When you’re a kid, everything is new. But compared to times tables and making your bed, some things are just more fun to learn. We’ve wrapped up the best workshops for to get idle hands busy – and give you a break – these summer holidays.

KAWS Playtime at NGV
At most art exhibitions, it’s very much a “look, but don’t touch” scenario. At the NGV this summer, KAWS Playtime is the opposite. It’s an interactive part of the gallery’s sprawling retrospective KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness, featuring the work of New York-based pop-culture artist Brian Donnelly. Playtime is a hands-on, kid-centric space inspired by the artist’s characters, including the distinctive BFF, an 8-metre tall, bright blue creature with the artist’s signature crossed-out eyes. Kids can create a video self-portrait, or they can use a touchscreen to design a friend for BFF. A take home kit includes alphabet stickers.

Where: NGV International
When: Running daily until April 13, 10am–5pm
Cost: KAWS Playtime is free. Exhibition tickets are $10 for children and $20 for adults.


Piano and Guitar Sessions at The Music Gym
The Music Gym is a studio for adult music classes, but for kids aged five and up, they’re putting on 45-minute jam sessions over the holidays. The sessions cater to all levels of musical ability, and they have the kids on stage-quality equipment, including Fender electric guitars and Roland keys. The playlist? Nothing but the hits. Piano sessions will run on Mondays and Tuesdays, and guitar on Thursdays and Friday.

Where: 348 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
When: From December 16, 11am–11.45am
Cost: $19


Learn to Sail at Sandringham Yacht Club
Have you got a youngster who loves salt, sand and open water? Sign them up to a three-hour sailing lesson at Sandringham Yacht Club. For kids aged five to 12, there’s a Tackers introduction course that gets them into a small OziOpti boat, specially crafted for the little ones. The lesson covers everything from manoeuvring the vessel, to recovering if it capsizes. For those aged between 12 and 17, the “OutThere” class includes an introduction to stand up paddle boarding and powerboating. Full programs are available from $270 over the summer holiday season.

Where: Jetty Road, Sandringham
When: Various dates and times from December 9
Cost: From $60


Musical Theatre Bootcamp at NIDA
Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Mel Gibson have all passed through this institution’s doors, and now your up-and-coming entertainer can too. Budding performers in grades three to six can learn the ropes of musical theatre at the prestigious drama school’s two-day holiday course. Classes cover voice, singing and stage techniques. Also on offer in January: an audition and screen test workshop; a TV presenting class; an acting bootcamp; and five-day drama courses.

Where: Wesley College, 567–581 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
When: Saturday January 18 to Sunday January 19
Cost: $310.51


Botanica: A Village Among the Oak Trees at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
The Royal Botanic Gardens plays host to several kid-friendly events to over the summer. If your kids have been nagging you for a cubby in the backyard, there’s one event in particular you might consider. Kids of all ages – and their parents – can drop in to the Oak Lawn to build a cubby with Palm fronds, bamboo, sticks, leaves and other natural elements from around the gardens.

Where:Oak Lawn at the Melbourne Gardens, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne
When: January 15 to January 18, 10am–2pm
Cost: Free


Skateboard Deck Art at ArtPlay
At ArtPlay’s skateboard deck sessions, Melbourne artist Tricia Van De-Kuyp (aka Vandal) will guide young creatives and/or skaters in painting their own skateboard using stencils, spray cans, sharpies and collage materials. The finished product may or may not take to the ramps, but your kid will have a work of art to take home either way. Decks and materials provided. For ages seven to 12.

Where: ArtPlay, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
When: January 11, 12, 18, 19 and 25, 10am or 2pm depending on age
Cost: $16


Learn to Surf at Urbnsurf
Urbnsurf is the Southern Hemisphere’s first human-made surfable wave. And it opens mid-January in Tullamarine. The lagoon holds 25 million litres of water and can throw as many as 1000 waves per hour, but you don’t need to be a pro surfer to enjoy it. Urbnsurf has classes for kids aged six and up, teaching surf etiquette, stretching, paddling, and how to pop-up, take-off and dismount. Board and wetsuit hire are included. Bonus for the parents – Three Blue Ducks, the popular Byron Bay and Sydney farm-to-table diner, is opening its first Melbourne restaurant on-site. Spectator passes, for those not getting into the water, cost $5 per person.

Where: 309 Melrose Drive, Tullamarine
When: From mid-January
Cost: $59 on weekdays, and $69 on weekends.


Pizza Masterclass at 400 Gradi
400 Gradi founder-chef Johnny Di Francesco started making pizzas when he was 12, so it’s fitting his famous pizzeria is teaching this art to the kids. Over two hours, kids (aged five to 13) will learn about the quality ingredients and technique required to make pizza dough from scratch, with an expert pizzaiolo for guidance. Aside from taking home extra dough and a recipe, little pizzaiolos will get to feast on Margherita slices and a scoop of Zero Gradi Gelato.

Where: 99 Lygon Street, Brunswick East and Eastland Shopping Centre, Maroondah Highway Service Road, Ringwood
When: January 9, 10 and 14 (Eastland), 10am–12pm
Cost: $45


Circus Play with Westside Circus
Is your kid an aspiring carnie? Yes, of course they are. Then the Westside Circus session at MPavilion should probably be on your summer agenda. Kids get to try juggling, tightrope, acrobatics, gymnastics, diablo and more. Ideal for those aged between six and 13. The event is free, but bookings are required.

Where: MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens
When: January 7 to January 9, 11.am–12.30pm or 1.30pm–3pm
Cost: Free


Mexican Cooking Fiesta with Relish Mama
At Relish Mama cooking school chef Sally Gittus guides kids through simple but delicious Mexican dishes, nachos with guacamole and salsa, and chicken tostadas with chipotle mayo. For dessert, it’s a pineapple, lime and mint sorbet, and sweet apple enchiladas. Relish Mama has also scheduled dedicated dessert, vegetarian and Italian cooking classes for kids throughout January, should Mexican fare already be mastered by the youngest members of your household. Ages five to 10 take the morning session, and ages 11 to 16 take the afternoon session.

Where: Warehouse 1, 347 Bay Road, Cheltenham
When: January 22 and 23, 10am–12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm
Cost: $75


Twig and Leave: Natural Sculptures at Heide
En Route is a whimsical botanical installation by artists Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler, currently on view in the iconic modernist Heide II building at Heide Museum of Modern Art. This workshop, inspired by the artwork, will see kids explore and forage in Heide’s famous gardens to gather materials to build their own natural sculpture. The workshop is designed for kids aged 6 to 12 years old. There are also workshops devoted to modroc plaster mask making, toy construction, dioramas, graphic poster design, and building a tiny home on wheels throughout January.

Where: Sidney Myer Education Centre at Heide Museum of Modern Art, 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen
When: 16 January, 10am–12pm

School Holiday Kids Sessions at Rain Room
In a darkened, 100-square-metre space, visitors step into a field of continuous rainfall – millions of water droplets that react to the audience's presence. The rain stops whenever movement is detected: you're fully immersed in a shower at the same time as you're shielded from it. This is Rain Room, and it's generally a quiet, tranquil experience. Rain Room's kids sessions allow the smaller ones (age 12 or younger) to explore the installation in a more interactive, carefree way. Kids must be accompanied by their parent or a guardian at all times, and should bring towels and a change of clothes for anyone attending.

Where: Jackalope Pavilion Corner Acland and Fitzroy Streets St Kilda
When: Until to 27 January 2020 (look for sessions marked ‘KIDS SESSION’ when booking tickets)
Cost:Kids $18.90, adults $31.10, family of four $88.70

Rain Room