Bilingual tic-tac-toe has been the game of the year!
My 5-year-old daughter loves tic-tac-toe, so we have practiced Chinese and Korean reading with this game since last summer!
Tic-tac-toe has been an interactive and effortless way for my family to review many new words. I recommend this great game for children age 4+ who can understand simple rules and recognize patterns.
In Mandarin Chinese, tic-tac-toe is called 井字棋 (jǐng zì qí) or 圈圈叉叉 (quān quān chā chā) depending on regional preferences.
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4 Ways to Learn Chinese and Korean with Tic-Tac-Toe
We have played Chinese and Korean tic-tac-toe in many different ways.
The game is easy to set up! However, you can also print our free Chinese tic-tac-toe templates listed at the bottom of this post!
Most of the time, we are playing # 2 and # 4, but see which method appeals to your family!
1. Post-It Note Chinese Tic-Tac-Toe
This first Tic-Tac-Toe version is a fun way to focus on learning two characters at a time. My daughter had fun choosing Post-It Note colors for Chinese tic-tac-toe! Similar characters such as 具 (jù), 真 (zhēn), 且 (qiě), and 直 (zhí) were reviewed. My daughter and her Korean nanny also reviewed Hangul vowels with tic-tac-toe! We used ribbon to create the 3 x 3 grid, and the ribbon and Post-It notes were in a Montessori-inspired tray, ready to be chosen for playful learning!
Here are some pictures of the Post-It Note Chinese tic-tac-toe game in action!
Please note that we used the same colored Post-It note for this game so that we would have to focus on distinguishing the Chinese characters.
We used a black ribbon to form a line through the winning row, but this step is not necessary if you want to save material.
By the way, if you can’t write Chinese, you can print out the words on regular paper!
Here is a snapshot of Korean tic-tac-toe with Hangul vowels! My daughter and her nanny played green versus yellow.
2. Chinese Tic-Tac-Toe Writing Practice
Since my daughter is reluctant to use Chinese writing worksheets, I followed her tic-tac-toe interest and implemented writing practice with the game! Since the tic-tac-toe grid is based on squares, it is the perfect setting for Chinese writing practice!
During the first half of the summer, my daughter used our Chinese stroke order sandpaper cards for reference.
She can now write most of these words correctly from memory!
The beauty of tic-tac-toe is that you can play while waiting at a restaurant, doctor’s office, airport, or other places with long idle times!
This next photo was from a few months ago when we practiced writing 大 (dà / big) and 小 (xiǎo / small) on the restaurant’s Kids Menu!
I also keep a small notebook in my handbag so we can play tic-tac-toe anytime!
3. X and O Chinese Tic-Tac-Toe
This version is the most challenging because 9 Chinese characters are reviewed simultaneously!
We used the traditional Xs and Os and said each character out loud while circling and crossing it out!
This round was a tie! In the image below, you can see that we use different colored markers so that the “X” and “O” could be distinguished from the Chinese characters.
4. Scratch-off surprise tic tac toe
As a reward for writing practice, I started creating these tic-tac-toe scratch-off surprises for my daughter.
Actually, she loves to use scratch-off stickers to write cards and messages for me.
Therefore, I knew the combining scratch-off stickers with tic-tac-toe would be a big hit!
I wrote 2 sets of words in a tic-tac-toe grid, including one “winning” set.
Then I covered the Chinese characters with these 1″ round scratch off stickers which fit perfectly in our printable!
After, she would use a quarter to scrape off the label to reveal the Chinese characters and see which has a 3-in-a-row winner!
Keeping my younger child entertained while teaching my oldest
I often struggle to keep my younger child busy while teaching my older one, so I try to think of special activities that my son can do next to big sister.
My son has been into what he calls “Pom Pom 游戏 (yóuxì / game)”, and it kept him occupied for 20 minutes while my daughter and I worked on writing practice with tic-tac-toe!
Other times, I just draw the tic-tac-toe grid for him while he scribbles over it, pretending to write. 😛
Free Chinese tic-tac-toe printables!
Click on the below links to preview and download:
- Version 1: 井字棋 – 4 grids
- Version 2: 圈圈叉叉 – 4 grids
- Version 3: 井字棋 – 1 large grid
- Version 4: 圈圈叉叉 – 1 large grid
I recommend the 4 grid versions if you want to conserve paper.
The single large grid versions are recommended for young learners who may benefit from seeing large details of each character.
Just for fun – nature tic-tac-toe!
Lastly, I wanted to share our scribble rocks vs rainbow rocks tic-tac-toe! While my daughter and I made the rainbow rocks, my son joyfully scribbled on his rocks!
If you try Chinese or Korean Tic-Tac-Toe, please let us know!
Tips for teaching kids how to read Chinese
- When and How to Introduce Chinese Characters to Kids?
- 5 Basic Tips for Memorizing Chinese Characters
- Create a Print-Rich Environment with Labels that Promote Literacy
- How I Taught My Child 1000+ Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Speaker
- 6 Ways My Child and I Are Learning Mandarin Chinese from Audiobooks
- When Should My Child Learn Hanyu Pinyin?