September School Holidays in Lockdown: What’s On in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter

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It’s coming up to the school holidays again. However, with COVID-19 lockdown still on, it’s a much different scenario than we’re used to. Here at Newy with Kids, we usually put out an extensive list of school holiday activities. The lockdown has changed that dramatically.

So for these school holidays, we’re focusing on activities being offered virtually by local libraries and art galleries as well as fun things you can do at home or outdoors with your family.


City of Newcastle

NEWCASTLE LIBRARIES

Newcastle Libraries hosts a range of online activities to engage and inspire your little ones. From Rock n Rhyme to workshops and Lego Club challenges, there is something for everyone. Choose from a range of online sessions for kids of all ages

Tune in for Baby Book Time. The 4 week program is designed especially for babies aged 0-12 months available online! Introduce your baby to a love of reading, rhymes and music and learn all about how to stimulate your baby’s development in this fun 20-minute session. Enjoy nurturing your child’s love of reading anywhere, anytime!

Join award-winning illustrator Liz Anelli as she reads from her picture books, shares secret art tips and then demonstrates a creative art challenge that you can try at home.

Kids can also make worlds out of words with help from local authors Jess Black and Ed Wright as they dare kids imaginations with wild and crazy creative writing challenges.

Enjoy our collection of LEGO® challenge videos, fun for all ages and a great project for the kids to do with adults. Grab a bucket load of LEGO®, select your challenge below and get building!

You can’t make it into the branches for Crafternoon these days, but don’t worry, the Newcastle Libraries will bring Crafternoons to you! Check out the virtual sessions with Sally. Crafternoons are where you can show off your creativity with weekly art and craft fun, including STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Maths) activities. Suitable for ages 5 – 12.

For younger kids, a hugely popular, fun-filled 4-session science program Little Bang Discovery Club hosted by Newcastle Libraries is now available online! Young children are already great scientists without even knowing it. This hands-on program combines everyday objects and experiences with genuine scientific enquiry methods that children and their accompanying adults will thoroughly enjoy. A different program is presented in each of the sessions. A parent or carer is required to participate with the children in these sessions. Ages 4 – 8.

Missing storytime? Watch very special Story Stomp series, with books by wonderful Newcastle authors and illustrators. Stomp your way through a fun-filled session of stories, songs, and craft developed to stimulate and grow the minds of 3 – 5 year olds.

Even though some library branches are closed, you can still access e-books, e-magazines and stream legal music with Freegal. For kids missing out on Storytime, log onto the Storybox Library where some of Australia’s best storytellers read their stories on screen. It’s a vibrant and interactive way for children to enjoy their favourite Australian children’s stories, and enjoy a storytime at home.

NEWCASTLE MUSEUM

Tune in for some science fun at Newcastle Museum during the school holidays. Resident scientist Catherine is presenting new Museum Express at Home experiments on Tuesday 21 and Tuesday 28 September at 11am. You can also join the Show Us Your Science sessions on Thursday 23 and Thursday 30 September at 11am where Catherine will discuss some of the science-related examples/questions sent to her. Sessions can be watched via the Newcastle Museum Facebook page.

NEWCASTLE ART GALLERY

Get ready for an interactive art workshop on Monday 20 & Wednesday 22 September. Join Newcastle Art Gallery for a Making Faces art workshop using materials from around your home to create your own fabulous faces. Children will learn how to cut and construct a basic face shape. Then collage other facial features to make their own unique designs. 

The following week on Monday 27 & Wednesday 29 September, kids can tune in for an interactive Nature Craft art workshop using materials from the garden or local park! Go on an adventure and gather up some flowers, twigs and leaves to create your own nature craft. Children will learn how to draw little figures before decorating with blooms and foliage.  

These programs are for primary school-aged children and will be delivered by a Gallery Educator. These are free online events but bookings are required.


Lake Macquarie City Council

LAKE MACQUARIE CITY LIBRARY

There is a wide range of fun and interesting activities you can do online at Lake Macquarie City Library from creative arts, to storytime with the author events, writing and puppet-making workshops and even learning a magic trick or two!

Online activities include

  • JD’s World of Magic – Tricks of the Trade Magic tricks each day on Facebook.
  • Print your own Busy Bee Activity Booklet.
  • What If…? – Meet the Author Lynn Jenkins and Illustrator Kirrili Lonergan Zoom session suitable for ages: 5-8.
  • Silly Yak – Meet the Author and Illustrator Alexandra Rose Mangano Zoom session suitable for kids 3 – 8.
  • All in a Dog’s Life – Meet the Author and Illustrator Chrissy McYoung Zoom session suitable for kids 7+.
  • Stupendous Shadow Puppets – At this fun, hands-on workshop participants will work with Curious Legends artists to create unique, shadow puppets, with items from around the house, and then bring them to life! Suitable for kids 4+ . $12 per child.
  • Children’s Writing Workshop – Super Short Stories  Zoom session suitable for kids 10+.

MAC (MUSEUM OF ART AND CULTURE)

MAC has developed ARTSPACE@HOME so you and your young ones aged 2 – 8 can engage with art and be inspired to make art. Creativity and sustainability is key for their online art projects. They have created activities that can be made out of materials most households would have in their cupboards or recycling bins.

For older kids, MAC has MAKERSPACE@HOME so you and your kids aged 8+ can engage with art and be inspired to make art made out of materials most households would have in their cupboards or recycling bins. These artmaking activities feature an extension for older children to build their skills and understanding.


Maitland City Council

MAITLAND CITY LIBRARY

Maitland Libraries have activities available online these school holidays. Fire up your imagination and change the way you see the world. You can change the way you and other people see the world. These school holidays you can do all your Holiday Fun from home. Have a look and be a bright spark! Learn from the Vikings and use runes to tell a story or make a story cube or storybox. Get kids outside and encourage them to make a scene in your yard. Can they make a fairy garden, a safari scene or a pre-historic garden? You don’t need much – except heaps of ideas about how to use what you have differently.

You can also still access e-books, e-magazines and stream legal music with Freegal with Maitland City Library. For kids missing out on Storytime, log onto the Storybox Library where some of Australia’s best storytellers read their stories on screen. It’s a vibrant and interactive way for children to enjoy their favourite Australian children’s stories, and enjoy storytime at home.

MAITLAND REGIONAL ART GALLERY

To support the community staying connected and creative from the safety and comfort of your own home, Maitland Regional Art Gallery launched MRAG from Home.  Your family can see an exhibition online, make your own artwork with downloadable work sheets or get doing with a range of activities designed to get those creative sparks firing.

MAITLAND GAOL

You can also learn about Maitland Gaol from home with Snitch’s Spot. Built in 1844, this former security maximum security prison was used to house convicts up until 1998. The gaol is one of the Maitland’s most iconic tourist sites and provides locals and visitors with the opportunity to experience life on the inside of this once high-security prison.

While the historic site was closed in 2020, Maitland Gaol created some fun online resources guided by the ghostly character ‘Snitch the Rat’ to entertain kids at home these school holidays. For those familiar with the Gaol site, Snitch the Rat is the voice of the children’s self-guided audio tours, and he comes to life in the newly launched ‘Snitch’s Spot’ on the Maitland Gaol website, where his picture can be seen for the first time. There are also activities for kids to try including making their own butter and liquid soap.

There is also Gaol themed online content for adults if you need something different to do during lockdown.

Cessnock City Council

CESSNOCK CITY LIBRARY

Enjoy some online fun with Cessnock City Library these lockdown school holidays. The library has put together a number of online school holiday activities you can do when convenient for you and your kids. Sessions include making upcycled bird feeder, upcycled jewellery, kitchen scraps gardening, DIY care package and Wizards Can Cook: Treats from Hogsmeade.

If you want more activities, check out the videos from their online Rhymetimes, Storytimes and Science with Sandy series. There are loads of science sessions including making your own lava lamp, storm in a glass and the lemon volcano experiment.

Sign up for the 1000 Books Before School challenge during lockdown. It encourages early childhood literacy and introduces young children to the world of reading. An investment of one book a day, three to four minutes, is all that is necessary to open a child’s mind to a lifelong love of books and learning. Children will receive certificates as they reach the milestones of 50, 100, 250, 500, 750 and then 1,000 books to mark their achievement.


OUTDOOR FAMILY FUN

Family Walks & Hikes

Go for a hike this spring. Hike the Hickson Street Track down to Burwood Beach or the Yuerlarbah Walk at Glenrock Lagoon. Do the Awabakal walk from Dudley to Redhead Walk and enjoy panoramic views of the coast. Enjoy the Redhead Coast on the Ken and Audrey Owens Walk. Explore Shipwreck Walk, a walk along the Stockton Breakwater which incorporates the wrecks and hulks of several iron and steel ships within the structure.

As the stay at home orders limit us to our LGA or 5km from our house, we’ve put together LGA specific guides for family-friendly walks. Get outside during lockdown and go for a walk with your kids. We’ve put together a collection of our favourite family walks in Newcastle LGA, family walks in Lake Macquarie LGA and family walks in Maitland LGA.

Go for a bike ride

The Newcastle & Hunter region is full of some of the most beautiful and fun bike paths to suit any cyclists – from little ones just beginning on their biking adventures to those kids who want some challenge and fitness. Here is a list of some of our favourite paved paths and mountain bike trails.

As the stay at home orders limit us to our LGA or 5km from our house, we’ve put together LGA specific guides for family-friendly bike rides. Get outside during lockdown and cycle with your kids. We’ve put together a collection of our favourite family walks in Newcastle LGA and family bike rides in Lake Macquarie LGA.

Play Frisbee golf

Take some frisbees and play frisbee golf at Jesmond Park or at Styles Point Reserve in Rathmines. For those unfamiliar with disc golf, it’s similar to traditional golf but instead of using golf clubs and a ball, you use a frisbee. The aim is to complete each hole with the fewest number of throws.

Have a picnic

Get outside during lockdown and enjoy a picnic or barbecue with your kids. We’ve put together a collection of our favourite family picnic spots in Newcastle LGA and family picnic spots in Lake Macquarie LGA. We’ve chosen picnic spots with barbecues, playgrounds and amenities to enjoy a great day out.

Do a Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt Newcastle

Get out and explore Newcastle! Newy with Kids has developed family scavenger hunts printables covering Newcastle LGA to download for free. Download the self-directed scavenger hunt and then visit the location. You and your family will need to find various points of interest and answer the questions listed on the map to solve the mystery phrase. It’s an opportunity to notice landmarks and interesting things you might not necessarily notice. There are five locations to choose from: Blackbutt Reserve, Civic Park & Honeysuckle, Foreshore Park, Stockton, Wallsend Brickworks Park.

We have also developed non-location specific scavenger hunts. Take a walk around your neighbourhood and get some fresh air, exercise and a change of scenery. To keep kids occupied on this walk, we’ve come up with a neighbourhood scavenger hunt printable. It has lots of things that you and your family can look for on your neighbourhood walks. Bring some binoculars or a magnifying glass and get them to use their observational skills. And the scavenger hunt doesn’t all have to be done on one walk – do it over days or a couple of weeks. Print it off and let the kids check them out or keep it on your phone.

You don’t need to venture far from your house to find a fun activity for your kids to do while in lockdown. Get outdoors and explore your backyard with a scavenger hunt. We’ve put together a list of things for you and your kids to find. There are lots of interesting bugs, leaves and other natural things to find as well as other things you might find in your backyard. Print it off and let the kids check them out or keep it on your phone. That should keep them busy for a while.

INDOOR FAMILY FUN

Virtual Tours

Visit Australian landmarks, zoos, aquariums, galleries, museums & world heritage sites from your home. Travel plans might be on hold at the moment due to COVID-19 but you can still explore Australia without leaving your home. Here are more than 30 virtual online tours you can do across Australia. Some involve Google Steet View tours while others let you view online exhibits.

Kids Movies

Going to see a new release movie is a school holiday favourite. However, with cinemas closed and movies delayed, watch one of the many kids movies. The Newy with Kids team has come up with an extensive list of family movies that you can watch with your crew while in lockdown. We’ve got something for everyone: classics, animals, sports, sci-fi, fantasy and comedies, even some cringeworthy gems from the 80s and 90s. We’ve chosen a selection from around the world including some great kids films produced here in Australia. So choose a movie, pop the popcorn, settle in and get ready for some family viewing.

Kids TV Shows

If you feel like you’ve watched tons of family movies and you feel like something different, how about watching a TV show with your kids? We’ve put together a big list of kids shows that you can watch together as a family including some Australian shows. The list includes TV shows for a range of ages from preschoolers to teens on ABC iView, Netflix, SBS on Demand, Disney+ and Apple TV+.

Podcasts

Want to keep little minds interested? Get them listening to podcasts especially during school holidays at home. We love podcasts as kids can listen to the subject matter while relaxing, drawing or just playing with LEGO. And there are so many topics to choose from. No matter what your child is interested in, there’s a podcast for them. Choose from science, ethics, mysteries and music and more. Here are our picks for the best podcasts for kids. We’ve chosen a selection from around the world including some great podcasts created here in Australia that parents will love too! Either listen to the podcasts together or give kids some headphones.

Board Games

Unplug from your devices and spend some family time together playing board games during school holidays. Here’s a list of board games that you and kids might like. If your kids are preschoolers or in their teens, there’s a game to suit. The list includes some retro classics as well as some of the hottest games. Bonus: Some of these fun board games even have educational benefits. Just don’t tell your kids that. Just tell them it’s unplugged play, family style.


VIRTUAL SCHOOL HOLIDAY EVENTS

Attention: LEGO Fans! Newcastle Brickfest is a community event created by local volunteer LEGO fans for LEGO fans. As a result of the lockdown, the events has switched to a free virtual event and will be held online on Sunday, September 26, from 10am on the Newcastle Brickfest Facebook Page.

This virtual event will be a fantastic opportunity for everyone. You won’t have to miss out on the fun and excitement as Brickfest will bring everything from the physical event into your home. With everything being hosted online so anyone can join them!

Come along and explore all the exhibits created by local LEGO fans just like you! There will be something for everyone at this virtual show, including MOCs (My Own Creations), Modular Buildings, Star Wars & Marvel creations, plus many more categories.  Come and join us in celebrating all things LEGO

You might also like:

150+ Ideas For Family Fun During a Lockdown

How to Virtually Celebrate Your Child’s Birthday in a Lockdown

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