Coronavirus: Due to the current situation, events may be cancelled at short notice and businesses may temporarily close. Check with the venue before planning to attend. More information on coronavirus.

7 screen-free school holidays activities

It’s a tall order to tempt little eyes away from that phone, iPad, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch or Netflix … Here are seven IRL projects to keep kids entertained and screen-time in check. The only time you’ll be online is when you order them!

1.Board games, cards and puzzles

Discover all of Melbourne’s nooks and crannies from the couch and put together the Melbourne Map jigsaw puzzle. This 1000-piece puzzle is a brain busting family activity – and it’ll save your sanity when you just need something to keep everyone occupied. Order from the Melbourne Map website, and get it delivered to your door.

Editor’s note: due to the huge demand, sales of the Melbourne Map jigsaw are currently on hold. You can email hello@melbournemap.com.au to be notified when the jigsaw is available again.

A jigsaw puzzle on a wooden table

The Melbourne Map

Bored? Get out the board. Snakes and ladders is a classic for a reason: check out the beautiful edition from Jasper Junior. Or dive into something new and superhero-themed from Minotaur. Take your living room offline with some parlour games for the whole fam, from wordplay to role-play and memory games. Curious Planet has heaps of card games in stock. Challenge primary-aged kids to learn magic tricks. They’ll love performing a magic show – with some willing audience participants.

2. Crafternoon

A pack of art supplies delivers hours of art play. Order watercolours, papier mâché and modelling clay from Deans Art, while Stranger Than Paradise has great kits for smaller people. Get all ages playing with collage, some dried flowers, seashells or spaghetti (if you can spare it) is all you’ll need. Paper planes are an easy win too. Learn to knit or embroider with colourful beginners kits from Morris and Sons.

3. Books, books, books

Imaginations need fuel, stat, now that libraries are closed. Reading Kids has heaps of hacks, from Easter crafts to sticker puzzles with Bluey. Older kids can fall into new-release fantasy worlds. Try the witchy Threads of Magic or a sea-monster adventure Malamander. A gripping graphic novel will entice teens offline. Or opt for audio books for a soundtrack to quiet(er) play. Can’t decide? Email expert Dani at Reading Kids for a custom recommendation.

A brightly coloured store with book filled shelves

Book in an online shopping spree with Readings Kids

4. Puppet play

Kids love softies? Treat them to a new Jasper Junior forever-friend. Spotty Dot’s gorgeous range of Australian puppets and soft toys are made to last. The kookaburras and wombats from The Teddy Bear Shop are too cute. Role-play ‘faires’, ‘house’ and ‘Youtube’ for hours. Or DIY your own sock puppets for a thrifty theme.

5. Make a model

For the construction-minded, a model kit is a perfect project to get stuck into. Check out the planes, trains and automobiles from Hearns Hobbies and Metro Hobbies. The parts and paints will have them engrossed for hours. Or update the tired brick box with a fresh Lego kit. For some classic make-it-then-break-it action.

A table with different toys and board game pieces on it

Have some old school fun with figurines and models

6. Get in the garden

If you’ve got a garden, it’s a great time to go outside and get those hands dirty. Have a bug-finding competition. Hang one of Spotty Dot’s new bee and bug hotels and watch critters come to stay. A win-win for curious kids and native bees. Pick and press flowers. Come back a week later to find the fresh blooms transformed. Then make cards and artworks with your dried creations. No garden? No worries, grow a crystal garden and watch it change day-to-day.

7. If in doubt: Harry Potter

Keep busy with Harry Potter origami and colouring books. Bring the Harry Potter pop-up to you with wands and cloaks for dress-ups and duels. Check out Minotaur’s puzzles and board games set in the wizarding world. Thrill mini witches and wizards with a Spellbox spell in the post.

A train station platform with a sign that says Hogwarts

Harry Potter your way through isolation

Bonus: Download the NGV

If your little mates have earnt some online time, take them to the NGV. There’s interactive activities, a stop motion animation iPad app and a series of online drawing classes. Older kids can access Top Arts resources, including an online tour guided by David Menzies, or see how science and art collide with the Digital Creatives series. Teachers and school staff, listen up: you can now book a virtual NGV excursion online.

Please note that due to current circumstances, businesses may close, change their offerings or run out of stock at short notice. Check with individual stores for more information.