5 free activities you can do with the kids at home

Whether it’s the school holidays or a standard weekend at home, there’s no end to a child’s energy. Or their need for entertainment.

There are only so many times you can watch Frozen or listen to the opening credits of Paw Patrol, so when it’s time to do something a little more hands-on (but something that won’t break the budget), here are five awesome free activities you can do at home.

1. Make elephant toothpaste

A young boy stretching out orange foam from a cup.

Elephant toothpaste is a foamy substance that comes from a rapid chemical reaction. It’s safe, quick, and you’ve probably already got all the ingredients to throw this kid-friendly scientific experiment together in jiffy.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 125mL of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • a little amount of dishwashing liquid
  • food colouring 
  • 2 tablespoons of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of fast-action yeast 
  • an empty 500mL clear plastic bottle (a soft drink bottle is perfect)

Use a funnel to pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle, then add a squirt of dishwashing liquid and a few drops of food colouring, then shake the bottle. In a separate jar, mix the yeast and warm water together, then add this mix into the clear bottle and watch as the elephant toothpaste rapidly expands into a colourful foamy mess (best to do this one outside if that wasn’t already obvious!).

Make sure you all wear some safety equipment including goggles and rubber gloves, as the foam may stain or irritate the skin.

Once you’re done, be sure to watch Mark Rober’s experiment making the largest elephant toothpaste in the world, where he fills an entire swimming pool (and then some) with the stuff.

2. Build a cardboard cubby house

Little girl colouring in a cardboard cubby house

Most homes have a few old cardboard boxes lying around, but you can also check your local supermarket, Facebook Marketplace, or even any furniture stores nearby.

Once you have a good supply of cardboard boxes, a roll of packing tape, and perhaps a pack of felt tip pens for decoration, you have everything you need to build the most epic cubby house ever seen.

Take the time to plan the cubby house first, including a bedroom and living area, and be prepared to pull an air mattress out of storage so the little ones can sleep in their brand new bedroom for the next night or two.

3. Write messages with invisible ink

Lemons getting squeezed into a bowl using a lemon squeezer.

Does your little one love mystery, intrigue, and adventure? For the budding spy, there’s nothing more exciting than secret messages, and this is a simple and fun way you can communicate in hidden notes at home.

Simply squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a bowl, add a few drops of water, and stir. Then use a cotton bud to dip into the lemon juice and write your note onto a piece of plain white paper.

Once the juice has dried, hold the paper close to a light bulb (or other source of heat) and watch as the secret code appears. Scientifically, the heat is oxidising the lemon juice and turning it brown, making for a fun science lesson at the same time.

4. Learn how to do origami

hands creating origami art and folding paper.

Origami is one of those perfect last-minute activity ideas, because it not only takes very little in the way of supplies, it can also keep the kids busy for hours.

You can find plenty of excellent origami instructions online, and you can cut simple printer paper into squares to get started.

The house will likely be covered with cute paper cranes and frogs for the next couple of weeks, but that’s at least three viewings of Frozen you can skip.

5. Make a paper mache mask

Kids doing paper mache on a balloon

Do you have newspaper, flour, water, balloons, paint and string?

Mix one part flour with one part water to make the glue, rip up a few old newspapers into small strips, and blow up a balloon each. Then dip the paper in the glue and stick it onto the balloon.

Once the paper layer has dried, you can pop the balloons, cut out eye, mouth and string holes, and start decorating. Add feathers for a little flair and glitter (if you don't mind finding it all over the house for the next six to eight months).

Another activity you can do at home

There’s one more activity you can try! Requesting a quote for life insurance. It won’t explode spectacularly it won’t get glitter everywhere either and the upside is that it could help to protect your family if the worst was to happen to you.

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