You are currently viewing Play and Learn: Activities that Teach

Teaching children through play makes it both fun and beneficial for them. Whether playing inside or outdoors, games and activities that teach will help children to develop vital skills

Children learn in different ways, so a variety of games and activities that teach different skills and concepts will keep children entertained. So let’s play and learn.

Inside activities

If you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, try out some of these games and activities that teach a range of skills.

  • Fun with words: Hangman, Scrabble and Balderdash teach spelling and improve vocabulary.
  • Memory Games: Pairs, where cards are turned upside down and children have to flip over two at a time to find a pair, is great for memory building. Another good memory game is ‘I went to the shop and bought…’ or ‘I went to the zoo and saw…’ The first person starts by saying ‘I went to the zoo and saw an aardvark’, or any other animal starting with the letter A. The next person repeats what the first person said and adds an animal starting with a B. This will also help with learning the alphabet. See if you can get all the way to Z.
  • Board games: games like 30 Seconds, Trivial Pursuit and Cranium are great for improving (and testing) general knowledge, while Cluedo, Sudoku and Battleships will build logic and reasoning. Chess and Backgammon will also teach logic as well as strategy. Snakes and Ladders and other dice games can help with counting and Monopoly is good for teaching children about money.
  • 20 Questions: this is great for general knowledge and reasoning. Someone thinks of a person, animal or object. Other participants then have 20 questions to figure out what it is, but they can only ask questions that have a yes or no answer.
  • Maths Bingo: this is an educational take on a classic. Instead of giving letters on the bingo sheets, use sums. So each block has 3+2 or 5-4. When you call out a number, children have to work out what sum it corresponds to, and place a token on that block. Once someone has a straight line of tokens, they can call “Bingo”. Keep the sums handy, so you can check the maths. Find some other fun maths games here.
  • Twister: an active game that can be played outside and inside, as long as there’s room to move. It’s great for rainy days, as it keeps children active while helping with balance and co-ordination.
  • Listening Games: “Simon Says” helps children with listening, as they have to do what the leader says, but only when he includes the phrase “Simon says”. Another good game for improving listening skills is Broken Telephone. Get children to sit in a line and whisper a message from one person to the next. Then compare the original and final messages.
  • Jenga: great fun for older children and can help them learn about balance, logic and patience. If you have some wood lying around at home, cut it into evenly-sized blocks and build a giant Jenga set for outside.

Read about some unusual fun activities to get your kids moving.

Outdoor games

Playing games outside means children get physical exercise, some fresh air, and the chance to learn something.

  • Hopscotch: use this old-school game to practise counting or spelling. Children have to throw a stone into consecutive blocks, and thereafter, hop to pick up the stone. If you’re spelling a word, try jumbling up the letters and ask children to throw the stone into blocks to spell out the word.
  • Hide and seek: a fun way of helping children learn logic. It can also be used to develop concepts such as closer and further away, or hotter and colder.
  • Number croquet: ideal for helping develop counting and sequencing skills. Make croquet hoops with old cooldrink bottles and paint and number them. Children hit the ball through each consecutive hoop.
  • The Human Knot: this is a fun game that teaches children about teamwork, communication and logic. Get a group of children to stand together in a clump and hold each other’s hands. They can stretch over, under and around each other to hold someone’s hand, but they must hold two different people’s hands at all times. Without letting go, ask them to untangle the knot. They now need to move their bodies over and around each other until they are standing in a circle.

Tamlyn Vincent