13+ Paper Games For Kids That'll Give You All The Nostalic Growing-Up Feels

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Paper Games For Kids
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When you think of paper games, not much might come to mind at first. And, well, that’s likely because it’s been a while since you’ve played them — paper games very popular games back in elementary school and middle school. Really, the only reason for their downfall was the introduction of the smartphone, which proved much easier to carry than a spiral notebook. Paper games are a great way to find additional fun while you’re on a road trip or when you get rained out during a day of vacation. Folded paper games are also a blast and, c’mon, do you ever actually tire of playing them? Nope! Despite being created the old-fashioned way, paper games can change up constantly. They’re proof that all you need is your imagination and creative spirit to entertain your kiddos (and yourself, TBH).

Not sure which paper games for kids to try? Here are 10 your little ones will love. And if you have just as much fun playing these as your kiddo does, that’s a bonus.

Paper Games to Play at Home

1. Tic-Tac-Toe

This classic remains a favorite to play to this day. All you need to do is create a grid with two horizontal lines crossing two diagonal lines. Players take turns marking each box with an X or an O. The winner is the first to get three in a row. It’s not the most exciting of paper games to play, but it’s often a massive hit with younger kids. Perk? It can also help them excel logically.

2. Hangman

Another classic paper game, Hangman also has merit educationally for kids. But if you (the adult) want to play with friends, you can make the words funny private jokes between you. With kids, you can have fun by having them guess what’s for dinner or where you’re going this weekend.

2a. Snowman

If you’re looking for something a bit more cheerful for your little ones, we have a more upbeat version of it called Snowman. It has the same rules as Hangman; only instead of hanging a stick figure, you’ll draw a part of a snowman each time a letter is guessed incorrectly.

3. Dots and Boxes

To play Dots and Boxes, you need grid paper that’s filled with dots. Each player starts by connecting the dots. The goal is to turn those lines into squares — and when you close off a square, you put your initials in it. It’s a game of strategy that can turn into a real nail-biter.


By far, MASH is the most beloved of all nostalgic paper games. You start pretty loosely by writing “MASH” on top of your paper. (That stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, and House.) You can also list a bunch of potential suitors, either real people or celebrities. Other categories can include the number of kids the person will have, the type of vehicle they’ll drive, their occupation, and the towns they might inhabit. Ask the person you’re playing with to choose a number (and make it reasonable, like somewhere between 1 and 20.) Let’s say they pick the number six. You’ll then go down all of the rows and cross out where your sixth point lands. Eventually, there’ll be one clear winner from each category, and you can predict someone’s future.

5. Racetrack

If your kiddo is a super-fan of Lightning McQueen from Cars, then they might love Racetrack. “Cars” are represented by certain marks, like Xs and Os. Each player will mark on a squared piece of paper where their car is starting. Moves go from one grid point to the next, and players need to be strategic to avoid “crashing” off course.

6. Sprouts

Sprouts is a game that’s a bit less structured than Dots and Boxes, but you can easily compare the two. With Sprouts, the paper starts with a few dots on it. Each player makes a mark that can either be a connecting line between the dots or a completely new dot. The game ends when a player can no longer draw a connecting line between the free dots listed.

7. Word Finder

Have one player write six random letters on top of a piece of paper. Note: It’s vital to include at least one vowel. Set a timer. The player who manages to create the most words out of the letters listed wins.

8. Paper Fortune Telling

This game may be a bit more complex than MASH, but it’ll bring you right back to your childhood just the same. Paper fortune-tellers were very popular in elementary school and a delightful distraction for any kid. If you’ve struggled with how to make paper games before, you could feel a bit intimidated by this one. Because, yes — the origami in making and folding the fortune teller can be a bit daunting at first. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll never forget.

9. Pictionary

Like to draw? Pictionary is the game for you! Have someone outside of the game think up funny situations, people, movies, pets, or anything to draw. Choose one and see how long it takes your family to guess it based on your interpretation.

10. Create-a-Story

This paper game is perfect for playing with three or more people at parties — the more people who want to play, the better the result will be. Start by writing two sentences down to start a story. Then, fold your paper so that the next person can’t see the first sentence. They’ll need to write a sentence next that they feel corresponds with the sentence they can see. That person will then fold over a sentence and pass it on. In the end, you get to read your story out loud and see if it makes any sense.

11. Categories

Have you ever played Scattegories? Well, this game has the same premise. Everyone splits their paper up into four categories which are chosen by the group. This includes names, animals, jobs, etc. Pick a letter at random and for one minute everyone writes down as many words as they can that fall under the chosen letter. When time is up, take turns reading what each person has and cross off any others had also written. The player with the most answers wins.

12. Paper Telephone

Have everyone stand behind each other with a paper and pen. The person at the back of the line will draw a picture using the person’s back in front of them for support. Then that person will try to use the feeling on their back to recreate the same image on their paper using the person’s back in front of them. When the player at the front of the line is finished drawing, compare everyone’s picture to see if it’s like the first one.

13. Word scrambles

Choose a word and then jumble its letters together on a piece of paper. The first person to guess the word wins. You can even make things interesting by setting a time limit.

14. Sightless Drawings

Have you ever tried to write your name with your eyes closed? How about draw a picture? In this game, the drawer from each team is blindfolded and tasked with drawing a simple item like a bike or rocket ship. After drawing the picture, the images are presented before the judges without being labeled by the artists. This will prevent bias. And the most accurate picture wins.

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