Fun games to keep the family entertained during the holidays

Educational games are one of the fun ways parents can improve their children’s knowledge and vocabulary.

“With children in holiday mode it might be difficult to get them to read. Playing educational games is another way parents can help broaden their kids’ knowledge without them being aware that they are even learning,” says Candice Swart, regional manager of help2read.

The long December school break offers an excellent opportunity for parents to spend quality time with their children, even if the family is staying at home.

help2read, a non-profit organisation focusing on literacy in primary schools, shares some interactive educational games parents can play with their children. Involve the whole family as the more you are, the merrier the games will be.

Santa trip:

This game is a great memory enhancer. The children should sit in a circle, have the first child say, ’On Christmas Eve I’m travelling with Santa and I’m going to take …’ and name an object that starts with the letter A. The next child must repeat the statement, adding a new object to the end of the sentence that starts with the letter B. Continue until the kids have completed the entire alphabet. There are no winners or losers in this game, but children may enjoy competing and making up silly objects to bring on their trip with Santa.

I spy with my little eye:

I spy is a guessing game that helps with building children’s awareness and recognition of objects around them. One player chooses a letter of the alphabet and says, ’I spy with my little eye something beginning with …,’ naming the letter. Other players have to guess the chosen object, which has to be in the room where the game is taking place.

Word builder:

Spark the creativity at home with just a piece of paper, a pen and words. Give the children a word or two that you have selected. Tell them to write this word or phrase at the top of their paper. It can be fun to choose a word or phrase that is long so that more words can be created, an example of a word or phrase would be ‘presents’ or ‘holidays are fun’. This game will help children practice their language skills.

Children will be required to sound out words and letters from the main word and this will practice their spelling and phonics.

An example of this game using the word "travel" would include answers such as: Ate, eat, rave, rate, late, ravel, vet, rat, tar, let, avert, veal, and many more. The child with the most correct words wins.

Educational children’s games include puzzles and board games, but parents can also create their own quizzes for children or have a spelling bee night. These games are also great to motivate healthy competition amongst children.

“It is also important to consider the skill level of your children when selecting games. Think about their developmental stage and what they should be learning so as to not choose games that are too difficult or too easy for them. Choosing tough games can result in kids being frustrated and refusing to play, whereas games that are too easy can defeat the purpose of learning,” says Swart.

Fun educational games are also a great way to pass the time in the car especially for those families that have to travel far to reach their holiday destination or loved ones this festive season. help2read shares some fun games for the whole family while on the road.

Car cricket

This game is great for long distance trips and can be played on any road as the game relies on oncoming traffic. Split up passengers in the car into two teams and select which team will bat and which will field. The batting team will use the oncoming traffic as a means to score runs. Different colour cars will each have a value which must be pre-determined before the game starts. For example, silver and white cars will have a run value of 1, blue cars will have a value of 2 and black cars will have a value of four. Yellow cars, which are not the most common colour to see on the roads, have a value of six runs, while red cars are an out.

The batting team must ‘make’ as many runs from the oncoming cars before passing a red car which puts them out and allows the fielding team to start batting. Each team has two innings and the team to end with the most amount of runs wins.


Although sometimes challenging, riddles are a great way to pass the time and get everyone to use their imagination. Some brain teasers that one can keep handy while travelling this holiday:

1. What is the beginning of the end, the end of time, the middle of yesterday, and nowhere in tomorrow?

Answer: The letter E

2. I have an eye but cannot see. I am stronger and faster than any man alive but have no limbs. What am I?

Answer: A hurricane

3. I give milk and a horn but I’m not a cow. What am I?

Answer: A milk truck

The internet is filled with riddles of different difficulty levels.

Whether you’re at home this holiday or travelling to family, your child’s education can continue during the school break.

help2read recruits and trains volunteers before placing them in primary schools where teachers have identified children who struggle with reading English. Volunteers dedicate half an hour of their time to each child twice a week and provide them with priceless, long-term, one-to-one care and support by working with these children to build their self-esteem and confidence levels. The programme makes reading fun by combining reading and playing games.

Funding remains one of the greatest challenges for help2read. Donations from sponsors, no matter how big or small, whether it is money, books or board games would be appreciated.

If you want to become a donor or volunteer, contact help2read on (011) 026 2663 or email gauteng. Visit for more information.



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