yet has enough substance to make it suitable for older children as well.  It could also be used as reading practice for a more  advanced emergent reader.


  Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
There aren't many words in this book, but the message it conveys is clear and beautiful.  The message is that there are no mistakes in art!  Any "oops" can be transformed into a work of art.  The book engages children with creative, interactive pages.  You can see a quick video demo of every page on the Amazon link above.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Day Walt
This was BY FAR my kids' favorite book of the week!  They asked for this book again and again.  It begins with a boy named Duncan who reaches for his crayons, but finds a stack of complaint letters instead.  The proceeding pages are a hilarious look into the thoughts and opinions of Duncan's crayons.  Each crayon has something to say about the way it is used in Duncan's drawings and coloring pages.  It's a fun read that will challenge children to think outside of the box with  their color choices!

Here are some more creativity themed books you may want to check out:

When I began looking for creativity themed books to compliment "Harold," I searched Amazon and made a list of the books I would like to include.  Below are the ones that made the list (based on their Amazon reviews) that we haven't got to enjoy yet.


Perfect Square by Michael Hall


The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg


The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle

  Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet


Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

You may also enjoy this post:

Harold and the Purple Crayon Activities- A collection of Harold-inspired learning activities, crafts and snacks!

Don't be a stranger!  Follow along on Pinterest and Facebook!


© Finding the Teachable Moments | Web Design By Sour Apple Studio