There’s no excuses for bored kids as there’s loads of indoor and outdoor activities to keep kids occupied for the April school holidays. Whether your kids are interested in art, books, science, movies, or outdoor fun, there’s something for everyone. And it’s not just for school-aged kids, there’s plenty of holiday activities planned for the under 5 crowd.

Visit the Events page on The Mummy Project website for a day-by-day guide for what’s on around the area.

Libraries & Museums

Starting with the libraries, there’s plenty to keep kids occupied. Newcastle Region Library is offering school holiday storytimes at different branches to entertain kids. There’s also literary LEGO workshops where kids can build a scene from their favourite book. There’s also sessions for shadow puppet theatre, creative bookmaking and bookigami (recycling old books into new creations).


Enjoy a special Storytime Bear Hunt through Lambton Park on Tuesday 17 April with stories, songs, games and lots of outdoor fun. BYO picnic,(but watch out for bears!). Ideal for kids aged 3 – 7. If your kids want to learn how to tell a story, join Karen’s Story Spot Bags in which she bakes up delicious stories.

For fans of David Walliams books, join The Bad Guys Party at Wallsend Library and New Lambton Library and celebrate our favourite misunderstood villains – The Bad Guys.

Lake Macquarie City Library has a number of activities to keep kids entertained. From Crafty kids sessions to LEGO builders, there’s lots of fun planned for the holidays.

There’s sessions on drawing dinosaurs, farmyard friends storytimes as well as special session about spiders and insects presented by Newcastle Museum.

Enjoy Stories in the Big Blue Chair with author Lynn Jenkins and illustrator Kirrili Lonergan, as they read their new book Perfect Petunias. Suitable for ages 3-8 years.

If you’re around the Valentine area, keep an eye out for the mobile library, The Rover, to hear stories, play games and have a wild time.

Join author Ant Wood and illustrator Lorraine Robertson for a special storytime as they read Flaming Charli and Dancing Charli. Suitable for ages 3-8 years. (Ant will also be doing a school holiday reading at Harry Hartog at Greenhills on Tuesday 17 April at 11am).

Dancing Charli

Experience the excitement of space and future worlds with Maitland City Library’s range of school holiday activities. Workshops include discovering the world of rockets, exploring constellations, making slime and learning coding and robotics with LEGO Mindstorm EV3 robots. There’s plenty of fun for Star Wars fans including Jedi Academy, creating lightsabers and a Star Wars fan session including trivia and craft activities.

There’s also drop-in school holidays fun anytime throughout the holidays for everyday fun! Every day of the school holidays you can test yourself with their space themed find a word puzzle or play a giant game. There’s also giant Jenga, Snakes and Ladders, Connect 4, Dominoes, Noughts and Crosses, Draughts and Lego.

There’s plenty of fun activities at Cessnock Library relating to Harry Potter. Sessions include a pop up photo booth where kids can dress up in a disguise as Harry Potter or Voldemort, a Hogwarts potions class amd a Harry Potter Escape Room.

Spend some time at Newcastle Museum, a great destination during school holidays. The fun and interactive Spiders exhibition is on. Highly recommended for families. (Here’s my review of the Spiders exhibition).

In conjunction with the exhibition, there’s workshops scheduled over the holidays. Kids aged 5+ can make their own spider or insect in Creature Creation ($10) or they can learn about the Science of Spider Venom (free with Spiders exhibition ticket) on Saturday 20 April.

The always popular science shows will be on as well during the school holidays on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the holidays at 11:15am, 12:15pm and 1:15pm. Tip: Get there early for the science shows as they do fill up. For these holidays, the shows focus on the amazing science of arthropod mini-beasts. Discover how some insects and spiders are so strong, can be so fast, jump so high, communicate with each other, and eat without chewing.

Plus, there’s all the other great activities and attractions at the Museum such as Supernova and the BHP Steel show. Remember Newcastle Museum is open every day during school holidays from 10am to 5pm.

Science & Technology

MiniSparx

Get kids learning about robotics in the school holidays. Developed by an engineer and a primary school teacher, the MiniSparx program is perfect for curious creative kids aged between 8 and 12. Throughout the two-day event, we’ll introduce your little MiniSpark to the fascinating world of engineering, by giving them the opportunity to design and build their very own robots. They’ll work together to explore new technology, solve fun challenges – and play! The school holiday workshop will run from 10am – 4pm on 18 & 19 of April. Bookings are essential.

 

Arts, Crafts & Music

For arty kids, there are plenty of art activities on offer these school holidays. The Newcastle Art Gallery has workshops for 5 to 12 year olds inspired by the current exhibitions. In Colourful Collage, kids will produce colourful abstract designs using assorted collage papers and oil pastels, inspired by the artist Elisabeth Cummings while in the following week for the What Shape Is It? workshop, they’ll combine cardboard shapes into a Margel Hinder or George Baldessin inspired sculptures then use colour to transform their artwork.

Lake Macquarie Art Gallery is featuring cool children’s workshops relating to printmaking and tie-dye textile art. Preschoolers don’t miss out with Rainbow Connection which features storytime and craft activities.

At Maitland Regional Art Gallery, there’s self-guided kids activities. Code Breaker 1.0 and Code Breaker 2.0 are suitable for kids 10+.

Ceramic artist Ali Sobel-Read is offering ceramics workshops for kids and adults in Hamilton during the school holidays. Kids can choose from a variety of classes including a handprint keepsake tile, a dish for mum or a Mother’s Day flowerpot.

She’s also teaming up with local artist Nina Katzmarski to offer a school holiday workshop called The Marionette Project. Kids aged 7+ can dream up and create a whimsical bird marionette using clay, fabric and stamps.

National Music Academy will be presenting a school holiday musical theatre workshop for 9-15 year olds. The workshop will focus on the vocal side of musical theatre! This is an interactive and hands on musical theatre workshop where each student will receive a practical approach to the different roles explored in musical theatre from popular musicals. This workshop is best suited to students between ages 9-15.

 

Outdoor Fun

Wangat Lodge

If your kids like to be out and about, there’s loads of events and activities to choose from.

Kindle a spirit of adventure and wonder in your kids during the school holidays. Wangat Lodge is hosting an outdoor adventure program for kids in school grades 3 – 6. This gives kids the chance to have fun in nature whilst developing a greater understanding and respect for the natural world. Away from screens and back to our natural rhythms, they can truly engage with nature, with each other and with themselves.

Wangat Lodge is set amongst the trees beside the stunning Chichester River near Dungog. At Wangat, they believe in learning by doing. They also believe in having lots of fun. Over 2 nights and 3 days, young adventurers will do just that whilst learning the art and craft of living in the bush. They will explore the forest, river and wildlife, learn about bush tucker and wild craft and discover trees, fungi and wildlife like frogs, birds, wallabies and possums. Evenings around the campfire will provide time to reflect on the adventure and bond over their shared experiences. One night is spent camping on the bank of the Chichester River at Wangat’s own camp on Bandicoot Flat – a real expedition! The result is a unique, focused and wild adventure for all! The Junior Wangat Adventurers program runs from Sunday 15th – Tuesday 17th April for young people in school grades 3-6. Price $395 (all inclusive). To find out more please contact: info@wangat.com.au / 02 4995 9265

Blackbutt Reserve

Blackbutt Reserve is is always a good spot to head to during the school holidays. Play in the Carnley Street playground, go for a hike and see the animals including new reptiles. The Reptile Shows are back at Blackbutt Reserve! (They were cancelled after the theft of the reptiles last September). The new stars of the reptile shows include two pythons, a central bearded dragon and eastern long-necked turtles.

The show allows kids and parents to meet and learn about their favourite scaly, slimy friends! You’ll learn interesting facts about behaviour, physiology and habitats and get an opportunity to get up close and personal. Reptile Shows runs at 11am daily during school holidays. Tickets are $3 per person and tickets available at the Kiosk (limited tickets available). Be sure to check the Blackbutt Reserve Facebook page in case of cancellations.

Meanwhile over at Hunter Wetlands Centre in Sandgate, there will be sessions for Bush Skills (7 to 12 years) and Wriggly Wetlanders (4 to 7 years). There’s also Kids Art Day sessions for plaster art, mask, candlesmaking, and journey sticks. Bookings essential. Every day, there will be free magpie geese feeding and reptile encounters where kids can get up close and learn about  reptiles, frog and fish. Hunter Wetlands Centre also offers $2 entry for kids 12 and under during school holiday periods. At other times, all tickets are $5 for adults and kids over 5. It’s worth a visit to check out the Discovery Playground or try dipnetting from the jetty.

There’s also loads of parks and playgrounds to explore in Newcastle and surrounds, so visit a place you haven’t been before. For some inspiration, visit the Parks & Playgrounds section of The Mummy Project.

Events

The Estuary Family Festival is back on again at Kooragang Wetlands (Ash Island) on Sunday April 15 from 10am to 3pm. This free festival is a fun day out for families and features lots of outdoor activities. Activities on the day include Aboriginal cultural activities and tour, bird observing, basket weaving workshop, kayak tours and NPWS Discovery Ranger tours. Learn about local history and visit the historic Schoolmasters house. You can also take a horse and carriage ride or take a bus tour of Ash Island. Food and drinks will be available for purchase and families are also welcome to bring a picnic. Note: this is an outdoor event so please wear appropriate footwear and clothing. Ash Island can be reached on Pacific Highway at Hexham opposite McDonalds.

The 2018 Hunter Disability Sports Expo will be held on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 April from 10am to 2pm in The Forum at Newcastle University, Callaghan Campus. The Expo is proudly supported by the Cauliflower Club, a rugby charity that supports organisations like Wheelchair Sports NSW (WS NSW) to enhance the lives of those with a disability through sporting opportunities. The expo gives budding wheelchair athletes, the chance to sample a dozen different wheelchair sports including basketball, tennis, rugby, lawn bowls, badminton, handcycling, track and road racing.

Able-bodied people are also encouraged to come along, sit in a wheelchair and try these sports. Shooting a three pointer into a regular height basketball hoop, or serving a tennis ball while sitting down, gives the individual a whole new perspective and appreciation. You quickly stop seeing the disability and start appreciating the ability. It’s a great perception changer for kids and adults alike. (Gold coin donation).

Hunter Drama is presenting a theatrical production of Disney’s Aladdin JR featuring an entirely local cast of Newcastle’s brightest young stars. The show runs throughout the school holidays at Civic Playhouse. Based on the iconic animated film, with an Academy Award-winning score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Disney’s Aladdin JR. is sure to send you soaring on a flying carpet ride filled with romance and adventure. It features hit songs including, Friend Like Me, Prince Ali and A Whole New World and is a must see for all ages! Tickets start from $33.50 and available online.

For train lovers, Hunter Valley Steamfest is on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 April at the Maitland Railway Station Precinct.  Visit Steamfest and experience the fun and family friendly look into days gone by with a diverse program including historic steam train trips, vintage machinery displays and demonstrations, live music, interactive heritage walks and displays, a vintage car display, market stalls, food stalls, kids activities and much more.

Indoor Fun

To keep kids entertained these school holidays, get them an Entertainment Pass from the Customer Service Desk at Charlestown Square. (There’s an additional pass for adults)

On sale for $39, the Kids pass includes:

  • 1 x movie ticket (under 14 years) at Reading Cinemas – excludes 3D movies, TITAN XC and Gold Lounge plus one small popcorn
  • 1 x game of Bowling at Strike or a 9 Hole Round at Holey Moley
  • 60 minutes of Quickplay at Megamania
  • 30 minutes of free play at Timezone. Plus unlimited standard and ticket games and 50 pre-loaded power tickets.
  • 1 x Teeny-Weeny Pack from Schnitz: Chicken or beef schnitzel in a mini toasted roll with chedda cheese & tomato or BBQ sauce, kids chips, small juice or water.

What’s great about these passes is that you decide how you want to use them. You can use the pass in one day for a mega-filled fun day. Or you can use them over multiple days or even over months as the passes don’t expire until December 2018. We’re planning to use ours during the school holidays and have some fun.

Visit Charlestown Square as Megamania has school holiday discos. Discos are on Fridays with character visits by Poppy Troll on Friday 13 April, Kung Fu Panda on Friday 20 April and Cat Boy from PJ Masks on Friday April 27.

Don’t forget about the movies as well. It’s a great choice to keep kids entertained. There’s plenty of new release family movies on this school holidays.

A Wrinkle in Time (PG)

From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love.

Early Man (CTC)

Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of how plucky caveman Dug, along with sidekick Hognob unites his tribe against the mighty Bronze Age in a battle to beat them at their own game.

Peter Rabbit (PG)

Peter Rabbit makes the jump from beloved storybook character to the big screen in this irreverent, contemporary comedy with attitude. Peter’s feud with Mr. McGregor escalates over both the vegetable treasure in McGregor’s forbidden garden and their rivalry for the affections of the warm‐hearted animal lover who lives next door.

Sherlock Gnomes (G)

The beloved garden gnomes from Gnomeo and Juliet are back for a whole new adventure in London. When Gnomeo and Juliet first arrive in the city with their friends and family, their biggest concern is getting their new garden ready for spring. However, they soon discover that someone is kidnapping garden gnomes all over London.

Also, check out the Entertainment Book for savings at the movies and other attractions. ( The Mummy Project is selling Entertainment Books to raise funds for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital with $12 from each book or download going directly to them)

Whatever you do these school holidays with your kids, have fun and enjoy it. What are your plans for the school holidays?


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