The days can be long and hard if you don't get some heavy-duty kid friendly activities planned for the winter school holidays. It can be hard on the budget though, so here are some ideas that are bound to please everyone. Most are free or under $20 per family.
CERES Environmental Park Cnr Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East
Learn to be energy wise and the kids can feed the chooks. The organic café and market are open seven days a week. Be entertained by live music on the weekend and on Wednesdays. Take a book for exchanging in the old Bread cave. There's lots to do at CERES and there's no entry fee. Click here to find out more.
Source: CERES Environmental Park / ww.ceres.org.au
The Melbourne Museum is great all year round and they run special school holiday activities. The Children's museum runs special exhibits so check their website. It has many outdoor games, hands on activities including a dinosaur digging area and other educational activities. Entry is free for kids and just $12 for adults. Many concession cards are accepted.
Scienceworks 2 Booker St, Spotswood
Scienceworks makes learning about science and technology a fun, interactive adventure. The museum offers many interactive science and technology activities, live demonstrations, shows, guided tours and other special activities. Even if you have been there before it's worth another visit as they have changing exhibitions.
The Children's Garden is an interactive educational environment for children of all ages and abilities to play, explore and discover the natural world. There's plenty to explore in and around the Children's Garden. They even provide a '50 things to do at the Royal Botanic Gardens... and some more beyond' checklist. Last year we participated in the hands on and engaging Indigenous program, which started with a smoking ceremony and included weaving and ocher painting.
The Botanic Gardens are a short walk from the Shrine, the Arts Centre or a run around the Tan. This can turn into a whole day adventure so pack a picnic or enjoy the food at the cafe.
It's also worth a drive to the Cranbourne Botanic gardens (Ballarto Road and Botanic Drive). This is an extensive garden area of over 300 hectares including heathlands, wetlands and woodlands. They have a unique red sand garden. Animals, birds, rare and endangered species can be observed. The Royal Botanic gardens run special events such as a nighttime nocturnal walk and all abilities walk.
Kid's Farms Melbourne has several great kid's farms. Pet an animal or admire the little creatures at a farm. Here are some well-reputed farms and some features of each.
Source: Anneli Salo / Wikimedia Commons
Edendalefarm is entry by donation. There are many school holiday programs as well as opportunities to touch and feed the animals. This farm runs educational sustainability courses and hosts many volunteers.
Bundoora Park is billed as Melbourne's most diverse park. This includes a large natural park with loads of play equipment and much more. Cooper's Settlement includes a heritage village, wildlife reserve, community gardens and children's rides. Children can feed and handle animals and have pony and tractor rides at the children's farm. Bundoora Park offers a great holiday program for primary school aged children where they spend the day on the farm.
Collingwood Children's Farm is extensive and unique as it's in the city. It's not far from the Abbotsford Convent, which has lots of interesting places to eat. Collingwood Children's Farm offer close up animal experiences including cow milking twice daily. The Collingwood Children's Farm also holds special events such as the Farmer's Market every second Saturday of the month. Every first Saturday is Family Day and this includes horse and tractor rides. You can milk a cow, cuddle a guinea pig and feast on an inexpensive BBQ lunch.
Myuna Farm has only a $6 entry fee, which includes bread for feeding time. They have a train ride to view the animals and horse rides. Check out their websites for free and cheap holiday programs.
Source: Joe Crawford via Flickr / Wikimedia Commons
Library Remember that your local library offers many activities for pre-schoolers, primary aged students and adults. They often coincide with other special community events. Some examples include storytelling, visual or performing srts and they are free.
Queen Vic Market
Cnr Elizabeth St & Victoria St, MELBOURNE CBD
This winter the night market will open every Wednesday night from 3 June – 26 August. It will feature some short award winning films programmed by a guest presenter. There are also lots on for little marketeers such as little foodie activities, scavenger hunts and crafty ways to make food fun! Most of these activities are either free or a maximum of $10. These activities are generally suitable for school aged children (5 ). They are fully supervised activities designed for children only. Click here for details.
There's always plenty to do at Federation Square indoor and out. There's the Ian Potter gallery and ACMI are open all year long. ACMI run popular movies, classics and movies that are often only shown there.
ACMI also hold special events and other exhibitions. At Fed Square you will find pop up stands and yummy cafes. Sit on the Yarra and watch the passing traffic or enjoy the children's playground (right near Artsplay).
Westfield shopping centre performances and activities
Every school holidays the Westfield shopping centres aim to please the little ones and their parents. They run art and craft activities and performances often related to the latest movies. These are also absolutely free!
Bunnings and Masters
For your little DIY kids take a look at their free kid's activities. They run all year and go beyond glitter and paint. My kids have made small chalkboards and lots of other wood treasures that we wouldn't otherwise make.