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The Ultimate Guide to School Holiday Activities (2021 Update)

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 65 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 65 ideas for school holiday activities:

1. 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?

2. 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!

3. 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!

Click here for instructions on how to make this great leaf character.

4. 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.

5. Collecting Flowers

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!

6. 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.

7. Go Bird Watching

Image: Bird Watching Daily

Bird watching is a fantastic activity for children to spot birds and try to identify them. Take a trip down to your local park with a pair of binoculars and have a look for any birds. When you get home, search for the birds on a website like Bird Finder and find some interesting facts about them.

This activity not only gets your kids outdoors but it tests their memory as they try to recall the features of the birds they saw.

For younger kids it might be helpful to try and take a picture of the bird for later reference.

8. 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!

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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!

13. Get Reading

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!

14. 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!

Click here to see a list of the best libraries in Adelaide for kids.

15. 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.

Clap loudly!

16. Put on a Talent Show

Image: Sitters.co.uk

Kids love showing off their special talents – and what better way for them to express their talents then to put on a show! 

Whether it is singing or dancing, doing a trick with a soccer ball or reciting the alphabet backwards, giving them a space to show their talent is so beneficial. Get them to set up a stage area and use their teddies and dolls as audience members.

At the end of their performance you can give them a score out of 10 and a huge round of applause!

17. Tidying Rooms

 

Image: Becoration

Yep, you read that right. Tidying kids 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.

18. 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.

19. Writing Stories

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.

20. Make a Family Tree

Image: Kids News

Family trees are a great idea for a rainy day! Grab a blank piece of paper and put your child’s name along with their siblings at the bottom. Then draw a line from them to their other relatives like parents, grandparents, aunty’s, uncles and cousins. 

You can also give family members a phone call so your child can ask them where and when they were born and/or married so you can put that information on the tree as well. 

Check out this article for more questions you can ask your family members.

21. 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.

22. Play a Card Game

Image: Todays Parent

Card games are an easy activity for kids to learn and can produce hours of fun, plus all you need is a deck of cards!

Check out this article for 10 kid-friendly card games.

23. 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.

24. Make your own Board Game

Image: The Spruce Crafts

Board games are always a great way to keep your kids entertained over the holidays, but for an extra challenge they can create their own! 

Come up with an original idea or DIY an existing game like snakes and ladders.

Here are some easy DIY board game ideas: https://handsonaswegrow.com/two-approaches-to-diy-board-games/ and https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/diy-board-games-4173048

25. 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!

26. 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!

27. 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.

28. Fun Fajitas

 

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.

29. 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!

30. Scrambled Eggs

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!

31. Pancakes

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!

32. Cheese Muffins

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.

33. Cucumber Boats

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.

34. 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.

35. Fairy Bread

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!

36. Grow your own Bean Sprouts

Image: Steem It

It is important to let children learn about how their food grows and how to eat healthily and sustainably. Growing your own produce is a great way to expose children to different foods and flavours. 

But for those who don’t have a green thumb, growing your own bean sprouts in an empty milk or juice carton can be a great start!

Here is a quick and easy guide you can follow.

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!

37. 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.

38. Finger Painting

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!

40. 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?

41. 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.

Try watching a video first to kick things off or by following these step-by-step instructions.

42. 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.

There are a number of different ways to make dream catchers so check out some of the options here.

43. Pom Pom Making

Image: Crafts By Amanda

Pom pom’s are a simple craft that can keep kids occupied for hours! This simple activity only requires cardboard and wool, with a bit of adult help to pull it all together

Check out this article about the different methods of making pom poms.

For an extra challenge, get your child to make several pom poms and turn them into a garland that they can hang in their rooms!

44. 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.

45. Painting!

Image: Art Ranked

Paint can be a very creative way for children to express themselves with different colours and shapes. Although a potentially messy activity, correct preparation can make it much easier and a fun activity for all!

Here are 20 easy painting ideas for toddlers.

46. 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!

47. Make your own Playdough

Image: Stepping Stone (SA)

Playdough is a fun activity for young kids who are discovering their senses. Playdough can be moulded into all different shapes and sizes and are especially good for toddlers and younger children as they discover touch.

For children who want more of a challenge, you can get them to turn their playdough into an animal or an object they would find around the house.

Here is our easy guide to making playdough.

48. Painting Stones

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.

49. 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!

50. Leaf Printing

Image: First Palette

Next time you go out for a walk or visit your local park, collect some leaves from the nearby trees for leaf printing at home!

Paint one side of the leaf with a light coat of acrylic paint and press it onto a piece of paper to print the leaf. Repeat as many times as your child wants with different colours and different leafs. 

Fill up the page with leaf prints or use one or two leaves to create a shape and then get your child to complete the picture by drawing a scene around it once the paint has dried.

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.

51. 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.

52. Charades

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.

53. Musical Statues

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!

54. Indoor Hopscotch

Image: Mumtastic

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.

55. 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!

56. Simon Says

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.

57. 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!

58. 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!

59. Make a DIY Putt Putt Course

Image: Crock Pots and Flip Flops

There are lots of putt putt courses around, but on a rainy day, you might prefer to stay indoors and make one yourself!

Use a long cardboard cylinder from the middle of a wrapping paper roll and attach one end to a strong piece of cardboard to make a putt putt club. 

If you don’t have a golf ball handy, you can use a ping pong ball or a small rubber ball instead. 

For the hole, take a plastic cup and put it on it’s side. 

From there it is time for your child to get creative! Get them to use their toys and household objects to create different courses around the house or in the backyard. Get them to keep challenging themselves by making the courses harder.

60. Play Hopscotch with Chalk

Image: Parents

Hopscotch is a classic school yard game that kids love! 

All you need is some chalk and pavement.

Here is a quick and easy guide to setting up your own hopscotch course.

61. Blowing Bubbles

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.

62. Play Noughts and Crosses

Image: Parents Avenue

For younger children, noughts and crosses is a simple two-person game they can pick up very quickly. 

Draw a 3×3 grid on a piece of paper. The player who goes first draws an ‘O’ in one of the boxes on the grid. The next player draws an ‘X’ in another box. 

The players then take turns filling the empty boxes with their ‘O’s or ‘X’s until one player gets either three noughts or crosses in a row. In some cases, neither will win and it ends up in a draw!

Keep track of how many each player has won for some healthy competition too.

To take this game outside, grab some chalk and draw the 3×3 grid on some pavement!

63. Hot Potato

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.

64. Name Tags

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!

65. Play I Spy

Image: Inter Mountain Healthcare

If you have ever been on a road trip, you have probably played I Spy. But, this game doesn’t have to be confined to just the car. You can play it around the house, in your backyard, or when you go for a walk!

To begin, one player will think of an object they can see. Once they have that object in mind, they will say, “I spy with my little eye, something that begins with…” and they will say the first letter of the object they are thinking of. 

The other players have an opportunity to guess what they think the object is and ask questions with yes and no answers. 

The player who guesses the correct answer wins the round and it is then their turn to think of an object and have the other players 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!