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Published March 29th 2013
The little ones are full of chocolate, and you need a plan
It's that time of year again: the Easter holidays are here, the house has been invaded by chocolate eggs. The kids are all revved up on a sugar-high and have two long weeks of school-less days ahead: how does this story have a happy ending for everyone?
Acer Japonicum Vitifolium, image from Wikimedia Commons
Autumn calls for outdoor activities, and though the forecast looks a little bleak, Melburnians know far too well how moody weather can get out here. There's still hope for some nice, crisp sunny days these school holidays, and here are some great ideas for keeping your children happy and active:
Melbourne's favourite public space is as busy as ever with plenty of events and activities for children. The selection includes comedy acts directly from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, kids' films at the Outdoor Cinema and slightly oxymoronic 'outdoor video games'.
Choco-calories burned: Giggles and button mashing = 3/5
Parks Victoria's Junior Ranger program is a great way to get your kids involved with the great outdoors in the parks and reserves of the State of Victoria. There is a rich and engaging program of activities, mostly held during weekends and school holidays.
Junior Rangers does not involve any membership fee. Some free activities include:
- Junior Ranger: Who Am I? Primary school aged children will discover Point Nepean's heritage with their families at Point Nepean National Park. Places are limited so be sure to book in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rockpool Ramble at Great Otway National Park. Primary school aged children accompanied by an adult will have the chance to explore the creatures that live along the rocky shores of the area. Again, bookings are essential and can be made by calling Parks Victoria on 5237 2500.
- Bush Detectives (ages 9 - 12). An easy day trip from Melbourne, Serendip Sanctuary in Lara will host an activity to reveal the secrets of Australian bush life. Mandatory bookings at email@example.com.
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Choco-calories burned: Exploring the bush, climbing on rocks, following the trails of the first settlers. It doesn't get more active than this = 5/5
Located in the Observatory Precinct of Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens, the garden was developed with a view to promoting in children a healthy, happy relationship with nature by interacting with the natural environment. Getting their hands dirty, literally.
There is no entry fee, dogs are welcome and the garden offers a range of fun spots to explore, including the mysterious Ruin Garden, the magical Bamboo Forest and the adventurous Wetland area. Open 10 am to sunset 7 days a week during school holidays.
Choco-calories burned: Digging and peering down to examine small flora and fauna. Soft but steady consumption = 4/5
Make a sock monkey, an origami fortune teller, a little log cabin. There are so many neat, arty things you can can do with your children and the web is a goldmine of information on how to sow, fold, glue, paint your way towards fun, clever crafts. And that's something the inner child in all of us can enjoy.
The annual Chinese New Year events are not the only way to celebrate Chinese culture in Melbourne. For an extra $3 on top of the $6 children's entrance price, children will be led by the great Chinese navigator Zheng He on a map-in-hand treasure hunt across the museum halls, with a final edible treasure for all little hunters. The Chinese Museum is open every day 10am - 5pm.
Calories burned: Treasure seeking is hard work = 4/5
The area surrounding Melbourne is dappled with farms opened to visitors, where for a modest entry fee your kids can get up close & personal with popular farm animals, ride tractors and ponies, or visit baby animal nurseries.
Choco-calories burned: Petting manes and marvelling at the wonderful world of farm animals = 3/5