The Canberra Times

Keeping kids busy in the summer breakAdvertising Feature

While summer can be loads of fun, the holidays can also be a long and boring ordeal for children - and a stressful time for parents.

If you regularly run out of ideas for keeping the kids entertained, read on for our top tips. And best of all: these ideas won't break the bank.

Fun and sometimes free: Don't forget libraries, museums and galleries who all have summer programs to keep kids occupied during the holidays. Photo: Shutterstock

Plant a veggie or flower garden

It's not too late to plant a garden to enjoy throughout the summer months. Choose quick-to-grow plants such as lettuce, herbs or climbing beans, which the kids can plant and then watch them grow. Don't forget that the secret to gardening success is in the soil, so grab a bag of compost to ensure your plants have the best start. And ensure they wash their hands properly before they do something else, like eating.

Build a backyard cubby or fort

Kids love setting up their own cubby or fort, so gather together old sheets, pillows and cardboard boxes to let them make their own backyard hideaway. Consider pulling out the beach tent, or even using the clothes line as a structure and pegging sheets over the top, and add fairy lights to make a magical hideaway. Maybe also give the weather forecast for the next few days a quick check as well with La Nina still keeping things pretty wet for now.

Plan a messy play day

There's no denying it: kids love messy play. If you want to avoid most of the mess, try locking in a day that they can experiment making their favourite slimes, mud pies and magic potions. Try making them from scratch or pick up a kit to help them turn the garden or balcony into their own science lab.

Visit the museum or gallery

Call by one of our many national or local art galleries or museums or other fun exhibits where kids' activities abound during the school holidays. Even if none of the programs they've put on seem appealing (or maybe they were so appealing they're booked out already), a tour of the current exhibit in your own time is always well worth a look. Most galleries also boast a decent cafe for a pit stop to re-fuel hungry kids.

Crafternoon fun

If the weather's bleak, pull out the craft supplies for an afternoon of arts and crafts. Here, preparation is key, so start gathering together the boxes, egg cartons and junk mail to transform into works of art a few days ahead. Add paint, glue and - for the brave - glitter to the equation and you are guaranteed a few hours of silence as your kids get busy making their masterpieces.

Oven-free cooking

Kids love cooking, but heating up the kitchen in the middle of summer is nobody's idea of fun (although it might not be too bad some days). Instead, try letting them lose making oven-free treats to beat the heat. From truffle balls to superfood bites, icy poles made from real fruit juice to cheesecakes, there are plenty of ways to entertain them in the kitchen without turning on the oven.