I’ll be at Marvelous Math Morning at CJ’s school this Saturday, playing Nim with kids ranging from K-5. One simple goal is to teach them the winning strategy for the version of the game where there’s one pile and each player can draw 1 or 2 chips. I’ve done that with CJ and he really liked it — and I think the idea of a perfect strategy is one of those truly deep mathematical concepts that even little kids can grasp.
But what else should I do? What other Nims and Nimlikes should I teach these kids and what lessons should I try to impart thereby?
Update: First two commenters both mentioned Tic-Tac-Toe. At what age do kids typically learn how to play Tic-Tac-Toe and at what age have they learned a perfect strategy? CJ is in kindergarten and has not seen this, or at least he hasn’t seen it from me. I’ll ask him tonight.
Update: Nim a success! I played mostly one-pile, and the kids were definitely able to grasp pretty quickly the idea of winning and losing positions, and the goal of chasing the former and avoiding the latter. I didn’t encounter anyone who’d played nim before. I felt some math was transmitted. Mission accomplished.