- Shisima is an abstract strategy game from Kenya for two players. The word ‘shisima’ means ‘body of water’ and the game pieces represent ‘water bugs’ known as ‘imbalavali’. The movement of the game pieces during play mimics the rapid movement of water bugs on a lake’s surface.
Shisima is a tic-tac-toe like game. The aim of the game is to get three counters of the same colour in a straight line running through the middle of the board. This game is often played by children in Kenya and in some parts of Southern India. The board is traditionally drawn on the ground in soft earth.
This version of Shisima incorporates Addition Facts. On each move the players answer the addition algorithm written on the spot they are moving to aloud. They must say the answer before they place their piece.
What You Need:
3 counters of one colour for each player
(usually one player is black, the other white)
One player places their three counters at the top of the board the other puts theirs at the bottom. (As shown in the graphic) .
How to Play:
1. Decide what colour counter each player will have.
2. The player with the most letters in their name goes first.
3. One empty space is in the middle of the board, the other two
empty spaces separate the two rows of counters on both sides.
4. Players take turns, moving one counter at a turn.
5. Each Piece can move one space at a time following the pattern
on the board.
6. Moves are made along any line to a vacant square.
7. No jumping is allowed since water bugs can’t jump.
How to Win:
- The winner is the player who gets their three counters in a straight
line running through the middle. (Whoever wins must have one
counter in the center)
- In spite of its simplicity this game requires a fair amount of
Before the Game:
- Discuss the rules of tic-tac-toe and the rules for playing the
- Play a game of tic-tac-toe on the whiteboard with the class.
- Is there any advantage to gaining the centre square on your first
move? Discuss strategies that children use when playing.
During the Game:
- Ensure students take turns in being the player to make the first
After the Game:
- Is there any advantage to going first?
- It has been mathematically proven that the player who goes first
has an advantage. Design an investigation to show how
mathematicians would work this out?
- Does moving to the center on a first turn guarantee winning?
- Research the origin of traditional games from different countries.
- Students create a similar game of their own.
Included in this Download:
1 Doubles Board
2 Doubles Plus One Board
2 Doubles Plus Two Boards
1 Adding 9 Board
1 Friends to Ten Board
1 Friends to Twenty Board
1 Blank Board
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