The winter school holidays for 2016 are only half over but chances are you’ve already exhausted your bag of tricks when it comes to keeping them busy.
We’ve rounded up the most fun activities, exhibitions and workshops around the country to keep young minds occupied.
Get them in the big cat enclosure (no, really)
Taronga Zoo’s Sumatran tigers have taken a little sabbatical while their new habitat is being built but that’s good news for kids. They can don a hard-hat and enter the “Cat-struction Zone” to learn all about how to create the perfect zoo.
The Zone is open from 10am to 2:30pm during the July school holidays.
See a Sydney made of LEGO
Sydney is getting really meta here: a new exhibition at the Museum of Sydney shows off the city’s best assets – made of LEGO. Ryan McNaught is the only Australian to be certified a LEGO professional, meaning he gets paid to create incredible structures using the colourful plastic building blocks that every kid has played with – and every parent has trodden on – since they were first created in 1932.Check out a LEGO Harbour Bridge, LEGO Opera House and more.
Daily until 31 July
Take them behind the camera
The Australian Film Television and Radio School is holding various short courses for kids. The Make It On YouTube course will advise tweens on the new road to stardom while the Blood & Guts Movie Make-up course will appeal to anyone who lives to be grossed out. There are also courses in film-writing, digital animation, TV presenting and acting.
Check website for times and bookings.
Step back in time
More fun than a stint in the stocks is Convict Time Travellers at Hyde Park Barracks Museum. Kids can don period outfits and find out how convicts lived – they can even fake a nap in a cramped hammock and create their own marbles.
10.30am to 11.30am July 13
Embrace Turtle Power
What’s better than eating macarons, cupcakes and sandwiches to your heart’s content? When said comestibles are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed! In celebration of the newest Turtles movie (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Out of the Shadows), The Langham hotel is celebrating those “heroes in a half-shell” with a themed high tea. Deliciously fun foods include Michelangelo Apples, Green Jelly Ooze and Donatello Cupcakes. Kids are encouraged to dress up as their favourite turtle or intrepid journo April.
10am-11:30am or 12pm-1:30pm until July 14
Let them play with their food
Food fanatic Martí Guixé presents Fake Food Park: Martí Guixé for Kids at the National Gallery of Victoria. The Catalan artist is known for his fun food-based works, such as Pharma-Food, which saw people breathing in molecules of vaporised food. Here, he’s created a colourful kitchen that invites kids to take part in activities and challenges like creating their own menus and coming up with new foods.
Open daily until 11 September.
Take a ride on an icy slide
It’s incredible how willing kids are to hurl themselves off things: into pools, off rocks, down stairs. The Variety Ice Slide presented by the Eureka Skydeck is a four-metre-high, 40-metre-long slide made of ice that children can tube down while screaming–be prepared for lots of screaming. It’s $10 for three slides.
10am until late until July 17
Talk with the animals
Collingwood Children’s Farm teaches kids about sustainable farming and where animals source food from but more enthralling are the adorable barnyard animals they’ll get to meet. Have your camera at the ready.
The farm and café are open daily.
Have some arachno-fun
Thrillingly hairy and gloriously creepy, spiders are the subject of many childhood (and let’s face it, adult) nightmares. The Spiders exhibition at Questacon will cause many delicious shudders of horror – and maybe just a little bit of admiration for our eight-legged friends.
Daily until 9 October.
See girls own the screen
Take kids to see some excellent girl-led family films at the National Film and Sound Archive Heroines in Charge screenings. The movies include Alice in Wonderland, Bambi and the Studio Ghibli classic Howl's Moving Castle.
Become an artist
There are two great activities for kids at the National Portrait Gallery: Portrait Play lets kids explore how portraits tell the stories of their subjects, while Story Time sees kids enjoy stories, such as The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Deywalt, then create their own artworks based on the story.
Story Time: July 13 10:30am – 12:00pm; 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Portrait Play: Until July 17; 11:00am – 12:00pm
Let them star in Play School
Any child that’s familiar with the ABC For Kids jingle knows it’s Play School’s 50th birthday this year. Now they can explore the Happy Birthday Play School: Celebrating 50 Years exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. Even better, they get to devise their own Play School episode on a scrolling TV to take home, star on the show in the Play School studio, and play in the cubby.
Weekdays until July 15, 10 - 11.30am; 11.30am - 1pm
Spot the dinosaur
Little palaeontologists will be thrilled to discover some rather large specimens from the Jurassic era hiding in the Botanic Gardens. A map leads visitors along a trail to find all 18 life-sized models.
Until 17 July.
Show city kids what fresh fruit and vegies look like before they get to the supermarket shelves at The Epicurious Garden. Kids can chat to gardeners, learn how to cook with fresh produce and even take home some produce plucked from the harvest cart.
Open daily; South Bank Parklands near River Quay
The Spare Part Puppets Theatre in Fremantle is holding puppet-making workshops especially for children. There are one- and two-day courses in which kids can craft their very own puppet.
Until July 15
See where the wild things are
You wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be in Perth Town Hall, but that’s where you’ll find all kinds of creatures from snakes to star fish. There are special presentations, hands-on exhibits and the opportunity to see tawny frogmouth owls, scorpions and joeys.
Daily until July 20.
Start dancing in the streets
There are some cool activities happening at Franklin Square, but our pick is the lunchtime disco. Take the kids to town and let them shake it until they’ve built up a healthy appetite.
Wednesday 13 July, 11am-1pm.
The Bush Adventures program has nature-based activities for kids of all ages. Little ones will love like Flora the Explorers’s Rainforest Ramble in Fern Tree and Stories and Sandcastles in Sandy Bay while Bush Kids are adventures for older kids.
Try karaoke for kids
Send any little ones you’ve caught singing into a hairbrush along to So You Think You Can Sing Along karaoke at The Gov. Singer Nikki Heuskes will lead the song-fest, and lyrics to faves from Pharrell and the Frozen soundtrack will be projected on screens.
July 18-20, 10am and 12:30pm
Get snap happy
Budding photographers can take the Teenage Photography Course with Photoh. The three-hour course is open to young people aged 12 to 18 and teaches them how to operate a DSLR camera as well as artistic technique and composition.
Let them climb the walls
The Wibit Inflatable Challenge at the South Australian Aquatic & Leisure Centre is for the adventurous kid - think climbing walls and swinging on ropes. The centre has upped their games for the holidays, installing even more equipment, including a wiggle bridge and giant dome which they can conquer during one-hour sessions.