We all love our kids, but no doubt, just like us, you’ve been stretched to the limit with parenting in 2020. Around Australia, the summer school holidays are upon us, meaning parents will soon be facing the challenge of how to keep their children entertained for six weeks.

Shazia Juma-Ross, CEO at corporate activities company, Skills and Thrills says, “With international borders still closed, you may not be able to take the kids on your annual overseas getaway, but this doesn’t mean they need to be stuck in front of the telly or playing video games all day. There are plenty of fun activities to keep them engaged both at home and in the community – without taking a huge toll on the wallet!”

To help you take a load off and retain some sanity these summer holidays, here are Shazia’s top activities for keeping kids entertained. Most of these are free, some require a small fee and others can be played at home with minimal fuss or financial outlay.

Things to do in Sydney …

Things to do in Melbourne …

Things to do in Brisbane …

Community events in your local community …

NSW:

  • Prehistoric Playground at the Australian Museum: Throughout the school holidays, the Australian Museum in Sydney is hosting a program of dinosaur themed activities for kids – and they’re all free! The Prehistoric Playground includes a Fossil Lab where children get hands-on with paleontology tools to examine real fossils. Mini artists have the chance to design their own dinosaurs, which can then be scanned and projected onto the walls. Along with this, there is a Take Flight workshop where kids can learn how aerodynamics are inspired by nature through making their own planes, helicopters and flying dinosaurs out of paper.
  • Birdlife Discovery Centre at Sydney Olympic Park: Australia is known for its diverse wildlife, including our many native birds! To ensure the kids are spending time outdoors in nature, the BirdLife Discovery Centre at Newington Armory in Sydney Olympic Park is the perfect school holiday excursion. The centre is focused on providing opportunities for kids to learn about and engage with birds in their natural habitat, rather than in captivity.  There is a free guided Bird Walk through the parklands on the last Sunday of every month from 10am run by BirdLife Southern NSW. They are led by knowledgeable guides who will help kids (and adults!) identify and spot different birds in the wild.

The kids will love Birdlife Discovery Centre at Sydney Olympic Park.

VIC:

  • School holidays at the Melbourne Museum: Melbourne Museum has opened a range of educational exhibitions and activities for the school holidays, and access to them all is included with museum entry (free for kids and $15 for adults). Highlights include a Marine Life exhibition which has photos, underwater footage and rare specimens found in Victorian waters, from reef coral all the way to sharks and animals that live in the deep sea. There is also a Dynamic Earth exhibition featuring hundreds of geological specimens like rare minerals, giant crystals, uncut diamonds and gold nuggets. For added fun, there are 100 tiny dinosaurs ‘hiding’ throughout the museum for kids to find and there are prizes for finding them all – details are on the website.
  • Family fun at ScienceWorks: ScienceWorks is the perfect place for kids of all ages to stretch their minds these holidays. There are various school holiday activities to engage them in science, including an exciting ‘Lighting Room’ where older kids can watch a live electricity show. For little ones, there is a new Ground Up space for curious kids to explore, and the Air Playground where they can learn about our most precious resource – air. If your child is more of the sporty type, take them to Sportsworks to test out their athletic ability and teach them the science behind moving your body.

Melbourne Museum has opened a range of educational exhibitions and activities for the school holidays.

QLD:

  • City Hall and Museum of Brisbane: The Brisbane Museum is located inside the historic City Hall building and offers school holiday activities to suit the whole family – all for free. The museum’s latest exhibition is made not only for kids, but by kids. As the coronavirus shut down schools around Queensland, children were asked ‘What is Different?’, resulting in a fascinating collection of art. To ensure there is something interesting for both parents and kids, the museum offers guided tours of the heritage-listed City Hall, which remains a working civic building! Along with this, there are daily tours of City Hall’s Clock Tower, which include a ride in one of Brisbane’s oldest working cage lifts and panoramic views of the city.
  • Seaside Christmas Festivities: For Christmas festivities by the sea, Bribie Island Seaside Museum in Moreton Bay is holding a series of kids’ activities right up until 24 December. There are arts and craft demonstrations every weekend, Christmas activity packs for each child and puzzles to solve on the ‘Merry Quizmas’ trail. Families can also take photos in a special Underwater Christmas scene, find the Seaside Elves visiting from the North Pole, and add a message to the Tree of Hope, which will be used to make a wreath for next Christmas.

The Brisbane Museum offers school holiday activities to suit the whole family – all for free.

SA:

  • Christmas in Adelaide City: The City of Adelaide has organised free community events for all families to enjoy this Christmas, from markets to live music performances and more. A key highlight is the Window Wonderland trail to explore all the festive displays and decorations around the CBD. Light Up Christmas is an outdoor sunset show with circus acts and musicians performing in Victoria Square over two nights, and Christmas Sounds offers a free series of live family shows each night under the lights of the big Christmas tree.
  • Christmas at the Mortlock: The Mortlock wing at the State Library of South Australia is a heritage listed Victorian building and currently features a huge Christmas display – including the largest Christmas tree in Adelaide. The display takes visitors back to how Aussies have celebrated Christmas throughout the generations, with archival photos, cards – including one from Don Bradman, menus from Christmas dinners aboard ships, postcards sent home to family and friends by WWI soldiers, and more. The exhibition is on until 4 January and is free to attend with no bookings required.

All the activities mentioned and more are available in the Skills and Thrills school holiday e-guide for parents. These activities and programs have been specifically designed for Australian kids across the 2020/21 summer holiday period. Download your copy on the website for a curated list of activities in your state.

Shazia Juma-Ross from Skills and Thrills shares her top activities for keeping kids and families entertained during the Australian summer school holidays.

At home DIY activities to do together …

The summer school holidays are the perfect time to spend extra time with the kids and get creative together. DIY activities like arts and crafts are perfect because they can be done at home with minimal cost. There are also a wide range of activities available to suit your child’s specific interests, but these are a few favourites that can be found online; for younger kids, some fun and cute DIY activities include making colourful ice chalk, polka dot slime or glittery space crayons that they can then play with. Older kids might enjoy a marshmallow and toothpick building challenge, making a LEGO zipline, or a ‘flight school’ game with paper planes!

Take them to sing Christmas Carols

Singing Christmas carols is one of the most exciting parts of the festive season for many kids. Most local councils hold official events so the community can gather and sing carols in the park or similar, so you can get involved no matter where you live. This year could be a little different due to COVID-19 restrictions, so be sure to check if there are any additional steps needed – for example. whether you need to register for social distancing purposes or bring face masks for yourself and the kids.

Online classes so the kids continue to learn

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean kids can’t keep learning. For something fun and educational for them to get into, there are various online classes available to be done at home. Unlike traditional e-learning, the programs are live streamed with tutors who run each workshop and interact via video and online chat with the kids at home. Activities are all skills-based and engaging, for example they have a Kitchen Chemistry workshop, where kids follow along to make lava lamps and bubbling volcanoes using ingredients found at home. There is even a gingerbread house decorating class to help get them in the festive spirit! Class sizes are kept small so that the kids have a fully interactive experience.