The girls and I have active Saturdays together. As a part of running our errands we make strategic stops that give the girls a chance to have fun without a lot of expense. Here are some ideas for spending family time together inexpensively.
1. Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics. These are free build-it clinics for kids. The girls have been going for about 4 years now. They’re held every other Saturday at participating stores at 10am. You can register in advance online or just show up. We’ve never been turned away when we simply showed up. Lowe’s has all kinds of kits to build things and for every item your child builds, she’ll get a patch to sew (or glue) onto her Build and Grow apron.
2. Junior Ranger Program. Many National Parks offer visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service Family as Junior Rangers. Interested students complete a series of activities during their park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger badge or patch and Junior Ranger certificate. Your children can learn about nature, science, history, and animals by participating. Click on the link for a list of participating parks.
3. Home Depot Kids Workshop. Similar to the Lowe’s program above, Home Depot offers build-it clinics for children ages 5-12 on the first Saturday of each month starting at 9am. Again, the girls love it and they get very excited about bringing home their creations. Home Depot’s kids get a pin to pin onto their apron at completion of the project.
4. Summer Reading Programs. Many libraries, bookstores, and schools offer a summer reading program for children. In exchange for reading books over the summer, the libraries, bookstores, and schools will reward your children with a prize of some sort – usually a free book. The State of South Carolina even offers a reading program. Check your local area to see what’s being offered. The 2012 Barnes and Noble program hasn’t been announced yet, but I expect it will be announced within the next week.
5. The Farmers Market. The girls and I head over to the All-Local Farmer’s Market about twice each month where we do the bulk of our grocery shopping. We support local businesses and have a great time doing so. Besides the cost of the products I’m already buying, there is no additional expense associated with visiting the market. My girls actually wake me up each Saturday begging to get to the market.
It doesn’t always cost a whole lot of money to entertain your children. Before we leave the house to make our Saturday rounds, I draw up a list (or Alijah does it) of our stops, in order. Alijah and Courtney share the duty of ensuring that we accomplish all of our goals, and usually by the time we get home several hours later, we’re all pretty tired, especially as the weather heats up.
No matter where you are, at least one of these options should be somewhere nearby, especially the Farmers Markets.
What do you do to keep your kids entertained without spending a lot of money?