Part of becoming a resilient mathematician is learning to recognize what it feels like to be stuck, and what strategies can be useful in getting yourself unstuck.  I encourage strategy games that are low threshold high ceiling tasks where all children can easily access the game at its basic level and play ‘randomly’.  The high ceiling is developing a winning strategy.



This is a basic form of the ancient game of Nim.

A Game for Two
1. Make a pile of seven counters or other interesting objects. This could be played outside with pebbles, sticks or shells.
2. Players take turns to remove either one or two counters/objects from the pile.
3. To win you need to take the last counter or counters.

Keep playing until you work out a winning strategy.
Does it matter who has the first turn?
What happens when you start the game with more counters?  TRY IT 🙂



A Game for Two

Materials – Print a copy of the Dotty Paper as your game board. Each player needs a colored marker.

1.  Players take turns marking on a dot on the grid with their color.

2.  The winner is the first to have four dots that can be shown joined form a square.

3.  Squares can be any size, anywhere and can be tilted.

Red Wins!

Blue Wins!


NOTE: This is a spatial strategy game, suitable for learners of all ages.    At its most basic level, this game reinforces the properties of a square, but in trying to find a winning strategy, children will need to work systematically.