Want to get out with your kids, but have a limited budget? There’s lots to do for free or low cost. Here are some ideas for how to find them.
1. Check your county website. You’ll find information on parks and services they offer. Parks offer free festivals, concerts, movies, and more. Some towns have lakes with reasonable prices for canoe or kayak rentals.
2. Parks are great for fun and learning. Get out and explore. Look at the bugs and animals, check out the trees and bushes. Get books from the library or check the internet to learn about the flora in your area.
4. Get into investigative mode. Many museums have free admission on certain days or nights. Check their website first, but if you don’t see any free times listed, give them a call. Check with your library to see if they have museum passes to lend. Colleges and Universities sometimes have museum classes, lectures, and other fun stuff for kids of all ages.
5. Membership to museums is great. In most cases, visiting just two times will cover the cost of the membership. Once you’ve bought a membership, you’ll get in free for a full year, which makes it easy to choose to go back. And, many museums have reciprocal agreements with other museums. For example, if you buy a membership to The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (www.ansp.org) you can get in free to three museums in Delaware, two museums in Maryland, and other museums around the country. Ask grandparents or Aunts & Uncles to give you a membership as a gift, rather than toys that your kids don’t need.
6. Check your local Wegmans. Many have free movie nights for kids, and also cooking classes. Contact the stores for the schedule. www.wegmans.com.Have a gathering with friends and you can have a Mom’s night while the kids are watching the movie. Other stores such as Home Depot have classes for kids.
7. Your local library has many programs available; reading, crafts, educational, computer lessons, etc. Many libraries have agreements with others in the county, so you can utilize more than just your local one.
8. Look into Geocaching. It’s a free real-world treasure hunt. People hide treasures and you try to find them. Go to their website at www.geocaching.com/, put in your zip code and see what has been hidden in the area. You’ll use GPS coordinates they provide to find treasures. You can hide one, too! It’s great fun.
9. Create your own treasure hunt and design Bingo cards based on where you are going. https://bingobaker.com/ Type in words related to your activity and the website will create Bingo cards that you can print out. Your kids will have fun searching for the words and marking their Bingo cards. You can do this for car trips, the mall, museums, parks, grandma’s house, and more. There are other Bingo design sites, find the one that works for you. You can do the same thing with Word Search Puzzles. http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/WordSearchSetupForm.asp
10. Get together a group of like-minded parents with similar aged kids. Each of you has a talent that can be used for the whole group. Maybe one of you loves to cook and can host cooking classes at her house. Another might love the treasure hunt idea and create hunts. I was always the crafty mom who provided the materials and hosted craft days. Figure out which parent is web savvy and can be the one to hunt down discount days. Plan park days and decide who brings what: beverages, snacks, soccer balls, hula hoops, etc.
11. Google is your friend. Do a search for “free things to do *insert your town, county or nearby city*” and you’ll see results. You can also do this when visiting others. Create a Yahoo Groups email list or Facebook group, and share with others the ideas you find. Something you find may not appeal to you, but others could benefit from the info.
12. There’s a lot of learning with fun activities. The kids don’t even realize what they’re doing is educational. You can incorporate reading and math multiple times throughout the day. “We’re driving to the mall. Can you count how many stop signs we see?” On the next trip, make it Yield signs. “Wow, there are a lot of red cars parked here, let’s count them.” Your kids will have tons of fun.
Keep in mind that kids will remember what they experience more than store-bought toys. Create memories for them and you. Take lots of pictures and you’ll look fondly back at them years from now.
Leave a comment with some of your ideas!