Welcome! I am a mom to two wonderful kids, a lovely retired greyhound, and a wife to a great husband. Needless to say, there are a lot of daily messes to clean up around our house. Daily Messes is my blog to share ideas on things to do with your kids, snack and meal ideas, crafts, and holiday fun. I hope you find something to enjoy!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Summer Fun (Freebies)

School is almost out and I will have two kids who love to stay busy and try new things. I have a few free (or cheaper) summer ideas to help keep your kids busy too!

  • SUMMER READING PROGRAMS: Don't forget to check out your local bookstores and libraries for summer reading programs. Most of them offer free prizes for the kids!
    •  Half Priced Books: Read, fill out the log (click on link) to reach 300 minutes in June, turn in your log at your local store and earn a HPB gift card! Repeat in July! Last year the gift card was for $5. (Ages 14 and younger. Runs June & July). They even have a printable reading certificate you can give your kids!
    • Barnes & Noble: Read, fill out their reading log (click on link), and get a free book! It says it for grades 1-6, but just ask the booksellers regarding younger kids. They are usually very nice and will let a younger sibling participate. (Runs 5/17-9/6.)
    • Chuck E. Cheeses: If your child reads and completes the calendar (click on link), they get 10 free tokens.
    • If your child has an account or opens a new account with TD Bank, they can earn $10 for their account when they read 10 books. (Grades K-5. Click on link for form. Runs until 8/31.)
    • Showcase Cinemas. After writing a book review, kids get a free movie ticket to a Bookworm Wednesday movie. Parents and siblings ages 6 and under are free. (See bottom of linked page for participating locations and book form. Runs 7/8-7/29.)
    • Library. Check with your local library. Most of them will have a summer reading program where kids can earn prizes! My library offers an adult reading program as well, with gift cards to local places as prizes.
    • DM Tips
      1.  Check on Amazon.com for free kids Kindle ebooks. The Kindle reading app is free too! Barnes & Noble also has free options (including a few comics!) and free Friday downloads for the Nook. (Nook app also free.)
      2. Check with local libraries or bookstores for storytimes. There are also free story times online! Some online story times: Barnes and Noble onlineStoryLineOnline. Many libraries also offer an online story time, often found under the kids section. Here is the Barnes & Noble Storytime In-Store link.
      3. Pottery Barn Kids. I couldn't find information on the old reading program, but they now have a Book Club which is a story time (listed under Store Events-Book Club.) Ask at the store for a passport, attend 5 story times, and get $10 off an item, plus use the minutes for your summer reading program logs! 

    • Many local movie theaters run free or $1 movies as well, so check with your local theaters.
      •  Regal Movie Theaters have $1 movies in the summer. (See link for schedule and to find a location near you.)
      •  Cobb Theaters have limited locations, but offer free movies in the summer.
    • Some local communities offer free Movie In The Park type of events during the summer. I find a lot of info by talking to other moms at the playgrounds/school, looking in the local paper at the weekend events, and by following the local communities on Facebook/Twitter.
    • See if there is a Drive-In movie theater near you. A few of them have kids under 12 free. Although it won't be completely free, it can be a ton of fun and there are not a lot of them left. 
  • Free Bowling: registered kids can receive free bowling in the summer! (click for details/locations)
  • Fossil Collecting
    • You may have noticed that we (aka the boys) love going "fossil hunting". To find a fossil park near you, try the National Park Service website. (National Park System: 260 Fossil Parks or NPS: Other Fossil Sites. National Fossil Day is 10/11/17. However, I noticed there were not any listed in my area, and I know of two within an hour. If you can't find one listed, try searching for "fossil park" or "fossil collection area" in Google/Yahoo/etc.  
  •  Building Workshops
    • Both Lowe's and Home Depot offer free kids workshops during a weekend each month. Click the links to see when they are being offered.
  • Factory/Bakery Tours
    • Many places offer free (or really cheap) tours of their facilities. We have been to an ice cream shop and a chocolate factory already!
  • Farmer's Markets
    • Of course buying things aren't free, but it is free to go and see new things. My kids were amazed the first time we went to the Farmer's Market and a local farm to see where food really comes from. (Shockingly, it wasn't in plastic packages.) It's always fun to see what they have. There can also be fun vendors, like the portable wood fired pizza oven we saw last year. Click here to find one near you. 
  • Cook/Bake
    • My kids like to "help" in the kitchen sometimes. One of the things I still remember the most from when I was a kid, was making rice cereal treats and chocolate chip cookies with my mom. I love when I can do it with my boys too!
  • Playgrounds/Parks
    • Almost every day (even in the winter), the boys ask if we can go to the park. It's fun to explore and find new parks.
    • Occasionally, local parks offer free events during the summer, especially around holidays like Memorial Day or 4th of July.
    • Many also offer free movies or concerts during the summer.
  • Picnic
    • If you pack a picnic from home and bring it to a park, it can make for a great (and low cost) adventure!
  • Museums/Zoos/Aquariums
    • Some children's museums, zoos, aquariums, etc. will offer free admission on certain days during the summer. Check out your local art/history/science/children's museums to see if they have free days. Sometimes it will be that kids get in free with a purchased adult ticket, so it's not free but slightly cheaper.
  • Crafts
    • My boys love craft time and we have spent a lot of time during previous summers making new things. I have a lot of the ideas on this blog, and a lot of them are made from things you probably already have in your house!
    • Michael's offers $2 crafts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. (Runs 6/16-8/1.)
  • Camping
    • I am not a big camper, although Hubby and the boys love it. However, I will camp in the living room! We even made s'mores over a candle one time. Have everyone tell a scary story, or even have a progressive story (these can be hilarious, especially with little kids).
  • Bass Pro Shop
    • Sometimes they offer fun activities and workshops for free. (Click the link for store locations. Once your locations opens, it should have Store Events listed, normally on the right side of the page.)
  • Garage Sale/Flea Market
    • This one isn't free, but can be pretty cheap. A couple of dollars and some negotiation can obtain a few new books or toys that can keep the kids busy for the day or hopefully even a few days. We've even found new video games for just a few dollars. As an added bonus, offer them extra chores for the chance to earn extra spending money. I think I may have a mountain of socks that needs sorting and folding... :) Try garagesalecow.com, local newspapers or community Facebook pages to find garage sales near you.
  • Eating Out
    • Ok, this is not free. However, there are certain days when kids eat free at some restaurants. If you want to have a treat, but also have it be cost effective, this would be the way to go!
  • Junior Ranger Program
    • This is a free program at the national parks. You pick up an activity book and fill in the questions. Once the booklet is completed, you turn it in and the kids get to be sworn in as Junior Rangers and get a badge or patch! (Click here for more info.) If there aren't any national parks near you, they also offer an online option to earn the WebRanger badge.
    • 4th graders also can get free admission to the national parks! (ends 8/31)
  • Puzzles: I have a few Word Finds, Crossword Puzzles, Scavenger Hunts, etc. on the blog that can be printed out. 
  • Fruit Farms: Definitely not free, but lots of fun to do. Go berry picking! Depending on the time of year, you can get strawberries, blueberries...
    To find a Pick Your Own farm near you, try this site (www.pickyourown.org), or Google "pick your own" and your zip code.
What are your favorite things to do in the summer?

You may also like my Traveling With Kids post if you are preparing for a summer vacation!

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