21 cheap and easy tricks to survive the school holidays

Dec 18, 2019 | for home, for schools, general

Brace yourselves. The school holidays are GO! That means six or more weeks of kids needing/wanting/whining about something to do. So to save you from bankruptcy after the blow out that is Christmas (not to mention New Year), and to keep your cool despite the predicted summer heatwave for Australia this year, we at BIBO have put together the ultimate list of cheap and cheerful, fun and free(ish) kids’ activity ideas to survive the school holidays.

There are 21 clever ways to keep little ones busy which means if you spread them out, it will soon be time to hunt for the lunch boxes which you forgot to clear out from the bottom of the school bag at the end of last term. #thoughtsandprayers to those who discover the requisite squashed banana in there that’s been mouldering away all stinking hot summer long.

So gird your loins, take a deep breath and go forth with these cool ideas for kids’ activities which will keep you feeling even cooler. Enjoy.

1. What dissolves in water?

For this science experiment, you’ll need five jam jars half filled with chilled water (your BIBO water bar will make this step easy). Add sugar to one, salt to another, gelatin powder to another, followed by flour and pepper to the remaining two jars. Make sure to use equal quantities for each one. Ask the kids to predict which substance will disappear into the liquid and then see if your budding science geeks were on the money with their answers.

2. Glow in the dark skittles

At dusk, fill up nine empty plastic drink bottles with water and add a glow stick to each. Who can knock over the most in the dark with a tennis ball?

3. DIY board games

Buy some brightly coloured sheets of card and felt tip pens and see who can make the most imaginative board game. There are some great ideas here from Wisebread you can try.

4. Have a bake-off

Kids love to cook and introducing a competitive edge will make it even more fun. They start by making their own pastry – but remind them they’ll get the best results by using chilled water. Here are a few recipes from Epicurious to get your mini masterchefs started.

5. Open a mocktail bar

Get in a selection of juices, fresh fruit such as banana, apple, mango and strawberry, some fruit cordials, soda water and lemonade and crush some ice to see who can create the greatest cocktail. They can use chilled water from your BIBO water bar and make up some crazy names for their creations.  Click here for some very creative ideas from Town and Country magazine.

6. Backyard letters

Mark out an area roughly a metre squared in either the back yard or a local park and give the kids 30 minutes to find an item starting with every letter of the alphabet and put it inside the square. You? Bring a camping chair, a flask of a delicious fruit tea using the clever ambient temperature controls of your BIBO and r-e-l-a-x.

7. Flap the Kipper

Cut out two large fish shapes from a newspaper and then divide the rest of the paper in two and roll up the pages to create a baton. 1–2–3 the race is on to see who can flap their kipper to the other side of the room first! Be warned, this simple game can get um, competitive. Watch a video from Kidspot of the game in action here.

8. Sunshine lollies

Refreshing and nutritious, these vegan and gluten-free treats are low in sugar, can be made overnight and will cool kids down on even the hottest days. They’re also fun to make.  Simply grate five large carrots, place on a clean tea towel and squeeze the juice into a bowel. Add the juice of three oranges and two mandarins to 360ml of ice cold water from your BIBO water bar and pour into lolly moulds. Freeze until firm. Delish!

9. Bookworm bonanza

Not only are there hundreds of new books to enjoy, but most libraries run kids’ activities over the summer, many of them free. Just think what a quick Google could do for your blood pressure!

10. Balloon legs

Tie a balloon to each child’s ankle and then have the kids run around and try to pop other people’s balloons. The winner is the one with the last balloon unpopped. Silly, noisy, fun – what more do kids want?

11. Make your own puzzles

Tear out some pages from a glossy magazine, cut them up into different shapes and see who can create the best jigsaw puzzle. Or get the children to do the cutting and see what funny pictures they can make by pasting different photos together. Free and eco-friendly – genius!

12. Google drawing tips

Have a contest for who can draw the best animal – but everyone’s allowed to cheat by simply googling ‘How to draw a…’ followed by their choice of critter.  Each child has 30 minutes to draw and colour in their creation using the on-screen tips before it’s everyone’s turn to guess. Giraffe or cat with a long neck? Bear or wombat?

13. Make a rainbow in a jar

This is a fabulous way to introduce little ones to the idea of water density. You’ll need four glasses of water at about 50 degrees centigrade.  (fortunately, you can set your BIBO water bar to the exact temperature you need). The amount of water has to be exactly the same in each. Add the same amount of liquid food colouring to each one; a different colour in each glass.

Next, add different amounts of sugar to each one. For example, in the jar with red water is 2 tbsp of sugar, yellow has 4 tbsp, green has 6 tbsp and blue has 8 tbsp. Stir each one vigorously until all the sugar is dissolved. Next, use a pipette or baster to transfer a little of the red water to the yellow one. Then a little of the yellow to green and so on. The results will amaze them!

14. Bean bag ladder toss

Set up a step ladder in the back yard and throw small bean bags onto the rungs. The higher you get, the more points you gain. The winner gets to make themselves a cup of iced chocolate using the BIBO Water bar. There’s a great recipe from Taste and Tell here.

15. A day at the museum

So many museums put on special activities for youngsters during the holidays so look up your local one and find out what’s going on to keep your brood busy before they go back to school.

16. Make a den

All it takes it a couple of chairs and a sheet, or a blanket draped over a table to make a den into which your holiday horror can take cushions, books, snacks and (most importantly) themselves in for an hour or two. It’s the simple things…

17. Beach bodies

Fill your BIBO glass water bottles with chilled water from your BIBO Water bar and head for the beach with towels, sunscreen and some icy cold watermelon slices. It’s free, it’s outside in the fresh air and it’s the best part of any school summer holiday ever!

18. Grab bag and go

Keep a roomy bag packed by the front door with swimmers, BIBO glass water bottles, hats, sunscreen, towels, snacks such as dried fruit and crackers, plus a ball and a pack of cards. That way, when it all gets a bit too much at home you can head for the nearest oval, playground or swimming pool to cool off. And never underestimate the value of the timer on your phone or watch for keeping a kid busy by challenging them to run to the nearest tree before the timer goes off – it’s an oldie but a goodie.

19. Three card trick

remember when a pack of cards was all it took to keep you occupied as a child? Well, now’s the time to introduce your offspring to the delights of a card game that will use their powers of concentration and deduction while whiling away a hot afternoon. There are some great family games to start with from Bustle here.

20. Have an ‘opposite day’

Say ‘hello’ when you mean ‘goodbye’, have breakfast for dinner (and vice versa), wear PJs in the garden and nod when you mean ‘no’. See who can last the longest and who gets confused first.

21. Smoothie time

Up the kids’ vitamin intake with a nutritious smoothie made with the aid of the chilled water function on your BIBO water bar. So simple to make, little people can help out too. Keep the fruit bowl full and they can come up with their own crazy concoctions. Find some delicious smoothie recipes from Taste here.