Are we nearly there yet? - A parent's survival guide to summer holiday entertainment

Are we nearly there yet? - A parent's survival guide to summer holiday entertainment

For our very first blog, and with the summer holidays fast approaching, we thought we’d tackle the big one – how to keep children entertained for six long, oh so long, weeks. Now, before we really start I do have a small confession to make; you see, my children are still very young and are at the age where they’ll fall asleep in the car at almost precisely the same time as I turn the key in the ignition. I realise how lucky this makes me and I am aware that it will all change one day soon with the inevitable, repeated question from the rear of the car ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ I can’t wait.

My colleague Ann, on the other hand, has quite the opposite problem. She has had to buy a small bus to take her children on holiday and with ages ranging from 9 to 18, she has a challenge finding activities to suit all ages and keep her brood off of mobile devices for more than five minutes at a time. This in addition to the pressure of keeping on top of English and Maths skills – six weeks is a long, oh so long, time off of school!

My eldest is currently 2½ and from the moment I begin my annual leave, I clock on as daddy daycare, entertainer extraordinaire and chief play partner. It’s a huge responsibility, an unenviable task faced with harsh, blunt criticisms for merely suggesting an activity that is not high up on her favourites list. 2½ year olds are not shy about letting their true feelings be known! Not wanting to face the wrath of my harshest critic, I have devised a strategic plan; a list of games and activities that will see me safely through the coming summer. Ann has helped me add to it and secure my status as entertainer extraordinaire, and therefore favourite parent, for summers to come.

I Spy, Punch Beatle and 20 Questions have long since secured their place in car journey folklore but there’s only so much of them I can take, never mind the children! Here are a few games to bring a little more creativity and fun to that inevitable four hour motorway delay and the typical British summer weather!

Rory’s Story Cubes - £8.99

Rory's Story Cubes There are 9 story cubes in a box and over one million possible combinations. That’s a lot of storytelling! Roll the dice and try to create a story with the pictures. There are no wrong answers and you’re only limited by your imagination. The weirder, funnier and sillier the better. You can work together and  take it in turns to use all 9 pictures  limit it to just 3 or 4 pictures or even combine different packs to create a monster story. Once upon a time…

Rush Hour - £13.99

No irony intended but this is a traffic jam logic game where the one goal is to escape the chaos. It’s intended as a single player game but can easily be played together as there will be lots of opportunities to discuss escape routes. Challenges range from beginner to expert and are guaranteed to frustrate children and adults alike. There’s a carry bag with this one to help keep all the pieces together and make for easier transportation.

Finger Puppets - £3.99

These are great for helping to bring a favourite story to life or for creating wonderful new tales. My headrest doubles as the stage for productions of my daughter’s favourite stories. A current favourite is Room on the Broom, so I’m using one of our red dragons and a witch finger puppet to tell the tale of the kind-hearted witch who always has space on her broomstick for one more animal. There are lots of different puppets to help create your own show or bring your favourite characters to life.

Times Square - £12.99

There are three different games based around a zombie invasion in this pack of cards. Each zombie card has a number which you have to try and make from the 4 combat dice you roll. Add, subtract, multiply, divide and square the numbers on the dice to stop the undead horde. The best thing about this game is that everyone works together to stop the zombies, thus minimising shouts of ‘it’s not fair’ and ‘he’s cheating’ from the rear of the car.

WordARound - £9.99

A wonderfully frustrating word game designed for the whole family. Some of the words are challenging so this one is definitely more suited to older children and parents. The concept sounds simple – turn the card over and be the first to say the word – but the spiral formation of the words makes it a real challenge and will flummox children and adults alike. There are 3 words on each of the 100 cards, which, being disc shaped, fly surprisingly far across the room in a fit of anger.

Tenzi – £9.99

This is a fast paced dice game which can involve the whole family. It’s a game of luck where everyone has the same chance to win; simply be the first player to get all ten of your dice showing the same number. There are a few variations on the game to maintain the interest level and add a challenge.

Dobble - £11.49

This is a fantastic observation game for 2 -8 players. There are 55 cards, each with 8 symbols but two cards only ever share 1 symbol in common. Can you be the first to spot the shared symbol and collect the most cards? Truly, lots of fun to be had with this one and equal hilarity will ensue whether children or adults are playing. This is one I’ll be taking to France for all the adults when the children go to bed.

Hive - £13.99

If you have children interested in chess or strategy games then this is the one for them. There’s no board to carry and it all packs away into a neat little cloth bag. Each player has 11 hexagonal playing pieces, including a queen, which can move in different ways. The aim is to be the first to completely surround your opponent’s queen whilst at the same time, trying to keep your queen protected.  Just a 2 player game this one, but will be enjoyed regardless of age.

Two Player Big Fun Book – £6.99

There’s no need to buy two activity books when children can share just one! This activity book is crammed with 112 pages of games, puzzles and activities that are designed for 2 players to use at the same time.

Colour-in Puzzle Time Tablecloth - £6.99

If your family are anything like mine then you’ll be familiar with spending hours on end around the dinner table when on holiday. Fine if you’re an adult but utterly booorrring if you’re under 18. Enter colour-in tablecloths. These are tablecloths, playmats or wall-posters which are filled with activities and lots of colouring-in opportunities. A great way of keeping children entertained at the table and equally useful as something to pop in a bag for emergencies on days out. I’ve already packed this one!

Bananagrams - £13.99

We’ll end our list with an old favourite. This hugely popular word building game is conveniently stored in a cotton banana case and is brilliant fun for all ages. Unlike other highly popular word games which rhyme with babble, Bananagrams doesn’t require a board and can be played independently or with others. You’ll choose 21 letter tiles and the first person to make a crossword of words with all their letters wins. Of course there’s a little more to it than that but the great thing about this game is that you can get involved whatever your level of vocabulary as you are creating your own little crossword.

There you have it, not an exhaustive list of holiday entertainment games and puzzles we have available but pretty exhausting to write. We hope that you’ve found some inspiration and that one or two of the ideas will ensure an easier car journey, a more fun-filled rainy day and a few more fun holiday memories.

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