Parents definitely fall into two camps when it comes to school holidays: they either love them or loathe them. I love the school holidays, especially being able to sleep in a bit longer and not having to nag my tots to get out the door in time for kindy.
Filling in the time over the holidays can be tricky. It can be an expensive exercise to keep your tots entertained for two weeks if you want to give your kids all the bells and whistles, but it’s perfectly possible to have lots of holiday fun for free.
Here are some ideas for free things to do during the school holidays:
- Get into the great outdoors. Weather permitting, visit your local playgrounds, parks, and hiking trails. The beauty of small children is they can turn a 20 minute walking trail into a two-hour odyssey where every rock is overturned on the hunt for slugs and slaters, leaves are used for fans, fairy umbrellas and swords, and new pathways will be created where no pathway has been before.
- While you’re outside, go on a scavenger hunt. Some great tot-friendly printables can be found here, here and here. If the weather is rubbish, as it frequently is during the school holidays, take your scavenger hunt indoors. You can find a printable for a colour scavenger hunt here, a shape hunt here, and for kiddos who can read, a genius make-and-find hunt here.
- Make a craft from your existing supplies or from things in your recycling bin. Pinterest is your friend!
- Play dates with friends and family. This is by far my favourite way to pass the time during the holidays. I get to catch up with my mates while my kids get to play with their friends (and their toys! Other people’s toys are way more exciting than your own) or just be with their family members who love them to pieces. Win win.
- Check out the free programmes run by your local library, museum or art gallery. Heck, even our local shopping mall runs free kids events. In my town over the holidays kids can build robots, build a cardboard maze, make bug-related things, learn printmaking, bookbinding and more!
- Check out your local library, museum or art gallery. Even if they don’t have a kids programme, they are always well worth a visit. Ditto any other free tourist attraction in your town.
- Create an obstacle course in the backyard. If your kids are older, make it into a competition for the fastest time. Again, if the weather is rubbish, take the fun indoors. My kids LOVE jumping from seat squab to seat squab as we pretend the floor is ‘lava’.
- Make a movie together. If your kids are older, have them come up with the storyline and script. If they really get into it, this project could take several days. With little ones, film them doing their favourite things, get them to sing and dance for you, or simply film them throughout the day and play it back to them. They will soon get hooked at seeing themselves on the big screen.
- Bake. If your tots are under three, assemble the ingredients before you begin. Trust me on this one, they cannot wait.
- Go to the beach. Even in the middle of winter, my tots love the beach. They love getting mucky, building structures out of driftwood (one of our local beaches seems to attract driftwood like you wouldn’t believe), and making sandcastles. Take spare clothes, towels and a thermos of hot chocolate.
- Visit a farm. If you are lucky enough to have farming friends, ask if they would mind a visit from you and your tots. My tots like nothing more than being put to work feeding the animals or ‘helping’ around the farm.
- Have a dance party. Put on your favourite tunes or dance along with GoNoodle on Youtube.
- Go for a walk/scooter/skate/ bike ride.
- If your kids are bored with your local playgrounds, go to a school playground instead. My nearest school is locked up like Fort Knox, but there are many schools in my town that welcome families to use their grounds outside of school hours. Our favourite school playground has fake roads, a long bike track, plenty of asphalt for scootering, lots of picnic tables and shade, a sandpit and several climbing structures.
- Have a picnic somewhere unexpected: your bed, under the kitchen table or trampoline, or at a local spot you’ve never visited before.
- PJs and movie day.
- If you have the ingredients lying around, make an ice cream sundae buffet.
- Give 2s and under paint brushes and a bucket of water and invite them to ‘paint’ the footpath/outside of the house.
- Have a fancy tea party for your kids and their favourite toys. Dress up to the nines and play waiter. Even better, play at being a terrible waiter who spills/drops/forgets everything.