Tic Tac Toe ESL Vocabulary Game

In this activity, you can use the classic Tic Tac Toe grid to help your students recall vocabulary from your lessons. The Tic Tac Toe ESL Game works best as a filler or a way to conclude a lesson as a review activity. Furthermore, you can even use it with adults as you can vary the level of difficulty.

Student Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

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Age Group: Kids, Adults

Tic Tac Toe ESL Game

Tic Tac Toe ESL Game Preparation:

To prepare for the game, you can scan through your course textbook and collect some words to use. Many texts have lists of the vocabulary that is used in either the contents or appendix sections at the back. Of course, you can use other random words or vocabulary that you would like to reinforce or practice with your students.

Tic Tac Toe ESL Game Guidelines:

There are various variations of Tic Tac Toe that you can use. Let’s explore some methods that work particularly well for most groups.

In one version of the game, you can draw the basic Tic Tac Toe grid on the board. Then, put different letters in each of the nine squares. The aim of this game is for the students to select a square and name three words that begin with the letter.

For example, if they pick the middle square and it has the letter “C” then they would have to say three words that begin with the letter “C” based on the theme. If the theme is based around “food” then they could shout out, “corn, cantaloupe, and chips.”

You could also make the game more challenging by changing the theme to something like “Personality” or “Describing People.” In this case, they could say words like “cautious, charismatic, and caring.”

Furthermore, to raise the bar, you could have them create a sentence using one of the “C” words to get a point. The game is quite flexible in this respect.

If a team can think of all three words under a set time limit, then they can mark their X or O in the spot. Then, the other team selects a square that has a different letter and tries to perform the same task.

The team which gets three Xs or three Os in a row first wins the game.

Another version of the game differs in the way in which points are scored. Instead of the goal to obtain three in a row, the aim is to accumulate as many points as possible. Points can be scored as follows:

  • 1-point for one square
  • 2-points for two squares side-by-side
  • 3-points for three squares in a row

You can also add more squares to the traditional 3×3 grid and make it 4×4 or 5×5 etc.

The Tic Tac Toe ESL Vocabulary Game is fun and educational for all ages.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

As an extension to the game, try a kinesthetic learning activity to get the students out of their seats. If you are teaching kids, you may want to try the Memory Race Game using some of the words that you covered.

View more vocabulary games.

View more ESL activities.

View this activity on ESL Expat’s YouTube Channel:

Related ESL Resources Online:

ESL Tic Tac Toe on TESOL.org

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