If your little ones haven't headed back to school yet, they'll be heading back soon. You're no doubt breathing a deep sigh of relief! But just because summer is ending, the constant cries of "I'm bored!" aren't going to disappear.
So how can you keep the kiddos entertained on the cheap? It's easier than you think. Tons of companies and community organizations offer free fun for kids, and a bit of creativity takes care of the rest. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
1. Visit a Home Depot Workshop
Do you have a budding young Bob the Builder at home? If so, enroll them in one of Home Depot's free workshops for kids. You'll occupy their hands and minds and provide them with the skills they'll need later in life. After all, they won't need to call in a carpenter to patch a small hole in the drywall if they know a little DIY.
Home Depot also offers Do It Herself workshops for women, so consider picking up a new skill yourself while the little ones learn. Think how proud you'll be announcing to hubby that you fixed the leaky faucet yourself!
2. Take a Trip to the Museum
Do you currently use Bank of America or manage credit or investments through Merrill Lynch? If so, you could score free admission to the museum for your kiddos. All you need is your current debit or credit card issued through one of the institutions, and you've got a free pass for 225 museums across the country. Take the entire family with you to enjoy a day of art, history and culture.
3. Roller Skate for Free
Roller skating builds your leg muscles, develops core strength and balance and improves your overall coordination — all while you're having a blast! But the cost of admittance and skates can add up. If you sign up for membership on Kids Skate Free, you can participate in free skating at rinks around the United States.
Don't see your favorite local rink on the list? The website provides a printable template for a letter that'll inform them about this great program.
4. Enjoy a Day of Bowling
A day at the bowling alley is fun for everyone, regardless of age. With Kids Bowl Free, you can enjoy up to two free games all summer long to ease the pain of going back to class. Many local alleys offer all day passes on select Saturdays and Sundays so the rest of the family can get involved. You'll burn a few calories and help children develop their motor skills and upper body strength.
5. Make a Movie at Apple Camp
Apple hosts tons of free camps for the kids. If you've got a budding young Stephen Spielberg at home, help them learn how to direct their own movies at Apple Camp. This three-day camp for children will teach them how to use an iPad to shoot videos and combine them to create a movie trailer.
6. Spend the Day at the Playground
Children need unstructured play to develop emotionally, building confidence and independence by applying their problem-solving skills in new situations. Taking your kids to the park helps foster their creativity as they make up new games and activities. Plus, it gets their bodies moving, making nap time a little easier.
7. Drive Over to a National Park
The National Park Foundations' Every Kid in a Park campaign strives to introduce all children to the wonders of the natural world. Spending time in nature helps relieve stress, alleviates mild depression and fosters a sense of environmental stewardship. Plus, you and your little ones will get some exercise as you explore the majesty of the outdoors.
8. Earn Chucky Cheese Points by Reading
When your kiddo proudly comes home waving a good report card, reward them with a trip to Chucky Cheese. They award children with 10 tokens for free as long as they show their report card with a food purchase.
That said, you don't have to wait until the end of the grading period. If you visit the restaurant's website, you can sign up for various rewards, including one which provides tokens in exchange for reading.
9. Hit Up a Community Concert
Many parks and recreation departments host free concerts and family movie nights at local facilities. Why not get out the picnic basket, grab your favorite snacks and take advantage of these great deals with your kids? You can team up with neighbors who have children around the same ages and make it a group outing.
10. Start Volunteering
The best time to foster a sense of community in your children is when they're young. Luckily, you have a ton of options for involving the little ones in volunteer work.
For example, helping out at a soup kitchen is a rewarding after-school activity every other week or so. You can also help out with back-to-school supply drives for families in need. If your children are older, participate in a community cleanup event together.
Make Back to School More Fun
Back-to-school time is something to celebrate, but you still need free ways to entertain the little ones. By following the ten suggestions above, you can keep kids active, learning and growing throughout the year.