It feels like each May the mad scramble begins for parents to make summer plans for their kids. Ideally, we just want them to stay off screens most of the time and hopefully be active. And if we can work in some education too, perfect!
Each year I take advantage of as many free opportunities as possible. And fortunately, there are a lot of them. Our family spends a lot of time at the library. Movies and bowling are also favorites. That is, when we’re not in the pool. 🙂
Check out these free or nearly free activities you can sign your kids up for. And a few DIY games you can utilize as well.
Kids Bowl Free is a national program coordinated by bowling alleys and schools to give kids a fun, free activity throughout the summer.
-Each child you register gets two free games A DAY from May 1 to August 31.
-It’s available for kids 15 and under.
-Shoe rentals are not included.
-The program only covers the kids, so if you want to join them you’ll need to pay. But they also have a great deal where you can get a certain number of adults added to a family pass for between $20 and $30.
Kids Skate Free is much like the free bowling program. The children you sign up can skate for free throughout the summer. But in my area at least, the dates are more limited than the bowling program (Friday-Sunday).
-It’s open to kids 11 and younger.
-Skates are not included.
Lots of movie theaters around the country offer a great opportunity for kids to see recent family movies for free or nearly free.
Marquee Theaters offer FREE family movies each Tuesday and Wednesday morning at participating locations.
There are two movie choices offered each day.
You can see the 2019 Marquee Cinemas Summer Movie schedule here.
Regal Theaters Summer Movie Express is similar, but their movies will cost you $1 per ticket at participating locations.
They also offer two movie choices each Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
You can see the 2019 Regal Summer Movie Express schedule here.
Cinemark’s Summer Movie Clubhouse also offers $1 movies at participating locations.
There is only one movie choice per week but they’re offered Mondays through Wednesdays.
And you can get an even bigger discount and pay $5 for all 10 movies.
You can see the 2019 Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse schedule here.
AMC’s Summer Movie Camp offers kids’ movies every Wednesday morning at participating locations.
You get a movie ticket and a kids’ snack pack, all for $4.
You can see AMC’s 2019 Summer Movie Camp schedule here.
Don’t see your local movie theater listed here? Google “summer kids movie series” with your zip code, or call your local theater to ask if they have a summer discount program.
Some major store chains also add fun classes for kids through the summer, in addition to stores that continue classes and events year round.
Barnes & Noble hosts story time sessions, mostly on the weekends. Check to see what’s planned at your local store here.
Pottery Barn hosts a story time every Tuesday at 11am. Find a store near you here.
The Lego Store hosts monthly build events where kids can build a Lego character then take it home for free! It’s the first Tuesday and Wednesday of each month. Sign ups open on the 15th of each month for the following session. Find a store near you and register here.
The Home Depot hosts free building classes throughout the year on the weekends. They range from building bird houses to game boards. Check to see what’s planned at your local store here.
Michaels hosts Camp Creativity classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10am. These are NOT FREE, but each class is just $5 and the kids have a cute craft to take home. You can also get a discount on three classes for $12. Check out Michaels’ summer calendar here.
Smaller craft stores in your area may also have these types of classes. Just look on their website or call.
Scheduled Events –
Chances are, your local library has a calendar jam packed with free, fun events for kids throughout the summer. From story time for little kids, to crafting and even coding for bigger kids. At our local library, you can also find events for art, chess, Lego clubs and even juggling.
DIY Library Fun –
If your local library doesn’t offer these types of events or if you want to supplement in between scheduled events, check out my post on Summer Library Games with free printables for easy summer learning including Silly Summer Mad Libs, Library Scavenger Hunt and a Summer Reading Challenge.
Check your library system’s calendar and find out if you need to register ahead of time. Some libraries have limited space and need to ensure they have enough supplies.
Check with your local parks and rec department to see what they have scheduled for the summer. Here in Southwest Florida we are very fortunate to have many protected wildlife areas such as the J. N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. They offer programs all summer like beach and trail walks to wildlife themed story time and crafts.
Summer Adventure Checklist
This checklist will keep you on track to soaking up all kinds of fun family adventures. Your goal can be to check off a certain number of adventures per week or pack in the most fun activities by the end of the summer. Print it out, stick it on your fridge and get the kids excited to get outside and have fun!
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