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10 summer school holiday programs

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Christmas has passed and the thrill of present shopping, wrapping and Christmas craft has gone with it…but it’s still holidays for the kids.

While many Canberrans sprint across the Clyde to the coast for the whole of January, many parents and carers will be working or spending the time here in Canberra. While there’s some amazing things to do this summer in Canberra, there’s also the question of how to keep the kids entertained.

If you have little (or big-ish) ones, you should definitely take a look at our top summer reads for kids, but beyond reading, what are the kids to do during summer?

The reasons for wanting to enrol your kids in holiday activity programs stretch from necessity to a desire for an enriching out-of-school experience. Luckily, the list of options for holiday programs is just as long.

Here are 10 of our favourites for kids of all ages and interests.

Design a Better World

Join the Pop-Up PLAY UP school holiday program in their beautiful heritage courtyard. Can your child make the world a better place with their ideas? Discover Better Shelter, an award-winning example of democratic design. Meet 10-year-old refugee Sidra through state-of-the-art virtual reality technology. Explore a day in the life of an industrial designer. Design your own life-changing masterpiece and most importantly, have fun!

The workshops are designed for children aged 5 to 15 with an accompanying parent or guardian so they would perfectly suit a parent or carer who was wanting some downtime around the middle of the day at no cost.

Follow these links for bookings:

Where: The Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House, King George Terrace
When: 11-22 January on a range of dates from 10.30am-1.30pm
Age range: 5-15 years with a parent present
Cost: Free
For more information: Click here

Learn a wide range of new tricks…in two hours

The National Archives of Australia might not sound like the most enthralling place to be this summer to a kid, but you’d be mistaken.

Hosted by a an array of unique companies such as Impro ACT, ACT Storytellers Guild, Warehouse Circus and The Canberra Calligrapher’s Society, kids from ages 8-12 years can learn everything from juggling to puppetry, calligraphy to improvisational theatre and much more.

This program would best suit kids who thrive on a diverse and enriching program that will challenge them to explore new sides of their skill sets. Since the program only runs for two hours each day, it would also suit children who are not suited to full day programs or those with parents on leave who want a short break each day.

Where: the National Archives of Australia
When: 11-15 January from 10am-12pm each day
Age group: 8-12 years
Cost: $20 per workshop, or all five workshops for $80
More information: Via their website

Unlock the basics of modelling, deportment and etiquette

Is your child desperate to try their hand at modelling? Perhaps they could use some help with their deportment, public speaking or job interview techniques?

Victoria’s Models school holiday programs have been a mainstay of the Canberra holiday scene for years now, with their comprehensive three day courses covering everything from make up, skincare and hair care to goal setting and social and business etiquette.

The courses are suitable for kids 12+ years and run from 9am-3pm so they’ll suit parents with flexible schedules and teenagers.

Where: The Orpheus Room, The Hellenic Club, Phillip
When: Monday 18-Wednesday 20 January 2016
Age range: 12+ years
Cost: $250 per person
Find out more: By visiting their website

Up-skill your sports mad kids

Want to keep your kids active and entertained over the school holidays in a safe environment? With a focus on participation and having a good time, the Australian Institute of Sport‘s holiday programs are suitable for primary school aged children and will have your child exploring a world of fun, activity and adventure.

Choose from the Pre-School Holiday Program, Soccer and Tennis Camps and a general Sports Vacation Program. All programs are based around children having fun, learning new skills, working as a team and keeping active. There will also be activities in Sportex, the interactive sports experience.

The AIS’ comprehensive programs would probably best suit kids with lots of energy or who are wanting to make new friends through sport.

Where: The Australian Institute of Sport
When: 4-29 January 2016, Monday to Friday: 8am-5:30pm, except Australia Day public holiday 26 January. Full day or weekly programs available.
Age group: 4-13 depending on the program
Cost: $60 per day – discounts may apply, see website for details.
Find out more: By emailing fitnesscentre@ausport.gov.au

For the drama kings and queens

Drama ignites the imagination, fosters creativity and builds self-confidence.

Join one of the Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art‘s engaging drama programs this summer! Perfect for the Shirley Temple or Macauley Culkin in your life who just wants to be seen and heard, or even kids who may benefit from the confidence performance can bring.

The varied classes will suit families who are looking for flexible, concrete classes as opposed to continuous holiday programs.

Ages 4-6: Speech Bubbles Holiday Program, January 14 and 25. Drama games and storytelling for early learners. Cost: $20 per session or $60 per day.

Ages 6-9: Blast! – Introduction To Drama Workshop. Want to try drama before committing to a whole term? Try this! Wednesday January 13, 4-5.30pm, Southside Services Building, Narrabundah. Cost $20.

Puppet Making and Performance: Two sessions over two days. Day one is making your puppets, and day two is using them! 4-5.30pm, 27 & 28 January. Narrabundah. Cost: $45.

Ages 7-12: Three-day holiday workshop: Drama games, script work, and performance! Program 1: 11–13 January / Program 2: 18-20 January. CADA Studios, Fyshwick. Cost:$180.

Ages 10-14 Musical Theatre Program: Love singing, dancing and acting? Combine all three in this three-day workshop! 9am-3pm, 27-29 January, Fyshwick. Cost: $180.

Act It!—Introduction to Acting Workshop: Always wanted to try acting, but never really had the chance? Try this! Thursday January 14, 4-6pm, Narrabundah. Cost: $25.

Ages 14-17: Scriptwriting for Teens: Learn scriptwriting techniques with a local playwright. Two days, January 21-22, CADA Studios, Fyshwick. Cost: $99.

Where: Multiple locations around Canberra, see website for more details
When: Multiple dates across January
Age group: 4-17 years depending on the program
Cost: $20-$180 depending on the length of program
Find out more: Via their website


Kulturebreak’s Summer Splash program has everything your dance-mad child wants and needs – and everything you want from a summer program.

An all inclusive program that starts early, finishes late and as well as dance lessons across a range of different styles, it also includes three excursions to iPlay, the movies and Flip Out.

Perfect for parents who want as one stop shop for both skill building, making new friends and fun outings or parents with kids who are interested in trying contemporary dance for a whole week.

Where: Kulturebreak’s studio – KB Studio Erindale
When: 18-22 January
Age group: 7-13 years
Cost: 300 per person for the whole week
Find out more: Via their website or by calling 6291 8249

Try every sport imaginable…

The Mpowerdome in Fadden holds the key to discovering whatever sport your child excels in and enjoys, with a huge program of just about every sport you could think of, as well as other fun activities like treasure hunts, cooking and cool science.

The large age range of 5-14 years means that families with multiple children will be able to be together and the 8.30am-5.30pm run time will mean working parents or carers will be suited too.

Week 2: Monday 11th – Friday 15th January

Week 3: Monday 18th – Friday 22nd January

Week 4*: Monday 25th – Friday 29th January

*excluding Tuesday 26th January (Australia Day public holiday)

This all program includes sports coaching, matches and other fun activities

  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Euroball
  • Soccer
  • Tee-Ball
  • Floorball
  • Cricket
  • Dodgeball
  • Ult. Frisbee
  • Treasure Hunt
  • Cooking
  • Art/Craft
  • Cool Science
  • Inflatable Obstacle Course

Where: Mpowerdome, 56 Coyne Street, Fadden
When: 11-29 January
Age group: 5-14 years old
Cost: $40 for a half day: 8:30am – 1:00pm or 1:00pm – 5:30pm or $80 for the full day: 8:30am – 5:30pm. Sign up and attend five full days and only pay for four.
More information: Via their website

Celestial Life for little ones

Explore the National Library of Australia’s amazing new exhibition, Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644-1911 on a smaller scale. There’s a huge mix of educational activities, films and story based events and all for low or no cost, suiting families with flexible schedules looking for fun and educational things to fill the day.

The Celestial Empire Family Space is open daily from Saturday 2 January from 10am-4pm and is free.

Holiday workshops: 

  • Celestial Storytelling: Thursday 14 and 21 January, Conference Room, $2 per child.
  • Rainbow Dragons and Monkey Kings: Drop-in colouring sessions for children ages 3 and over with illustrator Di Wu, Tuesday 12 January from 10.30am, Level 4, free.
  • Children’s China: Curious about kung-fu? Want to speak Mandarin? Explore elements of language, calligraphy, martial arts and storytelling. Wednesday 13 and 20 January, 10.30am Conference room, $15 per child

Children’s Films in the Theatre:

  • The Forbidden Kingdom (104 minutes, PG): Tuesday 12 January at 1pm. Free.
  • Mulan (88 minutes, G): Thursday 14 January at 1pm. Free.
  • Kung Fu Panda (98 minutes, G): Thursday 21 January at 1pm. Free.
  • The Spy Next Door (94 minutes, PG): Thursday 28 January at 1pm. Free.

Bookings essential for films and paid workshops, call 6262 1271

Where: The National Library of Australia
When: Various dates across January
Age group: Various ages, would suit younger children
Cost: Free – $15
Find out more: Via the website

Let them challenge themselves

SWISH Education workshops are taught by qualified and experienced teaching professionals. SWISH workshops are designed for gifted children and children that need and want more than just childminding.

This holiday period they’re are offering workshops on topics such as Forensics, Robotics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Anthropology, Geography, Geology and more for students in Kindergarten through to Year Six.

These programs would suit parents wanting, or needing, a challenging program for their young children that stretch across the entire holidays, all day.

Where: Campbell Primary School, Chauvel Street, Campbell
When: 4-22 January 2016 from 8.30-5.30pm each day, excluding January 26.
Age group: Kindergarten age – Year Six
Cost: $98 per workshop
Find out more information: For more information please phone the Education Director on 0412 402 204 or Operations Director on 0488 265 122.

Fine tune their musical abilities

From 11 – 22 January over 400 ACT students will have the opportunity to work with musicians from around the world at the Young Music Society’s annual Summer School, creating new musical masterpieces and exploring their own creativity. The YMS Summer School is a 2 week non-residential program focusing on music and performing arts.

The large age range (Kindergarden to Year 12) means that families with multiple children will be welcomed, and the (almost) full day schedule will work for many families.

Tobias Cole (ACT), Foray Ensemble (ACT, VIC), Griffyn Ensemble (Australia/Egypt), Gary France and the Groove Warehouse (ACT), Kwartludium (Poland), Moochers Inc (ACT), Mr Michael (ACT), Pheno (ACT/NSW),  and The String Contingent (NSW/Scotland), are among the expert educators and musicians  which will lead a sensational two week program for students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

Across the two weeks, students are placed into classes led by a team of inspirational musicians from across the globe.  Every student will have the opportunity to work with percussionist Gary France from Groove Warehouse, and Opera Australia principal artist Tobias Cole, exploring the possibilities of world percussion and the power of the voice.

Junior students (Yrs K-4) will explore musical interpretations of Alice In Wonderland, and all students will be have the opportunity to learn a new instrument.  Advanced (AMEB Grade 4+) students will be under the tutelage of one of Poland’s premier musical groups Kwatludium, exploring graphic representations of the students own music.

In addition, there will be a series of concerts featuring a line-up of exceptional artists, and student concerts throughout the two weeks.  Performances are listed here, and stay tuned for more details to come!

Where: Canberra Grammar School, Red Hill, ACT
When: Monday 11 January to Friday 22 January 2016 (weekdays), 9:00am to 3:30pm Monday to Friday (includes 25 minute recess and 45 minute lunch)
Age group: Kingergarden to Year 12
Cost: $50-55 per day
Find more information: Via their website or by emailing admin@youngmusicsociety.org.au

Image of ‘funny children outdoors‘ via Shutterstock

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