If Christmas and the school holidays have left your bank account nearing empty and your patience thinning, try these top 5 free activities to keep the kids entertained at home.

Kids in the kitchen

Now stay with me here, I know this sounds like a recipe for a stressful and messy afternoon, but it keeps the kids amused and you get to have a treat with your calm down coffee after. Whilst I’d love to say we always whip up healthy and nutritious food, I’d be lying!

Our current favourite is rainbow cupcakes. These are super simple and great fun to make.

Make a batch of vanilla cupcake mixture, store bought or home made, both work, then divide it into a few bowls and add a different food colouring to each. Add a spoonful of each colour into cupcake moulds and bake. The result is a batch of psychedelic cupcakes that the kids can decorate with icing and sprinkles, or fondant shapes.

Other simple recipes to try – gingerbread cookies and banana and honey muffins and a new one for us on the to try list, homemade tiny teddies – wish us luck!


We all know that kids love water, mine are magnetically attracted to any puddle, pond or creek. Waterplay can be as simple as filling a bowl with water and getting the kids to wash their favourite toys, or turning on the sprinkler for a jump around.

Mud pies are constantly on the menu at our house, followed by making ‘perfume’, i.e filling a bucket with water and adding a variety of flowers and plants (and sand and mud) from the garden. Waterplay keeps my kids entertained for hours and cools them down on a hot day, which is a bonus.


This is a no-brainer, extensive research has proven that kids need to get out and explore by themselves. Find a nearby park or open space and just let them roam. Soon enough they’ll be climbing trees, inventing games, digging holes and generally having fun. The only rule is you must let them get on with it, don’t worry about dirt, mud or scraped knees, the benefits far outweigh the mess.

Sensory play

Sensory play is great as it generally uses materials you already have in your house as well as providing a whole gamut of developmental benefits. Be warned though, it can be messy. A quick internet search will provide you with a whole load of recipes for playdough, oblek (goo) or moon sand (our personal favourite). Also, try making your own instruments like rice shakers or pot and pan drum kits.

Research projects

This is a new activity for us, but so far it’s proving to be a winner. We chose a topic, for example the sea, birds, planets, the garden ect and then we start with a big piece of paper and some pens. We then write down everything we already know about the chosen topic and we endeavour to find out more. Our methods of research include the internet, books, YouTube, trips to the library and phoning Nana! We also draw pictures and if we’re feeling particularly crafty, some topic related craft activities. So far this has filled a few days of the school holidays and we have all learnt some new things on the way.

These are some of the simplest and cheapest ways I’m using to keep the kids entertained and my sanity intact. Have a go, and remember, they have to go back to school eventually!

What activities are you doing with your kids before they head back to school? Share with us in the comments.

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  • Having the kids help in the kitchen is doubly good – they have fun cooking and eating what they made and it stands them in stead for later years.


  • I think I’ll be trying a few of these with my kids over the holidays. It’s usually difficult keeping them busy during holidays


  • the research project is a good idea and will be useful later on too when they have to do it for sace.


  • A great list for the next school holidays weather pending. I didn’t read this when it was posted but in some states school had already gone back or went back within a week.
    Besides entertainment, I normally wait until a week or at the most 2 before school starts to buy them their new school shoes and their sports shoes. They grow out of them too quickly otherwise.


  • All great ideas for the kids,thanks!


  • My son adores waterplay! I love taking him out to splash around


  • What a pity this article appeared when the holidays are over or very close to. Will have to print out and put away fir next hols


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