15 fun games with only pen and paper for every age

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  April 25, 2021

A play theme in your mailbox every month?

Fun play tips, activity books and more, with the first email being our free mini-guide "educational toys"

We will only use your email address for this newsletter and respect you privacy

I enjoy writing these articles for my readers, you guys. I don't accept payment for writing reviews, my opinion on products is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something through one of the links I may be able to receive a commission on that. More information

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Imagine you are in a traffic jam with your family, your children are getting more and more impatient and you only have a pen and paper with you? Or are you simply looking for great games for a holiday?

If you think it would be fun and useful to get to know games that you can just play with your kids everywhere with just a pen and paper, then read on.

Teach your kids some fun games with pen and paper so they can entertain themselves, or play these games with the whole family.

Most fun games with only pen and paper

You always have a pen and paper somewhere in your handbag, or you may have it in the car.

You may also have had enough of all those computer games and online lessons, and would like your child to free his hands and head from the tension that sometimes entails.

Sometimes you want, perhaps at the campsite or at home, cozy an old-fashioned table game do, but they are not always available.

Then try a game, for which you only need a pen and paper. So grab a pen, a piece of paper and challenge your kids and friends!

Some of these pen and paper games to come by will be familiar to a number of parents.

And you know? Often your kids love them too, so introduce them to my favorite 'old-fashioned' games!

Do you have some more materials at your disposal to entertain your children? Then take a look at these 10 best Old Dutch games for children & their rules

Games with pen and paper for children aged 4-5 years

Children of this age can already draw well and enjoy playing games with a pen and paper.

I give you two fun games for this age category:

Close your eyes and draw game

In the Close your eyes and drawing game, you try to draw a familiar object by heart without looking at the paper and let the others guess.

Choose something simple, such as a house, a tree, or a person. Whoever gives the correct answer wins.

Noughts and crosses

Grids of two vertical and two horizontal lines are filled with an X or O as players take turns.

The goal is to have three marks in a row - horizontal, vertical or diagonal.

x
Toy reviews & comparisons

In the Butter, Cheese and Eggs game, your child will have to think carefully and develop a strategy.

These two games teach you to develop your 4- and 5-year-old sense of sportsmanship. They learn that winning doesn't always work, but sometimes it does! They also learn the basics of reasoning.

In this way your child learns to deal with disappointments, but also with the joy of a victory! Your child also uses his fine motor skills, which are important in learning to write.

In this age category comes a colorful set of triangle pencils always useful, because of the good grip for little ones.

Read also: Educational toys Toddlers child 4 years or 5 years | 9 educational options

Games with pen and paper for children aged 6-7 years

Children of this age can already write a little. So you could start with a word game like Hangman.

Hangman

Such a popular and - especially among parents - very well known game. Together with the family or with your friends, this is a very exciting word game to play!

A player puts the first letter of his chosen word on paper and a number of horizontal lines (where the missing letters will be placed) and the last letter.

The other players take turns guessing a letter. If it is in the word, it will be entered. If not, the gallows will be drawn.

Whoever guesses the word may then come up with a new word. If no one guesses before the gallows is ready, the player gets to think up a word again.

Here the game is explained simply:

guess the word

There is another version of hangman: Guess the word. A player thinks up a word and writes on a paper how many letters that word consists of (he puts horizontal lines on the paper, where the letters should be placed).

The other players have to guess a letter alternately. Is the letter in the word? Then it will be in the right place. Is he not in it? Then you lose one of your three lives.

Try to guess the word before you get through your lives.

Who am I?

Another fun game is Who am I? A classic game that is always fun.

Write the name of an (unknown) person on a note and stick it on the forehead of the other player. So you don't know who you are.

By taking turns asking a question, you try to discover which person is on your note. Whoever discovers it last in a group loses.

If you play with two people, the person who can guess the person first wins.

If you do not use too difficult words in these games, your 6-7 year old can participate and develop his vocabulary while writing. He also develops his logical thinking ability.

Triangle game

With the challenging Triangle game you teach your child not only geometric shapes, but also logical thinking and reasoning.

You need two different colored pens to play this two player game. Draw six dots in a hexagon (a six-sided geometric shape). Then draw lines between each dot in turn.

The goal is NOT to make a triangle. The first person whose line completes a triangle loses this game.

Read also: Best educational toys for school children 6, 7 or 8 years

Games with pen and paper for children aged 8-9 years

It becomes more and more fun to play games with your child as his general knowledge and vocabulary grows; the trick is to keep looking for a challenge.

The categories game

My absolute favorite, suitable for children in this age group, is the categories game.

Choose 10 categories (or more or less) and write them - next to each other with a little space in between - at the top of a paper.

Each player has their own paper and chooses a letter from the alphabet in turn. All players write a word in each category within a minute, starting with the chosen letter.

Each round the points of each player are added. You can agree in advance to play 10 rounds, for example. The player with the most points wins the game.

Try the following categories or choose your own: Fruits - Vegetables - Movies - Singers / bands - Animals - TV shows - Cars - Countries - Cities etc.

This game reminds me of my own school days! I played this with my classmates every day.

Advertising game

An enormously fun game is the Advertising Game; all players write on a piece of paper 'for sale', 'for rent', 'wanted' or 'offered'. You fold the note in half and give it to the player next to you.

On the note you receive, you write what is being sold, rented, searched or offered. For example 'a table' or 'my sister';).

Fold the note in half again and pass it on to the person next to you. On the new note you get, include something like 'not in perfect condition' or 'great'.

In the last round, you write a sum of money on the note.

At the end of the game, everyone opens their note and a very funny sentence comes out like: "Offered, my sister, great, for only € 2,50".

Phone game

In this age category I have another crazy writing game: the telephone game.

You need three or more people to play this game. Place an A4 sheet in front of each player.

You fold the papers into four or more compartments - one for each player. Everyone draws at the top of the paper and gives the paper to the left.

Then each player subscribes to their neighbor's picture and folds it over so that only the sentence can be seen.

The papers are passed again and the next player draws something that fits his neighbor's sentence. This continues until the paper is full.

The papers are then unfolded and everyone can read a hilarious story.

Writing, drawing, humor and relaxation is all covered with these games, your kids will enjoy!

Games with pen and paper for children aged 10-11 years

In this age group, children or pre-adolescents can write well, have a large vocabulary and calculate with numbers up to a million.

Most words

A fun word game to expand vocabulary and general knowledge - with a bit of time pressure - is 'most words'.

Everyone can take turns choosing a subject and a letter. For example, if the first player chooses 'sport and the letter V', everyone writes down as many words as possible on this topic, starting with the letter V.

Whoever has written the most correct words on paper wins. You must of course determine a time within which the words may be written.

Write absurd stories together

Two players write a long story together - of two A4 pages - without knowing what they are writing from each other.

The first player writes a line and then folds the piece of paper over so that the other cannot read what it says. So they continue their story until the two sheets are full.

It is helpful to number the lines to keep the story legible.

Word Square

A challenging game for two or more players on squared paper. Each player draws a four-by-four or five-by-five square on a piece of paper, making sure that the other players cannot see the square.

The players take turns calling out a letter. While each letter is called out, players must write the letter somewhere on their grid. The goal is to make as many four-letter words as possible.

All letters may be repeated more than once. When all boxes are full, the players count how many four-letter words they have made vertically, horizontally and diagonally. The player with the most words wins the game.

Here you can see the game visually explained again:

Dot and Stripe

Place a number of rows with dots on a sheet of squared paper, so that a square or rectangular grid is created. You and your opponent take turns placing a horizontal or vertical line between the dots.

The intention is to create as many squares as possible. If you put the finishing line, the square is yours!

You may place your initial in the boxes you have conquered. Whoever has the most squares at the end of the game wins.

Games with pen and paper for children aged 12 years

12-year-olds can beat adults with ease and really want more challenging games.
You no longer have to teach them to write or calculate, they are mainly looking for entertainment, competition and fun!

Pictionary

A fun game is Pictionary: divide the group of players in two and each write a number of words on pieces of paper. The papers all go into a tray and are well mixed together.

The first player then grabs a piece of paper and has to try to copy the word. The players from his team must guess which word is being drawn.

If the word is guessed within the agreed time (for example, 30 seconds or one minute), this team gets one point.

Sea battle on paper

Sea battle on paper is also a great game for two in this age group. You may know this as a game in a box, but it can also be played well with pen and paper.

Players start by drawing two grids of ten vertical and ten horizontal lines on two separate sheets of paper. The horizontal side of the grid always contains the letters and the vertical side always contains the numbers.

On one of the sheets, each player draws rectangles representing a fleet of ships without showing it to the other player.

On the other sheet, hits in the other grid are marked with an X and misses with an O.

The ships must be placed horizontally, vertically or diagonally on the squares / squares.

Each player's fleet consists of:

Each player takes turns firing a burst of 7 shots, naming possible locations of the other player's ships, for example E1, A7, D5 and so on.

The opponent must indicate the number of hits and the type of ship, but not which shots were the hits and which the misses.

Once all the boxes on a ship have been discovered, a player must say, "You have sunk (for example) my battleship."

The goal is to be the first to sink all of your opponent's ships.

Here's a video explaining it all:

To make the game easier when younger brothers or sisters are playing, you can make the grid smaller, play with fewer ships or only fire one shot per turn.

With some games different colored pens are useful, which you can also buy in a handy set of Bic with colored pens.

Have you gained enough inspiration?

Even though we live in an age where technology has the upper hand and entertainment is really everywhere, there are – fortunately – times when we want to play an old-fashioned game where we use the PC, the children's tablet and do not use the smartphone for a while.

Hopefully you have been able to find a number of games that appeal to your child. Perhaps you can make variations to make a game easier or more difficult.

With these simple pen and paper games, for home, in a traffic jam in the car, or for traveling, your child will have a great time and so will you!

With these games we rediscover that in a simple way - with just pen and paper - we can also have fun, with the family, the relatives or with friends.

These games often work well as icebreakers at children's parties or in the classroom.

Is it bedtime in the meantime? Be here the 10 best games to calm them down before going to sleep

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Speelkeuze.nl is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child, he came into contact with everything around games when his mother started the Tin Soldier in Ede. Since 2016, he and his team have been creating helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.