Review: Penalty by HELP Educational Games 

We were excited to discover and try out a fantastic digital game called Penalty by HELP Educational Games this week. A fun learning game that has been carefully designed to help improve children’s literacy and numeracy through play.

Penalty is a football themed numeracy and literacy game aimed at Key Stage 2-3 (Years 4-7 and P4-P7). It can be used in class or at home to support the development of key learning skills.

How do children play the game?

Penalty can be played by two children with support from a teacher/parent. The two players set up their football team’s formation, length of game and choose their Card Set.

The Card Set menu allows the child or teacher to choose if they would like to play one of the three literacy options or choose multiplication, number bonds or a custom set.

The two players are then given the opportunity to roll the virtual dice to determine who goes first.

The teams ‘player’ list (which in the literacy options are a list of words that rhyme with the other players words) is then displayed.

The game then begins with each child in turn choosing two ‘players’ on the football pitch (one from each team). When they click on the two ‘players’ (when playing the literacy games) the ‘player’s word comes up and the recording of that word is played.

If the two words are rhyming pairs of words that have the same visual and sound patterns then the player scores a goal!

If they don’t, then it is a miss. The aim of the literacy games are to memorise where the words are on the pitch and match them with their rhyming pair on your turn.

For the multiplication game, children have to match the two multiplication calculations that will make the same number.

For the number bonds game, they match two addition sums that make the same number.

The custom option allows teachers or parents to add their own lists of words.

What did we like about it? 

  • Engaging-  This game really captures the interest of children, with its popular football theme. Having a learning activity that children are self motivated to participate in, is often key to engagement and positive outcomes. Because it can be played by two children together, it makes a fantastic resource for encouraging children to interact socially too. We particularly loved the competition element of this game and found that children were more engaged because they were playing against one another and were motivated to win. Another feature that makes Penalty engaging is the ability for children to personalise it and make it their own. For example, during set up they enter their name to make it their team and choose their team colour and team formation.


  • Simplistic Design & Functionality-  Children often don’t have the patience (and teachers and parents don’t have the time!) to be working out complicated rules or waiting for games to load. Thankfully, this game loads quickly and has simple, easy to follow instructions- allowing children to focus on playing the game.


  • Develops Key Literacy Skills– Penalty is a brilliant game for developing a number of literacy skills such as basic reading and spelling. It also teaches children about rhyming pairs of words that have the same visual and sound patterns. We loved that the game plays the recording of the words, so children aren’t just relying on their own reading ability but can also listen to how the word is pronounced correctly.


  • Reinforces Numeracy Skills-  Penalty provides a fun opportunity for children to practise addition and multiplication. Children could use a piece of paper to jot down workings out during the game or use it as a chance to perfect and stretch their mental maths skills.


  • Practises Memory Skills- Penalty is a great, modern and engaging alternative to the traditional matching pairs card game. Having to remember where the correct word or calculation on the pitch is located, helps children to practise and develop their memory skills in a fun way.


  • Encourages Concentration- From reading the words or working out calculations to remembering where their pair is on the other players side and matching it- this game really requires children to focus. It is a good way of helping children to concentrate on a task. By being able to choose the length of time of the match, it means realistic targets of concentration duration can also be set.


  • Easily Differentiated– From a parent and teacher point of view, one of the best functions of this game is that it allows you to upload Custom Word Lists. By being able to add your own word lists it enables you to match the game more closely to learning objectives, ability of your children and themes you are covering. It also means this game stands the test of time as you can constantly update it with new content. This keeps the game interesting, meets changing needs and stretches your students.


HELP Educational Games are designed by qualified and experienced teachers.  They have been creating board games since 1991 and now also create digital games, like Penalty, to be played on the computer. HELP Educational Games’ website, which showcases their various board games and digital games to buy, can be found here. Their games are predominantly focussed on helping children develop their literacy skills, but many including Penalty which we tried out, also reinforce key numeracy skills.








*Please note this blog post is sponsored and we received a trial of the game for review. However, all thoughts and opinions are our own.


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