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5 Really Fun Games Kids Can Play with a Penny

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Read Time: 4 minutes

Short on cash but looking for new games kids will love? Dig out the penny jar, because these penny games are just what you need! These are all easy enough for kids to play on their own, and any extra supplies required are things you’re likely to have around anyway. These games may seem simple, but they’re so much fun that kids can easily spend hours playing them. What a great bargain!

Penny Spinners

Use a few basic supplies to turn pennies into the coolest spinning tops! These are so fun to make and even include a little bit of STEM learning, too.

Ages: 7+

How to Play:

  • Use a small bowl (approx. 3-inch diameter) to trace and cut a circle from cardstock.
  • Decorate the circle any way you like! Use markers, paint, stickers, glitter—anything you have on hand.
  • Cut a small slit in the center of the circle, a little narrower than the width of the penny. Slide the penny carefully into place.
  • Place tape on either side of the slit to help keep the penny in place.
  • It’s time to spin! Hold a contest to see who can get theirs to spin the longest. Experiment with different decorations on the cardstock to see what kinds of amazing patterns you can create. Change up the size of the circles to see how it affects the spin. There are so many ways to play with these!

Pitching Pennies

Pitching pennies is the oldest of all the penny games and has been perennially popular among school kids. The concept is simple, but mastering a good throw takes skill and practice, and this game can keep kids busy for hours.

Ages: 5+

How to Play:

  • Find a wall with some space around it and draw a line (real or imaginary) about 6 feet away from it.
  • Each player takes a penny and stands behind the line.
  • One at a time, each player throws their penny, trying to get it as close to the wall as possible. (Some versions of the game require the penny to hit the wall first and then bounce back to be counted.) You must throw the penny; you cannot roll or slide it.
  • The winner of each round traditionally wins all the pennies thrown, but you can also simply gather them up and play again.

Penny Racers

Turn three pennies into a speed racer and have a competition! Build a whole fleet of these racers for far less than the price of one matchbox car.

Ages: 8+

How to Play:

  • Lay one penny flat on the table, and glue another penny to it, standing it upright (refer to picture). Allow to dry.
  • Glue the third penny flat on top of the vertical penny (refer to picture). Allow to dry.
  • Lay the penny racer on its “wheels” and give it a push. They’re off!
  • Looking for variations? Experiment with different angles for the “wheels” to see how it affects the racer. If you have other coins lying around, try making racers of different sizes to see how they stack up.

Penny Shuffleboard

Like pitching pennies, this is one of those penny games that’s been around for a very long time. It originated in British pubs as Shove Ha’penny and in its simplest form consists of just sliding a penny toward the other side of the table to see how close you can get. This version uses a board for scoring, but it’s definitely not required.

Ages: 5+

How to Play:

  • Set up the playing surface: Print the game board found here or lay out your own. The playing surface can be as small as a sheet of paper or as large as the biggest table you’ve got.
  • Each player starts with 5 pennies.
  • Player one lays a penny, heads up, flat on the table in the starting area, and uses one finger to slide it toward the other end. Pennies that slide off the board entirely do not count.
  • The other player takes a turn, with their pennies tails up. They may attempt to knock the other player’s penny out of scoring position with their own penny, if they can.
  • Continue until each player has played all of their pennies, then tally up the score. A penny must lay completely within a scoring area to earn the points.
  • Variations: The original Shove Ha’penny uses a different board and has some specific rules that have evolved over time. Find a neat kids’ version you can make yourself here.

Penny Stacking

How hard can it be to stack pennies? It gets a lot trickier when there’s a timer in the mix. Ready for an even bigger challenge? Play blind-folded!

Ages: 5+

How to Play: 

  • Version 1: With one hand behind their back, each player tries to see how many pennies they can stack into a tower in one minute.
  • Version 2: Each player gets a set number of pennies (25 per player is good). Then they race to see who can stack them fastest using only one hand.

Looking for more easy, inexpensive activities for kids? Learn how loose parts play will change the way your kids spend their free time.

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