Weekly Summer Activity Planner: 13 Free Things to Do with the Kids
There are thirteen weekends that fall between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year (yes, I counted!) That is a lot of family time just waiting to be filled.
Vacations and summer camps can be expensive, but have no fear! There are plenty of exciting, free activities out there that will keep the whole family entertained all summer long.
Week 1: Go Bowling
Introduce the kids to what could be their new favorite sport! Sign up at kidsbowlfree.com and each registered child receives two free games of bowling daily all summer long. Grown-ups can opt to purchase a family pass so they can join in on the fun, but the family pass is not required in order for kids to play. Check the site for participating lanes in your area.
Week 2: Go Skating
Remember roller skates? Like the bowling program, Kids Skate Free offers free rink admission to registered kids all summer long. Visit kidsskatefree.com to find participating locations and registration information. Note that you will need to register kids at least a week before you can start skating.
Week 3: Get Crafty
Spend a Saturday afternoon doing a craft together! Michaels offers Free Family Craft Time, a two-hour class for grown-ups and kids that walks you through a different crafting project each month. The classes are subject to location and availability. It is recommended that you register in advance for these popular classes, as they are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Week 4: Build Something
Get the kids to step up their crafting skills (and maybe learn something yourself) with a free building workshop or clinic at your local Home Depot or Lowes. Both stores offer workshops on Saturdays that are designed for do-it-yourselfers ages five through 12. Home Depot's workshops are on the first Saturday of each month while Lowes offers its clinics on various Saturdays throughout the month. All materials for both workshops are included, but advance registration is strongly recommended to ensure that your child will be accommodated.
Venture outdoors this summer, whether you stay near or go far. REI hosts a free Family Adventure Program website, which lists state and county parks across the country with trails for hiking and biking. The site is also a great resource for information on all sorts of other outdoorsy activities like kayaking, climbing, camping and more.
Week 6: Go Geocaching
Has your family ever been on a geocaching adventure? Geocaching is a treasure-hunting game that involves participants from all over the world. Players hide “treasure” inside a geocache container and leave specific clues for others to find it. Use of a GPS-enabled device are required, as most clues include GPS coordinates. There are varying levels and versions of the game. To learn more, visit geocaching.com. Registration for a free basic membership [https://www.geocaching.com/membership] is required to start playing.
Week 7: Tour a Factory
Ever wonder how something is made? From potato chips to kazoos, there are hundreds of factories in the United States that offer free tours to the public. Check out the full listing on factorytoursusa.com to find one near you. The site also lists free non-factory tours including movie and television studios, sports stadiums, theaters and more.
Week 8: Check Out a Museum
Target Free Saturdays, sponsored by Target Stores, offers families free admission to various museums, educational centers, movie theaters, concert halls and other fun places. Find the nearest U.S. city on the Target Free Saturdays homepage to see what's happening near you. Though most events fall on Saturday or Sunday, a select few happen during the week.
Week 9: Make a Movie
Send your future filmmakers to Apple Camp! Kids ages eight-12 will learn how to shoot their own footage, create a soundtrack and set it to music. The three-day camp ends with a special Apple Camp Film Festival, which showcases each creation made during camp. To find out if there's a participating Apple Store in your area, head to apple.com.
The Microsoft Store offers its own weekly in-store camp for tech-savvy kids and tweens. Each week from June through August, participating stores offer the free camps that teach game coding, game designing, movie making and photo taking. Visit microsoftstore.com for availability and camp requirements.
Week 11: See a Movie Under the Stars
During the summer months, many communities offer free family-friendly movie screenings “under the stars.” Here are a few select events across the country that I found, but there is sure to be something near you:
Week 12: Ride in a Plane
If you have a prospective pilot on your hands, the EAA Young Eagles Program offers free, twenty-minute flights alongside a licensed pilot for kids ages eight through 17. All pilots are volunteers and EAA members. The program is designed to give kids the experience of being a pilot, including a pre-flight “walk-around,” briefing and more. Check the website for participating pilots and registration information in your area.
Week 13: Visit the Library
I truly saved the best for last, here! Did you know that in addition to free books, the library also offers free programs and events, for kids and adults, seven days a week? Visit your local library or library website for a listing of its summer programs. The library is also a great resource for all of the other free stuff going on near you. Not sure if there is a library near you? Visit publiclibraries.com to search your state and town.
There is no need to let a tight budget slow your family down this summer!