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Paper and Pencil Games

Updated on March 3, 2008

These games are perfect for kids

All of the games listed below are simple and require nothing more than paper and pencil. They all teach strategy and are good beginning learning tools for the preteen.


This is two player game. In tic-tac-toe a grid is drawn with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. The object of the game is to get three of the same symbol in a row. This "three-in-a-row" can be horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

Game Play

Each player uses one symbol, an "X" or an "O." Each player takes a turn drawing one symbol only. The object, as stated above, is to get three of your own symbols in a row; however, the other player can place his/her symbol to block such an outcome.

Though tic-tac-toe is likely one of the easiest games to play it is an excellent game for young children. It teaches planning, logic, and strategy.

In the example below (played from left to right, top to bottom) each move is marked by a red symbol. The game below is a draw.

Tic Tac Toe Draw


This is a two player game. The game starts with two or more dots drawn on paper. Players take turns drawing a line (or arc) between a set of dots. Players take turns, where each turn consists of drawing a line between two dots (or from a dot to itself) and adding a new dot somewhere along the line. The players are constrained by the following rules.

  • The line may be straight or curved
  • A line must not touch or cross itself or any other line.
  • A new dot cannot be placed on top of one of the endpoints of the new line.
  • A new dot breaks the line into two shorter lines. Lines do not have to be equal length.
  • No dot may have more than three lines attached to it.
  • A line from a dot to itself counts as two attached lines and new dots are counted as having two lines already attached to them.

In normal play, the player who is able to make the last move wins.

The game can also be played such that the player who makes the last move loses.

The graphic below shows a 2-spot game of normal-play Sprouts. After the fourth move, most of the spots are dead-they as they have three lines attached to them. A line is divided by a dot such that a dot placed on a line makes two individual lines where one existed before the dot was placed. Dots with three attached lines are "dead" so they cannot be used as endpoints for a new line.

In the game example below there are two dots (shown in green) that are still alive, having fewer than three lines attached. However, it is impossible to make another move, because a line from a live dot to itself would make four attachments, and a line from one live dot to the other would cross lines. Because of this no fifth move is possible, and the first player loses. Live dots (those that can have lines attached, but cannot be played) at the end of the game are called survivors and play a key role in the analysis of Sprouts.


Sprouts Win

In the image above (played from left to right - top to bottom) the last red dot wins. It is not possible to draw a line from the red dot to another dot without crossing an existing line.


This is another two player game.

One player determines a word, counts the number of letters in the word and then draws that number of blanks on the sheet of paper.

The other player guesses a letter in the word.

If the letter is in the word the first player places that letter in the proper blank. If the second player does not guess the right letter the first player prints that letter below the blanks and adds a head or other body part of the "hanged man."

If the second player guesses the word before the "hanged man" is drawn s/he wins. If the first player draws all the parts of the "hanged man" before a guess is made player one wins.

The number of guesses can be extended if the gallows is drawn as part of the challenge instead of it being there to begin with.

The gallows consists of four pencil strokes and the hanged man consists of six.

Again, this is a very simple game, but an excellent one for leaning new words and their spelling. It is also a logic game of sorts because it challenges the guesser to determine the "winning" word from the position of the properly guessed letters in the blanks.


Hangman - The word is Aardvark
Hangman - The word is Aardvark


Submit a Comment

  • LiamBean profile image

    LiamBean 6 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Thanks Jack!

  • profile image

    jack 7 years ago

    great website, i have to say

  • LiamBean profile image

    LiamBean 7 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Thanks YOU Jackey!

  • profile image

    Jackey 7 years ago

    I'm 10 years old, and I wanted to convince my mom to play stuff with me. We don't have lots of board games that she likes, so I looked on the internet to find great paper and pencil game! You guys really helped!


  • LiamBean profile image

    LiamBean 8 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    I don't remember anymore where I heard about Sprouts. I keep thinking a science fiction story, but I'm not that sure.

    Here's more about the game though;

  • garbage free profile image

    garbage free 8 years ago from The Garbage Can Of Truth

    This was great - I've never heard of Sprouts. Played the others many a time, but never Sprouts.

  • glassvisage profile image

    glassvisage 9 years ago from Northern California

    Huh. This is actually a great hub, perfect for college students bored in class :)