We could almost hear parents across Greater Melbourne collectively exclaim ‘hallelujah!’ and breathe a sigh of relief when Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced primary schools would reopen across the city come October 12.
As we enter the ninth week under stage four coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne, many mums and dads by this point are racking their brains for new things for the kids to do at home this school holidays.
After months of remote learning and with many parents working from home, having plenty of ways to keep the kiddies occupied has never been more critical for both workplace productivity and maintaining sanity in the housebound family unit.
So we’ve come up with ten ideas to help keep your youngsters busy until they head back to school.
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10 at-home activities the kids will love
Embrace colourful tie dye fashun
Tie dye has made a comeback as one of the most popular fashion trends of 2020. So why not embrace the look and teach the kids how to tie dye?
All you need is some fabric dye, plain clothing made of natural fibres, rubber bands or string, disposable gloves and a couple of plastic tubs or buckets and you’re good to go. You can order tie dye kits online or click and collect packs from retailers like Kmart and Spotlight. We recommend setting up your tie dye workspace in the garage or backyard to minimise the mess.
In an afternoon you can deck the whole family out in colourful tie dyed gear. Just grab a few cotton t-shirts, pairs of white socks, pillowcases or even face masks to create psychedelic and unique swirly tie dye designs.
Obstacle course time trials
We’re always on the lookout for ideas to get the kids away from screens and activities they can easily do in the backyard. Try setting up a Ninja Warrior style obstacle course in your yard or at the local playground (now that they’ve reopened!). If you don’t have any play equipment, you can use chalk or tape to create hopscotch on the footpath and place different objects they need to jump over or run around the yard as part of the circuit.
This activity is something you can revisit every few days with the kids to see if they can beat their personal best times when completing the course. Plus, it makes keeping active fun and should work wonders to tire them out.
Kick-start the veggie patch
As the weather starts getting warmer this spring, it’s the perfect time to invest your energy in gardening and get that edible garden growing. Many nurseries are now delivering and offer click and collect, so you can order everything you need. Give each kid a flower bed or planter box to fertilise, weed, water, and look after.
Some of the best fast-growing vegetables to plant include cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snow peas and leafy greens. Kids love watching food sprout from their patches and eventually will delight in picking fresh veg for salads and snacks.
Make a movie
Get the kids to choose a scene from one of their favourite movies to recreate and shoot on your smartphone or tablet, such as Frozen, Aladdin or The Lion King.
Make the kids feel like Hollywood stars by having them write out the script so they can learn their lines, holding rehearsals, making DIY costumes out of newspaper and then hosting a movie premiere on the family TV.
Picnic time for teddy bears
Have the kids pack up their lunchbox and backpacks for a teddy bears’ picnic in the backyard or at the park. You can pre-make teddy bear-shaped biscuits, honey joys, fruit skewers and sandwiches to eat. Make bear ear headbands with the kids to wear on the day and draw bear noses with black eyeliner onto the kids’ noses.
Have each child select their favourite teddy to take on the picnic outing and bring a rug to sit on. They can play duck, duck, goose, blindfold bear (where they have to pick their bear from a line up while blindfolded) and hunt for Caramello Koalas hidden around the yard.
Imitate famous artworks
All around the world during lockdown, people are taking on what has become known as the ‘Getty Museum Challenge’ by recreating iconic paintings with things they have around the house. Enlist the kids to select famous works of art to help you replicate and play dress ups together.
So far, people have recreated the Mona Lisa, the Girl With A Pearl Earring, American Gothic and even Dogs Playing Poker, so the more creative and inventive you can get the better! Here’s some excellent arty inspiration. Search #gettymuseumchallenge on Instagram for lots more ideas.
Make a magical fort
Every child wants a kid only special play area. Try creating a cosy fort by piling cushions, blankets, stuffed toys and doonas under the dining table and throwing a large bedsheet or two over the tabletop. The fort is the perfect spot for kids to hideaway, for a bedtime story, nap time, or to watch a movie on the iPad.
Hang fairy lights for a magical touch and bring in sleeping bags to have a camp out style sleepover, minus the bugs and risk of rain.
Cooking class and cook-offs
Are you tired of cooking EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL? Teach the kids to make their favourite dishes themselves. Things like minestrone soup, nachos, toasties, pancakes, spaghetti Bolognese, scones, fruit salad, and apple crumble are easy recipes to get them started. This way, the kids learn valuable life skills, you can get the occasional night off cooking, and you get to enjoy the food they prepare.
Want to up the stakes? Run a MasterChef style cook-off where they have an hour to make a recipe, and at the end, you score their dishes out of 10. The winner can pick the next recipe, is rewarded with stickers or screen time can be earned for each point scored. Select recipes suited to their age and skill level, and be sure to supervise the use of knives and kitchen appliances. For younger kids, we recommend holding a cupcake or cookie decorating contest.
With Halloween coming up in a few weeks, it’s the perfect time to get started on making Halloween decorations for your house and planning costumes.
You can order carving pumpkins online from Woolies or pick them up in select stores. Get the kids to draw a scary face design onto the pumpkin and to hollow out the pumpkin with a spoon. For safety its best if the carving is left to adults, as it requires the use of a sharp knife.
While you’re carving the jack-o’-lantern, buy a few smaller pumpkins for the kids to decorate using paint, glitter, googly eyes and spooky stickers. Note: Real candles are a potential fire hazard, so pick up a few LED tea lights to illuminate your pumpkins.
Communicate the old-fashioned way
Have the children handmake greeting cards and write letters to their grandparents, aunties, uncles and friends. Teach the kids about snail mail, show them how to address an envelope, put a stamp on and then walk to the post box to send it off.
Have them draw a picture of an activity they’ve been doing at home or one that they’re looking forward to doing once restrictions are lifted (like swimming lessons, going to the zoo or shopping with grandma) to include with the card.
There are many ways to keep your budding chef, artist, actor, athlete, gardener, writer or fashion designer engaged and busy these school holidays. Hopefully one or several of these ideas help to get them off the PlayStation for a few hours at least!