Here's a fun game that Joely and I have enjoyed playing lately. It has also helped her learn about coordinate planes, ordered pairs, and basic strategy, so she's having a math lessons while playing the game — it's a win-win!
This simple four-in-a-row game is based on one we found in Exploring Math with Polyhedra Dice, although our version doesn't use dice at all.
What You Need to Play
Although I've made up a game board you can download and print, all you really need is a piece of paper and a pencil. The game board itself, which you can draw by hand if needed, is a simple coordinate plane with 0-9 labeled on each axis.
The objective of the game is to be the first player to get four in a row, vertically, horizonontally, or diagonally.
How to Play
1. One player is X, and the other player is O. On his turn, each player will place his mark at a point on the coordinate plane determined by the ordered pair for his turn.
2. On the first turn, player X chooses 2 numbers from 0 through 9 and places them on the lines in the first ordered pair, one for the x value and one for the y value. He then marks an X on the coordinate plane at those coordinates. His turn ends.
3. Player O can then change one of the coordinates for his turn, either the x or the y value. He then writes his chosen coordinates on the lines of the next ordered pair and marks his O on the coordinate plane at those coordinates. His turn ends.
4. Play continues in this manner, with each player changing only one of the numbers in the ordered pair and placing his mark in the appropriate spot on the coordinate plane.
Winning the Game
A player wins when he successfully places four of his marks in a row on the coordinate plane, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
Once you've played the game a few times, you may even like to come up with some variations to the game, such as adding more numbers to each axis, requiring five or more in a row to win, or using a four-quadrant coordinate plane. (You can generate printable four-quadrant coordinate planes here.)
Download the Coordinate Plane Four-in-a-Row directions and game sheet. You can see samples of the download below.