Summer School Holiday Idea: Create a Magical Play Space

One of the things I love about school holidays is the opportunity to think big about play. I aim to think of play, not only in sessions, but over days and weeks. Creating play environments is a perfect example of this because it starts with the building phase, then the play phase, and the play evolves with the environment. It’s wonderful to watch the kids play like this.  The Summer days are long, so the children are particularly enjoy playing in the late afternoon, from 3.30 to about 6 pm.

Below is one of the school holiday activities the children enjoyed. We did it in two parts.

Part 1: Decorate an Outdoor Tree

Recently, the kids and I made handmade Christmas Tree decorations. As we finished each decoration, we hung them on the trees outside.  The decorations looked pretty on the trees, so we left many of them there because they were cheap to make, and most decorations were made of relatively weather proof materials, for example, the pine cones, button wreath and chocolate case decorations. Spoons also make for a wonderful outdoor tree decoration; this is the spoon mobile we made last year: Fairy House or Pirate Trap.

This is a fun activity for kids in the lead up to Christmas.  You don’t even have to make your own decorations: a box of cheap baubles work well too.

school holidays ideas -- decoration an outdoor tree

Part 2: Extend to a Fantasy Play Space

I’ve seen play space ideas pop up everywhere, like this one from Picklebums, and here at KleenexMums. I love the concept because it’s like making your own toys and is full of creative potential. The idea is to create a mini play environment with toys and items you have around the house. I’ve set out below an example on how we created a play environment.

1. Tree House

My son and I had previously painted a Santa House and we placed this between some branches to create the Tree House. A tree house can be made of a piece of wood, thick cardboard, painted or unpainted box, plastic container or anything else you can think of.

school holiday ideas -- play space tree house

2. Fairy Food Cups

I attached mini patty cake cases on to a few leaves with craft glue. Later, while the kids were playing, I put cachous in. The kids  thought it was such a fun surprise when they found them!

school holidays -- play space

3. Fairy House Play Space

In a fruit box, we found a range of related items to create a fairy play space. It was the children’s idea to put pegs around the box. I pretty much gave them the concept and they ran with it. These are the materials we used:

  • Box
  • Pegs
  • Piece of wood
  • Wood chips
  • Stones
  • Shells
  • Duplo
  • Fairy
  • Gift box

play space -- fairy land

4. Set up

To make the area comfortable for the kids, I put down our Recycled Mat, and then placed our Strawberry Jam floor cushions down.

school holiday ideas -- play space

5. Toys

As the children played, they added toys, and other things like the bricks from the Rock Garden to the mix.

school holiday ideas -- play spaces

play space outside

6. Packing up

Packing up wasn’t difficult.  We left the outdoor tree decorations, packed up the mat and brought the toys, cushions and play space box inside.  I wanted to make it easy to set up again in case the kids wanted to play the next day.  In the morning, I found these two playing with the play box inside.

play space

This sort of creative play takes a little effort to set up but I find the play lasts for days so is well worth it.

More School Holiday Ideas Posts

More Extended Play  School Holiday Ideas

how to make a play garden 3

Rock Garden

school holiday ideas -- op shop cubby house

OpShop Cubby

photo dolls family

Photo Dolls

White Christmas Snow Diorama

Snow Diorama



10 Healthy School Holiday Activity Ideas

I have you covered this school holidays with a huge range of posts.

{a day out exploring the country}

healthy school holiday activities -- a day out exploring the country

Today, the team over at the Heart Foundation are here with their top 10 healthy school holiday ideas.

Guest post by Heart Foundation — Mums United

Healthy and fun school holidays (without the fuss)

The holiday period while bringing a welcome break to enjoy time together, can also demand a lot of a family especially when it comes to keeping kids entertained. So how do you keep your kids happy and active without needing a second mortgage or giving into junk food bribery?

The Mums at the Heart Foundation have come together to share their favourite top 10 tips for a happy, healthy, hassle free holiday for everyone:

1. Feeling fruity

Chop up a platter of fruit and keep it in the fridge and let kids help themselves for quick, cool snacks or just keep the fruit bowl well stocked.  For hot days, frozen seedless white grapes or oranges are thirst quenching and delicious; just allow them to soften for a few minutes before eating.

2. Hop to it

 Teach your kids the games you used to play at school think hopscotch, hand ball, elastics and French cricket, and join in too.

3. Toy with me

Keep some inexpensive toys put aside for the inevitable “I m bored, Mum!” like hoola hoops, Frisbees, kites, volleyball, velcro balls and catching mits.

4. Treat em right

Reward good behaviour with trips to the park, beach, skate bowl or local pool rather than food treats.

5. Piece of pizza

Ask older kids to help prepare the ingredients for pizza and have them assemble their own dinner. Challenge children to see how many different colours they can get on their pizza just remember to keep it healthier by using reduced fat cheese.

6. Take turns

Give a friend with kids the afternoon off and invite her children over for a play date with yours she ll be happy to take her turn too.

7. Wear them out

Team up with another family with kids, pack a picnic, hat, sunscreen and plenty of cool drinks and take the kids on an adventure bushwalk. Keep them going for most of the day and they ll be in bed early.

8. Start a veggie patch

Encourage the children to dig over a patch of earth or buy planters to turn into your own veggie patch. Allow the children to choose the seedlings they want to plant and encourage them to water, weed, harvest, prepare and cook the produce.

9. Star walks

Switch off the box and take the family and a few torches out for walks after dinner. Walk on the beach, around your neighbourhood or go to the local park to spot nocturnal wildlife.

10. Putting on an act

Keep younger children busy and active by challenging hem to act out their favourite story. They can spend the afternoon dressing up and rehearsing and put on the performance after dinner.

For more information about living a healthy lifestyle including free recipes, visit:

no fuss school holiday ideas


10 School Holiday Activities

10 School Holiday Activities

Guest Post By Julie Vigor

1. Dancing

Organise a disco and invite your friends. Learn some cool new dance steps and the good old favourites of Nutbush and Macarena.  Create home made invitations for guests, make decorations like a poster for the front door, paper chains, Chinese lanterns and a disco mobile by decorating old cd’s with collage and hanging them down with string from an alfoil dish. Plan games you could play like Musical Statues and Limbo. You could even make a piñata out of paper mache for extra fun.

{School Holiday Activities: Dancing!}

school holiday activities -- dancing

2. Cook

Kids can take over the kitchen to create some healthy fun food alternatives. Dice fruit and place on skewers for fruit kebabs, make sandwich faces with ingredients like tomato wedges, cheese slices and grated carrot, or come up with your own ideas in making food look like animals.

{School Holiday Activities: Cracker Caterpillar}

school holiday activities: baking

3. Paint

Paint with different mediums instead of a paintbrush! Be creative and perhaps use an old toothbrush as your paintbrush. Other mediums could be a comb, feather, cottonbud, flyswat, old roll on deodorant bottle and fingerpainting with coloured shaving cream.

{School Holiday Activities: Painting}

school holiday ideas painting

4. Organise a Carnival

Organise a Carnival and invite the neighbourhood kids for some good old fashioned fun. Design a poster to advertise the carnival, decide on the games like knock em down tins, toss coins into a muffin tin, throw sponges/rings at plastic bottles and pie throwing with whipped cream. Purchase some small prizes like chocolate frogs.

{School Holiday Activities: Throw the ring game}

School Holiday activities -- games

5. Craft

Make home made instruments. For example, you could make a guitar out of shoe box and rubber bands or shakers made out of containers filled with different materials like rice, unpopped corn and small stones.

{School Holiday Activities: Make a guitar}

school holiday activities -- musical craft

6. Puppet Show

Put on a puppet show for your family. First decide on the story, characters and then write a script. Design puppets for your characters. You could make puppets out of recycling and decorating odd socks, kitchen towel cardboard cylinder or a wooden spoon. Ask for a large box from an appliance store to make into a puppet theatre, with an opening window at the front, an old sheet for curtains and a door at the back. Make a sign to invite your family to the play.

{School Holiday Activities: Puppet show}

school holiday activities puppet show

7.  Dress up/Pretend

Be a newsreader for a day! Write your own weather report and other “news of the day” and record your voice.

{School Holiday Activities: Pretend to be a newsreader}

school holiday activities -- pretend play

8. Tea Party

Have an elegant tea party with siblings and/or soft toys. Ask for a large box from an appliance store to create a castle, cut battlements at the top and paint the castle. Collage a strip of cardboard to make crowns for the King and Queen, and if there’s a princess she could make a hat out of cardboard in a cone shape. Find some fancy dress ups to wear to the occasion, design/fold a paper fan and laminate drawings for placemats. Kids can bake some easy treats like biscuits, cupcakes and chocolate crackles. If you’re game, buy a cheap china tea set from the second hand shop to make it even more real!

{School Holiday Activities: Tea Party}

school holiday activities tea party

9. Water Play

On a lovely summery day, have a water play day outside! Get out the sprinklers, soaker hoses, slip n slide (piece of plastic and dish detergent), bubbles, water guns, water balloons and watering can. If you have a clam shell, fill with water, few drops of food colouring, dash of dish detergent and add kitchen equipment like saucepans, measuring cups and egg beater. You can even freeze coloured water in balloons, then remove balloon once frozen and put icebergs in for fun play!

{School Holiday Activities: Water play}

school holiday ideas -- water play

10. Make a Treasure Chest

Make a personal treasure chest to store awards, art work, memorabilia from fun outings, report cards, school photos and lots more. You can just use an old shoe box and decorate with collage or your favourite pictures from magazines or clip art from the computer. What a fantastic way to reminisce each year by reliving great memories!

{School Holiday Activities: Make a treasure or discovery box}

school holiday activities special box

Other Relevant Posts

100 School Holiday Ideas

15 Adventurous Things To Do With Kids

School Holiday Activity Ideas

100 School Holiday Activity Ideas

100 school holiday ideas
School holiday are here! And I like it. Mind you, there is always an adjustment period at my place, when the children are settling into a new routine and getting used to being around each other more.  Three days it usually takes for us all to adjust.

This school holidays, I’m looking forward to lazy mornings, no school lunches and the flexibility to do things with the children when I want.  The trick to fun school holidays is to keep the kids busy with enough down-time so Mum isn’t worn out.

To help you get the most out of this school hoidays, I’ve put together this MASSIVE list of 100 school holiday ideas. I’ve broken the list down into categories to help you find ideas that will suit you and your kids.  If you want to plan the weeks out, The Organised Housewife has a free School Holiday Planner Printable . Have fun!

100 School Holiday Activity Ideas

  • Home: Inside
  • At Home: Outside
  • At Home: Arty and Crafty
  • Out and About
  • Adventurous
  • At Night
  • When It’s Raining
  • Quiet Time

At Home: Inside

1. Make an ant farm.

2. Bake cupcakes.

3. Make a cubby house under the table.

4. Invite friends over to play.

5. Make homemade pizza.

6. Dance to music.

7. Have a theme day. This may be butterflies, pirates, princesses, fairies, dinosaurs or a particular colour.

8. Make an inside obstacle course with cushions, pillows, boxes, chairs and blankets.

9. Ice biscuits.

10. Play dress ups and do a play.

11. Make a themed play space: in a large rectangle bucket or tray create your own play scene. For example: use a smaller container (like an empty margarine container) filled with water, and in the rectangle bucket place rocks, small twigs, bark or sticks from trees for an outdoor scene.  I love this one from Picklebums.

12. Go on a colour hunt in your house. Collect objects of a certain colour and take a picture of your finds to make a collage. Also an idea by Picklebums.

13. Buy a note book and get the child/ren to write a school holiday diary (or draw pictures every day for young children).

14. Reorganise the children’s room (with their help).

15. Make fruit Kebabs.

16. Write a letter to someone.

At Home: Outside

17. Hang a sheet from a tree to make an outside cubby house.

18. Fly (cut to length) crepe streamers in the wind.

19. Eat outside.

20. Do general gardening or plant a vegetable or herb garden.

21. Make an outside obstacle course. Click here for ideas.

22. Play Backyard games.

23. Blow bubbles. Frills in the Hills has a great recipe for homemade bubble mixture.

24. Do an outside treasure hunt.

25. Create an outdoor play garden. Create a small space of dirt and fill with pots, small rake, bucket, spoons, utensils and solid plastic toys like animal figurines. I like this one from The Imagination Tree.

26. Make a flower head wreath.

At Home: Arty and Crafty

27. Make fairy wings.

28. Make a Zorro mask out of a strip of black material with two eye cut outs.

29. Create a family artwork on a large canvas.

30. Make recycled paper.

31. Collect flowers and press them inside book between baking paper.

32. Colour-in. You can print a variety of colouring in sheets online.

33. Face painting.

34. Make Photo Paper Dolls.

35. Make a robot out of cardboard boxes.

36. Make a treasure map out of brown paper.

37. Make a musical tree. See here for details.

38. Be crafty at home: knit, paper craft, play dough, cooking or painting.

39. Make up a travel drawing box.

40. Paint toe nails. (Boys like this too!)

41. Make boats out of milk bottle lids, a straw (for the mast), paper (for the sail) and blue-tack to stick the sail on to the boat.

42. Make a leaf collage picture.

43. Glue cut out pictures from a magazine or junk mail to a piece of paper.

44. Make a photo book: take photos of your favourite things and collate them into a book.

45. Make sock puppets by gluing wool on the top of an old sock and using a permanent marker to draw eyes, nose and a mouth.

46. Do a self-portrait. Stick a large piece of butchers to the wall (or lay on the floor) and trace around your body.

47. Make a long paper-clip chain.

Out and About

48. Visit a museum

49. Go Geocaching.

50. Go window shopping and have a special morning tea.

51. Go see a movie.

52. Eat a big ice-cream.

53. Visit a library.

54. Fly a kite.

55. Have a picnic outside.

56. Visit a park or playground.

57. Look out for butterflies and birds for a day.

58. Go fruit picking.

59. Plan a day trip:

  • animal farm
  •  new town
  • historical village
  • market
  • environmental centre
  • hiking
  • bush walking
  • drive up a mountain
  • visit the beach
  • the country
  • theme park

60. Visit someone lonely.

61. Collect shells on the beach.

62. Go ten tin bowling.

63. Visit a planetarium.

64. Feed ducks at a pond.

65. Go fishing.

66. Look for organised school holiday opportunities at art schools, museums, shopping centres, national parks, libraries and councils.

67. Go swimming. (If Winter, look for a heated pool).

68. Visit and share something of your own childhood with your child/ren. This may be a home you lived in as a child, where you honeymooned or favourite place.

69. Look for free activities at a shopping centre.

70. Go for a walk.

71. Visit Dad or Mum at work.


72. Go Bike-riding

73. Catch a train.

74. Go Ice-skating or roller-skating.

75. Catch a bus.

76. Go on a bush walk or hike.

77. Go on a nature hunt.

78. Make a cubbyhouse from items from a second hand shop.

79. Catch a ferry.

80. Allow your kids to learn a new skill. Look for workshops in horse-riding, pottery, art, rock climbing and drama.

81. Have a quest. This may be photographing butterflies for a day, hunting for cool letterboxes, looking for street signs for the names of the people in your family or tasting 3 different types of cookies and cream ice-cream.

At Night

82. Look at the stars.

83. Walk on the beach at dusk

84. Go on a nature walk down your street with a torch.

85. Have a movie night. You can make your own popcorn cups by making a cone shape with a piece of paper and taping it together.

86. Toast marshmallows in the oven before threading them on to sticks (parent would do this).

87. Eat at a family restaurant.

When It’s Raining (also see At Home: Inside)

88. Go to an indoor play centre.

89. Play with umbrellas in the rain.

90. Collect rain in a bucket.

91. Play inside games like hide and seek or duck, duck goose.

92. Photograph the raindrops on the window and include them in a photo book.

93. Go for a drive in the car.

94. Visit a friend’s house (or invite a friend over to play at your place).

Quiet Time

95. Play board/card games like Monopoly, Dictionary, Pictionary, Snap, Taboo, Hungry Hippo, Scategories, The Old Maid.

96. Watch a DVD at home.

97. Stay in your PJs all day.

98. Make a “city” with cars, toys and boxes for buildings.

99. Lie on the grass and watch the clouds.

100. Have “rest” time where everyone plays quiet games like reading or puzzles on their own bed.

If you have more ideas to add, leave them in the comments below.

Family Holiday Links

Planning a Family Holiday

Entertaining Kids When Travelling

Printable Holiday Packing Lists

The Car Box List