Keep the kids entertained these holidays without breaking the bank

Parents spend more money during the school holidays than any other time of year. Here’s ten creative ideas to ensure that hanging out with your loved ones needn’t blow your budget.

  1. Spend the day at the museum

We have some of the best museums in the world, many of which offer free entry for kids and discounted entry for families. Let your budding anthropologist and archaeologist explore a world of fossils and fantastic creatures. They’ll love to discover how things work and understand the mechanics of flight, space and ancient times. Better still most museums offer school holiday programs and activities that let your little explorers utilise play-based learning to better their understanding of the world around them. Educational and fun – it’s a win-win!

  1. The beach

Nothing says quintessential Aussie summer like a day at the beach. Pack up your togs, towels and inflatables and hit the surf and sand for some fun in the sun. Just remember to slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat and you’ll be ready for a day the whole family can enjoy. There is so much to do at the beach, from exploring rock pools for sea creatures to building sandcastles, collecting shells, sunbathing and body surfing. Make sure to pack a picnic lunch and plenty of water and you can while away several happy hours. Just remember to swim between the flags!

  1. Go to the park

Pull out the esky, pack up a picnic and take the kids to the local park. They can spend the day at the playground playing on the equipment, exploring the surrounds or riding their bikes or skateboards. Some local parks have dedicated skating areas with rails and a skate bowl whilst others feature parkour equipment for the more adventurous climbers. Whilst other parks offer more traditional recreational activities such as basketball hoops and cricket nets that you can use for free.

  1. Devise a treasure hunt

Most kids love a treasure hunt. Why wouldn’t they? Solving puzzles to get more clues to ultimately discover a prize? Treasure hunts are also super simple to set up. You just need to create a treasure map, write some clues and hide your prize(s) around the house or in the backyard. Kids love the pleasure of problem-solving with a purpose. It’s a great activity for both multiple kids or those at home alone.

  1. Unleash your crafty side

Even big kids like arts and craft activities. Whilst the little one’s love face painting and drawing, older kids love to get creative with activities such as making beaded jewellery or loop bracelets for friends. You can also utilise bits and bobs from around the house for activities. Put those odd socks to use and transform them into puppets. String some macaroni together for a necklace. Grab that forgotten bag of potatoes and cut them in half and carve out a simple picture for a stamp. Your options are only limited by your imagination.

  1. Organise a playdate

Kids love playdates. Invite your child’s best friend over for the day and let them loose in the house to play. Your child’s dress-up box, existing toys, and arts and crafts supplies will keep them perfectly entertained for hours. The only cost to you will be providing their lunch and snacks for the day.

  1. Pay a visit to your local library

Gone are the days where libraries were hallowed halls of wisdom where children were un-welcome and libel to be shushed! Today’s libraries not only provide a plethora of fabulous literature, games and DVDs that your kids can borrow; they usually also run a slew of school holiday activities. Why not check out a story time session for younger kids or enrol older kids in some of the free courses on offer which often include computing and electronics as well as arts and crafts activities,

  1. Go on a dinosaur hunt

If you have a sandpit at home or a garden that you don’t mind the kids doing a bit of burrowing in, why not set up an archaeological dig. You can buy replica dinosaur skeletons at Kmart for a few dollars. Dismantle them and bury them in the garden. Give the kids a plastic spade for digging and a paintbrush for sweeping the dirt away from more delicate pieces and watch them unleash their inner archaeologist as they hunt for ‘fossils’.

  1. Make a movie

Let’s face it most kids today are more tech-literate than their parents. They know their way around an iPhone and are already great at snapping selfies and holiday pics. Why not let them go one step further and expand their creativity by making a movie? You can help them work out the plot, draw up a storyboard to plan their shots then unleash them with your iPhone to make their masterpiece. Once they’ve finished filming you can help them cut it together in iMovie and then crack out the popcorn and stream it to your Apple TV to watch on the big screen.

  1. Go on a bush walk

Australia is blessed with literally hundreds of national parks and they are perfect for bush walking. Grab some sturdy shoes, pack a picnic and hit the trail with your kids. They will love being able to get out into the great outdoors to experience the beauty and wonder of nature. You’ll be surprised how much joy they can get from crunching through leaves, leaping over logs and scampering across streams.