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Top Ten Tuesday – Free or Cheap Kids’ Outings – Frugal Novice

Top Ten Tuesday – Free or Cheap Kids’ Outings

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about ten inexpensive ideas for activities to do with your kids mostly at home, and now I thought I’d follow that post up with ideas for things you can go out to do – because every mom knows you can’t stay at home all the time or you’ll all go stir crazy! So, for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, here’s a list of suggestions to get out of the house and save your sanity. :)

1. Dollar movies – If you don’t have an actual dollar theater near you, don’t despair – at least two big movie chains have great summer programs in place to let you treat your kids to a movie without breaking the bank. Two that I found both have $1 movies on Tuesdays: AMC has Summer Movie Camp, and will be showing movies like Shrek the Third & Madagascar 2; Cinemark has Summer Movie Clubhouse – movies shown vary by location. We have a Cinemark and I know ours is showing things like Charlotte’s Web & Despereaux.

2. Building Workshops – Both Lowe’s and Home Depot offer these great sessions on various Saturdays. They’re FREE and your child gets to build fun projects each time, with your help. Note – Home Depot says these are for children 5-12; Lowe’s doesn’t specify an age. Here are some upcoming projects – don’t they look fun? The one on the left is for Home Depot; the right is for Lowe’s.

3. Story Time at the library – I know, I know, this was on my other list too – but it really belongs better on this list, because it’s a GREAT idea for getting out each week, exposing your children to books, and meeting other people in your local community. Ours has a summer reading club that provides prizes for the kids each week – and the story time for infants and toddlers is filled with lots of songs and puppets, too. It’s a really fun experience for them.

4. Michaels offers free demos and events; some are completely free, like this Father’s Day Card:

Some require a purchase, but are still inexpensive, like this:

5. Vacation Bible School: Most churches offer one at some point during the summer, and these usually last about a week. I always grew up with them being each weeknight, but some now are during the day too. I have a lot of fond memories of going to VBS – we’d sing fun songs and we always did crafts, too. Check around to find schedules for your local churches. Often they’ll be scheduled for different weeks and it’ll work out for you to take your child to more than one.

6. Bowling for FREE! This program is really great – participating bowling alleys let kids bowl two free games every day during the summer! You have to register, and there are age limitations that vary by location. The only downside is that there aren’t locations available everywhere – there’s not one in my city – but there are a lot listed so see if there’s a location near you!

7. Museums – Even ones that typically charge for admission often have free nights, especially during the summers. Just Google “free museums” for your area and you’ll find all kinds of options. Bank of America has a program called Museums on Us, where cardholders can get into museums free the first weekend of each month. Check their site for the schedule and a list of participating museums. I know my mom, dad, and brother took advantage of that this past weekend and really enjoyed it. Target also offers free or reduced-price events in many major cities.

8. Playtime Co-op Day – This requires some planning, but can be a lot of fun. Visit with moms in your neighborhood and each agree to handle one aspect of entertainment; one mom could handle sprinklers or swimming, another could do sidewalk chalk, another could provide her swingset, for example. The children start out at one house and then move to others throughout the day. Switching to a new activity and location keeps things fun, AND gives each mom that’s participating a break. Team up for lunch, and make it fun. Picnic, anyone?

9. Paint your own pottery – There is a small cost for this one, but is a lot of fun (and can take up a large chunk of the afternoon). Before I had children, I took our friends’ small children to do this while babysitting one day, so that they could make Mother’s Day gifts. I spent about $5 per child. The cost includes the piece you purchase, plus all the supplies that the location provides – glazes, brushes, stamps, stencils, etc. Once you’re done with your masterpiece, leave it to be fired and then pick it up a week or so later. Kids will think it’s neat to see how their project changes from flat to glossy. Our friends’ kids were SO proud of their pieces.

10. Geocaching – I have to admit I’ve never tried this, although I’ve heard it’s fun. Not sure what exactly that is? According to geocaching.com, it’s “a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.” It’s basically a scavenger hunt of sorts, and it’s completely free – the only caveat is that you need a GPS device of some sort – your iPhone will work too. This sounds like it would be a great family activity. Go to geocaching.com to find out information for your area.

Edited to add: Bry from Trying to Reason suggested a great alternative to geocaching – letterboxing! Clues are given online and no GPS device is required. Thanks, Bry!


  • Bry June 8, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Geocaching is great fun if you have a GPS. Try Letterboxing. Just like Geocaching but clues are given online. Its free, and the kids will have a blast! Great Suggestions!
    .-= Bry´s last blog ..Somehow………. =-.

  • oh amanda June 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    How fun! I almost did the exact same post at Impress Your Kids today! LOL! I forgot about geocaching! I want to do that this year!
    .-= oh amanda´s last blog ..My First Top Ten {Tuesday} Vlog! *giveaway* =-.

  • Tweets that mention The Frugal Novice » Top Ten Tuesday – Free or Cheap Kids’ Outings, The Frugal Novice -- Topsy.com June 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by oh amanda, Christi S. Christi S said: Ten great FREE or cheap kids' outings – get out of the house without breaking the bank! http://bit.ly/9Q2gjj #toptentues […]

  • brooke June 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Christi! I don’t know how else to get ahold of you…but you won the giveaway on my blog :) shoot me an e-mail so we can work it out. I’m so glad we connected in the blogosphere…I love your blog and your heart for God!!

  • Wendy Kilmer June 8, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Playtime Co-op Day sounds fun! If you are doing one and need an extra mom and kids to join in, or help planning/recruiting others, let me know! We have a decent size backyard with swing set and sidewalks.

  • Jennifer June 8, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I had no idea you had this blog Christi!! I got an email from Amber about your giveaway (which I entered 7 times for!!). This is great!

  • Tired Mom Tésa June 9, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I love lists like this, I always discover something I didn’t know – like the discounted summer movies. I think my two would absolutely love that!

  • Jessica B June 9, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Hi, I’m your newest GFC follower from MBC, I hope you’ll take a moment to follow me too at Mom of all Trades!

  • Michelle June 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Im following you. How about you follow me! :D