Shisima – A Cool Math Game from Kenya

This game comes from Kenya, a country in East Africa. It is called Shisima (which means “body of water,”) because the center of the game board is the “water” and they call the game pieces impalavali (which means “water bugs”). The reason for this is that water bugs move very quickly, and it’s hard to keep track of where they are. Likewise, Shisima players move their pieces so quickly, it’s hard to keep up!

To Set Up the Game:

Each player has three game pieces (a different color for each player).  The game pieces are then set on three consecutive points of the octagon, across from each other.

To Play Shisima:

Players take turns moving their game pieces one space. A move must be to an adjacent corner, or to the center (shisima). Jumping pieces is not allowed, and there cannot be two pieces on the same space.

To Win:

To win the game, a player must get three of their pieces in a row, including one piece on the shisima. (Therefore, there are four possible ways to win the game).

Check out this template and instruction sheet made by!