School holidays… are you ready? As wonderful as children are, as much as we love them, it can easily get expensive entertaining them in the school holidays. Here are some free and cheap school holiday activities for winter.
1. Head to the Museum
Some are completely free, others you can get an annual pass for that often includes other attractions. Aside from looking at the exhibits, there are school holiday activities run daily at most museums as well.
If you get a sunny day, head out and rollerblade/rollerskate/ride bikes or whatever you like. Some cities have free bikes you can use, others you can rent for a small amount. Pack a picnic and head off somewhere or play games requiring speed.
3. Build Forts
My kids will spend hours playing in their forts or cubby houses. Get some sheets, some string and pegs to easy construct a fort anywhere or let the kids use the lounge cushions and their own blankets. Yes, your house will be turned upside down. No, it’s not the end of the world to have your house filled with forts for a day or more.
4. Movie Marathon
Hours of screen time isn’t great. Do this in moderation! Ask the kids to put together a host of movies they love to watch, invite a few best mates over and pop a lot of popcorn, settle them on the couch to disappear into the abyss of other worlds, characters and fantasies, animated, pixelated or not.
Make sure they’re movies you like too, as you’ll probably be roped into sitting with them every now and then, answering their questions and commenting on story lines you’ve seen a million of times.
5. Indoor Games
Use masking tape to mark out a hopscotch game, play snakes and ladders or any other board game, cards like Uno, snap or Go Fish are all great ways to have fun inside. To build up your collection ask friends and family to give them to your kids as gifts (or you do it on birthdays and Christmas) or cash in points from reward programs (a full list of some here) or online surveys to buy the games.
6. Get Messy
Paints, glitter, glue, cardboard, crayons, paper, tinsel, pipe cleaners, goggly eyes, get out everything you’d hoped wouldn’t see the light of day! Let the kids go crazy with their imaginations, crafting up a storm. Not only does it stimulate their creative centres, but provides a means of expression and a way to connect, teach and admire their uniquely brilliant minds.
7. Bake Together
Bake cakes, cookies, slices, things for lunchboxes or just special treats. Find out your kids favourite recipes and make them. Get them involved, teach them how to cook and have fun doing it!
Check to see what school holiday programs are running at your local library. Authors could be visiting, they might be doing readings, movie days or other fun activities and they’re usually free.
9. Shopping Centres
See if your shopping centre has any visiting shows on during the holidays or if your shopping centre is a big mall, it might have a free indoor playground for kids to have fun in.
10. Science Experiments
Pinterest can be your best friend here. Look up fun kids science experiments to see what you can do. Make play dough, create clouds, change the colour of flower petals or grow crystals! All these and more can be found with a quick search and often done with things you have at home already.
11. Dress ups
I loved playing dress up as a kid. We had a box with all sorts of clothes, accessories and fabric mum collected over the years for us. Two items I remember we loved the most was a ballgown/dancing dress and a long piece of blue silk.
Best. Investment. Ever! My kids have a fair bit of Lego, they bought it themselves or got it for presents. They spend hours creating, inventing and playing. It is worth the price. Look for Lego at garage sales and online to get it cheaper.
13. Paper Plane Competition
Get some paper, look up designs and see who can make their plan fly the furthest. There are actual competitions for this kind of thing!
14. Make Movies
If your kids have an iPad, let them make movies with iMovie or create tunes with Garage Band. Not all screen time is bad and these skills will help them in the future. If they are old enough, get them to write a script, storyboard the movie then film it.
15. Let Them Decide
Get your kids to write down all the activities they like doing when the weather is cold, put them in a jar and select them when they whine “I’m bored!”
Bonus tip: if my kids say they are bored, I tell them to clean. They don’t say it anymore!
What activities do you enjoy during winter school holidays?