The Winter school holidays are fast approaching and parents are dreading the inevitable complaints of boredom. The days are shorter and colder than in Summer, and children can be tempted to hide indoors with movies and video games. However, it’s important to prevent your child from being sedentary, as each year, studies are showing an increase in childhood obesity. Setting your child up with good habits now can put them in good stead throughout adulthood.
We have selected some of the best activities for parents to keep their children’s minds and bodies active in Melbourne.
Younger children will love exploring the Children’s Gallery, featuring a dinosaur dig, discovery garden, camouflage disco and a special selection of museum objects. These activities are specifically targeted at babies to 5-year old’s, and encourage hands on exploration and play based learning in extraordinarily immersive environments.
There are a range of other exhibitions targeted at older kids too. Depending on their interests, take them to “Finding Haemo” to create their own pom-pom haemoglobin, visit Australia’s greatest racehorse Phar Lap, or encourage their imagination at the Marine Life exhibit. There are so many more great exhibitions, you’re bound to find one to spark your child’s interest and keep them entertained these Winter school holidays.
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National Sports Museum
The National Sports Museum is located inside the MCG and honours AFL, cricket, Olympic Games and soccer, among other popular sports. Sporty children will love to immerse themselves in the game related artefacts and interactive technology. During school holidays, the museum runs special events for kids.
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Visit a Victorian Zoo
Melbourne Zoo houses over 300 different species of animals from all over the world, and is only minutes from the city centre. The zoo offers an opportunity for children to learn all about different species and conservation efforts. Growing Wild is an exciting interactive area for young children 3 to 8 years old. Kids and parents also love the Butterfly House, Trail of the Elephants, the Lion Gorge and many more. ‘Meet the Keeper’ runs daily and offers an invaluable experience for your kids to learn about animals from the people that know them best. There are different special events running each school holidays, so make sure to visit their website.
Experience an African adventure just 30 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD. Set on 225 hectares of wide, open space in Werribee, the admission price includes a 40-minute safari tour, Pula Reserve Walking Track and a brand-new Gorilla Beach. You can also try a behind-the-scenes Wild Encounter, feeding a giraffe, stroking a serval, or get up and personal with 3 gorilla bachelors. The lion cubs born in December 2016 are viewed on public display each morning.
Healesville Sanctuary is one of Australia’s most loved tourist attractions, with a special focus on Australian wildlife. Every day, Healesville runs a world-first interactive Platypus show, education on fighting extinction and ‘Meet the Keeper’ specials.
Not only do Victorian Zoos provide educational activities to keep kids’ minds occupied, but it’s sure to provide plenty of physical activity.
The best part? Kids under 16 receive free entry to all Victorian Zoos during Victorian Government school holidays.
Sports Holiday Camps
If you’re looking to keep your kids entertained for multiple days, Australian Sports Camps (ASC) offers holiday camps for kids aged 6 to 16. These camps are a cheaper alternative to childcare, while keeping them active, safe and interacting with other kids. This Winter, they are offering basketball, AFL, netball, soccer and hockey sports camps in Melbourne. For the first time ever, ASC is also running an ‘experience karate & martial arts’ camp. These camps are suitable for boys and girls of any skill level and are the perfect way to refine existing skills, or to learn the ropes in a new sport. They’re especially great if you’re considering your child joining a club, but are unsure which sport is best for them. This way your child gets to try the sport over 3 days and learn the basic skills before committing to expensive equipment, membership and uniform costs.
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Indoor Play Centres
With so many different types of indoor play centres, you’ll find one to keep your child entertained all day long. Options include trampolining, indoor rock climbing or a traditional play centre. These options are usually quite affordable, and offer facilities like cafés for parents to keep entertained while their kids have fun. You can even organise a group to go together, so that you have adults to keep you company while your kids run around with their friends.
Alternatively, there are also activities you can do with your child, like swimming, ice skating and ten pin bowling. Grab the whole family and make a fun day of it.
Some indoor play centres also run special events during school holidays.
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Optimally located in the CBD, just opposite Crown Casino, Melbourne Aquarium houses thousands of animals, including sharks, stingrays, sawfish and turtles, just to name a few. During school holidays, the aquarium runs additional presentations, including ‘A Penguins World’ in the Penguin Playground. You can also take your kids to watch presentations on Crocs, Rays, Ocean Predators and many more. Older kids may enjoy behind-the-scenes offerings, for an extra cost.
Still a much-loved attraction for Melburnians and tourists alike, the park overlooks Port Phillip Bay and features many family favourite rides, old and new.
These Winter holidays, Luna Park is running a special Christmas in July event. The park will transform into a Christmas Winter wonderland, with decorations galore, hourly magical snowfalls and appearances by Santa and his elves. The Luna Park café will even serve Christmas inspired treats to feast on. Enjoy the free entertainment and admission, and get yourself and your children into the festive spirit. The park will be open from 11am to 6pm daily, except for Fridays and Saturdays when the park will remain open until 8pm.