10 School Holiday Activities you can do for free

I love the school holidays.  Leisurely mornings, pyjamas and a sit-down breakfast.  Beats rushing around like a crazy lady trying to get three kids out the door, in the car and off to school before the school bell rings!  The challenge, however, is keeping three children entertained all day – every day!   With the Christmas holidays almost upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to jot down some school holiday activities to occupy the kids this Summer.

1. Go on a Playground Crawl

10 School Holiday Activities: you can do for free: Go on a playground crawl

A playground crawl is to children what a pub crawl is to adults!  Children love exploring new playgrounds.  Make a list of their favourite ones for future visits.

2. Collecting Shells

10 School Holiday Activities:10 School Holiday Activities you can do for free: Collect Shells at the Beach

Collecting shells is great fun whatever the time of year.  Shells can be used for a variety of things, for example:

  • Collage
  • Making a sea shell mirror (you’ll need to bring home some sand for this one too!)
  • Shell painting.
  • Melted crayon shells – use crayons to decorate shells you’ve heated in the oven (check temperature before handing them to the kids).
  • Wind chimes.

3. Make your own Rock Pool at the Beach

10 School Holiday Activities Kids Playing in the Sea

Get the kids to dig a hole in the sand, and line it with plastic sheeting.  Then it’s off to the sea to fill their buckets and tip the water into the hole.  They can add seaweed, shells and whatever else they can find to make their very own rock pool.  At low tide, you’re sure to find lots of crabs hiding under rocks as part of their miniature marine ecosystem.  Just be sure to return all living creatures to the water when you’re done – and take the plastic sheeting home with you.

4. Make Scratch Art with Wax Crayons and Black Paint

Scratch art compressed

This activity was a huge hit at a birthday party my seven-year-old attended recently.  Using crayons,completely fill a sheet of heavy paper with thick stripes of different colours.  Cover evenly with a thick layer of black poster paint mixed with dish washing liquid in the ratio of 1 tablespoon : 1 drop.  Once dry, use a sharp implement, such as a skewer stick, to scratch artwork into.

5. Visit a Pet Shop

10 School Holiday Activities Pet Shop girl with kitten

Kids get really excited visiting pet shops – but beware – if you’re a soft touch, you may end up coming home with more than just the kids!  If you’re definitely not planning on buying anything, it might pay to brief them beforehand to avoid disappointment.  Also see activity number 7 below!)

6. Baking

10 School Holiday Activities: Kids Baking

Baking is one of those activities that kids generally love helping with.  For younger children, it’s a good idea to measure out the ingredients in advance so that they are not waiting around for too long.  For older children, the learning opportunities are just wonderful – maths, science, literacy – the works!  Licking the bowl clean at the end is of course the highlight, irrespective of the child’s age!

7. Gardening

10 School Holiday Activities Boy Gardening

Give the kids an area of the garden to tend.  Swan plants are always a great hit, along with a few of their favourite edibles.  Again, there are an abundance of learning opportunities associated with this activity – and it teaches children a sense of responsibility.  If you’re feeling the pressure to buy a pet at the pet shop, why not get the children to demonstrate how responsible they are with some plants first?!

8. Sign up for Sumdog

10 School Holiday Activities: Sumdog Maths Game

Sumdog is a brilliant online tool for helping your kids brush up on their Maths while they’re on holiday.  It’s free to join, great entertainment value, and helps improve mathematics skills all at the same time.  Great for those rainy days.

9. Take a Trip to the Library

10 School Holiday Activities: Visiting the Library

Your local library will often have a reading competition or programme for your child to participate in during the school holidays.  This is one of my favourite school holiday activities.  Or, simply curling up with the kids on a beanbag and reading their favourite stories to them. is sure to earn you plenty of brownie points!  Get them their own library card and let them check out their own books using the scintillating self-service scanners – it will be the highlight of their visit if your children are anything like mine!

10.   Make a hideout using a sheet or blanket

10 School Holiday Activities: Secret Hideout

My kids simply adore making hideouts.  Give them an old sheet or blanket to drape over tree branches or a couple of outdoor chairs.  What better way to fuel your children’s imaginations and keep them entertained for hours?

I’ve picked my 10 favourite school holiday activities, but there are hundreds to choose from.  Why not ask you kids what they would like to do?  With a little luck, they’ll come up with a few good ideas that don’t cost the earth!  If you have a list of your most popular forms of entertainment to while away the (hopefully) hot, lazy Summer, then please do share them here – we’d love to hear from you.

About the Author

About Kiwi Earth Mother
Formerly an English lawyer, Sharon now resides in the Waikato, New Zealand, with her husband and three children.

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In 2001, Sharon exchanged life as a successful London lawyer for Australian backpacking adventures.  Next stop, Auckland, New Zealand, where she met and married a Kiwi.  Sharon retrained as a Secondary School Teacher, teaching in two schools, before taking time out to raise a family. She is a proud mother of three - two girls aged six and three, respectively, and a nine month-old baby boy... Read even more

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