20 activities to keep the kids entertained
From virtual zoo tours to home science experiments and scavenger hunts, there’s no shortage of ways to keep your kids entertained and learning about Australian travel and culture from home.
Keeping the kids entertained at home for extended periods of time is no small feat. However, there are some amazing experiences and resources out there to give you a helping hand and keep them engaged. Once it’s safe to travel again, make sure you head out and take part in these experiences in real life. But until then, settle in and be inspired from the comfort of your own home.
1. Get baking
Foster a love for cooking and inspire and educate your kids about Aussie animals through their sweet tooth. Get your kids baking, let their imaginations run wild and see how many Australian animals they can make with cupcake decorations or cookie cutters.
2. Keep bright minds burning
There are plenty of online Aussie resources to keep kids engaged and learning. The National Science Museum and Technology Centre Questacon has a variety of at home resources, the educational site ABC Education provides access to more than 4,000 free videos and interactive resources, and the Maritime Museum has fun-filled online games and activity sheets.
3. Take a tour around Australian museums
Keep the kids engaged with arts and culture even from the armchair. Many of Australia’s best galleries and museums are offering virtual tours, including Queensland Museum, the Gallery of Modern Art, Melbourne Museum, Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Melbourne Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria.
4. Get active
Getting creative about how to channel rising energy levels is important. The Australian Ballet’s free morning classes are great for little dancers; or how about joining an online PE class specially tailored to kids with popular British fitness sensation Joe Wicks, or get the kids to join your own workout with Kayla Itsines. For the sports enthusiasts, Sport Australia has a host of ball, skipping, tag and water games for kids.
5. Foster the inner artist
Let creativity flow with Australian artist Ken Done’s online art resources, the ‘Thinking About Jimmy Pike’ visual arts program or The Museum of Contemporary Art’s stable of supplies. Or, simply print off some colouring sheets and get your kids colouring in their favourite Australian animal or creating an artwork of their most-loved Australian holiday spot.
6. Spot Australia in your favourite films
There are so many amazing Aussie locations represented in films, and what better way to start a bucket list of holiday destinations than by taking inspiration from the big screen? The classic story of Babe set in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Finding Nemo on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Oddball in Middle Island in South West Victoria, and Red Dog roaming the Australian outback are all great options.
7. Keep the music alive
To encourage your musical maestros, the Sydney Opera House has you covered with a new digital initiative, From our House to Yours. Free content will be launched regularly, including a range of videos, podcasts, playlists and hands-on activities created especially for kids. Dare we say it, it’s also a great time for kids to learn a new musical instrument with online lessons.
8. Make a bird feeder
Get your little ones interested in bird-watching by making a bird feeder to hang in the yard. There are lots of ideas online for bird feeders made from water bottles, craft sticks, and even LEGO bricks. The birds will love it, and the kids can keep a record of how many different birds they see.
9. Go on a nature scavenger hunt
Jump onto Pinterest and download a nature scavenger hunt checklist for your backyard or while the kids are out for essential exercise. These can include anything from flowers and leaves to birds and creepy crawlies. It’s a great way to get your kids outdoors in the garden and learning about the flora and fauna, and you can tailor it to suit your environment.
10. Get crafty with nature
11. Travel Australia on a virtual tour
There is so much you can experience of Australia using virtual tours and 360 videos. Go swimming with the sea lions, take a hike along the Three Capes Track in Tasmania, travel Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, see what it’s like to swim with whale sharks off the coast of Western Australia, or hang out with the kangaroos on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. For added engagement, encourage your kids to play a round of 'I Spy' while you watch the clips.
12. Plant an Australian garden
A great way to get your kids enjoying a bit of nature and learning about the Aussie landscape is to help them plant a garden that contains Australian natives. Kids can learn about each plant and how to care for it, giving them a daily task of watering and tending to their new garden. Consider using varieties of plants that have sensory and textural qualities as well.
13. Cook a meal from garden to table
Teaching your kids to cook can be a great family activity. You could even try planting a vegetable garden and have your kids cook what they grow. The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation is a great kitchen resource with lots of tips and recipes.
14. Go on a bear hunt
Go for a walk around your neighbourhood and look out for teddy bears and other soft toys in windows and trees and on balconies. This is part of a global bear hunt inspired by the children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.
15. Get creative with books
Instead of just reading, get your kids to re-create a scene from their favourite Australian book. Wombat Stew, Edward the Emu, Blinky Bill, Clancy the Quokka, and The Very Cranky Bear are all great ones that can be acted out with soft toys or with your kids in costume. Or, flick through the pages of Possum Magic by Mem Fox and learn about Australia’s environment and wildlife through unique storytelling.
16. Listen instead of watch
Audiobooks are another great way to keep kids entertained without screen time, with a host of educational benefits such as fostering imagination, encouraging visualisation and developing listening skills and quiet concentration. Public libraries across Australia are hosting virtual storytimes, and Audible is offering free books to help kids continue to dream, learn and imagine.
17. Go camping in your own backyard
Put the camping gear to good use by setting up a camping trip in your own backyard with the kids. Listen to Australia’s unique wildlife, or if you’re located in a city, why not try the Calm app and listen to the sounds of waterfalls or distant ocean waves. At night, do a bit of star-gazing and learn about the southern night sky with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ Australian Monthly Sky Guide podcast.
18. Change up your environment
Changing the environment your kids are spending all their time in can help clear away the boredom. Make a cubby house or pillow fort out of sheets or couch cushions, and spend the day creating stories and scenarios for the fort. One day it could be a pirate ship, the next a magical fairy tree-house.
19. Go to the zoo (virtually)
There’s nothing better than a trip to the zoo. Meet and learn about some of Australia's most iconic animals on a live-stream with Aussie zoos and wildlife parks. Zoos Victoria and Australia Zoo have a full library of videos for kids to get engrossed in, while Sydney Aquarium, SEA LIFE Melbourne, SEA LIFE Sydney and Wild Life Sydney Zoo have you sorted with new daily animal live streams.
20. Make a book
Together with your kids, create a mini-book of their favourite Australian holiday experience. They'll need to come up with a story, write it out and draw pictures to go along with it. It can take any form – a storybook, comic book, or even colouring book.