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The Ultimate Daily Guide to FREE Autumn School Holidays

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by Dayna Chu (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and primary school teacher living in SE Melbourne. I love finding adventures for myself, my husband and our four kids to enjoy. Come along! Heart my articles, subscribe to the fun, follow along on www.facebook.com/WNMelbourne
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The Ultimate Daily Guide to FREE Autumn School Holidays
Don't panic!

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, as the old adage goes. Don't panic! Your planning is done in this Ultimate Daily Guide to free Autumn School Holidays (BYO Kids). Disclaimer: I have a lot of energy, like to get out, and have four kids to keep amused, so if it seems like a lot, customize your own daily schedule by using these links and ideas as a springboard for your family's autumn school holidays plan.

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net, Stuart Miles

Days 1-5

Day 1 (Monday, 7 April)
sting ray shark aquarium
Pat the stingrays at Southland
Sleep in (or at least stay in your jammies!) Have a big fun breakfast, sit down with your kids and give them some activity options to get their input on how to spend some of the next two weeks. Start with a calendar and a budget ("there's no such thing as a free lunch"), and stick to the plan to keep everybody happy, and to keep yourself sane.

Got your family's input? Great! Now head to the Aquarium. Free? Well, this isn't quite the SeaLife Aquarium Melbourne, but Southland is setting up an aquarium at centre court. Pat the Port Jackson Sharks and Sting Rays, Monday and Tuesday, 10am-3pm.

Day 2 (Tuesday, 8 April)
Haircuts. Quirky, I know but it's nice for the kids to have a nice fresh haircut each term, and the beginning of break gives it some time to grow into a natural look before school starts again. I cut my kids' hair at home (also why I need the extra time for it to grow out a bit), but if you're looking for a splurge or treat for the kids, head to Candy Hair at Westfield Southland - cartoons, sparkles, lollipops, you name it. If you missed the shark and stingray display, you can still catch them today.

Day 3 (Wednesday, 9 April)
Help your kids to learn the value of a hard earned dollar, and plan your own mini market. This could double as a great way to get some autumn cleaning done, if you're going to sell pre-loved toys and clothes. If the mini-market sounds like too much work, donate them to a local organization or see if any friends with younger kids would like your goodies.

Need more ideas? Look no further for more free pre-Easter fun.

Day 4 (Thursday, 10 April)
ACMI Kids in the Studio: Trading Faces: Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is hosting a free, highly imaginative craft workshop. Monday-Friday, 7-11 April, and Monday-Thursday, 14-17 April, all sessions drop in anytime from 11am-2pm. Make and decorate your own Dreamworks face mask as part of their Dreamworks Exhibition. Recommended for 5 to 10 year olds (I bet my four year old would love it though, and many teens.) No bookings required.

Later tonight! Free dinner*! At 6pm
Bunnings is holding their annual Easter Family Fun night. Check your local Bunnings for details. Most are holding their fun night on the same date, at the same time, but activities may vary. Book in store or online (at some stores). Generous with craft supplies, chocolate eggs, and maybe even a visit from a magician or floppy-eared-fluffy-tailed friend.

*Some locations include a free sausage sizzle; last year at Mentone they had a free sausage sizzle, free juice, chocolate eggs, and fresh fruit. Check your local Bunnings before making your kids go hungry for the night (winks).

Day 5 (Friday, 11 April)
Noon-3pm: Army Corp All Star Cheerleading and Dance Workshops.

Science is more your thing? Get your moon boots on and head to the free Planetarium exhibit (11am-2pm).

Image credits: Southland Shopping Centre Events Pages; Cash by zirconicusso, freedigitalphotos.net.

Days 6-10
i animal, melbourne zoo
Day 6 (Saturday, 12 April)
Get your partner or a sitter to take kid-duty and head out to the markets or go for a free guided walk... then get dolled up for an adults-only night at the Zoo. Not free, but since it's not a kids' activity I thought I'd throw in a bonus for you; date night with hubby/partner. I, Animal is a night-time "world-first interactive experience - part multi-media tour, part theatrical experience, part animal encounter - that has been designed for adults only at Melbourne Zoo." Partially self-guided (with an iPod touch that is provided for you), a perfect opportunity to do something a little different and get some elbow space from kids.

Kids still need some free fun? Head to Chadstone Shopping Centre, where there will be characters to meet, Easter egg hunts, and more.

Day 7 (Sunday, 13 April)
bouncy castle
*May not be as illustrated
Beaumaris Baptist Church is hosting a free Community Easter Festival, 11am onwards in the church car park. They will have a jumping castle, face painting, show bags and lots more.

If you haven't had enough of Southland (they're not my sponsor, honest), head over and check out the Thrifty Fashionista Market, today only.

Day 8 (Monday, 14 April)
Have you seen the muffin man? You don't need to find Dreary Lane for your free muffins today; get your kids to decorate one for you at Muffin Break in Southland. 10am-noon, bookings essential.

Day 9 (Tuesday, 15 April)
Easter hat, free easter melbourne kids
Easter Animal Farm: Get clucky at Southland where the baby bunnies and chicks are waiting for a cuddle. Monday, 14th through Thursday, 17th, 11am-2pm at the Kids' Club near Katmandu.

Day 10 (Wednesday, 16 April)
Host an Easter Hat Parade. Meet some friends at (you guessed it) Southland where they're providing all the crafts you need to make your very own Easter hat. Bring your parade of champions around the food court, or around your local playground, for a fun parade of your own.

-Image credits: www.zoo.org.au/melbourne, original photos (Dayna Chu)

Days 11-15
Royal Park, Matthew Harding, Easter picnic, Melbourne
'Fruition' image by Matthew Harding
Day 11 (Thursday, 17 April)
Pack a picnic and head for one of the amazing parks and playgrounds in SE Melbourne! If the weather's not cooperating, hit up Chadstone Shopping Centre for their FREE Barbie Interactive Zone!

Later, get your kids into the Easter spirit without the chocolate; do some crafting and card making for Easter for local family, or friends' birthdays; keep a stash in the cupboard for those last minute invitations.

Day 12 (Good Friday, 18 April)
Frankston Minister's Network and City Life Inc. are hosting Frankston's traditional Good Friday Festival, 11am-3pm. There will be live music will by Youth Access Entertainment. The Festival includes a free 'Road to Jerusalem' live performance rolling out at five different locations along the foreshore, followed by interactive children's entertainment (jumping castle, animal farm, Easter craft activities, and games).

Free Easter events Melbourne, kids, free,
Sunday best for church at Easter
Day 13 (Saturday, 19 April)
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie Easter Fun at Yarra Glen: Free hunts will take place on the scenic grounds of the Chocolaterie from Good Friday to Easter Monday at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm, no bookings required. Check out the metre-tall chocolate sculptures, enjoy free chocolate tastings, and even meet the Easter Bunny!

Day 14 (Easter Sunday, 20 April):
Hopefully the Easter Bunny has been by with some treats! Whip up some bunny-and-fruit pancakes, then, if you're not heading to church, let the kids burn off their sugar high at a local playground, or head to Yarra Valley Chocolatarie for their free egg hunts if you missed it yesterday.

Day 15 (Monday, 21 April)
School starts tomorrow! You made it! Sleep in (or at least stay in your jammies!), have another big fun breakfast; sit down with your kids and encourage them to journal about all of the fun things you have done over the last two weeks, so that they don't go back to school tomorrow and journal about playing on the iPad.

More Ideas! Some Saves and Some Splurges
  • Don't forget that kids are FREE on weekends and holidays at all of Victoria's Zoos!
  • Have you ever been to the
    melbourne zoo
    Image credit: zoo.org.au
    Adventure Playgrounds of Melbourne? They are FREE, but may take a bit of planning to make it happen, as some have specific days and hours of operation.
  • Take a daytrip or visit one of Melbourne's many railways or miniature railways, some for free, others for as little as $2 per person.
  • Did you grow up going to Fairy Park? They've done some upgrades in recent years; may be worth checking out with your kids for the decent admission price of $8/child (free under 3) and $16/adult.
  • Did somebody say FREE camping? Well, you've got way more energy than me if you're taking the family camping, but here are 5 free camping spots, plus one bonus here.
  • Become a Moocasso at Eastland's Craft Village Animal Art Studio. Dates: Saturday 5th - Monday 21st April; Times: Monday to Wednesday, 11am - 5pm; Thursday and Friday (excluding Good Friday), 11am - 8pm; Saturday and Sunday 11am - 5pm. Location: Centre Stage; Cost: From $5

Splurges:

Hopefully you didn't need the "panic button"! If you still feel yourself a little lost or bored ("bored" is a swear word at our house), check out more of WeekendNotes' April fun, listed by date. Keep it FUN and carry on!


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Why? Because there's a lot to do in Melbourne with kids that doesn't cost a thing
Cost: Free
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