School’s out for Winter: 5 ways to keep the kids busy

Let's face it; we've got it pretty good in Australia, but the winter is still pretty damn cold. It can be pretty hard to find the motivation to go outdoors, especially when you've got the comfort of a roaring heater and a hot cup of coffee. Now that the school holidays have begun, the kids probably aren't going to want to go outside either. It's really not the greatest weather for kicking a ball around. We've put together a list of a few ways to help keep the kids entertained this winter, while maybe teaching them a thing or too at the same time.

By Alex Choros

Let's face it; we've got it pretty good in Australia, but the winter is still pretty damn cold. It can be pretty hard to find the motivation to go outdoors, especially when you've got the comfort of a roaring heater and a hot cup of coffee. Now that the school holidays have begun, the kids probably aren't going to want to go outside either. It's really not the greatest weather for kicking a ball around. We've put together a list of a few ways to help keep the kids entertained this winter, while maybe teaching them a thing or too at the same time.

Duolingo:
Duolingo is an iOS and Android app that makes learning a new language fun and easy. Duolingo encourages learning through gamification, providing users with experience points and levels. Weekly scoreboards will definitely bring out the competitive spirit in your kids! And whats' ever cooler is that spending just 34 hours using Duolingo is the equivalent of studying a language for a semester at University!

Code Academy:
At the Macquarie Future Forum in Sydney a couple of weeks ago, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and SEEK co-founder Paual Bassat both suggested thatthat programming should be a compulsory part of the Australian curriculum. A few weeks off is the perfect chance for your kids to learn some skills that will certainly help with their future.

Code Academy is a free, online educational tool that can help anyone learn to code in a fun, interactive way. While programming is seen as quite dry, Code Academy provides plenty of fun, half hour projects to learn with, such as animating your name, or building a personal website.

Sphero:
Sphero is a small unassuming white ball, controlled by an app on either iOS or Android devices. At its simplest level, Sphero is akin to a remote controlled car: you can race it through obstacle courses; you can set up elaborate tricks; or even hold a destruction derby. Imagination is the only limit. But aside from being a pretty cool toy, Sphero teaches kids how to code through introducing them to simple routines, and as is a great primer on programming basics. Through using the MacroLab app, kids can configure Sphero to get up to all sorts of mischief.

Lego Mindstorms EV3:
Lego Mindstorms lets you bring your creations to life! The Lego Mindstorms kit not only includes over 500 Lego technic pieces, but programmable motors and sensors not only allowing kids to build robots, but control them too. And of course, you can use any existing Lego pieces you own. One of the biggest additions to EV3 is Bluetooth support, allowing robots to also be controlled through iOS and Android apps.

At an RPP of $500, it's on the pricier side, but it’s definitely something that will enterprising engineers-to-be entertained for years!

Mario Kart 8:
While Mario Kart 8 might not be the most practical use of time, it certainly is fun, and something the entire family can get involved in! It's also the perfect opportunity to show the kids you know what's what when you decimate them in a heated race on Rainbow Road. We've certainly been enjoying the latest instalment in the series, and you can read our full review here

Aside from Mario Kart 8, the Wii U has plenty of other games the whole family can enjoy together, such as Super Mario 3D World, Rayman Legends and Wii Party U.

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