7 Ways to Play the Game Battleship

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Who says you have to play board games by the rules? Try these seven different ways to play Battleship.

7 Ways to Play the Game Battleship

My eight year old son has fallen in love with the game Battleship. We played it for math the other day, and have played it several times since. He’s been experimenting with strategy, and it’s so fun to watch!

A couple of the other kids want to play too, but they aren’t quite ready to understand the coordinate plane system. They struggled with getting the pegs in the right spot and figuring out where to put the red and white pegs.

So we started playing different ways. I’m discovering there’s way more to Battleship than first meets the eye.

You can use this game to work on fine motor skills, creativity, math, and more. Here’s eight different ways to play Battleship.

1. Making Letters

The pegs and grid in Battleship are awesome for practicing making letters. You can have your child:

  • Write his name
  • Make each letter individually, A-Z
  • Practice spelling words (if they’re short…)

Just hand your child one of the Battleship grids with several pegs. Then let them get busy making letters.

Here’s a name that one of my kids wrote–they decided to alternate red and white pegs to make each letter more distinct.

You can have your child make letters out of the Battleship pegs.

2. Pattern Play

There’s plenty of space on the Battleship grid to build a pattern. You can have young kids practice making a basic AB pattern (red, white, red, white) in rows. Older kids can create more complex patterns. Here are some ideas:

  • Alternate rows of red and white
  • Red, red, red, white, red, red, red, white
  • Diagonal patterns
  • Vertical patterns
  • White, white, red, red, white, white, red, red
  • Small letters repeating (hi hi hi hi hi)

You can have one child start a pattern and another continue it. Playing with patterns is great math practice!

3. Fine Motor Practice

For kids who need a little more practice with fine motor skills (but are old enough to not eat the pegs!), Battleship is the perfect peg board. You can either let your child put in pegs, or put them in and have your child take them out.

Since the pegs are small, it’ll really work those muscles!

Perhaps let your child try to beat the clock–put on a favorite song and see if she can pull all the pegs out before the end.

4. Ship Stories

My kids love playing with the ships and moving them around in the “water” of the board. Two of them will get together and sit for a long time arranging and telling stories about what each ship is doing.

They’ll use the pegs as people, and let them “steer” the ships around.

This is a great way to build creative writing skills!

5. Learning About the Different Ships

Perhaps it’s because my husband was in the Navy, but the kids are really interested in learning more about each ship. My husband explains what each ship is used for in the United States Navy, and then shares his own stories about his days on an aircraft carrier.

Even if you don’t have a sailor in your life, you can use the internet to discover more about each ships purpose. Let your child look up images of real life battleships, submarines, carriers, and all the other boats.

Talk about what’s on top of each ship. For instance, you can see the tower on the aircraft carrier, and the hatch on the submarine. You can discover what these are used for.

6. Coordinate Plane Practice

You can use Battleship to practice using the coordinate plane without actually playing a game. I’m doing this with my six-year-old to try and get her ready to play.

You’ll just need one board for this version. One person calls out a coordinate, and the other places a peg there.

Then switch.

You can add more directions as understanding increases:

“Place a red peg at B2, and a white one at J8.”

It’s a fun way to practice saying the letter first and then the number, and finding where the two intersect.

7. Counting Practice

Have your child put a peg in each hole on the bottom of the board. Then have them count how many pegs there are.

For beginning counters, they’ll just count each peg individually. Older ones can start to see strategies like:

  • Counting by tens
  • Multiplying

Do you have Battleship?

If you do, I encourage you to drag out your game and play one of these variations soon. They’re a lot of fun.

After all, getting more out of board games is a great way to ensure your collection doesn’t just sit and gather dust!

Do you play any other variations of this game? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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