School holidays is the perfect time to get your little ones outdoors and away from their screens. With a myriad of free and cheap ideas, you’ll also help with their development, learning and well-being.
Angie Thomas, Horticulture Consultant to Yates, and mother of two, is urging parents to encourage their kids into the backyard these holidays: “Don’t let the kids climb the walls these school holidays - get them outdoors for fresh air.
“Playing with dirt in the garden is scientifically proven to release happy chemicals like serotonin and help our little ones build their immune systems. Plus, a recent national survey commissioned by Yates revealed four out of 10 Aussies say their best memories with loved ones are made in the backyard.”
Angie’s top ten school holiday boredom busters under $10:
1. Build an outdoor fort
Your kids will be occupied for hours on end building a fort using furniture, sheets, empty boxes and anything else they can get their hands on (just not Grandma’s cherished tablecloth!)
This is a great activity, not just because it’s free but because your kids will need to practice teamwork to ensure their fort is the strongest it can be.
2. Plant a vegie garden
Visit your local nursery with the kids and let them pick out the seedlings that interest them (keeping under budget, of course). When kids are included in the sowing, growing and harvesting of their own vegies, they’re more likely to eat them come dinner time!
Remember to check seed packets to see what time of year is best to plant and use a seed raising mix to give them an extra boost.
Not sure what to grow? Check out our garden calendar.
3. Go on an insect safari
Your garden is buzzing with insects and bugs for your little ones to find and learn about. Head outdoors with the kids armed with a pen, paper and magnifying glass to learn about all walks of life and hone their observation skills by uncovering the secret lives of bugs.
Kids will learn to pay attention to smaller details while getting into your garden’s nooks and crannies looking for their new eight or six legged friends.
4. Make your own backyard games
There’s a tonne of backyard games you can make at home using everyday household items.
Have you ever played croquet? Make some hoops out of wire coat hangers, push them into the lawn and try to hit a tennis ball along the ground through the hoops with a bat of some kind.
You can also make homemade bocce using different coloured balls. Use one ball as the target, stand a few metres away and then try to throw your ball so it lands closest to the target ball.
5. Visit your local botanic garden
If you have limited green space at home you can still explore the wonderful world of growing with your kids at your local botanic garden. Take a walk through the grounds, pack a lunch or take part in a free guided tour many offer.
This is a great way to get some fresh air and inspire your kids to learn more about gardening together.
6. Go backyard camping
Missed out on a spot at your favourite caravan park? Look no further than your backyard!
Set up your tent, have a barbeque dinner and snuggle up in your sleeping bags under the stars for some quality family bonding time.
7. Build a worm farm
A great way to get kids interested in gardening is to let them get dirty and build their own worm farm. This hands on activity is a mini science experiment and kids can see up close what goes on in the life of a worm!
All you need are a few household items like a large plastic bottle and cling wrap, sand, soil, leaves and earthworms from your garden. Watch your new friends dig tunnels and mix up the sand and soil.
8. Host a scavenger hunt
Get your kids outside and exploring the garden with their very own scavenger hunt. They’re easy to create and can be tailored to any theme, age or location.
This is one of my favourite activities when it’s our turn to host my son’s school friends - it keeps them amused outdoors for hours.
9. Create your own mini terrarium
Do your kids have small toy cars, dinosaurs or fairies lying around and that are being neglected? Give them a new life and home by crafting a mini-terrarium for them to live in.
You can use an old fishbowl, vase or even a large drinking glass. Fill it with soil, small plants and tiny decorations and figurines.
Your child will learn the importance of recycling and the small size of the activity is calming and perfect for practicing mindfulness.
10. Make a friendly scarecrow
To protect your newly planted vegie patch get crafty with the kids and build your own friendly scarecrow using recycled household items.
Use old pillowcases, clothes the kids have grown out of or broken buckets, brooms or mops to craft your new garden friend. While building the scarecrow, children will begin to understand the importance of protecting and nurturing their plants.