“Grab a Pencil and Paper”

A pizza restaurant near us hands each child a menu illustrated with several games and a small pack of crayons when we are seated. While the menus vary over time, “tic tac toe” always appears. It’s a simple game of each player alternating placing an x or an o in one of the nine open squares. The first player to get three in a row wins. One thing I have never done is preplan any strategy. This makes me an easy mark for my grandchildren who have figured out who needs to go first and what mark to make to win nearly every time. Their glee delights me.

Another favorite pencil game, “Hangman” is still just as enjoyable as it was years ago when I played it on rainy days at school. The first player thinks of a word and draws an appropriate number of blank spaces to accommodate it. The other player guesses which letters appear in the word. If she is right, the space is filled in(see above for letters “a” and “n.”) If wrong, a piece of the hanging man is added to the noose. Ideally the word is guessed before the complete “hanged man” dangles from the rope. Clearly the more minimal the man, the fewer turns are available before losing out to the rope. When I played my granddaughter at a younger age, I had a very elaborate stick figure with eyes, ears and toes to allow her enough chances to win. Now we stick to just head, arms and legs.

I am always glad for the restaurants which give us some fun things to do while waiting for our food. These word hunts, mazes and tic tac toe games make the arrival of the meals almost secondary. And no one is likely to look at her phone.


20 thoughts on ““Grab a Pencil and Paper”

  1. Good morning. One of our favorite restaurants do that too, leave a whole white paper as cover for the table you are on and a tin of crayons. You are free to make drawings and doodles to your liking as you are waiting for the food. They remove it when you are done eating.


  2. Tic tac toe is real fun. I did not know about the other game. We used to play word building. It was fun. If I start with a word the person sitting next to me has to say a word starting with the last letter of my word and the 2nd last letter should be in the word.


  3. We call Tic Tac Toe ‘Noughts and Crosses’ here, Elizabeth. Hangman was always popular too, but I wonder if anyone under 50 still plays it in England. (I used to regularly use the short word ‘Fly’, which often confused my opponent) We have some chain restaurants that hand out colouring sheets and puzzle sheets to children too, but many of them, even the very young ones, seem to be holding Tablets or mobile phones these days.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  4. Battleships kept us busy for ages; even as adults camping with no TV. Too complex to describe in a comment, it has been commercialised by games companies and even as a computer game, but – in my opinion – nothing beats the pencil-and-paper version.


  5. My mother taught me a game when I was very young. I don’t know the name of the game. Players alternate drawing short, straight lines. The idea is to create boxes, and when a player completes a box, their initial goes inside their box. As you can imagine, this can go on and on, since the overall space has no boundaries. The player with the most boxes with their initial inside wins. It is quite simple but loads of fun. Just mom and myself, on many occasions. 🙂


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