GrownUps accepts no responsibility for decisions made by Members or any other persons as a result of using or relying on any information on the GrownUps website. GrownUps does not give any financial advice or make any recommendation of any product or service.

School Holiday Fun

The noise levels appear to have become amplified in the suburbs, which is a tell-tale sign that school holidays have arrived. That leaves the perennial dilemma of thinking about activities for the kids to do.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

The noise levels appear to have become amplified in the suburbs, which is a tell-tale sign that school holidays have arrived. That leaves the perennial dilemma of thinking about activities for the kids to do.

Fortunately there is no shortage of low cost ideas to do exactly that. The Ministry of Education Teamup website ( has some suggestions.  

  • Remember all the free, fun games and activities you enjoyed as a kid (before PlayStation and X-Box!)? You’ll be surprised at just how much fun you’ll still have – and your kids will enjoy them too!
  • Think about the projects they have been doing at school. You may find some relevant activities, events or exhibitions in your area that will help your child to get a better understanding of the topic. Or your child may have been on an interesting school trip and want to go back.
  • Check out your local library to see if they are running any activities. Many public libraries and local councils organise free activities for children during school holidays.
  • Especially with younger children, don’t forget the old favourites – playdough, fingerpaints, water play, bubbles, and play tents with sheets.
  • Plan an expedition – take the bus or the train, and get them to map out a walking adventure or bike ride. You could even take a snack and have a picnic.
  • Get your kids to write a couple of ideas for things to do in the holidays and put them in a jar. Pull one out each day to do. These could be inexpensive activities, such as cooking, or having a friend over for an afternoon.

And here’s a tip from MG from Hastings. “School Holidays… Can't afford a school holiday programme? Then get together with friends and start your own. If you can only get one day a week off work, then get your mates to do the same thing, (different days), and drop your kids at the appropriate house with their packed lunch. Arrange between yourselves different activities for each day depending on what each can provide. For instance one person may be able to take all swimming while another may not have the transport necessary, so maybe they could do art and crafts, video days, pizza making, board games, a wheel outing, (skateboards, bikes, skates or scooters). Remember to join the kids in the activities because the kids will appreciate it more especially if it embarrasses you or if you have trouble doing it. They then learn that nobody is perfect and that they too can participate in difficult challenges and enjoy it.”

A reader has an interesting idea about how to give a treat or a gift – but not in the normal way! “Tie the item with string, but don’t cut it off. Hide the parcel then run the string line throughout the house – around chairs, under the bed, in and out of rooms, outside then back inside, and so on. Having done that, give the person the end of the string and tell them their surprise is at the other end!”

Alternatively set them a Mission Impossible challenge. Make the mission – should they choose to accept it – something important to them like finding the missing cookie jar. With Mission Impossible music playing, give them an envelope with mystery clues inside!

Kites are fun, fascinating, and easy to make. All you need is a string or nylon line, glue, nails, timber rods or small bamboo to make the frame, and paper, nylon or cloth to cover. There are lots of different types of designs. Diamond and delta kites are the most common and easy to make but play around with box and dragon kites or parafoils – and there are lots more!

A reader says they have great fun with face paint, especially now that everyone is excited about the rugby. Here’s a simple recipe to make face paint. Mix equal parts of cold cream and corn flour. Add water until it forms a smooth paste. Divide the mix up into four bowls. Add yellow, red, and blue food colouring to three, leaving one white. Now you have a colour pallet which you can mix together to make other colours. To make black, mix equal amounts of blue, yellow and red. Paint it on faces sparingly!

Do you have fun tips to share? Send your comments and tips by visiting the oily rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. The book Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available online at

* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at