50 Free School Holiday Boredom Busters

Keeping the kids entertained at home without busting your budget

School holidays are here again! You might be lucky enough to be going away or have some fun outings planned, but there will still be plenty of long summery days at home with the kids before school goes back. And when you’re unemployed or trying to get by on a low income, keeping the kids entertained on your tight budget can be a real challenge.

Beat boredom without needing to blow a load of cash on expensive outings and entertainment. Here’s our 50 top tips for at home entertainment that will keep the kids happy for hours!

  1. Ball bucket toss. Have the kids throw different sized balls into a range of buckets, awarding points for buckets further away.
  2. Go flying! Have a paper airplane making contest and fly them outside to see whose travels furthest.
  3. Make paper bag and sock puppets by day, then put on a shadow play at night.
  4. Fill up a little kiddie pool or put on the sprinkler – the kids will play happily for hours
  5. Get bubbly – grab some bubble mix and wands and let the kids have fun chasing bubbles around the garden.
  6. Stage an epic water gun or water bomb battle (outside, of course!).
  7. Fun and splash. If you’ve got a pool and some older kids, have them set a lilo boat race challenge, or play Marco Polo.
  8. Play dress ups! You don’t need a heap of fancy costumes – little ones love trying on Mum and Dad’s clothes. Just remember to take some snaps for those 21st birthday parties!
  9. If you’re feeling game – let your littlies use your makeup to give you (or themselves) a makeover.
  10. Get crafty with paper – make a paper doll chain.
  11. Make some of these awesome paper pom poms.
  12. Older kids might like to try their hand at origami with some of these cool origami instructions and ideas.
  13. Origami fans might like to challenge themselves to make and hang this funky mobile.
  14. Moving on to a different kind of paper – little ones will love making a toilet paper trail. Give them each a roll and have them make a path all around the house or garden, then follow it to find them.
  15. Mummy wrap. Kids will love working together to wrap you, or another child, up in toilet paper.
  16. Have the kids explore their inner Einstein with these fun science experiments.
  17. Camp out for the day (and overnight, if you like!). Help the kids pitch a tent in your yard and send them a packed lunch for the day’s campout. (The perfect way to give you some peace and quiet inside!).
  18. Losing your marbles? Grab a bag of marbles and have the kids challenge one another to a good old fashioned marble tournament.
  19. Race marbles down the hole of a swimming pool water noodle.
  20. Take the kids on a nature walk, pointing out different types of trees and plants.
  21. Get older kids to create a garden treasure hunt with easy clues for any younger ones.
  22. Go on safari – grab a camera or perhaps an iPad and have the kids create their own wildlife documentary, leading a trek through your garden beds looking for new species of insects or birds.
  23. Follow an ant around the yard and see what ants really do all day.
  24. Have the kids select a rock from the garden to be a pet rock and paint a face on it.
  25. Host a tea party in the garden. The kids could invite friends or their favourite teddies and dolls.
  26. Play hide and seek. (Remember – the simplest and most tried-and-trusted ideas are often the best!).
  27. Create a relay race or obstacle course out in the garden.
  28. Collect a heap of big cardboard boxes (try your local appliance store for ones they’re throwing away), and a roll of tape, and build a tunnel maze.
  29. Make big cars or a bus out of cardboard boxes. Give the kids some textas or paints to decorate them.
  30. Get spooky – older kids might enjoy sitting in a circle and telling their own ghost stories.
  31. If you have a sandpit, set a sandcastle challenge. The best castle in one hour wins something scrumptious!
  32. Get cooking! As a family decide on a meal that everyone likes, and get everyone to work together to help prepare it.
  33. Make little pizzas for lunch using pocket bread or English muffins.
  34. Bake something sweet and/or chocolatey. Or for a no-bake option, it’s hard to go past everyone’s favourite – chocolate crackles!
  35. Make ice blocks for the summer in pretty colours by blending, then freezing, yoghurt and mashed berries
  36. Do a blind taste test of some fun flavours.
  37. Got a dog? Challenge the kids to teach him a new trick.
  38. If the weather isn’t great outside, move indoors and make a blanket fortress using sofas, cushions, chairs and bulldog clips to hold up the blankets.
  39. Create a car track all around the house with masking tape, then take favourite toy cars for a drive.
  40. Rearrange your child’s room together, moving their furniture and toys about to create a fun, fresh look.
  41. Put the kids on duty. Give them a fun chore to do at home, such as washing the windows or car, in return for some pocket money.
  42. Grab a roll of butcher paper and create life-sized portraits by getting children to trace around each other as they lay on it. Then let them have fun decorating their portraits.
  43. Have the kids chalk up a cement path with a hopscotch grid.
  44. Set up shop! Gather tinned and dry goods from the pantry and go grocery shopping. Kids can learn to add and subtract and practice handling money at the same time.
  45. Mix your own playdough (it’s a lot easier than you might think!), then use rolling pins and cookie cutters to make some fun shapes.
  46. It’s karaoke time! Need we say more?
  47. Set up a day spa! Paint the toenails of everyone in the family.
  48. Need everyone to wind down a little? Teach the kids some yoga moves.
  49. Meditate with your children. You’ll all get to relax for a bit – see how long they can go without giggling!
  50. Can’t afford a holiday? Swap houses with a friend! Pack your suitcases treat it like you’re going on a real holiday.

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