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, and what I love about all four versions is that they offer a multisensory 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.

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  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

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  1. Love these ideas! Sharing on Facebook and pinning!!

  2. This is such a great way to play with words. Thank you for sharing your post on my facebook page and for the free printable too!

    1. Thank you for opening your Facebook page!

  3. This is such a fun idea! Thanks for linking up at Hands-On Activities! Hope you join us again this month!



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