How to Make a DIY Painted Rock Noughts and Crosses Game Your Kids Will LOVE! {with step-by-step tutorial}

Noughts and crosses (a.k.a. tic tac toe) is such a classic game, and great fun for both kids and adults.

And who doesn't love fun painted rock ideas?

This DIY wooden board with its cute ladybird and rainbow themed painted rock counters is the perfect way to take the game outside.

The Importance of Playing Games with Kids

It's so easy to leave our kids to their own devices, especially as they get older, but playing games together is a vital way to teach important skills as well as a fun family activity.

In fact, playing games together as a family is one of the most valuable activities you can do with your kids.

It teaches them the importance of turn-taking, how to win or lose gracefully (yep, still working on that one with ours!), patience and co-operation.

Noughts and crosses is a deceptively simple and fun game that both defies age restrictions and stands the test of time.

Playing noughts and crosses teaches even the youngest children great skills such as logic and problem-solving.

Combining these skills with anticipating your opponent's moves is a great way to develop strategic thinking, a key developmental skill for kids.

But noughts and crosses isn't just for the littlies, it can be enjoyed by older kids and their grown-ups too.

Of course, with a pencil and a piece of paper noughts and crosses can be played anytime, anywhere but making this fun board will bring the game to your garden, ready to play whenever you fancy.

Not only is this a fun project, but it also helps take the game outside into the sunshine.

What could be more fun?

Can Kids Make this DIY Noughts and Crosses Board Craft?

Yes! Children can be involved in every aspect of this craft.

The fun rock painting element of this DIY craft idea means kids can help to make the game pieces too.

Then when they are learning those all-important logic, co-ordination, visual and motor skills they can play with beautifully decorated counters they made themselves.

In fact, older kids will enjoy the whole process from hunting for rocks then painting them as gorgeous rainbows and ladybirds.

They can then help to make the board (great measuring skills work!) right through to learning the rules of noughts and crosses and some all-important strategies.

We loved the process of making this board as much as we do playing with it!

It was a great project to get all the family involved as kids of all ages can play their part in its creation.

And you will have a lovely keepsake of your time crafting together, as well as a fun game to play.

What Rocks Do We Need?

You can collect the pebbles for this game yourselves too, which makes a fun family outing as well.

Just show your kids that the flatter pebbles will be better for this game than more jagged ones.

But ultimately, it doesn't really matter which rocks they pick up as most shapes will work.

They may even want to put their initial on the back of the rock they collected and painted to help them remember.

You will need 10 rocks, ideally of a similar size and shape.

How to Paint the Noughts and Crosses Rocks

It's best to wash the stones first and leave them to dry thoroughly before painting - if the children can wait that long!

Put the rocks on newspaper and let the kids paint them by themselves, just make sure you apply enough coats of paint to cover up any blemished bits.

Let each coat dry before applying more paint until you are satisified with the depth of colour.

A wide, flat paint brush works best for applying the base colour.

We painted half the stones red to be turned into ladybirds and half a sky blue ready to have rainbows painted on them.

Don't forget to paint the bottoms of the stones too as this is where you will paint the nought and cross symbols.

Leave to dry overnight, then add the rainbow and ladybird details the next day, followed by a nought on the back of the red rocks and a cross on the back of the blue rocks.

If you want to prevent the paint scratching or chipping, spray a light layer of Mod Podge over each rock.

Once your board is made and the rocks are fully dry, you’re ready to head outside and play!

DIY Painted Rock Noughts and Crosses Game

This DIY painted rock noughts and crosses board and game pieces is a fun craft activity for kids and parents to make together.

The rocks are fun to make together and the robust DIY wooden board will last forever!

So the whole family can work together to create a fun game you'll have to play with for years to come.

Here's how to make the DIY painted rock noughts and crosses game.

How to Make a DIY Painted Rock Noughts and Crosses Game


Here are all the materials you'll need:

Square piece of wood, e.g from a pallet
Wood screws
Ruler or measuring tape
Masking tape / painters tape
Clear acrylic sealer or varnish, we used Mod Podge
Acrylic paint (we used white, black, teal, red, light blue, dark blue, red, orange, yellow, green, dark purple, light purple)
Paper plate or paint palette to mix paint in
Selection of brushes, especially a Flat paint brush and a Fine paint brush
10 smooth pebbles or rocks, approximately the same size
Acrylic paint marker pens for kids to add the rainbow detail


1. To make your noughts and crosses board, cut three pieces of pallet wood down to 10” each.

2. Cut two additional pieces down to 10” long, and 2” wide.

3. Lay the three pieces you cut first down side by side. Lay the last two pieces across the back of them, with one at the top, and one at the bottom.

4. Use the wood screws and drill to attach the two boards together.

5. Sand the top and sides of your board until smooth to the touch.

6. Use the wood stain marker to colour only the outer sides of the noughts and crosses board, leaving the top unfinished.

7. Once the stain is dry, begin painting the top of the board with white acrylic paint. Leave to dry.

8. Once the white paint is completely dry, use the dry brush method to apply a very small amount of teal paint to the top for a distressed look.

9. While the board is drying, begin painting your rocks.

10. Start by painting five of the rocks red on the top.

11. While the red rocks are drying, paint the other five rocks light blue on the top. Set aside to dry.

12. While the rocks are drying, begin applying masking tape / painters tape to the board in order to make your 9 squares. Measure 3 ¼” and apply one line of masking tape.

13. Measure ½” from the painters tape, and apply another line of painters tape.

14. Starting from the other side of the board, repeat this process by measuring 3 ¼”, and then ½” and applying painters tape.

15. Make sure the tape is pressed down well, then begin painting your lines with black paint.

16. Once finished painting, begin removing the painters tape. If your lines bled through the tape, wait until it is dry, and then go over with white paint. Set aside to let the first set of lines dry.

17. Flip your rocks over, and now paint the other sides of them red and blue. While they are drying, you can finish painting the lines on your board.

18. Turn the board sideways and repeat steps 12 to 16 to create the intersecting lines that make the nine separate squares.

19. Once you have repeated the steps, set your board aside to dry completely while you finish your rocks.

20. Begin painting ladybirds on the top of the red rocks with black paint.

21. While they are drying, begin painting a rainbow on the top of each light blue rock.

22. Leave the rocks to dry completely.

23. Flip the red rocks over, and paint an “O” on the bottom of each red ladybird rock.

24. Paint an “X” on the bottom of each rainbow rock. Let dry completely.

25. In a well ventilated area, ideally outdoors, spray the noughts and crosses board, and the top and bottom of each of the rocks, making sure the top is completely dry before turning onto the bottom.

26. Once all materials are completely dry, you are ready to play noughts and crosses!

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