Summer is coming. By the time you read this, your kids or grandkids, if you have them, may already be on summer vacation. Back when I was a kid, that meant endless days of hiking in the woods with my friends, playing baseball, shooting baskets and generally trying to make myself scarce so that I could avoid chores. Today, unless your children are at least in middle school, you probably don’t leave their summers all that unstructured.
But what can you do to keep kids entertained for 3 months? If you are a stay-at-home parent, you probably want to avoid having your child play 90 straight days on their X-Box 360 or other gaming console. You also probably want to keep them engaged, you sane, and your wallet full. Fortunately, there are a lot of options out there. You may want to check out some of these.
Go to the Movies: Many cinemas offer discounted or even free films if you go to matinees, especially showings before noon in the middle of the week. Many Regal Cinema locations are offering free matinees at 10am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for a number of recent children’s movies. It is a great value and a great way to get out of the house, without any cost, in the middle of the week.
Go to a Museum: Many museums offer free or discounted admission at certain times each week. If a museum participates in certain federal funding programs, I believe they are actually required to do so. Call your local museums to ask them when they offer free or reduced admission. Also, check with any organizations to which you belong to determine whether your membership can get you in for free. AAA and various other groups certainly can help. Also, Bank of America card holders can gain free admission to several museums across the country as part of their Museums on Us program.
Read Books: Make a point of visiting the library each week with your kids and require them to take out at least one book each week and to finish it before your next visit. Also, Barnes and Noble usually offers a summer program which allows kids to get a free book for every 8 books that they read. Encourage your kids to read and let them know that they may be able to get free books as a reward. Check with your local Barnes and Noble Bookseller to determine whether they are participating. In addition, TD Bank is offering kids $10 for reading ten books. If you live in an area with a TD bank, check with the bank to determine the rules for participation.
Go for a Walk in the Woods: In my youth, I used to spend hours – sometimes entire days – hiking in the woods near my home. I grew up 10 miles outside of Boston, MA but there was still a 2000 acre reserve in which I could get away from cars and modern distractions. Chances are good that you do not live too far from a wooded area that is probably full of trails and fire roads. Take your kids back to nature and I think you will all love it. If you do not know where you can hike, you can also check with the National Park Service.
Go to a Minor League Baseball Game: Minor league games usually do not cost a lot of money and they can be a lot more fun than major league games. Fans are not nearly as numerous and the players are usually much more accessible. Kraft is also offering a BOGO promotion for minor league tickets for purchasers of Kraft Singles cheese. Some restrictions apply.
Go to a Concert: Usually there are a huge variety of free outdoor concerts in cities and towns across America throughout the summer. Check your local newspaper for listings.
There are lots of free things to check out with kids throughout the summer. You can search for “free things to do with kids” and find several links. You can also visit about.com for profiles on several cities, including in some cases lists of free local activities.
What are you going to do with your kids this summer? Expensive summer camps? Three months of video games and Cartoon Network?