I’m fairly certain that these boredom busters are already up your sleeve, but honestly, they make up so much of our summer that I felt I couldn’t leave them out.
1. The best place to find free activities to keep your kids busy is… Your Public Library! They have summer reading clubs for your toddlers, elementary and even teenaged kids — usually resulting in some sort of freebie (free book, coupons, etc) at the end. But wait, there’s more! The summer programming at our local libraries is phenomenal. This year, my kids are registered for embroidery classes (okay, that’s just E), drawing workshops, Lego building workshops and chess. Our library is coordinating a show of the local community college’s kids theater. They are hosting singers to perform a musical show for the kids. There’s bingo, family game nights, and family book discussions.
Also, if you happen to live near other towns (e.g., in Suburbia), you can also scope out the programs at their libraries. They’ll often offer drop-in programs — like story times, crafting, performances, etc — and you won’t even need a library card to register. They’re free and open to the public.
Your library is a treasure trove. Always has been, always will be. I’ll try to save my rant about how tired I get hearing that the Internet killed the library for another day.
2. Check out free programs at your park district. I know, I know — lots of their programs are fee-based, but dig a little deeper. Around us, the local park districts host a kite-flying event, a fishing derby, a family fun night, outdoor family movies at the park nights and municipal band concerts and jazz concerts for free. The one I’m looking forward to the most? Watching people launch their boats in the annual Cardboard Regatta. Participants build a life-sized boat out of cardboard and then race it across a pond-that-they-call-a-lake-but-is-really-a-pond. Prizes are awarded in such categories as best design and best time. I can’t wait to see it.
3. Barnes and Noble hosts both Lego building events and a summer reading club. Your child reads 8 books, records them in a reading journal and brings it to a Barnes and Noble store. He can then choose a free book from a list of titles. On their website, they also have a summer reading kit with activities to keep your school-aged kids involved and improve their reading comprehension. It’s definitely worth a look.
4. If you have a child who is more into building things, both Home Depot and Lowe’s have free kids building workshops on select Saturdays. Geared for kids ages 5-12, these workshops offer a new kit each month that they can build in the store. You need to register for the Lowe’s Build to Grow workshops online at their website, but the ones at Home Depot are drop-in. We used to do these all the time, because we were shopping in the home improvement stores all. the. time. All of my kids loved them, and they are still using some of the projects that we made. They are excellent.
5. Michael’s has free crafting classes for kids — you just have to check with your local store to find out what they are offering and when. E and I are going to check these out this year — there’s a how-to-make-friendship-bracelets class that she’s got her eye on.
6. For the little ones, Pottery Barn stores offer a free story time on Tuesday mornings and a summer reading challenge to win a free book. Mind you, this is for the preschool and younger set, which is excellent since so many other activities are geared toward school-aged kids.
7. Don’t forget to look into what your town is doing for the summer holidays. Parades, band concerts, fireworks are all in store — you can check your local paper for times/locations.
What are your favorite summer free finds for the kids?