Well, it is a snow day for the kids--10 inches. The neighbor was playing with his new snow blower so there is very little snow to shovel. I finished 2 quilts and needed something different to work on. I did not want to go anywhere--they are not yet plowing the side streets so driving is not exactly the safest thing to do.
I found some wood planks in my basement stash and decided to try to make a game for my brother's kids for Christmas.
I had a copy of this game in my classroom for years. The original had pieces that were actually X and O shaped beads. This was not something I was willing to try for. The last time I made one of these, I used large wooden beads as the markers--but I could not find them this time. I did find some wooden blocks (from teaching volume in geometry class) and some dowel rods. It actually took longer to find the supplies than it did to make the game.
The game is simple enough for a 6 year old and challenging enough for teens and adults. My son, then only 7, challenged my students when he came to the high school on take-your-child-to-work day. He played one young lady repeatedly until after about 20 tries, she finally beat him.
Step 1: Materials:
- wood plank
- dowel rods
- wooden blocks (or beads)
- drill press (or hand held drill)
- saw (hand or power)
Step 2: Template for Drilling
Since my blocks were cubes, I measured the diagonal. It was 1 1/8 inches. I marked a grid on paper using 1 1/4 inch markings. I wanted there to be enough space between the pegs that the game pieces were not bumping into each other.
Step 3: Drilling
I taped the template to the wood plank. Use a drill bit that is the same size as your dowels.
Drill a hole into a scrap piece of wood first. Make sure that the dowel slides into the hole. Adjust the size of your drill bit. I used 13/64.
Drill 9 holes into the board. Be sure that you do not drill all the way through the plank. I drilled 3/4 of the way through mine. This depth will depend on the thickness of your board.
I used a drill press because I am not comfortable holding a hand held drill. It is too heavy. The drill press also guarantees that my holes go in straight and all of them are the same depth. If you do not have one, your local high school may have a wood shop.
Next, I switched to a larger drill bit--7/32 in my case. I drilled a hole through 14 wood blocks of each color. My wood blocks were already painted so I did not have to worry about painting. If they were not painted, I probably would have stained 14 dark and left 14 light. I really like the look of natural wood.
After you have drilled one piece, check and see if it slides easily onto the dowel. You want it to be able to slide back and forth easily. If it is difficult, the pieces will get stuck when playing the game on humid days. Adjust your drill bit if necessary.
Step 4: Cut Dowel Rods
Insert your dowel into one of the holes in the plank. Load it with 3 of the drilled blocks. Make a mark on the dowel about 1/2 inch above the top block. Pull out the dowel and cut on the mark. You now have a template to cut the other 8 pegs. I got 3 cut pieces from each of the dowels I was using.
Sand the ends if necessary.
Step 5: Fix Any Flaws
If I had figured out how to keep the bottom of the holes from splintering while drilling, this step would not have been necessary. I used some markers to re-color the wood.
By the way, if you drill through the end-grain side of the blocks, the holes drill cleanly. I will remember this for next time.
Step 6: Play
What makes this game more challenging than the pencil/paper version is the 3D part.
You can win by getting 3 in a row on any level. The dark pieces show a win horizontally on the 2nd level.
You can win by stacking 3 pieces vertically on one peg. The dark pieces show this on the left side of the picture.
What some people find difficult to keep track of during a game is that you can also win diagonally. The yellow pieces in the picture show a diagonal win on 3 different levels.
When the game is over, remove the pegs and wipe the pieces off the board. Return the pegs and you are ready to play again.
I plan to sew a draw string bag to hold all the pieces when not in use.