7 Cheap and Educational School Holiday Activities

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Early childhood educators from Thrive Early Learning have put together a list of the top low-cost activities to help keep your children stimulated during these school holidays.

“It’s a difficult time for many families at the moment with increasing cost of living pressures but the school holidays doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Thrive Centre Leader Belinda Gollan.

“Children learn through play and new experiences in the school holidays is a great opportunity to help them grow,” she says.

“We implement many of these ideas into our early learning programs and so we know they work to both entertain and educate children.”

Ms Gollan’s top activities that won’t break the bank these school holidays -

Water Play

“Whether it be filling a bucket with water or turning the hose on, children love water and it gives them a great creative outlet to get messy and have fun at the same time,” says Ms Gollan.

Simple water play ideas include a bucket of water and a paintbrush and letting them ‘paint the fence’ or allowing them to help you water the garden. For older children consider a small investment in reusable water balloons or event turn the sprinklers on to run through.

Connection to Country

“At our Thrive Early Learning Centres we have a big focus on connection to country so children can learn about Dreamtime stories and the land around where they live,” says Ms Gollan.

“You could use the holidays as an opportunity to research the First-Nations cultures in your local area and explore the local bushland and any historically significant sites.”

Board Games

“Dust off the snakes and ladders or monopoly and get children off devices these school holidays,” says Ms Gollan.

Old fashioned board games teach children problem solving skills and strategy and there are a variety of games for every age group.

Check out your local charity shop if you don’t have games of your own or even borrow them from your local library.

Get Cooking

“Children love to be included and what better way than letting them help with food preparation,” says Ms Gollan.

“Let them be creative about it. Why not help them pick a recipe and set up their own restaurant with a menu and properly set the table as well.”

Cooking teaches children about how to follow sequences, measurements and also patience!

Mini Olympics

“A sure fire way to tire out the kids these school holidays is to get them moving and a family friendly competition might be just what you need,” says Ms Gollan.

Set up your own obstacle course or mini Olympics with what you can find around the house or backyard. 

Egg and spoon races, rope tug of war, pillow sack races, fencing with pool noodles or wooden spoons and ping pong ball golf - there’s plenty of event categories to choose from! 

Perhaps you could even organise a chocolate gold coin for the winner.


“Playgrounds are still sometimes overlooked by parents when they’re trying to fill the days during the holidays yet they offer something for children of all ages,” says Ms Gollan.

“The gross motor skills gained by children from exploring playgrounds are essential for their development including jumping, climbing, swinging and sliding”

“Why not check out nearby playgrounds that you haven’t explored before or make a list of new ones you’d like to try.’

Set up Shop

“A great way to teach children about maths is to let them run their own shop,” says Ms Gollan.

“Perhaps they could set up a lemonade stand in the front garden or even a pretend shop with items they find lying around the house.”

“Give them real or pretend money to play with and teach them about transactions.”

“Let them dream about what they’d spend their business earnings on - you might find yourself with a budding entrepreneur on your hands!”

About Thrive Early Learning 

Thrive Early Learning Centres believe early childhood years are the most vital of a person's life - an important time to promote growth and development in all areas of wellbeing. 

Thrive encourages growth of the “whole” child, believing the social, emotional, physical and cognitive abilities are deeply intertwined and are equally important in ensuring a child’s well-being, learning and growth.

Thrive’s ‘Connected Program’ supports children, educators and families to be active participants in their world. They do this through the following initiatives:

Bush Kindy, connecting children to land

Futures Program connecting generations

Growfit connecting children to their wellbeing

Bonjour Babies connecting children to culture

Thrive Early Learning centres is family owned with a focus on nurturing and caring for children. Centres are built on a wealth of knowledge and many years of experience by both educators and management. 

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