Fun Games to Play on Paper for Kids

Remember the simpler times when all we had was paper and pencils to keep ourselves busy? That’s right, no phones, no tablets and most didn’t even have a computer! I know, how did we survive! Well I’m stubborn and continue to encourage my kids with games to play on paper. 

I’m not talking about just crafts. You may recall my grand confession of being a non-crafty mom! I’m talking about diy games with paper that are simple and can really keep kids occupied for a while. What more can a mom ask for?

Parents can always use different indoor activities and things to do while waiting such as at a doctor’s office or while on a road trip. Many are two players, easy pencil games. So let’s go back to basics and check out how to make fun games with paper. 

Fun Paper Games for Kids

1. Make Cryptograms

I have detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures on how to make a cryptogram in this post!  A cryptogram is a type of puzzle that consists of a short piece of encrypted text. Generally its the answer to a clue, a question or a joke that can only be answered by solving the ‘code’.

My kids love making these. I think it makes them feel like little detectives trying to solve a puzzle or a clue. Their favorite thing to do is tell a joke using the easy alphabet coding system. The punchline can only be discovered by solving the code!

They have made several cryptograms in one setting and love making them for mom and dad and even the grandparents to solve. The kids have even incorporated cryptograms into our birthday cards to make them more interesting.

a cryptogram puzzle that is a joke that needs to be solved

2. Create a Scavenger Hunt

What we typically do on birthdays is create a series of clues and place them around the house. The birthday child follows each clue to get from one point to another, until they figure out where their birthday present is hiding and waiting for them to discover.

They absolutely love this added piece of excitement on their birthdays. On a regular day, the kids can hide an object like a stuffed animal and try to write their own series of clues.  Its especially funny when you use your own family quirks to place a location. For example, one clue might be: go to the place where dad always leaves his socks. Or go to the spot where mom likes to hide from us for a break. Yes, I have a known spot!

Scavenger hunts can be a lot of fun and making clues for each other can really get kids excited to play the game.

3. Make a Cootie Catcher (aka Fortune Tellers)

Once kids learn how to properly fold cootie catchers, they love making their own fun responses when you pick the corresponding colors and numbers. Sometimes it can be a dare, sometimes it can be a interesting fact, and sometimes it’s a command that can be a bit rude – we tried to put a stop to that! Otherwise it’s another creative way to sit and have fun with paper activities and have a good laugh.

Here are step by step instructions on how to properly fold a cootie catcher:

4. Make Simple Bingo Cards

Check out our free neighborhood bingo walk cards and free printable template! With all the time we spent at home together, we really tried to get out for regular family walks. Eventually the kids started whining that the walks were getting boring.

So we decided to create neighborhood bingo cards.  On each card we would write various different things we would see on houses and in the area as we walked around such as a house with a black door, a driveway with a pick-up truck (you can get more specific like the kind of truck it has to be to make it more challenging).

neighborhood walk bingo cards

Everyone would have a different card and whoever found everything listed on their card first would win. You can also make cards related to things you would find around the house, the backyard etc.

Now these bingo cards do have a scavenger hunt component to them, but you can definitely make cards closer to the traditional type where you have to pull the corresponding square out of a bag to be able to mark it off.

Here are some ideas of things you can put on a bingo card other than traditional numbers:

  • Fun facts about each other and people you know – you would write everybody’s name on the answer key and have to place it on the correct square
  • Things about a sport you love to play or watch
  • Your favorite foods or treats
  • Presents you would like for your birthday or Christmas
  • Use simple math equations to fill the squares on the card and only call out the answers

There are a lot of possibilities. Ask the kids to brainstorm their own ideas of how to fill their bingo cards.

5. Make Word Games

It can be fun making your own puzzles to try to stump other people with. You get to pick your own theme, select the words and start hiding them by writing them out backwards and diagonally. Then fill in the area surrounding the words with random letters and you are all set!

Word scramblers are also fun. Simply try to scramble up words and have someone try to figure the words out.

6. Pictionary

There are several different drawing games kids can play. Pictionary is a fun and popular game where one person tries to draw something and the others have to guess what it is.

Other drawing games include:

  • drawing a picture while never lifting the pen off of the paper
  • drawing a picture with the opposite hand you are used to using
  • taking turns drawing different parts to a picture
  • drawing while blindfolded

They may not turn out to be masterpieces, but it will keep them busy and give them a few laughs!

7. Fold Paper Airplanes

There can be a lot more to folding paper airplanes than I knew of! It wasn’t until my son received an airplane flying kit that I learned that there were so many ways an airplane could be folded and how it affects the distance it can fly.

Its great for kids to experiment with different folding techniques and race their planes.

Traditional Pen and Paper Games

8. Tic-Tac-Toe

This tic-tac-toe game is a two-player game using Xs and Os. The game begins by making a grid with nine squares formed by three rows and three columns.

The first player starts by putting an X or O in a section. The next player writes the opposite letter in another space. The objective is to get three Xs or Os are in a row.  Quite often it ends up being a draw where neither play wins. We used to call it the Cat’s game! But if you catch the other player off guard, you can definitely get your 3 in a row.

Tic Tac Toe

9. Hangman

Hangman is a guessing game. One player thinks of a word that can be anything ranging from an object to a name of a favorite movie or show. You can really pick any theme you like. The other player tries to figure out that phrase by saying a letter within a certain number of guesses. Each time a letter is guessed incorrectly, a body part is drawn to create a figure of a man.

hangman on chalkboard

If a full figure is drawn and the right guess hasn’t been made, then the player loses that round.

10. Squares

Start by drawing a grid of dots on a sheet of paper. You can select whatever grid size you want.  I like to draw around 12 to 15 rows of 15 dots each. You should try to space the dots at least half an inch apart.

Two or more players take turns drawing lines from one dot to another, horizontally or vertically. The object of the game is to form squares while preventing their opponent from doing the same thing.

an example of playing squares

When a player completes the lines that form a square of box, the player marks their initials in the center of the box. After connecting all the dots, the player having the highest number of completed squares wins the game.

Fun Games to Play on Paper for Kids

There are many paper games for kids to entertain themselves with that just require pencil and paper. These free games will keep the kids busy without screens and having fun.

Paper games are great for kids of all ages, make great party games for kids, and are also perfect for a family game night. 

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