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Free Summer Activities For Kids

10 Free or Low-Cost Summer Activities For Kids

Wondering how to keep your kids entertained all Summer? Stave off Summer boredom with these 10 fun and affordable activities recommended by Circle of Moms members.

1. Library Programs

Local library Summer programs are recommended by numerous Circle of Moms members. As Rebecca S. advises: "Libraries are always having free events with story times, magic shows, etc." And Evelyne R. shares: "I also love to take my children to the library, most of them have a Summer reading program that offers prizes for books read. My children love this and it is free."

2. Free Bowling

Free bowling for the kiddies all Summer long? Sign us up! Thanks to Kids Bowl Free, children can register for two free games of bowling every day this Summer at participating bowling centers in the US and Canada.

3. Gardening

Gardening is a great Summer activity for children of all ages. "The garden is full of hidden surprises" for preschoolers, says Jeanette B., as they can be entertained by "just looking under rocks (and) feeling the textures of different materials, such as grass, leaves, flowers, stones, [and] fir cones." For older children, Alissa V. recommends encouraging older children to independently make or redesign a small flower bed. No backyard? See if community gardens accept children as volunteers (try the ACGA locator tool). And don't forget a field trip to the local farmers market for inspiration.

4. State Parks

To engage curious kids, says Laurie W., "the best activities involve the outdoors — lakes, ponds, streams, conservation areas and trails — to explore rocks, bugs, birds, and plants." And as Chaya S. suggests, Summer is a great time to explore state parks in your area; many have kid-friendly guided nature walks and science centers.

Keep reading for six more ideas!

5. Camp

From language immersion, theater, and computer camps to Camp Invention and Boy and Girl Scouts camps, there are many different types of day and sleepaway camps for children. Sandra R. advises: "Check out your local university, museum, or science center for Summer camps. My kids once spent a week at a LEGO robotics camp they still talk about. Go with their interests and let them learn something new."

6. Volunteering

Volunteer projects are another great way to engage children during Summer break. Alissa V. suggests volunteering with library programs, nursing homes, or homeless shelters, and Christina F. offers several more ideas: "Volunteer at a retirement home (or animal shelter or pet rescue)," where your child "could be put in charge of a fund raising event . . . or volunteer with the office staff."

7. Discounted Movies

"Check with local movie theaters," Tisha B. advises. "Most of the ones in our area offer a free kids' movie once or twice a week. They don't advertise it, but I called and asked and they were able to give me a schedule."

8. Arts and Crafts

Watercolors, ceramics, flower pressing, photography, drawing, collage . . . the options are endless when it comes to kid-friendly arts and crafts projects. Whether you sign your child up for a class at the local community center or stock up on supplies at a nearby craft store, Summer is a great time to encourage kids to explore art. One at-home art activity Pamela W. suggests is painting with household items: "Use sticks, leaves, cotton buds, fingers, brushes, etc." to paint on "cardboard, old tiles, leaves, bark."

9. Local Attractions

Whether there's a science museum or shipyard in your town that you've never checked out, or a children's museum that never disappoints, Summer is an ideal time to explore local attractions. Save on admission by attending on free days (often offered once a month by the museum, or through deals like Bank of America's museum program). Or, as Jessie M. suggests, consider purchasing a pass to the attraction you visit most frequently: "Get a season pass to the zoo. That never gets old."

10. Simple Backyard Fun

From bubble wands and kites to puppet shows and water fights, some of the most fun Summer activities don't require much in the way of planning or supplies. Tam Z. shares: "We go to Walmart or Dollar Tree and get lots of bubbles and chalk and easy, fun (and inexpensive) things for the kids to play with."

Image Source: Shutterstock
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Rebecca-Zager Rebecca-Zager 2 years
Wow above ideas really seems interesting to keep our children's as much busy as possible during summer holidays, but i believe we should also allow our children's to express their own idea or plans to keep themselves busy, in this way we can see their creative part too & further urge to do something that we want them to do.
lauren lauren 2 years
what great ideas!
MarthaSpurlock47753 MarthaSpurlock47753 4 years
If you can afford Internet access, you can afford $3-$4 bowling shoes. Please stop attacking a good idea and the people who enjoy it.
CoMMember13631167720262 CoMMember13631167720262 4 years
@ Robyn actually the kids are free to bowl you pay the $25 fee if you want adults to bowl with the kids. I like taking pics and watching the kids have fun so for me it is no biggie to sit with the kids and cheer them on!
Siena-Fashion Siena-Fashion 4 years
This is all great for children older than 2. what about toddlers that are very active under the age of 2? they are very curious and want to do fun things but bowling and painting are not quite within their grasp yet....
KellieMcLaren64256 KellieMcLaren64256 4 years
you imagination is free spen time with the kids and let them think of things also, nothing in life is free so complaining is just going to make to have a headache which then causes you to spend money on medicine, just enjoy you enjoy your kids they arent little forever we we once the kids!!!!!! Yes I am a mom of a 2,6 and 10 year old!
NGracePridgeon NGracePridgeon 4 years
No, the "kids bowl free" DOESN'T require a $25 fee, it give you an option to add up to four adults pass to bowl two games every day with the kids for $24.95 all summer. That includes parents, grandparents, or older siblings.
BecciGhobadi BecciGhobadi 4 years
I find a picnic anywhere always works well. They love just getting out of the house weather permitting of course. Mine also love things like going crabbing at the local seaside if you have one. This is popular with my eldest who is 14 as well as the youngest who is 7.
TammyLatimer TammyLatimer 4 years
While the actual bowling if free for the children, you still either have to buy bowling shoes or rent them for $3-4 each every time you go, at least in my area.
GemmaNieva GemmaNieva 4 years
my kids summers makes them busy of an extra activities such as reading encyclopedia,spelling.practicing mathematics and some poems...and some outdoors activities like basketball for my eldest son giolo
StephanieDraper StephanieDraper 4 years
The bowling IS free for children, you only pay 25 if you want to add a family pass.
RoseMarieFantini RoseMarieFantini 4 years
There are not many things free. remember t always ask if a military dependent if there are discounts for military. Also the national parks are free to senior citzens or the disabled, make it a family trip bwith grandparents. I have learned to always asks th worst is they say no but you can save if the anwser is yes they do notalways post.
BrookBridwell BrookBridwell 4 years
I think these are great ideas! Some are a bit much, like the zoo membership, but we started buying those for birthdays and it lasts all year!!
RobynTheriault RobynTheriault 4 years
Unfortunately, a few of these are not free. The "kids bowl free" requires a $25 fee, the zoo membership here is over $100, and the state parks require a $30 annual sticker to get in. So much for free.
DianePenry DianePenry 4 years
My son is older now, but I still look for fun safe things for him to o in the Summer Months
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