With ice crunching beneath our feet and breath turning into clouds of mist, you could be forgiven for wanting to stay indoors this winter. And yet, anyone who has tried the ‘staying inside with kids’ experiment for any length of time will fervently agree that this is perhaps not the best plan.
We have examined before how important the notion of play is for developing brains. There is magic in the combination of using our hands and bodies to explore our environments. According to Dr Rachel E. White, ‘play builds the foundation for a lifetime of learning’.
Then there is the reality of the wonders of nature for rejuvenating our bodies - lowering stress levels, reducing the risks of disease. It has recently been discovered that we should be spending at least 120 minutes of our time outdoors per week to receive these benefits. Even if you just head to the playground you can congratulate yourself knowing you are participating in an activity that doctors are now prescribing!
But going out is expensive, you might be thinking. And yes, it can be, but if you know where to look, you can find a whole world of fun activities out there that don’t cost a cent.
Without further ado, here is a list of 13 great (and free!) ideas for you to indulge in this winter:
1. Visit the Top Arts Exhibition at NGV (Ian Potter Centre) (10am-5pm daily, until 14 July 2019)
Take in the creativity and hard work of the VCE art students and then soak in the rest of the wonders that the NGV has to offer (both at the Ian Potter Centre in Fed Square and the NGV International on St Kilda road).
2. Marvel at the Wonder of Fire at the Firelight Festival (5-10pm, 28 to 30 June 2019)
Keep warm at the Firelight Festival in the Docklands! There will be 40 free performances, water and light shows, fireworks from 8:45pm and plenty of food stalls.
3. Learn about Scratch Coding at Emerald Library (4-5pm, 1 July 2019)
For kids aged 8+, get them involved in learning the mechanics of coding with a fun and challenging program! Bookings at the link.
4. Build Your Own Snowman at Gembrook Community Centre (2:45-3:15pm, 2 July 2019)
If you have a Frozen fan, this one will be a hit - for kids 5+, bookings at the link.
5. Explore the Secret Garden Cubby Village at Bunjil Place (11am-4pm daily, 3-11 July 2019)
There will also be fairy craft (from 3-5 July) and rock painting (from 8-11 July). Perfect for kids aged 3-8 years.
6. Build a Lego Technic Machine (10:30am-12pm, 5 July 2019)
Visit the Library at The Dock to experiment with lego robotics! For kids aged 8 plus, bookings required.
7. Construct-O-Rama at City Library (10:30-12:30pm, 8 July 2019)
Get creative with recycled materials and build something amazing! For kids aged 5 plus. Bookings required.
8. Harness Your Creativity at the Library in The Dock (4:30-5:30pm, 10 July 2019)
Head on down to the Docklands for a day of creativity and fun. They provide the materials, you just bring your imagination and your family! There is even an area for babies with sensory toys, boxes and balls. Check out the links for information and booking details.
9. Art Workshops at Bunjil Place (11am-2pm daily, 9-11 July 2019)
Get your art on and learn how to paint with oil pastels (9 July), make posters (10 July) and create a mythical super creature (11 July). For kids aged 6+, parental supervision required.
10. Make a Peek-a-View Window (10:30-12pm, 10 July 2019)
Come along to the City Library to make your own window as part of the Peek-a-View exhibition. For kids aged 5 and up.
11. Enjoy a Family Gaming Night at Belgrave Library (5-8pm, 11 July 2019)
Bring along a plate of food and enjoy meeting other local families and playing games together.
12. Build a Newspaper Tower (10-11:30am, 11 July 2019)
The Southbank Library is issuing a challenge to see who can build the best newspaper tower. There are prizes and everything! (For kids aged 5-8 years)
13. Learn How to Make Bubble Dough (10:30-11:30am, 12 July 2019)
The Kathleen Syme Library is opening its doors to teach kids aged 5-8 how to make and dye bubble dough. Bookings required.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack a picnic lunch, pull on those warm and woolly jumpers and set out on the adventure!
Check out this great list of affordable activities for teens (from the winter program run by the City of Casey) or What’s On at the City of Melbourne. And if you don’t mind spending money - here is a collection of other activities, or this list of daytrip ideas (both from Mum’s Little Explorers). You can also visit the pop up Winter Village in Fed Square for some ice-skating fun!
Do you have any tips about how to do school holidays well? We would love to hear them!