As a modern-day parent, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to bond with my children. Recently, I came across a fascinating book by Claudia Zaslavsky, titled “Math Games and Activities From Around the World” at our local library. This book explores the diverse cultures and traditions of various countries and showcases the unique math games played by local people. Most of these games are based on the classic “Three in a Row” concept, much like the popular “Tic Tac Toe” game. Interestingly, there are many variations of this game played worldwide. One such game is Shisima, traditionally played by the Triiki people of Kenya.
HOW DO YOU PLAY SHISIMA
Shisima is a two player abstract strategy game played by the Triiki people of Kenya. This game is similar to Tic- Tac-Toe where you have to place three counters in a row. Shisima means “Source of Water” in Kenyan. The counters are called imbalavali meaning “water insects” . The game was inspired by watching imbalavali quickly crawling towards the shisima making it hard to keep track of them. Likewise, the Shisima players move their counters so quickly on the game board that it is hard to keep track of them.
Generally, kids in Kenya would draw an octagon on on the dirt with 4 lines connecting each set of opposite points intersecting in the middle representing the ‘Shisima game board’. Then to play, they will use twigs and rocks as imbalavali. We have created the Shisima game board printable for you to download and get to playing right away.
Game Board : Draw/Print the game board to represent Shisima.
Counters : Each player has 3 counters of different colors to represent the imbalavali.
Number of Players : 2
RULES OF THE SHISIMA GAME
Here are the Shisima Game Rules:
- Set up
- Place the counters on three consecutive points of octagon, across from each other.
- Objective of the Game
- To get three counters of the same kind placed in a row, with one counter on the Shisima ( the center ).
- Each piece can move one space at a time.
- Jumping over a counter is not allowed.
- Player take turns moving their counters one space along the line to the next empty point.
- A player may move into the center ( the shisima ) at any time.
- The first player to get all the three counters in a row going through a shisima ( the center ) is the winner.
- The game ends in a tie if players make the same sequence of moves three times in a row.
HOW TO CULTIVATE GROWTH MINDSET BY PLAYING SHISIMA
After kids have played the game a few times, it’s a good practice to ask them questions about the best way to play. This will help them cultivate a growth mindset.
Ask the following questions to your children:
- Is going first favorable?
- How can you avoid a tie?
- Are there any moves that guarantee you’ll win every time?
- What crucial tactics did you pick up after a few games?
- Is putting your token in the centre as soon as possible the smartest move? If not, why not?
- How do you compel a player whose token is in the middle to move it?
We have enjoyed playing this game and learning new strategies for how to keep winning. The game goes so fast and is very exciting. If you give this game a shot, let us know in the comments what tactics you discovered along the road.
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