School holidays are here and it is up to you to entertain the kids on a tight budget.  Here is a ‘quick-reference’ list of school holiday no-cost ideas to keep your kids out of your hair and not staring at the TV.

1. Milo Writing.

Place put some drink powder (ie. Milo, Nesquick) on the kitchen bench or tray, let your child lick their finger and practice making shapes, letters or just drawing (depending on the age/stage of your child).  Kids of all ages LOVE this (especially the chocolate eating part!) – the secret thing is that they are building their fine motor skills while they are playing!

2. Carpet hopscotch.

Using some masking tape, tape off some squares to form a hopscotch.  Use a small pillow (or something similar) for the ‘rock’ to throw onto the squares.  Great fun and once again your kids are building skills while they play: turn taking, communicating and rule-following.

3. Sensory Playdough.

Make your playdough following your favourite recipe (or a recipe can be found here).  Add different sensory ‘challenges’ when making the playdough (ie. Glitter, uncooked rice, lavender oil).  Also, when setting up the playdough tray/table, add different things to play with the playdough (ie. Fresh flowers, sticks, rocks, small figures (that can be easily cleaned!), bath toys etc.).  You will be amazed how adding different textures, sensory challenges or mediums changes the play of your children!

4. I-Spy Bags or bottles (great for car trips).

Fill up an empty bottle or see-through (strong) plastic bag with beads or rice.  Hide small toys and other bits ‘n’ pices (ie. Buttons, ribbons, pictures) within the beads and rice.  Make a list (or photo list) of the items hidden in the bottle/bag. Get your kids to ‘search’ for the items on the list by moving the bottle/bag around.  Seriously great fun, particularly in the car.

5. Busy Boxes.

Grab a small box with a lid and a few small toys to create a themed box (for example, pirates, space, farm etc) .  Print off a background, stick it on the bottom of the box, add the toys and you are finished!  Great for car trips or when you need some ‘quiet time’.  It is amazing how a child’s play changes when the toys are just put into a different situation.

6. Electrical tape road/race track.

Grab a roll of electrical tape and a permanent marker.  Create a road or race track shape by sticking the tape onto the carpet.  Draw a dotted line down the centre of the tape, add some cars and you have a new car track to play with!

7. Crash Mat.

Grab an old doona cover and stuff it full of towels, pillows, doonas etc.  Fill it right up.  Instant crash mat for your kids to jump, forward roll and muck around on!  Great skill development and burning off some energy!

8. Bring the Sandpit inside.

Make some space on the dining table and grab some sand and fill up a plastic containers (or a couple of smaller ones).  Add some dinosaurs and small tree branches – instant dino habitat! Even older kids could use this idea – add some Barbies and blue cellophane (for ‘water’) and they are at the beach!  Clean up is easy – vacuum or sweep up the sand and you are done!

9. Inside Picnic.

Grab the picnic rug, invite the toys and set up a picnic lunch in the lounge room!  Tiny sandwiches and drink bottles set the tone for a lunch with a difference.  Break up the day!

10. Movie Night.

Grab a D.V.D. and host a movie night! Encourage the kids to set up the lounge room like a movie theater, create movie tickets and unique popcorn holders.  They could also dress up and show you to your seat in the ‘theatre’.  A great way to spend some time together as a family!

Thinking outside of the box will really help you create special holiday memories without breaking the bank!  You don’t have to spend or leave your home to have fun together!


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  • great and fun ideas. great list for sure


  • i think having a super special movie night is a good idea especially with popcorn


  • These are great ideas im going to do this love the movie idea and the play dough


  • Ooooh, great ideas! I lvoe 2, 4, 5 and 7. School holidays only a few weeks away so good to stock up on ideas! Bookmarking this page!


  • Some great tips here, love the Milo one, kids will love doing this, thanks for sharing.


  • Love all these wonderful ideas.
    My favourite with my girls was the picnic inside and our movie nights always were very special.


  • Even tho my kids are older im sure i could adapt some of these for them. thnks heaps.


  • not to struck on a couple …thanks anyway.


  • Loved all the ideas except the Milo one. Kids should not be encouraged to eat junk food.


  • great ideas!! love the milo one- yummy


  • Great ideas! thank you!! :)


  • Oh I always loved the indoor picnic but would have them inside an indoor cubby house made by covering the dining table with blankets :)


  • Set the tent up outside, have a camp fire and roast marshmellows. Go for a bush walk, swap DVDs with friends for a movie day/night. Make your own icypoles with whatever you have on hand. Rearrange their bedrooms. Make cookies. Go to the library.


  • Great ideas! Will have to try a few when school holidays start!!


  • Some fantastic ideas, thanks for the article – enjoyed the read.


  • All these activities sound like fun especially the crash mat.


  • A little bit of imagination and you can find heaps of things to do to keep little hands and minds busy. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and anything that encourages a child to use their creativity and imagination is good. It’s a great way to get kids to make gifts for others too, and the pride they have in being able to say “I made that for you, Nanna” makes your heart smile.


  • This was interesting, i would have to say i liked something more then others. But some good ideas. Think we might do a race track around the dining room tomorrow.


  • Great read! Thank you for sharing


  • Milo writing! shh I am still recovering from yogurt play! (kids get nutrients by osmosis right?


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