The school holidays have arrived!
With some time off of school to reset and recharge, the holidays are a special time for families to spend time together and try all sorts of new things.
There are endless activities, craft ideas and games you can play to keep your children active and entertained.
Many parents worry about filling the long days with their children however it can often be a matter of getting organised and getting inspired.
We’ve come up with 50 amazing ideas for school holiday activities that will ensure both children and carers have a brilliant time.
Firstly, let’s look at the great outdoors. Regardless of whether it’s warm and sunny or a little wet and cold, there’s so many possibilities when venturing outdoors.
Encourage your children to enjoy nature early and they’ll be set up for a life time of exploring while embracing the health benefits of fresh air for the body and mind.
Here’s our 50 ideas for school holiday activities:
Go on a Nature Walk
Image: Little Miss Adventures
This is the perfect way to spend a morning – and you can even take a picnic to enjoy on your way. Make sure you pack appropriate clothes for the weather, as well as good shoes for walking, a hat, sunscreen and plenty of snacks and water.
Why not make a list of things to look out for – such as a really tall tree, or the biggest leaf you can find?
Try a Treasure Hunt
Kids love treasure hunts. Whether they’re competitive or not, it’ll get them running about engaged in the activity from the start. Write a list for each child (with drawings if they’re very young) of things they need to find and give each of them a small bag for collecting.
Set a timer and off they go!
Make A Nature Picture
This is a really simple one. Whether you’re in the back garden with some twigs and leaves, or you’re out on the beach with pebbles and shells, you can make a nature picture. Gather up anything you can find and start creating your picture – in the mud, in the sand, wherever you like!
Gaze at the Clouds
This is an all time childhood favourite. Find a quiet spot (let the kids choose – it’s part of the fun) and get everybody to lie down on a rug or a towel. Gaze up at the sky and see what shapes the kids can see.
Let their imaginations run riot as they spot animals, wizards and all kinds of other sky creatures.
If you live in an area with wildflowers or have a garden that’s overgrown, why not let the kids pick some flowers to take home? You can encourage them to use all their senses – looking at the colours, feeling the stems, smelling their scent.
Gather up a bouquet and put on the kitchen table at home!
Go on a Walk
Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Just going for a walk and discovering a new place is the best way to pass a morning or an afternoon. Why not try a new walking trail or familiarising your children with your neighbourhood by pointing out interesting landmarks, trees or homes on your way.
Find The Best Playgrounds
Image: Kids in Adelaide
With so many great online directories now available Australia-wide, it’s so easy to find your nearest playground (as well as new ones to try!) Kids love meeting and playing with other kids, and you’ll get a chance to meet local parents and carers while enjoying the benefits of fresh air and outdoor play.
Kids in Adelaide have a fantastic list of playgrounds in Adelaide – check it out!
Get Involved in Holiday Sport Programs
Image: Australian Sports Camps
Check out what’s on with your local council. You’ll be surprised at how many sports camps and kids activities are run in local parks and sports grounds. Why not sign up your child to try a new sport – they’ll make new friends, and come home exhausted! Looking for sports camps in your local area?
Visit Australian Sports Camps to see what’s happening in your area during the school holidays.
Go To The Beach
The beach is a great place for kids in any season. If it’s cold and windy, they’ll enjoy observing the waves crashing and the clouds gathering over the sea.
If it’s hot and sunny, they’ll love jumping in the waves and building castles in the sand. Remember to always ensure they’re fully protected from the sun, supervised when near the water and swim in between the flags wherever possible.
Outdoor Water Painting
Image: Laughing Kids Learn
This is super simple and super cheap. It can be done even in your backyard with just a few squares of paving. Find an old paintbrush and a pot of water.
Let your child draw or write whatever they like and giggle with delight as it disappears when drying out.
But what about if the weather doesn’t play ball? Too hot or too cold? Not to worry, there are so many things you can do with the kids indoors.
Make a Den
Image: Play Talk Read
Kids love to build their own little hide aways. To limit complete chaos (!) let them know exactly what they’re allowed to use and limit them to one room. Make sure they’ve got lots of big blankets and cosy cushions. At nighttime, they can have a bed time story in there as a special treat! Get inspired by seeing how super dens can be here!
Image: Reader’s Digest
The holidays are an excellent time to ensure your child keeps up their reading level. They’ll be reading on a daily basis at school and kindy, and this should continue throughout the holidays. Always make sure you read with them for at least 15 minutes a day and encourage them to look at books and read by themselves. Click here to see The 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time for some inspiration!
Visit the Library
Image: What’s On 4 Little Ones
To help make reading even more fun, why not visit your local library? There’s usually a dedicated children’s section and it’ll often have story time or other activities, which your child will love.
Borrowing books is a fun and cost-effective way to broaden your child’s learning, and you can also borrow audio books for those long car journeys!
Put on a Play
Kids love to dress up so pull out all the costumes you’ve got and let the kids make their own play. The older children can have the bigger speaking parts and toddlers can join in with songs.
They can even make their own tickets and ask parents and carers to come and watch. For great costume ideas have a look here.
Yep, you read that right. Tidying kid’s rooms is a rainy day activity that they can get involved in, and actually enjoy!
The secret is to make it into a game – time them with an egg timer to put away everything that’s on the floor before the alarm sounds, or encourage them with a healthy prize for the person whose room looks the tidiest.
Have a Dance Party
Whatever age they are, kids love music. Put on some tunes, turn up the volume and let them dance around the room. If they want to, suggest playing musical statues or musical chairs.
Otherwise just let them burn off energy and enjoy the beats.
You can find child friendly playlists online or sites like Spotify.
For older kids, this is the ideal way to incorporate some school work into the holidays. Writing stories is a useful way of practicing handwriting and engaging their minds, without making it seem like homework.
Encourage them by letting them illustrate the stories with drawings or stickers and reading it aloud to you when it’s finished. Find some great story ideas here.
Indoor Treasure Hunts
Yep, that’s right. You don’t have to be in the great outdoors to have the kids searching for treasure.
Why not set them off on a scavenger hunt around the house – going in and out of different rooms and burning off energy as they run up and down stairs.
You can print off lists of things to find here, or create your own.
Pull Out The Board Games
You know that cupboard crammed full of board games? It’s time to open it up! Find an age appropriate game for your children and get them engaged with rolling the dice, moving the pieces and figuring out how to win!
Board games are a brilliant way to focus children’s minds and the perfect group activity for an indoor afternoon.
Find a Box of Building Blocks
There’s a reason that kids have loved building blocks for decades. From toddlers to teenagers, everyone can have fun with a set of building blocks and the big open floor space. As well as letting their imaginations run wild, building blocks are a great educational tool for spatial awareness as well as for practicing colours and counting.
Want to get the kids into the kitchen? They’ll love helping out with baking or cooking so get them inspired with healthy ingredients and easy to follow recipes. Here are some of the most fun, easy and simple recipes to try with your kids during the holidays – and it means that dinner is sorted!
Pitta Bread Pizzas
These are super simple and super healthy – just make sure you get lots of veggies into the toppings. Once you’ve got your base, all you need to add is tomato, cheese and then anything else you and your kids fancy – why not try brightly coloured capsicum, or some tiny trees (broccoli!)
There are a few variations for pitta bread pizzas but we love this recipe – enjoy!
Fruit Salad Animals
Provide your kids with their daily dose of vitamins and anti oxidants by encouraging them to make their own fruit salad animals.
This is a fantastic way to inspire your children to get creative in the kitchen by thinking about what animals they would like to make, and how they will use different shapes, colours and sizes of fruit to make it!
There are so many fantastic ideas out there, we love these fruity masterpieces which you can create yourself at home.
This is a brilliant way to get the kids helping you with dinner preparations. Fajitas are easy for kids of all ages to help with – from pulling off lettuce leaves, to shaking on the seasoning.
Make sure you get lots of vegetables into each wrap and you can even use it as a chance to talk about different foods from around the world.
This recipe is a favourite of ours.
Frozen Banana Lollies
Did you know that frozen bananas taste a little bit like creamy chocolate? Save your kids from the sugary snacks and endless ice creams, and instead switch things up with healthy ‘lollies’.
You can dip the frozen bananas in all sorts of toppings (we love natural yoghurt) and then roll through sprinkles such as dessicated coconut.
Give it a go here!
A popular breakfast choice in homes all over, scrambled eggs are both an excellent source of nutrition for your children and a great dish to prepare together as a family!
Walk your children through the process, from showing them how to safely crack the eggs and how to then whisk the eggs to create a fluffy mixture.
Here’s a great recipe that will be sure to become a breakfast favourite!
Again, this isn’t so much about the pancakes – it’s about what you can tempt the kids to top them with. Pancakes are a great breakfast option when eaten with fruit and yoghurt.
Kids love helping to make the batter and then watching as each pancake takes shape in the pan. Let them flip them for a few extra giggles!
Here’s a simple to follow recipe to make your own delicious pancakes!
Kids love to bake but it’s good to steer clear of too many chocolate cookies or cupcakes. Muffins are a great alternative and they make a brilliant snack for lunch boxes or morning tea.
Depending on what your kids like, this recipe is a good one to use and the chives give a great flavour.
These are a super healthy snack idea and great for a hot day when kids need to cool down with something fresh and revitalising. Simply cut the cucumber lengthways and scoop out your seeds before filling them with a tuna and mayonnaise mix, alfalfa sprouts, cherry tomatoes and the slice of cheese for the ‘sail’.
You will find this healthy and fun recipe here.
Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwich
For younger kids, making a sandwich can be a really fun thing to do. Lay the bread out for them on the table and supervise them with the spreading – it’s great for hand eye coordination.
Let them choose their filling but a good option could be peanut butter with strawberries for a healthy and delicious twist on an age-old favourite, or perhaps some slices of apple or mashed banana. Try to use brown or wholemeal bread where possible.
Click here to see all of the different ways you can make a healthy peanut butter and jam sandwich.
This is a special treat – best enjoyed in a secret hiding spot or a newly built den! Why not use it as a reward for a week of good behaviour or for tidying rooms regularly? Make sure your kids have lots of fruit and vegetables during their meals and expect them to have a little extra energy after this particular snack!
So the kids have been cooking up a storm and are well fed with healthy and nutritious snacks. What now? Time to get creative? There are so many things you can do with children and they love arts and crafts – whatever age they are.
Getting creative doesn’t have to be expensive either and it’s so easy to reuse household items to make new things the kids will love.
Here are some of our favourites – including a couple of all time greats that you’ll probably remember from your childhood!
Pencil and Paper
Yes, it’s the ultimate entertainment for young minds. Whether you’ve got heaps of crayons and coloured pens or simply a pencil and paper, drawing or doodling is one of the best things a child can do. It helps to encourage them to think creatively, to express their emotions and feelings and to come up with great ideas.
Use Finished Toilet Paper Rolls
These are such a great thing to re-use for arts and crafts as everyone has them around the house. Keep a stock of them each time you finish a roll so that there will always be lots to play with.
There are so many options of things to make with these – from turning them into cardboard trees to making miniature people. It’s always fun to stick things on to them, or simply use colouring pens and pencils.
Click here to see some fantastic ideas to get you started!
There’s no way of getting around it – this one is going to be messy. However you can create pictures and memories that you’ll have forever. There’s nothing more precious than a handprint from your little toddler at 18 months, you’ll treasure it forever.
Make sure you buy paint that is easily washable from your child’s skin and always fully cover the area where you’re working to protect carpets, walls and furniture!
Making Friendship Bracelets
This is a really good activity for engaging older children and for helping them with fine motor skills. There are tonnes of different types of friendship bracelets so it’ll largely depend on what materials you have.
Why not let your kids watch a video like this explaining how to make the bracelets first then see if they can follow the instructions step by step?
Fly Paper Aeroplanes
This is an old favourite and it’s a great way for kids to get into a project. From folding the aeroplane, to decorating it in whatever style they wish, to having races with friends flying them down the stairs.
Younger kids may need some help with the folding part of this but it’s amazing how quickly they’ll pick it up and start to do it themselves.
Make Dream Catchers
Image: Project Kid
Kids often get worried about going to sleep and nightmares can be pretty scary. Whether your child is a deep sleeper or always wide awake, making dream catchers will help you all head towards a peaceful night of rest.
They’re also pretty beautiful to have around the house and your kids can design them in any colours or styles they wish.
Making Wrapping Paper
Image: Modern Parents Messy Kids
Wrapping paper can be expensive – especially with all the children’s birthdays and parties!
Why not get your kids inspired with some brown paper, a whole load of coloured pens and pencils, and stickers galore?
You could even try using rubber stamps or supervise them with scissors to cut out shapes.
Create a Pasta Portrait
Dried pasta is an ideal tool to use in keeping your kids creatively entertained during the holidays. It’s cheap, doesn’t make a mess and is quite safe for kids to use with supervision (although always prevent younger kids from eating it – they will try!)
Get a child friendly glue and let them stick dried pasta pieces onto a piece of card to create a gorgeous pasta portrait. You can get all sorts of different shaped pasta – from bows and swirls to tubes and lines.
Click here for more pasta art inspiration, including how to make the pasta mandalas featured above!
There’s something about stones and rocks that kids love. From collecting them and finding their favourite one, to painting them and creating little characters from them. This is yet another budget friendly and easy way to keep kids entertained and help them to create a memory from their holidays.
Always encourage kids to avoid smaller stones which could present a risk in terms of swallowing.
Here’s 25 creative stone painting ideas to get you started.
Shoe Box Fun
Image: Bright Star Kids
You’ll be amazed at what kids will create from a simple shoe box. You can either set a theme – like fairy houses or bedrooms, or simply see what they create inside it. Some kids will create a detailed under water aquarium whilst others might make a home for toy cars.
Either way, you’ll be making use of materials you already have and doing your bit by recycling!
Games are a great way of passing time during the holidays. Whether your kids like making up their own games with their own sets of rules, or you generally stick to the tried and tested favourites, make sure you make time to play during the holidays.
Combining games with physical movement and exercise is the perfect way to tire kids out and ensure they fall asleep happy and healthy. Try and keep your kids active, always scheduling in regular rest breaks and keeping them hydrated as you go.
Hide and Seek
Remember this one from when you were a child? It’s so simple but it’ll keep kids occupied for hours and have them running around the house enjoying themselves.
You could even introduce prizes for things like the best hiding spot or the fastest seeker.
Kids and adults both love to play charades. It can have you all in fits of laughter as you try to act out things whilst everyone else guesses. Why not come up with some easy categories for kids such as recent Disney films or books that they’ve read?
It’ll really help to get them thinking creatively – figuring out how to avoid words and express themselves with clear actions.
Image: Playgroup NSW
Perfect for a bad weather day when everyone has lots of energy but you just can’t get outside. Turn up the volume on some of your kids favourite songs and get them dancing enthusiastically around the room.
When the music stops, they have to stand as still as statue.
Wobbling or falling over – they’re out!
This is a great one for coordination, counting and general fun. You can create the hopscotch outline using either masking tape or electrical tape – or by any other creative means you can think of. Get your children counting each step and carefully landing within the lines to develop good motor skills.
Click here for a quick refresher on how to DIY your own indoor hopscotch.
Build an Obstacle Course
This is another excellent way to burn energy. Get your kids to help build and set up the obstacle course, creating it exactly how they want it. Then get the moving.
You can easily use furniture that you have already – ducking under chairs and climbing over coffee tables – or you can purchase some simple items too such as cones or rope ladders.
Families Magazine have created a great guide to setting up a backyard obstacle course that will keep the kids entertained for hours!
If you’re happy for a bit of parental involvement, kids really love this game. Make a list of things that they have to do such as; touch your toes, or jump up and down. Read out the instructions one by one alternating between starting with Simon Says or not.
If the kids do the instruction and you haven’t said Simon Says, they’re out.
It’s a great way to improve listening skills and engage concentration.
The Memory Game
There are different ways to play this and it’s easy enough to use a standard board game for it. However a fun alternative is to get a tray with a number of different objects on it such as an orange or a set of keys. Ask the kids to remember all the items on the tray – give them five minutes to do so.Then cover the tray and ask the kids to write down every item they remember.
This is a brilliant way to get children working on their focus and to exercise their minds during the holidays!
If you would like to extend this game further, why not involve the children in creating their own memory cards by either drawing or pasting special characters?
Click here to see a great DIY memory game you can replicate at home!
Playing Indoor Bowling
Bowling is a fantastic way for your children to practice their hand-eye coordination as well as their aiming abilities.
Using regular household items such as used plastic water bottles, you can involve the children in making their own bowling set by filling the bottles with coloured water or sand to use as targets!
Kids and adults alike never fail to tire of beautiful bubbles. Whether you make your own with washing up liquid or soap suds, or purchase them from the store, you will have hours of fun creating different shapes and using unique objects to make magical bubbles!
Encourage them to think about how the bubbles are made, discuss why things float and see who can blow the biggest bubble.
If you’re trying to entertain a group of kids or your own children have friends over, Hot Potato is a great game to try. You can use anything easy to pass (a ball, a balloon, an old water bottle) and the kids have to sit in a circle passing it around whilst the music plays.
The aim is to not be holding the ‘hot potato’ when the music stops – so the kids have to always pass it on as quickly as possible.
This will result in a lot of squealing and endless laughter.
Ideal for slightly older kids, this guessing game will cause a lot of giggles. Write down on sticky notes the names of some well known people (either family or friends, or famous people) who your child will know. Put this (without them seeing) on their forehead.
They must then ask questions about who they are – to which you can only answer yes or no – until they guess!
So, next time you’re feeling at a bit of a loss as to how you can keep the kids entertained during the school holidays, you’ll be well equipped to offer them a whole host of ideas to help fill the time. Make sure you have lots of fun, enjoy the time you spend with them and always stay safe and healthy!