11 Low-Cost Things to do in the School Holidays

Summer holidays are coming. Here are some top ideas to keep the little ones entertained on a budget - or better still, for free!

"Mum.... I'm booooored". 

Keep this list of activities up your sleeve (or on the fridge, it’s probably easier) as the antidote to those dreaded three words.

1. Homemade pizza party

This is a good one for when your kids have friends over. Label a ‘work station’ on a table with each child’s name. Lay down sheets of baking paper, rolling pins, spoons, a bowl of grated cheese and bowls of different toppings (chopped tomato, capsicum, olives, pineapple, ham cubes). Let them roll out their own pre-made dough ball (1 cup flour mixed with 1 cup natural yogurt per pizza) into a base and decorate with pizza sauce and toppings. Help them make face shapes with the toppings or spell out their initials. 

2. Photography day on a bushwalk

Take the kids on a bushwalk, giving them each a disposable camera to take photos of whatever they like. Give them hints – close up photos of bugs and plants, a row of trees, a selfie with a view in the background etc. You can do the printing and scrapbooking as an activity the next day.  

3. Backyard cricket

It’s UnAustralian if you don’t have a family game of cricket over the summer. What you need: A bat, several tennis balls and two sets of stumps – use sticks if you don’t have real ones. Keep the rules simple. The batting team have to smash and crash as many runs as they can. The bowling team have to stop them doing that. Want to have a sports outing instead? Grab some cheap tickets to the Big Bash League - tickets start from $5. 

4. Kid’s mood board

Get your child to pick a theme for a personal mood board. It could be things that are their favourite colour, places they’d like to visit, sporting heroes etc .What you need: A big piece of coloured backing paper, scissors, glue and a stack of old magazines. If you’re feeling fancy you can print out pictures from Pinterest. Decorate the board with any other craft bits you have hanging around the house like glitter and stickers.   

5. At home bingo

Kids love being the bingo caller and grandparents also rule at this game. Print out free bingo cards online or make your own, drawing a grid of 9 squares and assigning each square a random number between 1 and 20. Then in a hat place the numbers 1-20 on scrunched up pieces of paper (these are the ‘balls’). Your caller calls out the numbers. The winner is the first person with a complete set who shouts “BINGO!”

6. Playlist making

This gives the kids supervised and educational screen time, plus you can steer them away from the same damn CD on repeat in the car. Choose a theme for their playlist: bath time, car ride, homework, living room dance party (they only need to pick 4-5 songs per list, their attention spans aren’t much longer) and show them how to find songs and add them to their list on your music streaming app. 

7. Camping in your own backyard

Pick a nice warm evening to set up tent and sleep under the stars with your kids tucked up in sleeping bags. Spend the afternoon getting the kids to pack their individual ‘going away’ bag for the night (this is good practice for when they go to a sleepover or on holidays) and have dinner outside followed by marshmallows on the barbecue for dessert. 

8. Make a lemonade stand

This brings out their inner entrepreneur. What you need: A stack of paper cups, a few bottles of lemonade, jugs, some lemons, ice and for a twist buy food colouring so they can sell pink, orange and red lemonade. Let them design the signage and decorate the stand with flowers and nature bits from your yard. Stand it somewhere safe and shady and watch them raise a few bucks from your delighted neighbourhood. 

9. Animal leaf paintings

Collect a bunch of leaves in different colours, shapes and sizes. Then, with non-toxic poster paint (which washes off hands easily) get your kids to paint different animals on each leaf. Try red and black spotted ladybirds, orange and black striped tigers, and owls with big round eyes and a little beak.

9. Board games

Don’t discount the lure of the old classic board game – remember how they kept you entertained as a nipper? Good games for kids are: Operation, Guess Who?, Twister and Hungry Hungry Hippos. You can rent board games from your local library.

10. Make a dressing up box

Take your kids to the best and biggest charity shop you know and give them $10 each to spend. The challenge is to get as many clothing items as they can find for their money. Give them a list: a belt, a wig, a pair of shoes, glasses, a hat, etc. Throw in a few items of your own and you have the answer to school holiday boredom in that box right there.

This article is brought to you by Cricket Australia.

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