10 paper-and-pen games

10 paper-and-pen games

Everyone gets bored at least once a day, if not more. You may be stuck in a place with nothing to do to entertain yourself and very limited resources to make up a game. Or at least something to hold your attention for longer than two minutes.

So, we have compiled a list of common and not so common games you can play with just a regular pen and a piece of paper. Keep in mind these games will require a friend to play them.




Everyone knows and loves the classic hangman but here’s a recap if you’ve forgotten.

  1. The first player thinks of a word (the crazier the better!!)

and adds dashes in place of the letters. (If you are playing with younger kids you might like to put dots under the dashes where the vowels are to make it a bit easier.)


        2. Then player two begins to choose letters that they think are in the word. (This starts random and then gets more controlled as the game progress if you don’t have a strategy.)

        3. If the player guesses a letter that is in your word add it above the dash where it occurs in the word. Make sure to add the letter to all the dashes that it occurs.

        4. But if the player guesses a letter that isn’t in the word, then you start to draw this picture line by line until you get the finished product: 



Play online here

Connect 4

This one might not be as common as Hangman, but it is still great to play.

  1. Draw up a grid (5×5 or more)

       2. Then either using two colours (or X and O) start at the bottom of the grid and move upward. 

       3. Be the first person to get four in a row either vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

Play online here


Dots and boxes 

Dots and boxes is another fun one to play with your friends. This game is sometimes known as ‘Squares’.

  1. Draw a grid of dots (5×5 or more)         
  2. Each player chooses a colour (or you could draw a different type of line each). Take it in turns connecting the dots that are next to each other with a straight line. 


      3. You aim to be the last person to add a line to complete a box. 


      4. Put your initial (or your number) in the box to mark it as yours.

      5. The winner is the person with the most boxes marked with their symbol once all the dots have been connected. 

Play online here



You have probably heard of the popular board game ‘Pictionary’ but if you just want to have fun and not be too competitive here’s a fun option without a needing a board.

      1. At the start, you may like to write down the words or phrases you might choose to make it easier to come up with and to guess, or you can just go from your head. 

      2. Then choose a word or phrase (depending on how hard you want it to be) and start drawing a picture while the other player tries to guess what you are drawing. 

      3. Then swap over once they have guessed it.

You may choose to time each player/guesser to find a winner or just play for fun!!

Play online here


Monster mashup

We are not 100% sure this is the name, but here are the rules anyway. Also, you will preferably need three players and three papers but you can also play with two:

      1. Fold each piece of paper like a brochure (in three sections)

      2. Then on the top section draw a head, it can be human but you can also make it as crazy as possible. Don’t let anyone see your work and fold it over before handing to the next person. 

      3. On the paper that you now have drawn a body/midsection, make this one crazy also (it can match with your last drawing or be completely different) then cover it and pass it on.

      4. Do the same thing on your new piece and draw legs.

      5. Then open it up to reveal your mashed-up monsters!!



Sprouts is another game with dots and lines but this one is very different and quite complex:

      1. Draw two or more dots on your paper

      2. Then take it in turns connecting the dots following these rules:

  • The line must connect two dots together, or one dot back to itself. It can not go to a line. 
  • The line can not cross another line or pass through another dot.
  • No more than three lines can emerge from any spot.

    3. Then add another dot somewhere on the line you drew and continue with the same rules      



This is another grid-based game to play with a friend:

      1. Draw a grid (5×5 or more)

      2. The first person puts an X or an O in one of the squares (depending on which symbol you are using)

      3. Then any neighbouring squares are cut off (so shade them in) this means you can’t put a symbol in them. 

      4. The ‘boundaries can overlap though, just no symbols in the shaded part/ boundaries

      5. The game ends when no one can add any more symbols (so the whole board is shaded) then whoever has more in the board wins. 

Green wins this one!!!


This game is similar to monster mashup (no. 5), but a bit more complex: 

      1. Fold your paper as shown in the video.

      2. Then on each section (pass the page to the next person after each section like ‘Monster Mashup’) write the following (the funnier and crazier the better!!):

1st: (name)

2nd: met (boy’s name)

3rd: in/at/on (where they met)

4th: he said (what he said)

5th: She said (what she said)

6th: He (what he did)

7th: She (what she did)

8th: The consequence was (what happened)

      3. Then unfold the entire page to reveal your mixed-up story.



Art gallery

This one is non-competitive and good if you just want to draw and not compete, it is also very simple.

  1. Each choose a random item, it can be from the room or your imagination.
  2. You must incorporate whatever is chosen into your drawing. 
  3. That’s it!!


This game is fun and it also challenges you creatively.

  1. One of the players draws a shape and adds a grid inside it.

      2. Then you must colour/add your symbol into one of the squares and take turns doing this.

      3. But no two boxes can be different colours/have different symbols inside them.


      4. The winner is the person with the most boxes ‘claimed’ when no more moves can be made. 

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