It’s almost summer again! Hope you all are doing awesomely! It seems like just yesterday I was moaning and groaning about the long winter we were having and now, it’s almost summer. The kids will be “out of school” or for some of us homeschoolers on a modified schedule. At Home With My Kings, during the summer months we are still learnin’ a lil’ something but we also have fun!
I always have “sticker shock” when I see the cost for some of summer programs for the kiddo’s. Camps, classes, adventures, you name it, good golly are they expensive?!! This is not to say the programs aren’t great but the costs add up, especially with multiple kids. That means we’ve gotta get creative! And if you don’t know, let me tell you, I like FREE things, so….. here are 8+ FREE things to do with your kids this summer.
1. Go to The Library
The library is our absolute most favorite place to be over the summer!! I cannot emphasize enough what an indispensable value libraries are for education and society as a whole. The libraries also continue to vary their program offerings to suit the unique needs of its communities, which makes it even more exciting. Our local library system has some excellent program offerings, including their yearly Summer Reading Program. The kids love getting their rewards for all the books they’ve read. Last year we got a chance to churn our own butter and feed chickens in a farm program. My “Rocket Scientist” also went to a few origami classes and now he’s hooked on the stuff. 🙂 This year our library also has quite a few STEM offerings which is right up our alley. I am sure, wherever you are, your library system has some amazing programs too. So check them out to find one near you.
2. Vacation Bible School
Vacation Bible Schools are such a blessing. It’s a week long event based on a preset theme. The kids memorize scripture, enjoy stories and discussion, engage in organized play, and make arts and crafts all centered around the theme. This culminates in a final presentation at the end of the week, where they showcase what they’ve learnt. The one’s we’ve had the opportunity to participate in are always well organized, engaging and fun. We usually get the music CDs for the year’s theme as well. We enjoy listening to them year round. Try Lifeway to find a VBS near you.
Movie Theaters: Some movie theater chains have a selection of FREE (or $1) movies for the kids. Usually it’s mid-week Monday thru Wednesday, some time between 9:30am to mid-day. If you’re going in the morning, it’s a good idea to give the kiddos a nice full breakfast if you don’t want (or it’s not in the budget) to buy at the concession stand. Also, arrive early if you want to get in. Last year, we went to our local theater 2 times and didn’t get to see a single movie. There were bus loads of kids, from daycares and camps there, so it filled up quickly. Check your local movie theater chain for more info. Here is a neat website with all the FREE and $1 Summer Movies for Kids 2016.
Outdoor Movies: We live in the Washington, D.C. area, affectionately called the DMV, and there are a few places that have those wonderful outdoor movie screens! Downtown Silver Spring, Crystal City and the National Harbor, to name a few. They often post their schedules on their website or check out DC Outdoor Films. Don’t know where your local outdoor movie screens are located? That’s a problem Google can solve very quickly. Pack a picnic basket with blankets for some chillax family time.
4. Go to the Beach (but of course!)
This one’s a no-brainer, right? Believe it or not, last year for some reason we didn’t make it to the beach. Ok, I’m gonna come clean. The allure of going to a beach in or around the DMV area (or anywhere in the Northern United States for that matter), is not the same for me as going to a white sand, crystal clear, balmy beach nestled in the foothills of paradise! Yes, my home, Jamaica (what a shameful plug!). I have to say, nothing compares to it! But, seriously, no disrespect to the DMV beaches, but the bar has been set high for an island girl like myself. Getting excited about a beach trip, is just not the same. I don’t share my snobbery with my boys though, so they don’t care which beach we go to, they always look forward to playing in the sand. Pack some food, grab some towels and sunscreen, align your GPS and head to your nearest beach. (Note: Whenever my boys read this blog post, my snobbish ways will ultimately be revealed, yikes!) lol.
5. Go to an Outdoor Event
Much like the outdoor movies there are a bunch of different outdoor concert events that take place over the summer. I’ve not been to many, only because my kids are young-ish and sometimes it doesn’t go well for their level of activity. Last year we went to a Caribbean event, while this was not a free event, it was free for us, because a family member gave us a treat. Yay! We really enjoyed it. We did spend some money buying nostalgic Jamaican food, but it was well worth the time spent together and the kids had ample room to walk around, visit the vendors and such, so they weren’t bored. By the way, I wonder if they’re having it again this year? Hold on, I’ve got to make a phone call. 🙂
6. Go to Chain Stores
I’m a Chain Store fan all year round. Free workshops, play areas, sometimes FREE food…what? what?! Here are a few:
- Ikea is the bomb.com. I love, love, love Ikea. Our local Ikea has several play areas for the kids, even one where you can check the kids in, and go shopping solo, if you so desire. We usually do the open play area near the cafeteria. This is Ikea after all, so it feels like one big play area, with all the fun colors and nifty displays. If you need to buy food while you’re there (true to Ikea’s style) the cafeteria is not terribly expensive and the food is decent. Plus, mamas, while you’re there you can get some design inspiration or pick up a little something to spruce up a room. Pots, pans, shelves, lighting, textiles, candles or even a little plant. Kids get to have fun and mamas too!
- Lowes and Home Depot Workshops. (Kids 5-12) They run FREE workshops on Saturday’s (usually once a month). Check online for schedules, in the summer they can fill up quickly.
- Craft Stores. Check your local craft stores like Michaels and A.C. Moore to see if they have any FREE project demos coming up.
- Apple Camp. (Kids 8-12) Now this one, I just heard about but haven’t tried yet. These are 3 day camps where kids learn how to make films. Sweet! Their 2016 registration hasn’t opened yet, but you can go on their site to sign up to be notified.
You cannot ever go wrong with just simply enjoying that which He created for us! There are so many amazing health benefits to spending time in nature and there’s much to learn also. Go for a walk, hike, bike, scoot, even picnic in the park. Field Guides will help to enhance the learning. We keep our Tree, Bird and Insect Field Guides in the car, which makes it easier to be ready on the road to identify a new tree or find out what kind of insect is crawling up my pants! There are tons of ideas to learn in the outdoors.
Of course, this activity is recommended year round :). Making time to love on your neighbor over the summer (and always) is a FREE activity, but the reward is eternal. Ask God to show your family who needs your help so that He may be glorified. Take the kids to the store to buy food to donate to a pantry – summers are the slowest time for some food pantries-, go with them to check in on an elderly neighbor, invite someone from church (maybe a new member) over for dinner and let the kids play host/hostess or let them pack a couple shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, you get the best deal on school supplies over the summer. Well, you get the idea, I’m sure there are no shortages of ways you can find to help someone.
Need more FREE Stuff?
- FREE YMCA passes (good for 3 days)
- Surf on over to my blogger friend’s cool site Moms With Tots, for all things fun (some FREE) for the kiddos in the DC Metro area.
- 2016 FREE Summer Science programs at the local library from ASSA.
- 100 FREE or almost FREE things to do.
- A friend gave me this awesome TIP: Ask your local parks and recreation about any scholarships. Depending on your income you may qualify for partial or full scholarship for some programs. 🙂
We usually do at least a couple of the paid programs each year that appeal to the boys’ learning style, which more than likely means something STEM related. But we do love, love all the FREE opportunities available in the DC Metro Area and feel quite blessed to call it home. Whatever activities you get to do this summer, enjoy, relax, don’t miss the little things for before you know it, we’ll be shivering again!