Cheap school holiday activities
School holidays on a
School holidays can be an expensive time for your family. Our
poll of ASIC's MoneySmart website users* found that most people
acknowledge they spend more money during school holidays than at
other times of the year.
Here are some MoneySmart ideas for cheap or free activities you
could try with your kids during the school holidays.
School holiday activities at
Make a list of all the possible activities you could do with
your kids in the school holidays and put it on a fridge as a quick
reference. Then you can slowly work through it and tick it off as
With some planning, a modest budget and a bit of creative
thinking, there are plenty of free or cheap activities you can do
at home with your kids. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Plant a vegetable garden
Even if you only have a small outdoor area you can create a
simple vegetable patch with your kids. If you don't have a yard,
you could plant seeds in pots and even decorate the pots. It is a
good idea to choose fast growing plants so the kids can see the
Who says you need to leave the house to go camping? Why not set
up a tent in the backyard and have a night out camping. If the
weather is bad you could set up your tent inside the house
Plan a day of cooking or baking with your kids - you could even
have a cooking competition with members of the family. This is
usually a popular activity because you get to eat the results.
Borrow some movies from your local library, pop some popcorn and
you'll have an authentic cinema experience in your home. You could
even move your TV outside for the night and create an outdoor
cinema under the stars.
Arts and crafts
Try face painting, papier mache, building a collage, painting or
making masks or beaded jewellery. Use craft materials from around
your home rather than going out to buy special items. It's amazing
what you can create from buttons and odds and sods from your
kitchen drawers. Options are only limited by your creativity and
Build a cubby
Who doesn't love a pillow fort? Try building a cubby out of
boxes, sheets or other things around the house. Putting sheets or
blankets over a washing line or kitchen table can be a quick, fun
way to make a hideout for your kids.
Read a book
Get your children to pick a few books you can read together as a
family over the course of the school holidays. Don't buy special
books when you can borrow books for free from your local
Hide some things around the house or yard and write some clues
or create a treasure map to lead your kids on an exhilarating
adventure with a prize at the end.
Let your kids lose in your cupboard and see what costumes they
can come up with. It's amazing what they can do with a few scarves,
hats and coats.
Invite one or two of your child's friends over to play for a low
cost day at home. Provide paint and paper, bats and balls or dress
up gear and the kids should be able to keep each other
School holiday activities out and
Depending on your budget and transport options, there are plenty
of low cost school holiday activities away from home.
Visit your local library and attend their free story time.
Libraries also run other school holiday activities like arts and
craft and computer and simple electronics courses for older kids.
Keep in mind you might need to reserve a space for some
Museums and galleries
Many local museums and galleries have free entry and offer
creative and interesting school holiday programs, sometimes free or
for a small fee. These programs are perfect for budding artists,
archeologists and scientists.
Going to the beach, national park or river during the warmer
months is a fun and free activity the whole family can enjoy. Build
sandcastles, go for a swim or a bush walk - but remember the
If you have fishing gear, take your kids fishing. This can be an
enjoyable day out even if you don't catch anything, but if you are
lucky you might snag a free fish dinner. Remember to make sure you
get a fishing licence if it is required in your state.
Go to the park
Take your kids to the local park. You can pack a picnic, walk
the dog or fly a kite on a windy day. A lot of parks have
playgrounds and climbing equipment as well as bike trails, cricket
nets or basketball hoops you can use for free.
Shopping centres often host free school holiday activities that
your children might enjoy, including live entertainment, plays,
music or art and craft activities.
Kids plan their big weekend adventure
MoneySmart Teaching's Big Weekend
Adventure digital activity for kids in Years 5 and 6 will
teach your child how to to organise a weekend away for the family.
They will learn how to make decisions about travel, food,
accommodation and activities based on their budget.
Get your kids to budget for
the school holidays
Before you start planning for your school holiday activities, it
can be a good idea to work out your budget. This is also a good
time to discuss budgeting with your children and get them involved
in working out how much activities will cost. You could set a daily
or weekly spending limit and then ask your children to work out a
budget for activities that are priced within that limit.
Our budget planner will help you and your kids crunch the
Our TrackMySpend app can help you work out whether you are
keeping to your budget while you are out and about.
For more ideas and tips take a look at our page on teaching kids
Get creative these school holidays and have fun
with your kids without spending a fortune.
Last updated: 19 Aug 2016