There is so much fun you can have with just a pen and paper. When the kids are bored, waiting for food at a restaurant or travelling on a long journey it can be a game changer to have some of these simple pen and paper games up your sleeve.
As a child one of my favourite activities was making up little games with pen and paper; writing lists, colouring, designing and more.
In this post we will share a few ideas with you, with a list of ten classic pen and pencil games for kids.
These days kids are very into electronic devices so is always interesting to see how they interact and entertain themselves with the old pen and paper.
If you find yourself stuck trying to keep the kids busy, they can create their own fun games with pen and paper.
Some of these games can be played alone, and some are best with two or more players.
Here are a few of our favourite games to play with a pen a paper:
Noughts and Crosses
Draw a grid with 9 spaces 3 x 3, then take it in turns to fill in a space with either a 0 or a X
First to get three in a row wins.
To mix it up, you can choose different symbols, so rather than 0 and X you could draw hearts and stars. It’s up to you!
Hangman is one of my kids favorites.
One player picks a word then draw the number of spaces according to how many letters are in the word.
Other players take it in turns to guess a letter, and see if you can complete the word and guess it correctly before the hangman is drawn.
Design a Maze
This pencil and paper game involves one player designing their own maze and then pass to the other player to draw the routes on to it from start to finish, and see if they can find their way to the centre of the maze.
You might also like our greek labyrinth maze craft idea
Create your own Word Search
A game that will keep kids busy for a pretty long time is to create their own word search.
This can be fun for the whole family during a long road trip. They can ask their family or friends to complete so that they can give them a score.
Draw a grid on paper (you will want to use a ruler) and pick the theme for your words. Write the words into the squares of the word search, then fill in the extra spaces.
Fun tip – hide a secret message in the left over squares!
Pen and Paper Wordle
Wordle has been so popular this year! If your family enjoys this game, you can also play with a some coloured pencils and paper.
The challenger picks a five letter word and keeps it secret and draws 6 rows of 5 boxes to mark the progress of the guesses.
The next player has to guess a five letter word.
The challenger must then fill in the first row to indicate how many letters are correct, and in the correct place.
Green – correct letter correct place
Yellow – correct letter wrong place
Red (or you can use white) – letter is not in the word
With the coloured results, the player must make their next guess.
Continue until all six rows are completed, or the player guesses the word.
Create Your Own Road Map
Another fantastic idea is to create a little road map.
You can stuck a few sheets of paper together and let the kids use their imagination or use their surrounding landscape as a guide.
They can also create variations of the map such as a pirate treasure map, of course with X marks the spot. Kids of all ages will find it really fun to add in all the extra details.
Make Your Own Top Trumps Cards
Cut your A4 paper into quarters and make top trumps style score cards for various characters or animals
Chose categories like speed, power, agility, stealthiness or whatever you like.
Then play the game by picking a category to challenge the other player.
You could also make your own Match Attax cards
Design a Person Paper Folding Game
This was a classic 90s party game. Everyone draws a bit of the person and folds the paper down before passing to the next person to continue.
You need to decide and agree in advance what everyone will draw on each round for example
- Head and hair
- Upper body
- Middle body
- Lower body
That way each of the pictures will still make sense when unfolded.
This game is also known by the name “consequence”
Writing silly sentences
This is lots of fun, and also great for literacy skills. Practice writing sentences and making up a story, the sillier the better!
You can also take turns passing the story to each other to continue the story.
Design a House
Draw your own floor plan, for your dream house.
This one is lots of fun, you can get imaginative with all kinds of rooms and layouts that you would enjoy.
If you have an Argos catalogue or some magazines to hand then the kids can cut out furniture or room designs and glue them on to make a collage too.
Draw something and guess what it is
More Fun and Games for On The Go
You might also like our free printables and road trip ideas for kids
- Road Trip I-SPY Printable Game for Kids
- Road Trip Printables for Kids
- Keeping Kids Entertained in the Car Travel Printables for Kids
- Travel Bingo Free Printable Game for Kids
- Printable Dress Up Dolls From Around The World with 32 National Costumes
Anna Marikar, mum of four and seasoned blogger, has spent over a decade sharing her parenting journey and passion for kid-friendly crafts and free printables.
Her easy-to-follow craft ideas and practical parenting advice have transformed In The Playroom into a cherished resource for parents.