The countdown to Christmas and the New Year is a great way to keep the kids occupied in the first few weeks after school breaks up for the summer. But once the festive season is over, and the gloss of using their new gifts has worn off, parents are often left overwhelmed by the thought of trying to keep them busy for the next four weeks.
Thankfully there is a way to survive the school holidays without digging too deep into the wallet, with a great line-up of activities organised by Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Councils.
Newcastle Region Libraries
There’s always something happening across the region’s network of libraries, with a host of free and low-cost workshops on offer for all ages these school holidays.
Dig for fossils and paint your own dinosaur craft to take home in the interactive My Pet Dinosaur activity ($8 per person, aged 4-12), while budding Jedis will be called on to put their knowledge of the force to the test with a fun, free Star Wars Challenge, full of games, trivia and craft challenges.
Creative types will be able to get experimental making their own Curious Clay Creatures while those with a thirst for adventure can help Percy Jackson locate Zeus’s lightning bolt in the library during the Percy Jackson Adventure Challenge.
Tweens and teens are also catered for with a range of hands-on workshops creating everything from Marvellous Monsters that light up, to funky up-cycled badges in the Badge Making activity, while budding writers can unleash their inner voice and pick up some tips at the Poetry Lab.
Bookings for all activities are essential. To find out what’s on near you, check out www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au
A visit to Newcastle Museum is always a fascinating affair, with these holidays featuring fascinating facts all about the body in the interactive Gums to Bums Science Shows.
Follow your breakfast through your body, help make poo and cover your ears as presenters light up intestinal gas with a bang during the popular free science shows, which will run three times a day on January 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, and 24.
The Museum will also offer the chance to learn more about Australian wildlife with an up-close and personal experience with reptiles, stick insects and bird-eating spiders during the free Crocodile Encounters Wildlife Show, while three Slippery Slime Making Workshop will be full of ooey-gooey fun for just $10 per person.
For more details and dates visit www.newcastlemuseum.com.au
Newcastle Art Gallery
Be inspired by the latest exhibitions and have your own hands-on art experience with the range of summer school holidays workshops on offer at the gallery.
Create your own Art Apron inspired by The Erskine Pledge exhibition, or use the styles of artists Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy to design and make a Geometric Necklace using wooden beads, coloured yarns and strings.
The workshops are suitable for children aged 5-12, at a cost of $12 per person, with bookings essential. For more details visit www.nag.org.au
Lake Macquarie Libraries
Snakes and sharks will help take a bite out of school holiday boredom with a range of awesome activities on offer across the various Lake Macquarie Council libraries.
Would you know what to do if you found a snake in your house? Reptile rescuer, Teresa Purnell, will answer that question and more during Insight into Snakes, while the Shark Facts session will see expert David Powter present up-to-date scientific information on sharks including the most common species in NSW, their behaviours, place in the marine ecosystem, and latest science on attack prevention measures.
There will be plenty more activities on offer during the summer break, with the final details still being organised, so log on to library.lakemac.com.au for more information, prices and to book your place.
Out and About
There’s no better time to get out and about and enjoy the summer sunshine these holidays, with a host of activities planned at Lake Macquarie’s beaches, reserves, on the lake and at the Glenrock State Conservation Area.
Enjoy a paddle and see Lake Macquarie from a different perspective as you explore Dora Creek during a Kayak on the Lake for children aged 10+, while those aged five and over can find fabulous fossils of plants that grew here 250 million years ago. Learn how to identify them with a local Discovery Ranger from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service during the Fossil Forest Tour near Dudley Beach.
Join an exciting adventure exploring the rich and fascinating world of rockpools in the Rockpool Ramble at Swansea Heads, or take part in a Sea Cave Exploration at the renowned Caves Beach and learn how old the sea caves are and how they formed with expert geologists from Geological Survey of NSW. You can also join master sculptor Dennis Massoud for a Sand Sculpture Workshop and Competition at Blacksmiths Beach and make sure you have the best sandcastles on the beach this summer.
Those looking for something a little more active can Come and Try Mountain Biking with members from the Hunter Mountain Bike Association, who will work with kids, beginners, riders with a disability and intermediate level riders to practice skills on some test features in and around the car park at the Awaba Mountain Bike Park. Ride the Development Trail or take the longer trail loop alongside an experienced mountain biker who can help you hone your skills.
There are plenty more activities to enjoy this summer across Lake Macquarie. For more information visit lakemac.com.au