The living may be easy in the good ol’ summertime, but when you add up the cost of admission to the community pool, museums, and theme parks — not to mention the gas — summer can really break the bank! Here are some free (or really cheap) ways to keep your kids entertained this summer without blowing your budget.
- Build a fort out of old sheets and some clothesline.
- Have a picnic.
- Go on a photo safari or nature hunt.
- Run through the sprinklers.
- Have a bubble blowing contest.
- Make an obstacle course and have timed races.
- Spread a tarp on the grass and finger paint it.
- Color the driveway with sidewalk chalk.
- Set up a table in the shade, and bring your child’s art supplies outdoors. Find rocks, larger sticks and other objects to paint. Remember those eggshells you’ve been saving? Use them to decorate your child’s masterpieces!
- Both Home Depot and Lowe’s offer free Saturday workshops where kids can learn to make simple projects. (Bonus: they’re not on the same Saturdays!
- Have your child record eight books in the Barnes and Noble reading journal and get a free book! Pottery Barn and Half-Price Books will also give your child a free book for recording their books in a reading journal.
- H.E.B. grocery stores are giving away prizes to kids who read 10 books over the summer. The prize is a mystery, but they say it’ll be “cool”.
- Book Adventure, which is operated by Sylvan, runs a reading reward program year-round. Kids can earn temporary tattoos, toys, CDs and (of course) books.
- Reading is just one of the things you can track and reward your child for with Chuck E. Cheese’s rewards calendars. (No Nose Picking is another goal. Go figure.) Take the completed calendar with you on your next trip and get 10 free tokens.
Catch a Flick
- Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres are running a 9-week children’s movie festival offering $1 admission to selected G-rated movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 am.
- Cinemark, CenArts, Century Theaters and Tinseltown Movies have a great program offering discounted admission to select G- and PG-rated movies. Buy a punch card in advance and get admission to 10 movies for $5, or buy admission at the door for $1.
More great freebies!
- Kids bowl free at various bowling centers throughout the country all summer. (AMF Bowling has a free kids program, too.)
- Bank of America offers cardholders free admission to certain museums.
- Admission is free to all National Parks on June 9!
- Target sponsors free arts and cultural events all year long. Find out what’s happening in your area.
- Apple Camp offers free 3-day workshops where kids from 8-12 can learn how to make their own movie at participating Apple stores. The camp culminates with a film festival where kids show off their work.
Do you know of other free summer activities and programs? Share in the comments below!