Wednesday, 12 June 2013

School Holiday Planning

There's only a week and a half left at school before holidays begin, so for the last couple of weeks I've been doing some serious planning. 
No, we aren't taking a big trip.  There aren't any major family celebrations either. So why am I approaching school holidays with the strategic planning of seriously major events?

A few reasons:
1) We get four weeks of mid-semester holidays. This is twice as long as any other state or territory in Australia. (I'm not sure why.  If you know, please let me know!)

2) It's a great opportunity to supplement my kids education with fun, hands-on activities that either enhance what they're learning at school or introduce something new that they're unlikely to cover in their curriculum.

3) One of my kids struggles without structure. I'm talking hideous behaviour that stems from unstructured days with expectations of self-entertainment and limited screen time.  So, it is much, much better for every one to have a plan which allows him to relax and enjoy his day.

4) It's fun to have fun with your kids!

So what do I do?
In the past I've had a couple of approaches. Firstly, themed days.  These are days when all of the activities we do and meals we have relate to a particular theme and they are a lot of fun.  

Some of the themes we've had include train day, tropical island day, superhero day, rainbow day and dinosaur day. I'll go into more detail with these in future posts.
Dinosaur Day

Themed days do require a fair amount of preparation and I often end up with more activities than we have time to do.  Doing a themed day every day can be quite exhausting too so, because of our four weeks these holidays, I'm going to limit it to two a week.

My second approach to holiday fun was inspired, of course, by Pinterest.  We set up Activity jars which allow us to randomly select the activities that we will do that day.

I made ours with four different categories- Let's Do, Let's Bake, Let's Create and Let's Go.

Our Activity Jars
Let's Do is for all the fun activities I find on Pinterest that make me think "I have to do that with the kids!"

Let's Bake covers baking sweet or savoury treats for morning or afternoon tea but also whipping up new, fun, creative and tasty things for lunch as well.  The challenge here is to make sure you have all the ingredients on hand which can be difficult with fresh produce.

Let's Create is for an artistic project. Painting, craft, collage or model construction. One a day keeps things manageable.

Let's Go is, obviously, for somewhere to visit. This can be as simple as a visit to the park or library, an adventure to the museum, beach or botanic gardens or, if your budget allows a zoo, theme park or the cinema. 
I found that a Let's Go every day proved to be way too much for us, especially with a small baby in tow last year. So, in the next set of holidays we changed it to "Field Trip Friday" and we'd select an activity from that jar once a week only.

Let's Bake - Avocado Boats & Let's Create - Bicarb & Vinegar Art

For this coming set of school holidays I'm planning on a combination on the two approaches. Most days will be random activities from the jars, but with a few special themed days thrown in.

I started planning by sorting through the things I'd pinned on Pinterest and drawing up a table divided into Go, Do, Bake & Create. I added the activities I really want to try making sure I had enough in each list. While compiling these I looked for themes and grouped them together across the table. Then, if i was lacking a themed task for a particular day, I did a quick Pinterest search to find something suitable. For example, I needed a Bake activity for Territory Day and found this cute crocodile lunch.

Some of my favourite blogs have provided great inspiration too. Nuria has some cool art projects here at The Adventure Archive.  Hana at A Happy Adventure has been making the coolest magical days activity calendars. You can see June here.

We have a couple of themed days that will occur on specific dates- Eric Carle's birthday is June 25th and Territory Day is July 1st.

I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate these days into the jars. Coloured pieces of paper perhaps? A calendar to write or pin our chosen activities onto each day that shows which themed days require the coloured papers? Too confusing?

Do you have school holidays looming?  How long do you get and do you have any sanity survival tips I could use?


  1. Great post Sarah. Super organised as usual. To answer your question I understand Territory kids get four weeks in July so families can take advantage of the beautiful Dry Season weather! (whereas kids down south get their 'good' weather in Dec/Jan holidays...) You guys are going to have so much fun these holidays! I bet with 5 boys in the house your Territory Day celebrations will have to involve letting off crackers?

    1. Thanks, Patricia xx I did assume it was something to do with the nice weather! As for cracker night- surprisingly not in our house! Letting them off at home terrifies me- best left to professionals in my opinion. Plus the dog is an absolute wreck all night long. We have to lock her inside. Last year we took my mum to Mindil beach and it was awesome. Rohan even slept through most of them! Was a lot of fun and we'll probably do the same this year. It'd be great fun if you joined us too...?

  2. Wow Sarah, it sounds like you have everything planned out so that you guys are going to have a great holiday! I love the activity jar ideas - I think we'll have to give that a go this January as the summer holiday does stretch out a bit!! H xo

    1. Let me know if you give it a try. My kids think its magic!


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