Cheap school holiday activities
School holidays on a
School holidays can be an expensive time for your
family. Here are some MoneySmart ideas for cheap or free
activities you could try with your kids during the school
School holiday activities at
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.
Make a list of all the holiday activities you could do with your
kids and put it on the fridge. Then you can slowly work through it
and tick it off as you go.
- Plant a vegetable garden - You only need
a small outdoor area to 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 results quickly.
- Camp out - Who says you need to leave the
house to go camping? Set up a tent in the backyard and sleep
outside one night. If the weather is bad, set up your tent inside
the house instead.
- Cooking - Plan a day of cooking or baking
with your kids - you could even have a cooking competition. This is
usually a popular activity because you get to eat the results!
- Movie night - 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
- 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
- Read a book - Get your children to pick a
few books you can read together as a family over the school
holidays. Don't buy new books when you can borrow them for free
from your local library.
- Treasure hunt - 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
- Dress ups - Let your kids loose in your
wardrobe and see what costumes they can come up with. It's amazing
what they can do with a few scarves, hats and coats.
- Playdate - 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 themselves entertained.
Get out and about during school
Depending on your budget and transport options, there are plenty
of low-cost school holiday activities away from home.
- Libraries - Visit your
local library and attend their free story time. Libraries also run
other school holiday activities and courses for older kids. Keep in
mind you might need to reserve a space for some courses.
- Museums and galleries - Many local
museums and galleries have free entry and offer creative and
interesting low-cost school holiday programs. These are perfect for
budding artists, archeologists and scientists.
- The beach - 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 sunscreen.
- Go fishing - If you have fishing gear,
take your kids fishing. This can be fun even if you don't catch
anything; but, if you're lucky you might snag a free fish dinner.
Remember to make sure you get a fishing licence if it's required in
- 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. Many parks have playgrounds and climbing equipment as
well as bike trails, cricket nets or basketball hoops you can use
- Shopping centres - Shopping centres often
host free school holiday activities your children might enjoy,
including live entertainment, plays, music or art and craft
Kids plan their big weekend adventure
MoneySmart Teaching's Our 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 on a budget.
Get your kids to budget for
the school holidays
Before you start planning your school holiday activities, it can
be a good idea to work out a budget. This could be 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 kids to work out a budget
for activities that are priced within that limit.
Our budget planner will help you and your kids crunch the
For more ideas and tips take a look at our page on teaching
kids about money.
Get creative these school holidays and have fun
with your kids without spending a fortune.
Last updated: 20 Feb 2019