As a parent or caregiver, it can be challenging to keep children entertained and engaged without resorting to screen time. Fortunately, there are many classic games that require nothing more than a pen and paper to play. The whole family will enjoy playing these fun pen and paper games for kids.
Pen and Paper Games for Kids
These games not only provide hours of fun for kids but can also help them develop critical thinking, creativity, and social skills. Whether you’re looking for a fun way to pass the time on a rainy day or a screen-free activity for a family road trip, these games are sure to be a hit with kids of all ages.
When we are traveling and in a hotel room or we just want a fun family game night the easy thing to do is to turn to old school fun. Paper and pen games are an easy way to have so much fun with the whole family involved. If you have a group of kids looking for some fun these games are great for older children and younger kids.
Playing a simple paper game is a great way to keep kids entertained without needing to bring board games or an electronic device. Paper and pencil games is another name for these fun games that are also quick boredom busters for kids when you are on the go.
What are paper and pen games?
Paper and pen games are games that can be played using only a pen or pencil and a piece of paper. They’re often simple, classic games that have been enjoyed for generations. Many games are two-player games but there are other games that are perfect for the whole family to enjoy together.
What are the benefits of playing paper and pen games?
- Screen-free activity. Playing paper and pen games provides a break from screens and electronic devices, which is especially important in today’s technology-driven world.
- Develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Many paper and pen games require players to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills, such as logic and strategy, to win the game.
- Sparks creativity. Some paper and pen games, such as Pictionary, require players to use their imagination and creativity to come up with ideas or drawings.
- Promotes social skills. Playing paper and pen games can improve social skills by promoting communication, cooperation, and teamwork between players.
- Easy to learn and play. Many paper and pen games are simple and easy to learn, making them accessible to players of all ages and abilities.
- Inexpensive. Paper and pen games are often inexpensive or even free to play, making them a great option for families on a budget.
- Portable. Most paper and pen games require minimal materials and can be played almost anywhere, making them a great option for on-the-go entertainment.
- Improves handwriting and fine motor skills. Writing and drawing in paper and pen games can help improve handwriting and fine motor skills, especially in younger children.
- Provides a break from academic work. Playing paper and pen games can provide a break from academic work while still promoting learning and skill development.
- Builds family memories. Paper and pen games can be a fun and memorable way to spend time with family and friends, creating lasting memories and strengthening relationships.
- Helps with spelling. When kids are playing word games it helps them learn how to spell words.
Pen and Paper Games to Play with Kids
There are many paper and pen games to play with kids. All you need is a pen or pencil and pieces of paper and the fun will get started. There are many games that you can play with the kids, but this list of simple paper games that are my kid’s favorite games to play. I hope you and your family love playing these easy and fun games as much as my house does.
Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe is a fun and simple game that can be played almost anywhere with just a piece of paper and a pen. It is a classic paper and pen game that is easy to learn and can be played by people of all ages. This popular game is one that many kids already know how to play and has been a favorite for kids of all ages.
How to Play Tic Tac Toe
- Draw a tic tac toe grid. On a piece of paper, draw a 3×3 grid with two vertical and two horizontal lines, creating nine squares in total.
- Choose your symbol. One player chooses to be X, and the other player chooses to be O.
- Decide who goes first. Players can flip a coin, play rock-paper-scissors, or any other method to decide who will be the first person to play.
- Take turns placing your symbol. Players take turns placing their symbol in one of the empty squares on the grid.
- Try to get three in a row. The goal is to get three of your symbols in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally before the other player does.
- Block your opponent. If your opponent has two symbols in a row, try to block them by placing your symbol in the third empty square in that row.
- Continue until someone wins. Players continue taking turns until one player gets three in a row in either vertical lines, horizontal lines, diagonal lines, or all nine squares are filled. If all nine squares are filled and no one has three in a row, the game is a tie.
- Play again. Players can play again to try to win another game.
Hangman is a classic paper and pen game that is fun and educational. The object of the game is to guess the word that one person has picked. Hangman is a great game for improving spelling and vocabulary skills, as well as developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. You can make this game more challenging by using common phrases instead of just words.
How to Play Hangman
- One player thinks of a word. One player thinks of a word and writes down a row of dashes on a piece of paper, with each dash representing a letter in the word.
- The other player guesses a letter of the alphabet. The other player starts by guessing a letter that might be in the word.
- Mark the guessed letter. If the guessed letter is in the word, the player who thought of the word writes the letter of the word in the appropriate blank spaces. If the guessed letter is not in the word and an incorrect letter, the player draws a body part of a hangman, such as a head or body, on the paper.
- Keep guessing and marking letters. The second player continues guessing letters one at a time, and the first player keeps marking the correct letters on the paper or adding to the hangman when there are incorrect guesses for the letters until the word is completed or the hangman is fully drawn.
- The game ends. The game ends when the word is completed or when the hangman is fully drawn.
- Play again. Players can switch roles and play again with a new word.
Dots and Boxes
Playing Dot Game is a great way to develop critical thinking and strategy skills, as well as hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It’s a fun game for kids and adults of all ages and can be played anywhere with just a piece of paper and some pens or pencils.
How to Play Dots and Boxes
- Draw a grid of dots on a sheet of paper, with whatever grid size you want. A 6×6 grid is suitable for younger children, while advanced players may want to use the entire sheet of paper.
- Two or more players take turns using different colored pens or pencils to draw lines in the middle of the dots. The goal is to create boxes while preventing your opponent from doing the same thing.
- To create a box, a player must line up four of their lines in a row.
- When a player completes a box, they mark their initials in the center of the box.
- After all the dots are connected and all possible boxes are completed, the player with the most completed boxes wins the game.
Word Ladder is a game where players try to change one word into another word by changing one letter using the letters of the alphabet at a time. For example, you might try to change the word “cat” into the word “dog” by changing the “c” to a “d” and the “t” to a “g.” The catch is that each new word you make must be a valid English word.
How to Play Word Ladder
- Choose two words. The first step is to choose two words. One will be the starting word, and the other will be the target word. Make sure they are both valid English words.
- Write the starting word. Write the starting word at the top of your paper. This will be the first word in your Word Ladder.
- Draw the ladder. Draw a ladder shape underneath the starting word. The ladder should have as many rungs as the number of letters in the starting word.
- Write the target word. Write the target word at the bottom of the ladder. This is the word you want to change the starting word into.
- Step 5: Change one letter
- Starting with the first letter of the starting word, change one letter at a time to create a new word. Write each new word on a rung of the ladder.
- Use valid English words. Make sure that each new word you create is a valid English word. You can use a dictionary to check if you’re not sure.
- Continue until you reach the target word. Continue changing one letter at a time until you reach the target word. Each new word should be written on a rung of the ladder.
If you are looking for a great family fun game Pictionary is a great option to play with friends and family. Pictionary is a game where one player draws a picture while the other players try to guess what the picture represents. The player who guesses correctly earns points, and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins. The board game version of this game is one of my kid’s favorites, but since we can not pack it up and bring it with us the easy pen and paper version is one we love when on the road.
How to Play Pictionary
- Divide into teams. Divide the players into two teams, you can play this as a two-player game or with a group of people. Each team will take turns drawing and guessing.
- Choose a category. Choose a category for the game, such as animals, food, or famous people.
- Choose a starting player. Choose a starting player for the first round.
- Draw a word. The starting player chooses a word from the category and draws a picture to represent it. They have 60 seconds to draw the picture.
- Guess the word. The other players on the starting player’s team try to guess what the word is. They have 60 seconds to make as many guesses as they want.
- Switch teams. After the person who started has finished drawing it is time for the next person to go and pick a word to draw. Continue playing until you have a winner who has reached 10 correct guesses and they are the winner.
- Keep score. Keep track of how many words each team guesses correctly. The team with the most correct guesses at the end of the game wins.
- Add challenges. If you want to make the game more challenging, you can add rules such as no speaking, no gestures, or only using a certain color pen.
Battleship is a game where two players place their battleships on a grid and take turns trying to sink each other’s ships by calling out coordinates. The player who sinks all of their opponent’s ships first wins.
How to play Battleship
- Set up the grid. Each player should draw a grid on their paper. The grid should have ten rows and ten columns. Label the rows with letters (A-J) and the columns with numbers (1-10).
- Place your ships. Each player should place their ships on their grid. There are five ships in total: one battleship (4 spaces), one cruiser (3 spaces), one submarine (3 spaces), one destroyer (2 spaces), and one patrol boat (2 spaces). The ships can be placed horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally.
- Take turns calling out coordinates. Players take turns calling out coordinates, trying to hit their opponent’s ships. For example, a player might call out “B4” or “F8”.
- Mark your hits and misses. If a player hits an opponent’s ship, they should mark it on their own grid with an “X”. If they miss, they should mark it with an “O”. The opponent should also mark their own grid with an “X” or “O” to keep track of which spaces have been hit.
- Sink your opponent’s ships. If a player hits all of the spaces occupied by one of their opponent’s ships, they should announce that they have sunk the ship. The opponent should then mark their own grid with an “S” to indicate that the ship has been sunk.
- Keep playing until one player wins and has sunk the other opponents ships. Players take turns calling out coordinates and trying to sink each other’s ships until one player has sunk all of their opponent’s ships. The player who sinks all of their opponent’s ships first wins.
Categories is a game where players take turns coming up with items that belong to a certain category. The game is played with a piece of paper and a pen, and it’s a great way to pass the time and have fun with friends and family.
How to Play Categories
- Choose a category. The first player should choose a category, such as fruits, animals, movies, or cities. The category should be something that has many options so that the game can continue for multiple rounds.
- Set a time limit. The players should agree on a time limit for each round. A typical time limit is one minute, but it can be adjusted depending on the group’s preferences.
- Start the game. The first player should start the game by saying an item that belongs to the chosen category. For example, if the category is fruits, the player could say “apple.”
- Pass the turn. After the first player has said their item, the turn should be passed to the next player, who should say a different item that belongs to the category. The players should continue taking turns until the time limit is up.
- Cross out repeated items. If a player says an item that has already been said, that item should be crossed out on the paper. The players should keep track of the repeated items to ensure that they’re not used again in future rounds.
- Score the round. After the time limit is up, the players should count the number of unique items that were said. Each unique item is worth one point, and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
- Start a new round. The next player should choose a new category for the next round, and the game should continue with the same rules.
MASH stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House, and it’s a game where players predict their future living situation, job, spouse, and other aspects of their life. The game is played with a piece of paper and a pen and is a fun way to pass the time.
How to Play MASH
Draw the game board. Each player should draw a game board on their piece of paper. The game board should have four categories: living situation, job, spouse, and car. Each category should have four options, with one of them being MASH.
Choose your options. The players should take turns choosing options for each category. For example, under the living situation category, the options could be mansion, apartment, shack, or house. In the job spot it can be any job from blogger, fast food worker to engineer. In the spouse spot, it can be people that you know or the name of a famous person.
Draw a spiral. After all the options have been chosen, one player should draw a spiral on their paper. The spiral should start in the center of the paper and spiral outward towards the edge.
Count the lines. The player who drew the spiral should count the number of lines in the spiral. This number will be used to determine which options will be eliminated.
Start eliminating options. Starting with the MASH option, the player should count the number of options in each category and cross out every n +1 option, where n is the number of lines in the spiral. For example, if there are four options in a category and the spiral has five lines, the player should cross out every second option.
Repeat until one option is left in each category. Players should continue crossing out options until only one option is left in each category. These will be the predictions for their future living situation, job, spouse, and car.
Reveal your future. Each player should reveal their predictions and have a good laugh with friends and family.
The fortune teller paper game, also known as a cootie catcher, is a popular paper game for kids. It’s typically played by folding a square piece of paper into a fortune teller shape and writing various fortunes and colors on the inside flaps. The game is often played for fun, and kids enjoy creating their own fortunes to write on the inside of the flaps. The game can be played with any number of players, and it’s a great way to pass the time during a long car ride or at a sleepover.
How to Play Fortune Teller
- Start with a square piece of paper. To make a fortune teller, you will need a square piece of paper.
- Fold the paper. Fold the paper in half diagonally to make a crease, then unfold.
- Fold the paper in half the other way. Fold the paper in half diagonally the other way to make a crease, then unfold.
- Fold the corners. Fold each of the four corners of the paper into the center of the paper, so the corners meet in the middle.
- Flip the paper over. Flip the paper over so the folded edges are on the bottom.
- Fold the corners again. Fold each of the four corners into the center of the paper again, so the corners meet in the middle.
- Write fortunes. Open up each of the four flaps and write a fortune on the inside. Be creative and have fun with it!
- Add numbers. Under each fortune, write a number on the inside flap. The numbers should correspond with the number of flaps on the fortune teller (1-8).
- Play the game. To play, have someone choose a number from 1-8. Then, move the fortune teller back and forth as you spell out the chosen number. For example, if the chosen number is 5, move the fortune teller back and forth five times while saying “One, two, three, four, five”.
- Choose a color. Then, have the person choose a color from the visible colors on the fortune teller.
- Move the fortune teller again. Move the fortune teller back and forth for each letter of the chosen color, saying the letter out loud.
- Pick a flap. Finally, have the person pick one of the flaps that are visible, revealing the fortune and reading it out loud.
Unscramble is a classic pen and paper game that challenges your vocabulary and word unscrambling skills. It’s a great game to play with friends or family, and it’s also a fun way to exercise your brain. In this blog post, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to play Unscramble with a pen and paper.
How to Play Unscramble
- Start by choosing a word. This can be done by one person or by everyone taking turns choosing a word.
- Write the chosen word at the top of the page.
- Below the word, write out all the letters of the word in a scrambled order.
- Give all players a set amount of time, such as one or two minutes, to unscramble the letters and form as many words as possible.
- When time is up, players take turns reading out the words they have unscrambled. Any word that is a valid English word and uses all the letters of the original word can be counted. However, proper nouns and abbreviations are not allowed.
- Each valid word counts as one point, and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.