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Summer Programs for Kids that Won't Cost Much!

low budget summer programs for kids in 2017

Summer break is upon us and that means weeks and months of idle days for our children. Most of them will pass the hours away lounging by the pool, scrolling social media, or finding ways to beat the heat indoors. While a refreshing and welcome relief from the structured school year, summer days often find our sons and daughters feeling bored or lazy. Instead of letting them waste away their vacation, keep them engaged, learning, and active by enrolling them in one or more of the following low-cost summer programs:

Check out the Summer Reading Program at the local library. Almost every public library will offer some version of this free classic summer activity. Each year there is a new theme, crafts, competitions, and games to keep all age groups interested in reading and visiting their library. Look for registration forms and more information at your local area library.

Head to Home Depot for a DIY workshop. Take advantage of these free or low-cost events held every month to get your child working with tools, building something, and learning a new set of life skills as they complete a simple project. Classes fill up fast, so search for a Home Depot near you to register today.

Catch the reading bug at the local bookstore. Many bookstores offer free reading programs, book clubs, author readings, and more. For instance, Barnes and Noble offers a program between May and September that allows kids to earn a free book after they have read eight books. If you don’t live near a bookstore, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will mail a child a free book every month from birth until the age of 5.

Get your game on. Many of our sons and daughters enjoy gaming of some kind. Whether it is board games, trading card games, role playing, or video games they enjoy the thrill of competition and the camaraderie with friends. Many comic book or gaming stores provide safe places to gather for game play and many even host tournaments. Visit a store near you for details.

Register for classes offered by your County Extension Office. Extension Offices provide a variety of free or cheap programs for kids of all ages. These range anywhere from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) day camps, entomology workshops, entrepreneur classes, to jam making sessions. Find your local County Extension Office to contact their educators for a list of class offerings and costs.

Park it! Visit state parks or recreation areas for a variety of fun options. Sign up for lessons on bird watching, hiking, kayaking, archery, outdoor photography, and more. These classes provide a great opportunity to get children outside and enjoying the world around them in a safe environment with trained professionals.

Take a walk down memory lane with area museums. Many museums, whether it is history or art, host programs for children during the summer. Take advantage of these offerings to help your child learn about unique periods in history or the differences between Monet and Manet. Contact your local museums for a listing of programs or special events.

Get your paint on! Many artists and colleges often host canvas painting nights or classes for a small fee. Children often enjoy the thrill of mixing paints and creating their own artwork. Take advantage of this and keep them painting all summer long.

Whip up something good to eat. Children love to cook and it is a great way to bond with our sons and daughters this summer. You don’t have to sign up for classes or buy expensive cookbooks to help our little ones enjoy preparing food. Look for blogs, online resources, or interesting recipes to help you with this family project. For added fun, consider trying a monthly food service that mails ingredients and recipes right to your door!

Join a recreational or club sport. Summer and athletics go hand in hand which makes it easy to find a local team to join. Often there is only a small fee to pay for the coaches and upkeep of the fields.

Lights, camera, action! If your child enjoys being the center of attention or designing outfits, consider looking for a theater or film program to join. Many thespian groups provide a child’s production in their summer roster to get kids involved. This is a great opportunity for children to practice public speaking or explore their creative talents. 

Join a Vacation Bible School. Many churches and religious organizations offer a variety of spiritual options to get children involved in the faith. The most common offerings are Vacation Bible Schools that encourage children of all denominations to register and enjoy a weeklong of stories, games, and crafts. Ask around, look at public bulletin boards, surf social media, listen to the radio, and read the newspaper for possible opportunities this summer.   

What frugal summer activities does your family utilize?

Children and Teen's Health

Amy Williams is a journalist and former social worker, specializing in teen behavioral health. She believes that, in our digital age, it's time for parents and educators to make sure parents and students alike are educated about technology and social media use, hoping to inform others through her writing.