This is a guest post from Penny Saver, a frugal mom who is making the most of modest means, saving a quarter of her income, and blogging about it at The Saved Quarter. Read my post at her site with tips to survive the teen years.
Summer is here and kids around the country are asking their parents, “What are we doing today?” Don’t worry! There are plenty of free or very low cost, family friendly activities for your kids’ free time this summer fun!
Festivals, Parades, and Community Activities
Check out your city’s parks and recreation department for upcoming events. You might be surprised at the variety of free or low-cost activities hosted by your city! Classes at the community center are just the beginning. Our city and neighboring cities offers music, movies, dancing lessons, parades, festivals, and family days with crafts and activities, all for free throughout the summer.
Cinemark, Regal, and other movie theaters often offer free or very inexpensive second run kids movies on weekday mornings. It’s a great way to get into some air conditioning and enjoy a kid-friendly movie affordably!
Splash Fountain Parks, Swimming Pools, Beaches, and other ways to stay wet!
In some areas, community pools have free days. Ours do not, unfortunately, so we take advantage of splash fountain parks. Is there a lake, river, or ocean near you with swimming access? That is often the most affordable way to stay cool – show up with a picnic and splash to your heart’s content! If you have a yard, pull out the sprinkler and let the kids (and overheated mom and dad) play while the lawn gets it drink. Water balloon fights are another way to stay cool and wet while having fun!
Free Days at local Museums and Zoos
Most museums and zoos offer a free day or weekend each month or season. You can Google your city’s name and “free museum” to find a list of the days that they’re open without fees. If you’re a member of Bank of America, take advantage of their “Museums on Us” program and check out a local museum for free on the first weekend of the month. Similarly, Target Arts and Culture offers free entry to museums around the US free of charge, no membership required.
My little boy was thrilled to spend an afternoon at the free Jelly Belly tour in Fairfield, CA! The free “belly flops” (imperfect beans) were an added bonus. Is there a factory in your town that offers a tour?
Home Depot’s Kid’s Workshop
Free how-to workshops for kids 5-12, from 9 am – 12 pm the first Saturday of each month. Contact your local store to see if they offer the Kid’s Workshop.
Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics
Free wooden projects every Saturday at 10 am for kids in 1st through 5th grade.
Lakeshore Learning Stores
Free craft activities every Saturday from 11 am – 3 pm.
Many libraries have Summer Reading Programs, with treats given as incentives to reading. Story time can be fun even for the early elementary set, and some libraries have additional programs throughout the summer such as puppet shows and musicians.
Of course, it’s always fun to read, but you can take it a step further and each pick an age-appropriate book on the same topic, then share what you’re learning on the topic. Perhaps you take on ancient Egypt. You could take it a step further and make each other into toilet paper mummies, built a pyramid out of cardboard, and check out a cookbook with recipes from Egypt to try the food together.
Bowl for Free
Check out Kids Bowl Free to see if your local bowling alley participates. Kids get two free games every day for the whole summer! You can add up to four adult family members for under $25 for the summer.
Make your ice cream, marshmallows, or popsicles.
Make play dough or slime.
Make silly meals together, like a menu based on Star Wars (Han-burgers, Vader’s taters, and Greedo’s green beans? Or how about
Even if you can’t get away for a few days, set up a tent in the backyard (or even the living room!) and spend the evening telling stories and eating s’mores by flashlight. Check out our National Parks – almost 400 of them have no admission charge!
Learn a new game
Play ball, take on a new sport, break out a board game, or learn what your kids are doing with their favorite video game.
How will you entertain your kids without breaking the bank this summer?