Step away from Netflix these school holidays. Kids’ free time and screen time don’t have to be idle. These free activities from Melbourne's iconic cultural institutions will fill the fortnight with fun.

Victoria Together’s free fun

Have you discovered the free creative content on the Victoria Together website? There are so many anytime kids’ activities, including virtual playdates and crafternoon sessions. Hey, who wants to make their own rainbow bath crystals? Or meet children’s author Mat Larkin and his weird and wonderful characters?

Free online cooking classes

During the school holidays, get your kids off the couch and into the kitchen. Free online cooking workshops run by Queen Victoria Market are interactive and tasty. Sessions include recipes for pizzas and Grand Final sausage rolls. For the sweet-toothed, there are donut muffins and thumbprint cookies. Playing with food has never been so much fun.

Free Kanopy streaming service

Wondering what to watch that won’t cause brain rot? Check out Kanopy. This free streaming service has a fantastic kids section, including Australian stories. Under-fives will love ABC TV’s Bobbie the Bear, and primary-age children can revisit favourites like Lockie Leonard and Skippy. Check out Paper Planes for family movie night. All you need for access is a library membership.

A projector in a dark room.
Movie magic at home

Art at home with ArtPlay

ArtPlay at Home is designed by artists, for kids to draw, dance, write and play their way through lockdown. Get inspired by the creative prompts, activity sheets and videos online. The kids can try their hand at puppetry, build a cubbyhouse or form a family band. The program covers everyone, from curious babies all the way up to 13-year-olds.

ACCA’s online Artivities

Keep kids of all ages engaged with the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s 12 free online Artivities. No special equipment is required – just common things like mirrors, scissors, pencils and phone cameras. Create small sculptures then take photos that make them look bigger. Draw a self-portrait. Or think about media messages by creating a collage.

Getting creative with virtual NGV

The NGV’s online resources have been designed to get young ones creating. Download activity sheets and games so they can transform the kitchen table into a mini studio anytime. Note the dates of upcoming real-time sessions too. Like under-fives origami classes inspired by Japanese artworks. Or Art Club activities with artist Bundit Puangthong. Bonus – it’s all free.

A child colouring rocks and drawings with art supplies.
Let's get creative

Join the Argonauts Club

The Hellenic Museum’s kids club isn’t just about what’s happening in this shrine to thousands of years of Greek culture. Join the virtual Argonauts crew as they set sail across the high seas of the internet. There’s a fascinating cargo of online activities, like making a Spartan helmet or Medusa headdress. Learn about sundials and water clocks, then construct your own. Ready to explore the past?

Museum magic online

If the kids are going round the bend, go behind the scenes with a Melbourne Museum virtual tour. There’s even a fun, fact-filled one hosted by The Listies! Then tackle a virtual jigsaw puzzle. Treasures of the Natural World exhibition artefacts are among the amazing images to choose from. The museum’s other free online edutainment includes a bird call quiz, T-Rex mask making, and a Backyard Bioblitz guide.

Go underwater at Sea Life

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium may be closed right now, but its finned and feathered inhabitants are still getting up to mischief. See what’s going down in the virtual aquarium on Sea Life’s live streams. There’s an hour of penguin shenanigans, camouflaged cuttlefish and turtle teatime. Find your zen with underwater mindfulness meditation, or just get an animated penguin to give you a compliment.

A large stingray in an aquarium
See sea creatures online

Go behind the screens with ACMI

Make that screen time count with ACMI’s online learning. Suited to tweens and teens, the free resources explore everything from digital art and animation to film and gaming. Recreate a famous film scene with household objects and homemade props. Meet local creatives behind videogames. Or professionals talking about careers in visual effects, interactive VR and more.

Bring the zoo to you

Keep junior entertained with real-time cuteness on Melbourne Zoo’s Animals at Home. Background stream the webcams. Giraffes, otters, zebras, snow leopard cubs and penguins make great playmates. There’s also an anytime virtual tour of the zoo, and keeper talks for encounters with koalas, tigers, gorillas and more.

Two snow leopards nuzzling in the zoo.
Melbourne Zoo's Animals at Home

Games to play offline

Want to go offline? Order everything from jigsaw puzzles to model kits for home delivery, or ask about click and collect if you're within 5km.

Card games

More endless fun with cardboard! Like the Go Fish card game from Readings – who of course also have oodles of kids books. The pack includes bonus instructions for two more classics: Snap and Concentration. Get the family around the table for Exploding Kittens from Mind Games. This crazy card-game version of Russian roulette has cats, explosions and laser beams! Yes, it’s as exciting as it sounds.

Jigsaw puzzles

The Melbourne Map jigsaw became an iso essential in 2020. If you haven’t taken that vicarious stroll through the city, order your box now from Hearns Hobbies. We also adore the jigsaw versions of photographer Chris Cincotta’s images of our hometown. Take your pick from his beautiful Melbourne I Love You puzzles.

A completed jigsaw puzzle of the city of Melbourne.
Melbourne Map jigsaw

Build it yourself!

Lego is a no-brainer for hands-on fun, but there’s so much more for junior builders. Like a Nanoblock Melbourne tram. This icon made with Japan’s favourite micro building blocks is available from Monsterthreads. Older children might like to while away a few hours or days with a model kit. How about the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars fame from Metro Hobbies? Yes please!

Board games

There’s no time to be bored with a good board game. Monopoly has been around forever for good reason, but is your family long overdue for a local take? Get the Australian edition of Monopoly from Mu Shop and start building hotels in Melbourne! Or try the adorable Baby Yoda version from Mind Games. Spieldeluxe has a big range of board games, including numerous versions of the contemporary classic, Catan.

More online events these school holidays

A book lover’s guide to Melbourne

Get your next great read from Melbourne's most iconic bookshops.

How to create the ultimate home cinema

Use projectors, popcorn makers and free movie streams for the best night in.

Last updated on Wed 10 Nov 2021

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