As summer vacation gets underway, kids have big dreams about how they’ll wile away these long days and weeks that stretch ahead of them. They have visions of lazy days at the pool, hot afternoons running through the backyard sprinkler, lots of ice cream cones and plenty of time with friends.
If you’ll be spending those long summer days at work, we’ve already covered five ways to make summer camp more affordable. But if you’re looking for other ideas to keep the kids busy, here are five cheap entertainment ideas for kids this summer.
Look to the library
To help them retain the gains they made during the school year, children should be reading all summer. That’s why libraries offer summer reading programs for kids—from babies to teenagers. And, often, these summer programs include free enrichment classes, contests and events for kids, including storytimes, children’s theater, arts, crafts, science activities and more. Check in with your local library to find out what’s scheduled.
Head to your local parks
If you have young kids, it’s likely you’ve spent a lot of time hanging out in the parks and playgrounds in the community where you live.
But town and city parks departments offer much more than swing sets and slides. Some schedule drop-in play inside their air-conditioned gyms for young children. Others operate pools and spraygrounds where residents can cool off for free or just a few dollars a visit.
Some parks let you check out special backpacks with nature or art activities to complete during a visit. Most organize festivals, free events and outdoor movies for all ages.
Check in with your local town or city hall to find out what programs are available to you.
Take advantage of free, cheap activities
All summer, businesses open their doors with special programs for kids and families. Here’s a list of a few of them:
Head to the movie theater
Seeing a movie during the year usually will set you back $8 or more per person, but not during the summer when theater chains across the country offer free and cheap summer series for kids and families. Here’s a list of 2019 summer movie deals at some of the country’s largest movie chains:
Locally owned theaters and smaller chains, including Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, also offer free and cheap summer series for families.
Set up some babysitting swaps
To give you time to run errands and your kids time with their friends, arrange to swap childcare duties with other parents. On one day, they’ll send their kids to you. On another day, you’ll send your kids to them. It’s a win-win for everybody and free. The kids have a blast with their friends, and you get some much-needed time for yourself to work or take care of the house—or yourself.
Keeping kids busy all summer may seem like a full-time job, but it doesn’t have to be if you take advantage of programs like these. And, don’t forget: It’s OK if they’re bored from time to time. The experts say it’s actually good for them when they think they have nothing to do.
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