A Glendale teacher is helping the 2.9 million Australian families with school-aged children by sharing her educator-tried and tested boredom buster activities with the Newcastle Weekly.
Christine Saunders is the TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Early Childhood Education and Care with decades of experience in the classroom.
The popular Lake Macquarie educator has compiled a list of activities that she promises won’t bottom-out the bank balance, don’t involve a screen, and will make memories to last a lifetime.
Her top tip is to reflect on your own childhood and the things you remember loving.
“For me it was climbing trees, riding bikes, and playing community cricket,” she says.
“I recommend thinking about what resonates with you and that should remind you that it doesn’t have to be complicated or cost a lot of money.
“If children are used to screen time and it’s hard to get them out of the house, set little challenges that play into what they’re interested in, tap into that buzz they often get from video games.”
- Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, and Maitland have some amazing local parks and public spaces, many of which have been done up recently by local councils. Take the children on an adventure to your local park for a picnic and play.
- Take a nature walk in your local area and set challenges for children. Encourage them to play I-spy with different birds, animals, and plants to discover nature without Google. For example, ask them if they can find a white flower, a bee, or a stick in the shape of a letter.
- Our area has great spaces, like the Fernley track, where children can walk, ride or scoot along. Take advantage of these spaces and set challenges along the way.
- We have the best beaches in the world – exploring the coastline in the same way as you would at a park is a great way to turn a trip to the beach into a challenging adventure.
- On rainy days, children love a scavenger hunt for household items, like a favourite toy, something blue, a peg, etc. Have some fun and get them to search for something silly, like a pair of dad’s old socks.
- Children love being in the kitchen and Christmas is a great time to get them involved with the meal prep. Get them to grate carrots, decorate homemade biscuits – older children especially can be a very useful extra pair of hands!
- We have great local library facilities – take advantage of the many free and fun activities on offer at your local library. Story time and book borrowing is a free and fun way to build your child’s love for reading or satisfy your older child’s curiosity in the non-fiction space.
- Build a Lego city or something similar that children can keep working on throughout the holidays. One of the best things about holidays is they’re unstructured and unhurried, so children have a really large, long period of time that’s uninterrupted, where their creativity and their imagination can go wild, and they can absorb themselves in a project over days or even weeks.
- Make some playdough or slime to satisfy children’s love for getting messy.
- Give older kids more control by having conversations with them and getting them involved with planning. My three children are older and when we go somewhere, like Sydney for example, I ask them to each pick what they want to do, and we fulfill that adventure.
For parents and carers who don’t consider themselves creative or who struggle to think of ideas, Christine recommends tapping into online resources, like Newy with Kids, or using TV shows like Bluey to get more ideas for games to play or adventures to have with children.
“Kid who are really active during the school term and like to stay busy will love participating in school holiday programs. Staying in the know with what’s happening in the area will give you great ideas for programs your children might be into,” Christine says.
“The number one thing we teach our TAFE NSW Early Childhood Education and Care students is that children learn through play. So don’t be scared about leaving them just to play – this is where they’re doing their best learning.”
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