It will happen. Maybe not the first or second day of summer vacation. Maybe not even during the first week. But the time will come when your adorable children will begin to drive you crazy with cries of “I’m bored!”
They will want you to buy them things. They will want you to spend money on them. You do not have to do any of those things.
Free Things For Kids to Do This Summer
Instead of spending money, check out this list of free summer boredom busters for kids. With this list you’ll create memories instead of expense!
Free summer reading programs
Most public libraries and many stores and restaurants offer free summer reading programs that reward your kids for reading. Your kids will have something to do and a little incentive (like free food or other goodies) to do it.
Sure, there are many movie theaters that offer discount matinees during the summer months, but you can’t beat free! Sign up for texts and emails from Redbox to be alerted to free movie rentals. Earn Swagbucks, save up your MyCokeRewards points, or collect MyPoints for free movie tickets, or check to see if your local theaters offer any free movie days like they do at the Mall of America on Saturdays.
You may also be able to attend free movie screenings in exchange for your opinions on new films. Be sure to check out your local community for free public showings of movies (many of them are outdoors) or check out movies to watch at home from your public library.
Free community programs
Check with your city, local library and community education departments for free activities for kids. These places often hold free story times and art classes or host kid-friendly live performances from musicians, comedians, and entertainers. Zoos, museums, and nature centers in your region may also offer free programing for your child to enjoy.
Free museum visits
Some museums hold fee-free times for visitors, so check ahead for options. In addition, local libraries will sometimes allow you to check out free passes to local historical places. If you’re a Bank of America customer you can visit 150 museums for free the first full weekend of each month.
Kids can bowl two free games every day all summer long at more than 1,000 participating bowling centers. This is a perfect activity for days when the weather is too hot or too rainy to be outdoors.
Free roller skating
If you really want to wear out the kids, find a roller rink that offers free roller skating this summer. If your kids already have skates, you won’t have to worry about paying to rent them. (Check thrift shops for secondhand pairs).
Free coloring and activity pages
If rainy weather is keeping you indoors, inspire some creativity with free coloring pages or activity pages. Coloring and activities can help prevent the dreaded “summer slide” and give you a few moments of peace and quiet. Don’t let the teens miss out – there are fun free coloring pages for big kids, too!
Take a hike or go for a bike ride
Find trails in your neighborhood, put on some sunscreen, fill a bottle of water, and go take a hike or go for a bike ride. There are plenty of trails you can explore for free. You can even do a nature scavenger hunt to add interest to your walk.
If you want to take hiking one step further, try geocaching with your kids. Use a GPS or your smart phone to find hidden treasures (geocaches) on public lands.
Hit the beach
When the weather is hot, you want to be where it’s not! Take the kids to your local beach and let them play in the sand and splash in the water. Look for community pools that are free to use, or find a friend with a backyard pool you can visit.
Visit a park or playground
Spend an afternoon playing at your favorite park or playground or travel a little outside your neighborhood to discover new places to play with the kids.
If your kids are really bored and you’ve done everything you can think of to do with them, put them to work! You can use a free kids chore chart or have them draw chores out of a jar. You can bet that most kids find ways to entertain themselves when this idea comes up!
Kids eat free
Sometimes you just need a break from cooking, and fortunately, there are plenty of places where kids eat free. Find a day and time that works for you and be sure to read the fine print (at some places kids only eat free with the purchase of adult meals).
Free store activities
Many popular stores host free kids’ activities in an effort to get parents to stop in and spend money. The good news is that you can take the kids for the free fun and walk away without spending a dime. Check out Home Depot’s Kids Workshops, Lowe’s Build & Grow Clinics, free family events at Bass Pro Shops, free crafting classes at Michael’s, free kids crafts at Lakeshore Learning Stores, free LEGO mini builds at LEGO stores, and free story times and crafts at Barnes & Noble and Pottery Barn Kids. Keep an eye on Toys ‘R’ Us for free special events throughout the summer as well.
Find free music to download for your own in-house dance party with the kids, or look for free live music events in your community. If you’ve got a budding musician, get free sheet music or free online guitar lessons for the kids.
Free computer camps
If you’ve got a kid that lives and breathes technology and you live near a Microsoft or Apple store, you may want to enroll them in a free computer camp. Apple Camp is a three-day camp open to kids ages 8-12 and focuses on creative projects using Apple gear. Microsoft offers a four-day camp for kids 8-13 that focuses on game coding. Space is limited, so you’ll want to sign up early. Check with your local stores for details.
Take free online lessons
If shuttling kids all over this summer is not your idea of fun, take advantage of free online lessons. You can find free online music lessons, art classes, foreign language classes and more.
Make a game of it
Get creative and have the kids make up their own fun. You can start with these games to play that need zero supplies. You’re only limited by your imagination!
Remember that having fun isn’t about the money you spend. It’s about the memories you make. So go make some good ones!
Your turn: What are some of your favorite free things to do with kids in the summer?
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