Material Required: Card paper, pen, buttons in two different colours – about 15-20 in each colour.
This game, which is a modified version of tic-tac-toe (also called dots and crosses) is excellent to sharpen skills of factorization in algebra. It can also be modified for younger children and can sharpen single digit or two digit addition and multiplication.
To play the game you need the board. You also need about 15-20 buttons in two different colours, say red and blue. Each set is given to one player. One red and one blue button are needed for placing on the factor board below the main board, one for each player. The remaining red and blue buttons are for placing on the main game-board.
The game begins with the players placing both the factor board buttons on any two squares
on the factor board. The first player to play will move his factor board button (say red) to any of the factor board squares. Now the first player multiplies the numbers under the two buttons on the factor board and places a new red button on the product on the main board. For example, if on the factor board the blue button is on -1 and the red button on 4. The product is -4. So the first player places a red button on -4 in the main game-board. Now it is the second player’s turn. She too first moves her factor board button, the blue one in this case. She then multiplies the numbers under the two factor board buttons and places a blue button on the product in the main board.
On the factor board the first player can move only the red button, the second player can move only the blue one. If a player makes a mistake while multiplying, he or she loses a turn. The first person to get 4 small buttons in a line on the product board wins.
This game is a constrained version of tic-tac-toe. In ordinary tic-tac-toe, buttons (or dots and crosses) can be placed anywhere on the board. In the constrained version, the factor board limits the number of squares where it is possible to place the button. By varying the type of constraint, one can modify the game to focus on a range of mathematical skills.