6 Budget-Friendly Activities for School Holidays: Keeping Kids Engaged and Happy at Home

As school holidays roll around in Australia, it’s a wonderful time for family bonding and making memories. However, with the cost of living on the rise, many of us are seeking affordable ways to keep our children, aged 5 to 12, happily engaged at home. While a bit of screen time is often part of the holiday routine, it’s important to balance this with other activities that encourage creativity, learning, and physical activity. Here are six fun, cost-effective activities that promise to keep your kids entertained and learning during the school break.

School Holiday Ideas on A Budget

1. DIY Backyard Obstacle Course

Transform your backyard into an adventure playground with a homemade obstacle course. Use everyday items like chairs, ropes, and buckets to create challenges. This not only promotes physical activity but also encourages children to think creatively and solve problems. It’s a fantastic way to develop their motor skills and have a lot of fun!

2. Cooking Together

Involve your children in cooking simple recipes. This can be a great learning experience, teaching them about measurements, following instructions, and the joy of creating something delicious. From making homemade pizzas to baking cookies, these cooking sessions are not just about food but about spending quality time together.

3. Nature Scavenger Hunt

Organise a scavenger hunt in your garden or a nearby park. Prepare a list of things to find, like a certain leaf, a rock of a specific shape, or a flower of a particular colour. This activity encourages exploration and observation skills, and it’s a wonderful way to connect with nature.

4. Arts and Crafts with Recycled Materials

Set up an arts and crafts station using recycled materials like cardboard boxes, old magazines, and fabric scraps. Encourage your children to create their masterpieces, be it a robot from a cereal box or a collage from magazine cutouts. This activity fosters creativity and teaches the value of recycling.

5. Home Library Day

Dedicate a day to reading. Create a cosy reading nook with cushions and blankets and have a selection of books available from your own collection, a local charity store or nearby library. You could even have themed reading sessions or story-telling time. This not only enhances reading skills but also ignites imagination.

6. Family Board Game Marathon

Break out the board games for a family game day. For older children, classics like Monopoly, Uno and Connect 4 offer hours of fun. For younger ones, simpler games like Spotty Dogs or Shopping List by one of Kids First’s favourite brands, Orchard Toys, are perfect. Board and card games are not only enjoyable but also help in developing early learning skills like counting and memory. Board games are a fantastic way to have fun while developing strategic thinking and social skills across different age groups. It’s a delightful way to spend time together as a family, engaging in some friendly competition and laughter. Whether it’s strategizing in Monopoly or cheering on a preschooler as they complete their shopping list, these games promise a day filled with joy and bonding.

Use a Visual Schedule to Give Your Kids Predictability

The school holidays can be tricky for kids who struggle when their regular routine of preschool and school is interrupted. Creating a simple visual schedule for your children can be an easy way to provide the predictability that your children need and to help them know what to expect each day. A visual schedule can be as simple as a piece of paper mounted on the fridge, or a cheap and cheerful whiteboard purchased from Kmart. Just write a list of what is happening for the day) or draw pictures for your younger children who can’t yet read.)

You might be surprised by how often your kids refer to their visual schedule during the day, and how it reduces your need to constantly give instructions.

Holidays are the Time when Kids Make Memories

Remember, the school holidays are a perfect opportunity to explore new interests and spend quality time as a family. These activities are not just about keeping the kids busy; they’re about creating lasting memories and learning experiences that don’t have to cost a fortune. With a bit of creativity and planning, you can make these holidays a time your children will cherish, and you might even miss them when the school term begins!


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