As I’m planning out the kids’ summer with the school year winding down, I’m finding that a lot of places you would not automatically think of offer some fun and often very low cost options for summer activities. Last summer I planned our summer to death with trips and camps and didn’t allow enough time to rest and let the kids be bored and use their imaginations to fix it so am changing that this summer but still wanted to have some fun and offer some enriching experiences. If you’re looking at the summer looming ahead wondering what to do with the kids, but maybe not wanting to commit to a full camp here’s 7 unexpected places that offer great low cost alternatives.
Retailers Many stores offer fun classes and workshops for kids as a way to reach the community, expand their customer base, and build good will. I have signed the kids up for a pasta making class at Central Market, safari craft making workshop at Michaels, and a building workshop at Home Depot. Check the big stores but check your regional ones too. HEB, a Texas based store also offers kids cooking classes. These classes teach a new skill and get them using their hands and minds. Prices for these can vary. The pasta cooking class was $40 which I think is a good value but admittedly is considerably more than the $8 I paid for two kids for the Michaels class.
Libraries Most local libraries offer a summer reading program so check their calendar but many also offer story time and crafts and activities for kids of all ages on a weekly basis. It’s a great way to get kids in the library and hooked on reading. We have a puppet show at our local library on the calendar.This is usually a free option.
Churches Many churches offer summer programming at various times day or evening from a day to a full week. They usually consist of crafts, songs, and games and will incorporate the teachings of the church so find one that fits your family. Some of my fondest summer memories are of Vacation Bible School and making macaroni crafts. Usually these are no charge.
Museums Whether it’s science, the arts, or a children’s museum, museums are a great place to check for classes and workshops. We will be attending an art workshop at the Houston of Museum of Fine Arts this summer that includes hands on creating and a tour of some of the galleries. The cost for most museum programs are usually covered by admission to the museum.
Parks Local and state parks are a great place to check for activities and camps. Many will have fun days scheduled but they also offer Junior Ranger programs that are available anytime. It’s a great opportunity to get the kids outside and support parks.
Zoos Our Houston zoo offers one and two day camps that are educational and fun and allow for encounters with the animals. Many zoos will also have encounter times or other activities aside from their camp so check your zoo’s calendar.
Theaters Our outdoor theater in Houston has several children’s performances this summer and it’s a great way to introduce children to the theater and the arts. These are free but first come first serve and are early in the day. Seating is on the lawn so be sure and bring a blanket.
Most of these options require the parent to stay with them so no alone time for mom but they are a fun way to get out of the house, learn something, and make memories with the kids. There’s lots of great options for classes and workshops this summer and not always in the expected places so check what’s happening in your hometown.
Where do you like to take the kids during the summer?