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Circle Tic Tac Toe

Circle Tic Tac Toe is a fun twist on classic tic-tac-toe. It is played on a circular grid, and there is an added challenge of getting four in a row instead of three. With three different ways to win, this game is sure to be a fun and engaging challenge.

Game Background

I first learned about Circle Tic Tac Toe after mentioning Ultimate Tic Tac Toe on twitter. Carl Horowitz replied to my tweet and suggested I try my hand at a version of tic-tac-toe which he deemed to be even better and more engaging: Circle Tic Tac Toe.

For years, I thought that Carl was the creator of Circle Tic Tac Toe, and I actually credited him with the game when I created a printable version for my classroom.

However, a bit of research suggests that the game should actually be attributed to David P. Sumner who wrote about the game of circular tic tac toe in 2010 and created an app available via Apple.

I have updated the creator name on the downloadable template to correct my original oversight.

Instructions for Playing Circle Tic Tac Toe

The game of Circle Tic Tac Toe is played on a circular grid consisting of 32 sections. The goal of the game is to win by getting four in a row.

blank circle tic tac toe grid

In a traditional game of tic tac toe, you win by getting three in a row either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

In this circular game of tic tac toe, there are also three ways to win.

  • You can win by claiming all four sections in a single sector of the circular grid.
  • You can win by claiming four connected sections going around a slice of the circle.
  • You can win by claiming four sections arranged diagonally along concentric circles.

Players take turns claiming sections of the circular grid until one player wins by getting four sections in a row. David Sumner does admit that going first in this game does have an advantage, so he suggests taking turns going first.

I created a poster to print and hang in my classroom for students to reference with the three different ways to win in circle tic tac toe. You could also display this graphic on a projector while explaining the game to a group of students.

circle tic tac toe poster with instructions about 3 ways to win

Would you rather watch a video about how to play Circle Tic Tac Toe? Carl Horowitz has created a tutorial video.

Printable Templates for Circle Tic Tac Toe

I created two different templates for playing circular tic tac toe in the classroom. Both templates are meant to be used with dry erase pockets so students can play over and over without wasting paper.


dry erase pockets

I cannot imagine teaching math without my dry erase pockets! They instantly make any activity more engaging and save me countless hours at the copy machine since I can use the same class sets of copies year after year.

Here are my current go-to recommendations:

The first template I made has a table at the top that reminds students of the three different ways to win circle tic tac toe.

I plan to set these out in my classroom for students to grab and play when they have extra time. Since we won’t necessarily be playing as a class, I want students to be able to play with little to no guidance from me.

circle tic tac toe template with instructions at top

I also created a larger version of the template without the reminders at the top. Since the sections of the circle are a bit bigger, it might make it a bit easier for students to write on with their dry erase markers.

circle tic tac toe template

Then, since I’m crazy and like to supersize everything in my classroom, I also created a jumbo 11 x 17 version of the template. I printed it on 11 x 17 cardstock.

circle tic tac toe template printed on 11 x 17 cardstock

Even though I had my students use this 11 x 17 version inside of a 11 x 17 dry erase pocket, you could just laminate it and have students use something like game pawns or bingo chips to play since the circle sections are so much bigger.

circle tic tac toe and ultimate tic tac toe games in dry erase pockets

Ideas for Using in the Classroom

I pulled out circle tic tac toe and ultimate tic tac toe during the last week of the school year. But both games would also make great first day of school activities for math class.

Since Circle Tic Tac Toe is a much shorter game than Ultimate Tic Tac Toe, it might be fun to have a Circle Tic Tac Toe Tournament with a single or double elimination bracket.