With summer now officially here, the summer school holidays lay ahead. They are a long stretch for parents, with most kids home from mid-December until the end of January. How are you going to keep them entertained?
Rest assured, we've got enough ideas here to please everyone - and some of them even involve helping you out around the house.
With this summer set to be one of the hottest on record, keep the kids entertained AND cool with water play - make sure they're supervised at all times:
1. Set up a sprinkler in the backyard for the kids to run through (and water the garden at the same time).
2. Younger kids love pouring and mixing. Set up a water station in a shady spot with a paddling pool or buckets full of water and containers from the kitchen.
3. Bath the dog.
4. Slip and slide.
5. Bath their dolls.
6. Make enormous ice blocks then watch them melt in the sun. To make, fill ice cream containers with water and plastic animals or leaves and flowers. Freeze overnight.
7. Wash the car.
8. Water fights - strictly outside only.
9. Swim at the beach - stay between the flags!
10. Swim at your local public swimming pool.
11. Paddling pool in the backyard.
Out and about
Keep your kids out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, and if you are heading out slather them in sunblock and have them wear a hat.
1. Hit the park, take the scooters and bikes.
2. Visit a botanical garden.
3. Make sandcastles at the beach. To make an erupting volcano, make a well, add baking soda then pour food colouring and vinegar in.
4. Go for a picnic.
5. Go to the museum (where it's air conditioned).
6. Check your council website for community events like outdoor movie nights. The councils also run great initiatives that kids can get involved in like shellfish monitoring, tree planting, adopt a park.
7. Go to the library and stock up on books.
8. Fish and chips on the beach for dinner, the water is warmest for swimming in the evenings.
9. Visit Nana.
10. Go fishing off the wharf.
11. Dinner at the night markets.
12. Visit the art gallery.
13. Explore the rock pools at the beach.
14. Collect shells and driftwood from the beach.
15. Go skating.
16. Go kayaking - always wear a life jacket.
17. Eat ice cream
18. Go on a short bush walk. Take water and snacks.
19. Crab fishing. Tie chicken bones to string and dangle them in the rock pools.
20. Go for a bike ride.
21. Visit a waterfall.
22. Have a public transport day. Go out for lunch or ice cream and catch the bus/ferry/train.
23. Go for a drive or walk around the neighbourhood and look at all the Christmas lights on people's houses.
24. Get your annual 'kids with Santa' photo.
25. Have a game of tennis at your local tennis club.
26. Do a beach clean-up.
27. Fly kites at your local park, beach or reserve.
Give them a creative project or a job
Allowing kids to be creative or to take ownership of a project can give them a real sense of empowerment - and they'll invest more time in it.
1. Give them a patch of garden to care for. Let them choose their own seeds/plants from the garden shop, plant them, water them and watch them grow. If you don't have much land, create portable gardens using plant pots, gumboots, wheelbarrows, buckets, whatever containers you have at hand. You can even plant seeds in egg shells.
2. Paint a mural. Stick large sheets of paper up on the fence and arm them with full-size paint brushes and water-based poster paints.
3. Have them plan a simple family meal - including shopping for the ingredients and cooking it (with your assistance of course).
4. Paint rocks / make pet rocks.
5. Make it their holiday job to walk the dog, or have them offer to walk the neighbour's dog. (Early morning or evening - the footpath gets too hot for dogs' paws during the day.)
6. Make shell art or driftwood art with finds collected from the beach.
7. Make jewellery using string, beads and buttons (you can find buttons at second-hand stores or places like Spotlight if you don't have any at home).
8. Make lemonade ice blocks using leftover flat lemonade.
9. Make a bird feeder. A simple one we know: roll a pine cone in margarine then roll in bird seed. Suspend with string from tree.
10. Make Christmas crackers out of toilet rolls or clingwrap rolls cut in half.
11. Make postcards and send them to their friends.
21. Create a scrapbook or photo album about their life/holiday/family.
Teach them stuff
Holidays are the ideal time to teach them things that you planned to during the year but never got round to.
1. How to tie their shoe laces.
2. How to tell the time.
3. How to make their bed properly.
4. How to fold a fitted sheet (does anyone actually know how to do that?)
5. How to fillet a fish.
6. How to bake a cake.
7. How to knit.
8. How to sew.
9. How to ride a bike.
10. How to make scones.
11. How to skip stones.
12. How to do their buttons up.
13. How to make a cup of tea.
14. How to make their own sandwich.
15. How to repair a puncture on a bike tyre.
Sometimes it's nice just to hang out at home and not go anywhere.
1. Make huts.
2. Backyard cricket.
3. Make an obstacle course.
4. Play the 'floor is lava' game.
5. Play cards.
6. Play monopoly.
7. Get them to clean their room (and reward them with ice cream after).
8. Play croquet.
9. Play connect four.
10. Have a poker tournament using buttons as chips.
11. Face painting.
12. Pitch the tent in the backyard and have a sleepover.
13. Do jigsaws.
14. Make perfumes and potions using flower petals, leaves and water.
15. Make playdough and set them up at the kitchen table with rolling pins and cookie cutters. Here is a good recipe.
16. Play Yahtzee.
17. Draw on the concrete using outdoor chalk.
18. Play hopskotch.
19. Play four square.
20. Blow up balloons and play indoor volleyball (good for teaching little ones eye-hand coordination).
22. Play pick-up sticks.
23. Set up a net and play outdoor volleyball.
24. Play badminton.
25. Play dominoes.
26. Write a letter to Nana and post it at the post office.
27. Treasure hunt.
28. Lie on your backs and watch clouds.
29. Paint your nails.
30. Make a marble run.
31. Make mud pies.
32. Make origami.
33. Make slime.
34. Play hide and seek.
35. Have them put on a performance or dance show for the family.
36. Do puzzles / word finds / cross words / sudoku.