Tic-Tac-Bow: Simple games for the holidays

My staff and I enjoy whipping up simple games around the classroom all year long but the holidays offer up so many fun trinkets and symbols that it makes whipping up simple holiday games just so easy to do.

When working with young children, you quickly learn to keep all games open-ended even if you have modeled it after a traditional game like tic-tac-toe. The children will definitely think of their own rules for play which helps keep them interested in playing the game.

Miss Abby added a writing component to inspire the children to make their marks. As the children played the game, they kept “score”.  Now I don’t know what “winning the game” or “keeping score” meant to each child but as you can see, we had some great score keeping going on!

The focus of simple DIY games is to promote conversation, cooperation, taking turns, building friendships, and exposing the children to a variety of games that invite them to strategize, problem solve, think, and make decisions.

Leaving the games out so the children can come back to them over several days or weeks also helps the children master their skills and understanding for how to play a game with each other.

In the end, simple games for preschoolers should be…. well, simple! The more you have to explain “how to play the game,” then chances are the children will be less inclined to choose to play the game on their own.

When the game is simple and there is no pressure to win or follow specific rules, the children will take ownership of the game playing experience which leads them think “I can do this,” and “playing games is fun!”

Gingerbread Matching Game

You can view a short video of our gingerbread matching game on Instagram or Facebook!

Available on Amazon

By |2016-12-09T04:35:33+00:00December 9th, 2016|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Mary Anne Arnesen December 11, 2016 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    I love all of your activities! I teach special needs preschoolers in NY. ? By the way my son & his wife live in Kokomo Indiana. So glad that you are teaching us Christmas activities. ??

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 11, 2016 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      My Mary Anne! How did you end up all the way in NY and your son here in Indiana? I hope you are enjoying your teaching experience:)

  2. Andrew Singer December 30, 2016 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Learning to let children create their own games to play has saved me so much frustration! You’re right in that it isn’t fun for the kids either when the game has to be explained repeatedly and they are typically turned off quickly. I love the tic-tac-tow board, that game is such a favorite with many kids.

  3. Julie January 21, 2017 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Hi! I signed up for your free training. I cannot watch today. Will I be able to watch this video at another time?
    I am very thankful you are doing this! Deborah, you have such a talent and understand early childhood education and the developmental needs of children. I wish every teacher would be able to watch.
    Thanking you in advance.
    Julie Bergstrom
    [email protected]

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 21, 2017 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      Hi Julie!
      You can view the free training all week long. We will send you an email as each video in our training series go live! Thank you for your sweet message:)

  4. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 23, 2017 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Janice. Try it again as we worked on it this morning and removed the bar to see if that would help. Be sure to enter your name on top line and email in the second line. This way I can send you updates each time a new video goes live.

  5. […] To see an alternative version of a DIY tic tac toe game, click here! […]

Leave A Comment

This site uses 'cookies' to give you the best, most relevant experience. Using the website means you're OK with this. Ok