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12 Fun Games to Play With Pen and Paper

Looking for games to play with pen and paper? We all find ourselves in times where it’s important to keep the kids quiet and we only have a few resources to do so. Well, these options are the perfect choices to entertain, bring on the laughs, and stimulate the mind.

Games to Play With Pen and Paper

Consider these waiting games, quick boredom busters, or just plain old fun activities to do during upcoming get-togethers with family and friends. And what do you need to get started? Just a pen and paper!

How do you entertain yourself with a pen and paper?

There are so many different games you can play with only a pen and paper. From strategy games to silly time passers, most times you really just need a napkin to get started! Don’t overthink it! All these iPads and computers have confused us into thinking we need so much more to have fun.

But we don’t. We just need a sense of humor and some time on our hands to pass.

What games can you play with a pen and paper?

We found 12 different games that you can play without plugging in or going online:

  1. Dots and Boxes
  2. Freehand drawing
  3. Tic Tac Toe
  4. Dictionary
  5. Mash
  6. Fortune Teller
  7. Paper Telephone
  8. Hangman
  9. Bulls and Cows
  10. Consequences
  11. Pangrams
  12. Word Ladders

No matter what situation you’re in, there’s a pen and paper game for every instance!

Dots and Boxes

I grew up playing this game! Start by drawing a grid of dots on a sheet of paper. You can select whatever grid size you’d want. A grid of six-by-six is suitable for younger children. Advanced players may want to use the entire sheet of paper.

Two or more players alternate with different colored pens or pencils and draw lines in the middle of dots. The object of the game is to create boxes while preventing their opponent from doing the same thing. You make a box by lining up four of your lines in a row.

When a player completes a block, he/she marks their initials in the center of the box. After connecting all the dots, the participant having the highest completed block wins the game.

Freehand drawing

The game allows you to express your creativity as you please. All you need is a pen and paper and you can start putting down your ideas as they enter your mind. Freehand drawing is actually quite therapeutic and I encourage my children to draw as often as possible. Looking for more drawing ideas?

Tic Tac Toe

The simple tic-tac-toe game is a two-player game using Xs and Os. The game begins with nine squares created by three rows and three columns.

A player starts by putting an X in a field. The next player writes an O in another space. The game carries on until three Xs or Os are in a row, or all space is filled.

It is not guaranteed that someone will win each round. More often than not you will find that a TIE will occur.

Related: 10 Quiet Games For Kids To Play That They Will Love


Like to draw? Looking to express yourself. Pictionary is a really fun game to play with friends and you really only need a pen and paper to do it.

First, cut up a few pieces of paper and write out some random words – things you want to draw. Make sure you list out a few dozen ideas to keep things fair.

Then, break out into teams and grab from the pile and get to work! When it’s your turn, pick a mystery word from the pile and start drawing without using any sounds or body motions. You only have 60 seconds to get as many drawings completed as possible. Every word guessed correctly gets your team a point!

Related: 12 Easy Card Games For Your Next Family Game Night


The game’s goal is to see into the future and represents all of my elementary school years.

You start out by writing M.A.S.H., to the top of your paper. These letters signify mansion, apartment, shack and house. Now, it’s time to create some categories and have some fun. Imagine the life you want to have. Anything goes!

Here are some categories you can consider:

  • Spouse Name
  • Profession
  • Car Type
  • Number of Kids
  • City I Will Live In
  • Dog I Will Own

You catch the drift. Write at least 4 answers under every category. But here is the catch. One answer has to be BAD. REALLY BAD. Like the worst of the worst!

Then, when you are done filling out your potential future, beginning from the M.A.S.H. at the top, the fortuneteller counts all entry and eliminates every fifth choice. This continues until only one option remains in every category.

When one item is left in every category – THAT is your future. When I tell you that we did this every single day of my life, believe me.

Related: 15 Fun Team Building Games For Kids That Important Teach Life Skills

Fortune Teller

Often called a cootie catcher, this Fortune Teller game is another absolute classic! My daughter still plays it TO THIS DAY. Simply fold the paper as shown in the video above and read the fortune of all your family and friends.

Make sure you include positive and negative options. The fortunes are only limited to the imagination of the creator.

Related: 10 Games To Play With Friends When Bored And Losing Your Mind

Paper Telephone

For Paper Telephone, you will need three or more people, each starting with a sheet of paper. Each player draws a picture at the upper part of the page, and pass it along to the next player. 

With this paper, everyone pens a sentence under the picture then folds over the top of the sheet so that only the caption is visible. 

The paper moves to the next player who then draws a picture to match the sentence—every player folds the sheet again so that only the image is visible and passes it on. 

This continues until there isn’t any more room and the players can open up the paper and be entertained! Does the last image or message MATCH the original intent? I love this!!

paper and pen games to play


Similar to Paper Telephone, Consequences is a group story telling game. The goal of this game is to complete a template story using your own characters, narratives, and plots. Everyone writes it together!

You do this by taking turns writing out bits and pieces of the story. Take turns reading what was written before you and then creatively adding to the plotline.

This is a great game to play with pen and paper because it stimulates the mind and gets those creative juices flowing!


Hangman is a guessing game that requires a minimum of two players. One player considers a word or sentence while the other players try to figure out that phrase by hinting some letter within a certain number of guesses.

Word Bulls & Cows

Each player creates a secret sequence of four numbers. The player’s alternately predicts the number using “Bulls” to signify the correct number of digits in the right place and “Cows” to represent correct numbers in the wrong place for each number guessed.

The game’s objective is to figure out the secret order using the least amount of rounds. It’s better to watch a game in action. Check out this video for full instructions.



The game is actually harder than you think. A pangram is a sentence using every letter of the alphabet at least once. Two players have to choose a TOPIC and then try to come up with a sentence before one another.

The sentence has to be grammatically correct, make sense, and FIT WITHIN the theme. For example, if your topic is about pirates, you can’t weave in anything about spaceships. That wouldn’t work historically.

This is a game of WIT and I can guarantee it will become a family favorite. Whip this idea out during long car rides to help pass the time.

Word Ladders

Also called Doublets – Word Ladders requires two players.

The players select a word having the same number of letters. Both players attempt to form a word ladder in the middle of the two words. The winner is the player that has the shortest ladder.

Basically, you are creating a series of words where only one letter changes with each step. Watch the tutorial for more instruction.

pen and paper games

There are plenty of options to do with friends when you don’t have WIFI and you only have some paper and a few pencils or pens. With just a little creativity and some time, you will be laughing in no time!

Which of these paper and pen games did you like the best?

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