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Dots and Boxes Game: How to Play

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Do you remember the Dots and Boxes Game everyone played as a kid?  We played it all the time! It kept us busy through many hours at church, through many long doctor visits and also on long road trips. (This was pre-phone era, when we had to learn how to entertain ourselves! I miss those days.)

dots and boxes game printable

Well, in case you forgot about it, or want to teach it to your kids, I have it here for you today.  I have a printable version of the game for you, but I’ll also show you how to easily draw it, too. It’s easiest on lined paper.

My printable Dots & Boxes game has two versions, one with a larger amount of smaller dots, and one with less dots that are larger. This gives you the option to play along or a shorter game. The shorter game is good for teaching it to a younger beginner.

Download it by clicking the box below!

How to Play the Dots and Boxes Game

The Dots and Boxes game is a strategy game played with 2 players using just pencil and paper. Or use some fun colored markers like we did! You first need a dot grid to play the game. You can print mine, or draw your own.

The players take turns drawing lines between adjacent dots as they try to create a box. No diagonal lines can be drawn in this game, only horizontal and vertical lines. When a player closes up a box by connecting the fourth side of a box, they win the box.

Closing a single box earns them another turn to draw one more line.  With each box they complete, they write the first initial of their name in it. 

The player with the highest number of boxes filled in at the end is the winner. 

How to play dots and boxes game

How to Draw the Dots and Boxes Game:

If you don’t want to print it out, you can easily draw your own game quickly and easily. Using lined paper is easy because it helps keep the rows straight, but it’s definitely not needed.

Just draw rows and rows of dots and make them into squares. That’s it!  You can make your grid of dots as large or as small as you would like.

Or, download and print a copy of the Dots and Boxes Game Printable. This will save you a few minutes of drawing!


History of the Dots and Boxes Game:

This fun and easy strategy game was first created in the 19th century by a French mathematician named Édouard Lucas.  He called the game la pipopipette. It’s had a lot of other names over the years such as: the dot game, squares game, dots and dashes, boxes, and pigs in a pen. But it has stuck around and is still played all the time and all around the world.

Logic and Learning Behind the Dots Game:

This game is great to teach logic and critical thinking skills!  Kids have to learn to plan their moves in advance.  You have to be cautious about where you draw your lines.

See More Fun & Simple Games for Kids:

Array Multiplication Grid Game with Graph Paper

Free Printable Blank Sudoku Grids

Road Safety Board Game

The Gratitude Game: Pick-Up Sticks

Sun Cardboard Marble Maze Game

Roll a Rainbow Preschool Math Game

Number and Color I Spy Game for Kids

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