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Cheap ‘n’ Cheerful: 10 school holiday activities

HerCanberra Team

It’s the second week of the school holidays and money is a little tight – sound like an all too common scenario? But that doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. Take it from mum of two, Belinda Neame, who knows exactly what it’s like when the times comes to pinch the purse strings. Here she rounds up 10 cheap and cheerful activities to explore with the kids before school goes back next week…

Splish, splash!

We guarantee the last thing on your mind is swimming but let me tell you it’s hours of entertainment for the kids, for a fraction of the price. So pack up the pool noodles, toys and some healthy snacks, and head to your nearby local indoor pool for a some water play. Oh what the hell, why not jump in too? Prices start at $4.60 per child. For more info check your local pool websites for opening times and entry costs.

Hit the Westside…

Pack the basketball, soccer ball, scooters and skateboards, and let your kids run out all that pent up school holiday energy. Pack a picnic, sit by the lake or enjoy some of the street food on offer from the Westside food vendors. Open from Wednesday to Sunday 7am until late. Entry is free. For more info on events and markets visit Westside Acton Park.

Decorate your cake and eat it too

Yep, that’s right the kids can have their cake and eat it too in a free cupcake decorating session at the Canberra Centre. The perfect bribery before you enjoy a little bit of window shopping, yourself. On Saturday 18 July from 11am to 1pm held in the food court near City Walk, at the base of the escalators. For more info visit Canberra Centre online.

Unleash the fashionista

Kids can join in the fashion obsession fun these school holidays at Westfield Belconnen with Westfield’s school holiday workshops. Having returned due to popular demand, the kids can get creative in a Necklace Workshop with LLL Designs. All beads are handmade from the local designer. On until Friday 17 July from 10am to 2pm on Level 3, near Toys R Us. Each child receives a free starter kit with additional add-ons available to purchase at the workshop. For more info visit Westfield Belconnen.

Choose your own adventure

Old Parliament House always has activities to delight the young and young at heart. Head along with the kids and choose your own adventure. Learn about children’s rights in Play Up, the fabulous exhibition curated by and for children. Let your imagination run wild, get hands on with craft activities, make a LEGO® masterpiece, or read a book on the beanbags and so much more. If you’ve teens, relive the days of Menzies or design your own political cartoon with Behind the Lines. When you finish relax and enjoy a light meal, coffee or cake in one of the two licensed cafés. Open daily from 9am to 5pm, free after admission, $2 adults, $1 children and concessions, and $5 family. For more info visit www.moadoph.gov.au.

Travel back in time

Would you like to travel back in time? Who would you like to meet? What event would you like to see? The redeveloped Kspace is opening soon and will transform visitors into time-travelling robots and blast them back to one of eight locations in Australia’s past! You can get ready for the reopening of Kspace by making a time machine or robot in the National Museum of Australia’s Discovery Space. Or participate in a robotics workshop with the amazing Robogals from the Australian National University. Open weekdays until Friday 17 July with sessions running from 10am to 11am; 11am to 12pm; and 12pm to 1pm. Cost is $3 per child and accompanying adults free. For more info visit the National Museum of Australia.

Time will tell a tale…at the AWM

Hear stories of brave animals, extraordinary people and faraway places, brought to life through puppets, uniforms and educational toys. This program is suitable for pre-school-aged children, but older brothers and sisters are also welcome. Held on Fridays (excluding public holidays) at 10.30 am in the Lower galleries, free entry. For more info visit the Australian War Memorial.

Hug a tree…at the Arboretum

Whether it’s exploring the hundreds of trees, rolling about the green grassy hills or clambering about the Pod Playground, there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied at the National Arboretum. Where the Pod Playground encourages children to climb, explore and have fun with its unique and adventurous giant acorn cubbies and banksia pods, the trees themselves including the Visitor’s Centre teaches and educates children about the life of trees and their role in our ecosystem. So pack a picnic, throw in a good book (for mum or dad of course) and enjoy it all while taking in the view from the Himalayan Cedar picnic deck – a short and easy stroll from the Himalayan Cedar Forest car park. Free electric barbeques are also available (Forest 11). Or soak up the peaceful atmosphere in the Cork Oak Forest (Forest 1) and enjoy a picnic at this special spot. Bench seats are dotted throughout many of the forests and make great picnic spots too. The National Arboretum and Pod Playground are open seven days a week from 7am to 5.30pm. Entry is free. For more info visit the National Arboretum.

Get animated…

Celebrate 100 years of Australian animation and get your kids along to see a selection of animated feature films from Australian filmmakers at the National Film and Sound Archive. From the gorgeous hand-drawn work from the studios of Yoram Gross, to some of Australia’s big-budget box-office leading animation, there’s something to wrest your little darlings’ attentions away from their small screens for a few hours. Movies include Happy Feet, Legend of the Guardians and The LEGO movie. On from Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 July. Cost is $5 per person (flat fee, no concessions). For more information visit the NFSA.

Leap into your local library…

Get along to your local library for a range of fun activities for all ages. Drop into Wordplay: A Pop-up Kids’ Space (for three to eight year olds) where they can read, write, imagine and illustrate or let the older kids learn how to design a 3D spaceship model in 3D Design: Spaceships workshop (for 10+ years and parents/carers). Discover Wordplay at the National Library of Australia until Sunday 19 July from 10am to 4pm and 3D Design at Dickson Library on Tuesday 14 July (2.30pm to 4pm) and Erindale Library on Wednesday 15 July (2.30pm to 4pm). For more info please visit ACT Libraries.

Worth a splurge…

Skate in the City

Ok so we don’t quite have the frozen lakes to skate upon so why not rug up and head to Canberra’s very own winter wonderland. With seven sessions daily, and an extra session on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, any time is perfect for a Skate in the City. Two types of sessions will be on offer: 90 minute sessions including a professional show by experienced skaters, and 60 minute general skate sessions. A DJ Dance Party session will be held every Friday night and professional performances by experienced skaters will be included in a matinee and night session on Saturdays. This month-long event will once again feature events for the whole family including cultural days, dress up nights and a kids snow box. On now until 26 July in Garema Place. We’ve got all you need to know here.

Embark on a frozen adventure… 

With the Antartic Vortex having made its appearance over the weekend, there’s plenty of snow up and around Corin Forest making it the perfect destination for a little snow play. Make snowmen, have a snowball fight and toboggan your way through the 2500-square-metre snow play park. So pull out the beanies, scarves and gloves and get ready to for a frozen adventure with the family. Unsure of what to take? Jump across to the Corin Forest website for their practical and sensible advice. In a nutshell, they advise to take warm clothing, waterproof pants and jacket, gloves, water resistant boots, and a change of dry socks and clothes for your trip home. For session times and details on how to get there visit Corin Forest online.

Flying Fruit Fly Circus

When the circus comes to town, there’s only one thing to do – Roll up! Roll up! The Flying Fruit Fly Circus will bring to Canberra their acclaimed Circus Under My Bed this week. Prepare to be drawn into the imagination of a young girl spending a final night in her bedroom before moving away. What follows is an enthralling mix of old-world circus, vaudeville and classic story-telling for young people and families. As the lights go out she dreams up a circus world of whimsical characters who help her face her fears and turn packing-up into an adventure you won’t want to end. If you have ever dreamed of running away to a circus, this is the show your dreams are made of, unlike anything else you will see on the Australian stage. On from Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 July at Canberra Theatre Centre. Visit Canberra Theatre for ticketing and prices.

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