Everyone knows that taking their kids to the park is a free summer activity for kids (except, of course, if you purchase ice cream, overpriced soft drinks or rides on the carousel). But if you’re planning on spending lots of quality time with your kids this summer, you’ll want more than just the park to keep them occupied. Ahem…I mean they’ll want more than just the park to keep them busy. What’s a parent (or grandparent) to do to keep children entertained without spending a fortune?
This summer there’s no need to sweat about finding cheap and free things to do with your kids, because I’ve got a list of options that should provide hours of entertainment. The best news is that many of them will entertain you as well. Who knew kids summer activities could be so much fun?
- Free family film festival – You may not love staying indoors during the summer, but every once in a while a cool, air-conditioned room and a kid-friendly movie is just what the doctor ordered. (This activity is also great for rainy days). Throughout the summer participating theaters are offering free children’s movies (rated G and PG) every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10am. Movies vary from theater to theater, and seats are limited so make sure to arrive a few minutes early. For a list of participating theaters in your area, click here.
- Kids bowl free program – As its name suggests, this program allows each adult to bring up to six children to bowl for two free games of bowling each day. Even if you don’t want to go bowling every day, you’ll be able to choose this as an activity on days with inclement weather or days in which you’re just looking for a change of pace. Click here for a list of participating bowling alleys. The program has already started in many locations, so why wait to register?
- Free entrance to national parks – On August 14-15 there will be free entrance to over 300 national parks offered by the U.S. National Parks Service. If you haven’t planned your family vacation, why not plan a great trip around this free summer activity?
- Home Depot kids workshops – Suitable for children aged 5-12, these workshops are being offered at all Home Depot stores on the first Saturday of every month at 9am. Activities vary, but as with all Home Depot workshops, these meetings are bound to be extremely enjoyable for those who love being creative.
- Lowe’s Build & Grow workshops – These kids activities are offered at 10am on Saturdays, which means that sometimes you may need to choose between Lowe’s and Home Depot (who knew there were so many great options for free summer activities for kids?!).
- Library activities – Many libraries offer kids summer activities that are a bit more robust than their activities during the year. If you’re looking to fill some time, check out what activities are going on at libraries in your area. While you’re there, why not check out some books for your children to that they can participate in…
- Summer reading programs – There are a bunch of summer reading programs that provide incentives for your child to read over the summer. TD Bank is offering kids $10 (deposited directly into their account) if they read ten books this summer. Barnes & Noble is kids in 1-6th grade a free book if they read eight books and fill out the store’s Summer Reading Journal. The offer ends September 7th, and children are entitled to pick their free book from the store’s list of options. Border’s book store is also offering a similar incentive, if children read ten books and fills out the store’s form. Children can then pick from the store’s pre-selected list of books (which, incidentally, are not the same as those being offered by Barnes & Noble). You must be under age 12 to participate in Border’s promotion.
- Public sprinklers – Many neighborhoods have public sprinklers that are turned on at pre-arranged hours during the day. As summer activities for kids go, this is a good one, because they can run around and do other things and jump in the sprinklers just to cool off. And, of course, moms can rest easy since less lifeguarding is required.
- Free events sponsored by Target – In case you didn’t know, Target sponsors free museum entrances and cultural events at different venues nationwide all year long. It’s definitely worth taking a look at their offerings to see what is going on in your area, so that you’ll be able to take advantage of things when you have free time this summer.
With so many free summer activities for kids, you should be able to map out your summer in advance so that there will never be a dull moment. I hope you’ll let me know how all of these free activities go!