Family & Lifestyle

6 budget-friendly school holiday ideas

With school holidays upon us, you’ll need a range of activities to keep the kids entertained that won’t break the bank. We’ve found six free or affordable things to keep them smiling.

Keeping the kids occupied over school holidays can be challenging and costly. But with a little planning and some inspiration, you can make these holidays a tonne of fun while still staying within your budget. Get prepared for the weeks ahead with these simple, boredom-busting ideas.

1. Make your own art gallery

Like most parents, your home is probably filled with art work lovingly made for you. The challenge is what to do with these masterpieces once you’ve covered the fridge (and the grandparents’ house). This is where the Kids’ Art Gallery comes in.

Get the kids to choose their favourite artwork to showcase in their own ‘gallery’. This can be set up in the lounge room or hallway. Encourage the kids to write invitations to family, create a name for each piece and dress up as artists for the day.

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2. Write, direct and perform a stage play

If your kids love the spotlight, channel that energy into helping them write, direct and star in their own play. Kids can give their imaginations a workout by coming up with the plotline and characters, get crafty creating the set and costumes, then take their turn on stage to make their creative vision a reality.

Hold an opening night if your kids are inclined towards live theatre, or get technical and film them on your phone. This has the added benefit of allowing you to do some creative editing, and it makes it easier to share the finished product with family and friends.

3. Do a treasure hunt

This requires a little more planning, but can be tackled in an hour. Start by writing out some clues and hiding them around the house. For example; under their pillow with ‘find your next clue where you lay your head to rest’. Depending on the age of your children, you can make it more complex and hide the objects in unexpected places like a saucepan in the garden shed.

Of course, any good treasure hunt is not complete without a treasure map. For this, you can use half a brown paper bag. If you have time and want an authentic ‘ye olde’ look, use a basting brush to paint A4 paper with cold coffee. Leave to dry overnight and then lightly burn the edges (an adult job). For added fun, create adventurer hats from newspaper and give yourselves explorer names.

4. Plant a herb garden

Whether you’re in an apartment with limited space or have a big outdoor area, a herb garden can work in either space. Start by getting the kids to choose the herbs they’d like to grow. Good, fast-growing options are chives, rosemary, mint and basil.

Your local garden or hardware store should have a range of seed or potted options (depending on how patient your kids are) and pots that can be easily decorated.

5. Build a blanket fort

Who doesn’t have fond memories of building blanket forts? Our favourite way to do this is to go old school, with some sheets or blankets strung up over the kitchen table, some chairs or even the couch. Fill with cushions, and let the kids bring their favourite toys and games in to play with.

Extra touches like a string of fairy lights or some favourite snacks add to the fun, and you can even let your kids choose a fun theme for their new fortress. For example, masking tape and a dark coloured tea towel makes for an instant pirate flag to fly from the top of the fort.

6. Do some science

Finally, try putting on your white coat and doing your best mad scientist impression to keep kids entertained these school holidays. There are tonnes of exciting science experiments you can do with your kids, from the classic baking soda volcano, to making slime (always a favourite with kids).

It might take a bit of planning to get all the materials together and this idea does require adult supervision, but if you’re up for it, this is a great opportunity to not only have a lot of fun, but also teach your kids some cool new science facts. The trick is to make sure fun is the focus for your kids and not the lesson – after all, they’re on holidays!

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