Whether you need a quick and simple game to keep kids busy while you wait in a restaurant or you want to show kids how to create a brain-teaser on paper, there are a wide variety of games to play on paper that will enthrall kids and keep them occupied in an old-fashioned way.
Games for Young Children
Even children who cannot yet read and write can keep busy with games on paper. For young children, try a game that is a combination of Hangman and 20 Questions with a twist for youngsters. Think of an object and ask your child to guess what it is by asking yes-or-no questions. With each "no" answer, you draw a piece of a teddy bear or an apple tree or another object that is simple to draw and known by your child. The child should try to guess the object you are thinking of before the entire picture is drawn. The picture can be as detailed as necessary to give the child many guessing opportunities.
Draw a picture together using only short lines (straight or curved). The first player draws a line and the next player draws a line connected to the first line. Play continues through each player, adding another line to the picture. The goal should be to draw an actual object cooperatively and not an abstract drawing. As the lines are added, see what begins to take shape and work together to make it into a picture of an object.
Games for Older Children
Haiku are short and informal poems that do not have to rhyme but must contain three lines. The first line must contain five syllables, the second must contain seven syllables, and the third line must contain five syllables. Because of the style of Haiku poems, they are easy to write and lend themselves to any topic. Challenge everyone to write the silliest Haiku possible spending only a few minutes writing. They may write about anything or anyone as long as it is not mean-spirited. Lay the ground rules of what would be inappropriate and tell everyone to get writing. When everyone is done, read the poems out loud and get ready to laugh.
Make up an impromptu word search puzzle. Word search puzzles are simply rows and columns of random letters with words hidden across, down and diagonally. Make a simple word search puzzle in only a few minutes, hiding 5-7 words among the random letters. Give the kids a word list and see if they can find the hidden words.