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8 Low Cost Kids' Activities for Rainy Days

Home > Melbourne > Family | Fun for Children | Kids | School Holiday Activities | Lists
by Lucy Watson (subscribe)
A stay at home Mum who doesn't stay at home much; too many exciting things to be discovering in this city...
Published March 8th 2012
It's raining cats and dogs outside, the kids are driving you up the wall and it's only ten o'clock in the morning. It's going to be a long day. What do you do? It seems much easier (and cheaper) to entertain children outdoors than in, but do not despair. Below are eight indoor boredom- busters, guaranteed to restore your sanity without breaking the bank.

1. Head down to your local Swimming Pool
This is a great choice for a rainy day because the little ones can burn off energy like there's no tomorrow. There are some great indoor pools in Melbourne with all kinds of interesting features. One of our favourites is Casey RACE which has a splash pad for the tinies and some great waterslides for older kids. Most swimming pools don't charge much over $5 for adults so this is really pocket-friendly too. If you click here you will find a list of councils in Melbourne. Click on your council and go to the Leisure/Recreation section to find out about your local pools.

Nearly all kids love a trip to the swimming pool

2. Visit your local Library
News Flash: Libraries don't just contain books. It might be a while since you visited but libraries today have a lot more than books to offer. Magazines, audio CDs, CD Roms and DVDs are just a few of the great items on offer. Besides the borrowing aspect, most councils also have library activities timetabled across their branches. For the little ones there are rhyme time and story time sessions and for school age children there are age appropriate book clubs.

During the school holidays, many have skills workshops, art and craft activities and interactive shows you can take the kids to watch. The best thing about the library is it's free! If you click here you will find a list of councils in Melbourne. Click on your council and go to the libraries page to find out about your local libraries.

3. Catch a Kids' Flick at the Cinema
Although a little more expensive than some activities, this is a great relaxing way to while away a wet afternoon. There are lots of kids' films on at any time of the year and for something a bit special you could take the family to see a 3D film. IMAX in Carlton not only features the latest releases in 3D, but also has educational films if you fancy getting away from the usual Disney stuff. You can keep costs down by taking your own movie snacks and treats with you. Village Cinemas and Hoyts Cinemas are two of the most popular chains in Melbourne. These websites detail locations and session times of both.

Catching some 3D action at IMAX

4. Pop into a Cafe for a Yummy Milkshake
There are plenty of family friendly cafes around Melbourne. For a grown up treat, take your little ones for a milkshake and a cookie, or whatever their poison is. If you pack some colouring books and crayons to stretch the adventure out a little, you might even get time for a quick caffeine fix yourself.

5. Create a Masterpiece at a Ceramic Cafe
If you have a future Picasso on your hands, get them down to a ceramic cafe. Your kids can choose a piece of pottery to paint and get all artistic on you. When they're finished, leave the masterpiece at the cafe to be fired and go back to collect it a few days later. No paint pots to wash up and no mess made. There are several ceramic cafes in Melbourne and generally speaking you pay a 'studio fee' of around $6 per person before paying individually for whichever you ceramics you pick. These start at around $5 for small objects like coasters and go up to around $35 for large plates and platters.

A kids' workshop at Bunnings

6. Do some DIY at Bunnings
Yes, we are still talking about children's activities here, although Dads might want to get in on the act. Many Bunnings stores run workshops for kids on a regular basis. They are free to children over the age of 5, although all kids must be accompanied by an adult. Your budding wood-workers can construct all kinds of creative items, like toolboxes, CD holders and planter boxes. They get to paint them too and of course, take their projects home. Numbers are limited, so it's important to book in advance. It's worth visiting your local store to see firsthand when the workshops run as the search engine on their website didn't seem to unearth much when I tried it.

7. Let off some steam at a Play Centre
When the little ones have really got cabin fever, a run around your local play centre might tire them out. This is a great option if you have children of different ages because most of the bigger play centres have something for all age groups. Babies can investigate the soft play area, toddlers can sink into a pile of balls and older children can brave the slides. All whilst you sit back and read a magazine. Take plenty to drink or the little darlings will bleed you dry at the cafe. Click here for a comprehensive listing of Melbourne play centres.

Big slides are a big hit at play centres

8. Go Shopping
You're going to wonder why shopping is on this list since most children will throw a tantrum just thinking about it. Well technically you won't actually be shopping, just using the shopping centre. I have killed many a wet afternoon at the shopping centre with my toddler and spent very little (if any) money. The pet shop is a great place to start. All those cute little puppies and kittens to gaze at, plus the more interesting lizards and hermit crabs to check out.

Lots of shopping centres also have a small indoor playground where the kids can expend some energy on brightly coloured equipment. If you don't mind coughing up a few bucks there are tons of little rides for smaller children dotted around the various centres as well. Lastly there are several stores which are crying out to be played in. Our local Kids Central store in Southland Shopping Centre has a Thomas the Tank Engine train table, which my son would spend hours playing with if I let him. Springvale IKEA has a fabulous kids' area in the Children's IKEA section, with lots of toys to play with and fun furniture to jump on. They also have a supervised play area for children aged 3 10 years, where you can drop the kids while you go shopping. Could it get any better?

So the next time it rains and you're verging on having a nervous breakdown, get out and have some low cost fun with your family.
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