Friday, February 3, 2012

5 on Friday: Paper and Pencil Games

Here are a few great games to play out and about at a restaurant or in a waiting room. All you need is a pen and some paper. When I was a kid this was all my mother ever had in her purse (and if you were lucky, some Certs.) and usually the paper was a receipt or an old bill envelope (we got really excited if there wasn't a window in it. The little things!). Needless to say, we knew a lot of games you didn't need anything at all for, but that's a post for another day.

1. Tic-Tac-Toe:

I think it's safe bet everybody knows this game for two players, but it's a good oldie which is why everybody knows it.

What You Do:

You make a grid of 9 squares by drawing two lines across and two lines down. One player is X, the other is O. Take turns filling in one square at a time. The winner is the first to get three in a straight line, across, up-and-down or diagonally.

tip: When I had a hard time getting Spiff to practice his letters I used this game a lot, letting him choose whatever letter from the alphabet he wanted. He got a fun game and I got to feel like he was learning his letters. ;-) (Which he was!)

2. Hangman

This is one we used to play a lot in elementary school. It's a great way to practice spelling and any amount of people can play. We're not quite here yet in our house, but maybe you are!

What You Do:

Whoever is "It" picks a word or a phrase and draws a blank line for every letter. Like this: _ _ _ _
Then they draw a hangman's post (I feel morbid just saying that, but, hey, that's the game!). Looks sort of like a 1. The other player trying guessing which letters are in the word. A. No. Draw a head on your post. B. Yes. Fill in all the b's. (B_ _ _). So forth and so on until the players guess the word/phrase or you have a dead man on a stick. You can make the body as detailed or not as you want, just agree to it first. Whenever I played with little kids, I might add five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot just to give them a good chance, but usually it was a head, a body, two legs, two feet, two arms, two hands and a hat. I don't know why he had a hat. That's just how I was taught. ;-)

3. Squares (aka, Boxes, Dots and Boxes.)

This is one I've been playing a lot with my 4 year old Spiff. He really likes it. He's not very good at it yet, but he loves it, and it gives him good practice making some squares and helps him logic how to keep me from getting some. ;-)

What You Do:

Draw a grid of 16 dots, making it 4x4 dots. Two players take turns drawing lines up and down or across from one dot to a neighboring dot, trying to make squares. No diagonal lines, of course, then you don't have any squares but some rhombuses and triangles. When a player closes off a square by making the forth side they get to stick their initial in it. When all 9 squares have been made, count up each players squares. The player with the most wins.

Of course you can make even bigger grids if you want.

4. Heads and Bodies

This is another good game for little kids, and big ones too. And there's no winner or loser, just a fun collaborative art that will make you giggle.

What You Do:

Two or three (or maybe even four) players take turns drawing various body parts to make a whole person. Or animal. Or monster. We've come up with a few that really make us laugh, complete with floral bonnets and whoopie cushion shoes.

An alternative to this is to fold a piece of paper into thirds so it's three rectangles stacked on top of each other. One person gets to draw the head in the top rectangle. Another person the torso and arms. A third person the legs and feet. To really make it goofy, the players can hide their parts by folding them behind before giving it to the next artist.

5. Word Scramble

This is another we did a lot of in elementary school. It's really good for spelling and reading.

What You Do:

Pick a nice long word. Like, I don't know, pteranodon. Now all players try to list all the words (No places or names) they can find in that one word without using a letter more than once. You can put them in any order but the letters had all better be in the original word. Any word with three or more letters counts. So:



You get the idea. The person with the most words wins.

Of all of these, the three very preschool friendly games are: Tic, Tac, Toe, Heads and Bodies, and Squares (or Dots or whatever you want to call it.). I am thrilled that we have finally reached a stage when we don't need to cart toys everywhere and can wait for our dinners with just the back of a placemat and the crayons provided.

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