Day camps are a summer staple, but sometimes our household needs more. I found myself low on finances for one year, and I couldn’t even plan for a summer vacation. I had to do some quick digging around for free and nearly free things my kids could do so that they had some fun experiences without breaking the bank. Here are some free and cheap things to do this summer with the kids.
Movies at the Park
There isn’t a website for this event, but it appears to be a nationwide event that is put on through your local parks and recreation department. They provide a large screen in a park where they show family-friendly movies at dusk. You can bring a picnic dinner, chairs, and blankets to get cozy amongst other families. My town has food trucks available if you want to buy concessions rather than pack a dinner. Movies range from action to children’s cartoons. This year my city will be showing Black Panther and Cars 3, which fit just about every family demographic in the area. This is my favorite because it can cost me no more than a bit of gas!
Toddlers and younger school-aged kids aren’t quite used to summer vacations quite the way older kids are. Fortunately, there is movie camp to save the day! AMC theaters will run a kid-friendly movie every Wednesday for nine weeks at just $4 per child; adults are matinee price. This only occurs in select cities so you will need to check with your nearest AMC theater to see if they will be participating this year.
Bowl and Skate for Free
There have been skating and bowling programs in the summer for many years, and I personally love finding something that makes my kids move, rather than sit in front of a screen or on their phones. Gather a group of kids for an easy way to maintain their friends outside of school. This is another program that is in select cities so you will need to check your skating rink and bowling alley to see if they are participants.
Get Building With Workshops
Home Depot is one of my favorite places to hit up in the summer with my kids. My store offers free workshops for kids (often only up to 12 years old) that allow them to explore building useful things and encourage the desire to learn to build. Don’t forget to check with Michael’s, A.C. Moore’s, and Joann’s for more creative workshops for kids throughout the summer.
Visit Your Local Library and YMCA
We often forget about libraries, but they are the best tool in summer fun. They host a slew of reading hours, summer reading programs, bingo, and yoga classes to bring together the community. You can also check out books and all sorts of movies to keep your kids busy. YMCA and YWCA also host summer pool hours and special events for kids each year. Some are free or very inexpensive for families. They even offer scholarships for folks to enjoy the pools!