I was scrolling through my email messages recently and came across a reminder for a story time event scheduled at our local zoo. I admit my first thought (from the tired, exhausted mom in me) was, “I was hoping to have a day at home this Saturday. The kids won’t know about this unless I tell them. We don’t have to go.”
Then the playful mom in me said, “You’ve gone to this type of event before. It was fun and educational, too. You should go and have some fun with your kids. Don’t waste this opportunity to make some memories.”
So, I slept on it.
Then when my four-year-old son woke up on Saturday morning, I found myself asking him, “Hey, would you like to go to story time at the zoo this morning? They are supposed to have a real king snake there.”
The shudder I felt was me. I am not a big fan of snakes….especially big ones!
“Will the snake hurt me?” my son asked.
“No,” I replied, “They won’t let it hurt you.”
“Let’s go,” he said.
Did you say free activities for kids?
We went and it was a fun time for the kids. An even better one for me because they showed the kids a milk snake instead of a king snake. My son wouldn’t touch it, but my two-year old daughter and I did.
The kids got to paint a picture with paint and pom poms and eat some snacks. Each child received a free book.
But you want to know the best part about all of it? It was FREE!
I didn’t spend any money (well, except for lunch at Chick-Fil-A afterwards) and the kids and I spent quality time together learning and having fun.
If spending FREE quality time away from home with your children sounds like a win-win to you, then read on.
1) “Parents as Teachers” Events
If you live in the U.S., the first thing I recommend is checking to see if there is a “Parents as Teachers” program near you. If you aren’t already signed up with this program, I highly suggest it. The benefits for you and your children are endless.
The story time event at the zoo that I told you about was actually a “Parents as Teachers” event. Our local zoo is kind enough to host a story time event several times a year for families signed up with Parents as Teachers. It is usually well attended and offers kids the opportunity to interact and learn about real animals.
Other free events that have been offered through our “Parents as Teachers” program are a yoga night, a music night, Tumbling Tuesdays and holiday events.
2) Story Hour at the Library
Almost every library I know of has a story time or story hour at least once a week. Our local library hosts one on Friday mornings. After reading several stories, doing some songs and finger plays, the kids usually complete a craft or some other activity that correlates with the stories read to the kids.
Then my kids race to the book shelves to find a couple books to check out and take home for a few days. I love how this event promotes a zeal for reading!
3) Zoo Events
Most zoos or wildlife parks host monthly or annual events for kids. Our local zoo has a Toddler Tuesday on the 1st Tuesday of each month. This event for kids 1-5 is free for members of the zoo. It you are a non-member, your child gets in free with an adult paid admission.
They occasionally have other free events during the year. I just keep an eye on their website to see if any free (or cheap) events are happening.
4) Local Museums
A museum may not come to mind when you think of free activities for kids. Many museums, like the one in our town, have free admission.
Our museum does an excellent job educating visitors about our local history in a hands-on, kid-friendly manner. The museum also hosts several free events during the year. Check and see if your local museum offers the same.
Most towns host at least one festival a year. It might be a summer festival, a fall festival, a river festival or a festival commemorating a town’s history. A parade, contests, races, food trucks, concerts and sometimes even a firework show are usually part of the menu at festivals.
6) Street Fairs
This is one of the events are local museum hosts every fall. This street fair is similar to a festival and includes a parade, demonstrators, entertainment, food and activities for everyone in the family.
There are several parades a year around our area including a Christmas parade. I loved parades when I was a kid. What’s not to love about loading up on free candy you had to practically stomp on the kid next to you to get?
This idea for free activities for kids really needs no explanation. Every town has at least one park with a playground for kids to play. Take some sandwiches along on a nice day and have a picnic. Swing and slide with your kids and you will find your playful side in a hurry!
9) Play Areas
One of the reasons I took my kids to Chick-Fil-A after the story time event at the zoo is so they could play on the indoor playground there. I allow my kids to play there, but I am vigilant about washing their hands afterwards. Not everyone is a fan of restaurant play areas, but it is a free option (not counting the cost of your meal, of course!)
Take Your Kids and Go!
A mom recently told me that she struggled to find her playful side. She said that she felt like she could experience her playful side more when she was away from home. At home, all the household chores and duties came between her and truly loosening up to have fun with her kids. This same mom was looking for things she could do for free with her kids away from home because she didn’t have a lot of money to spend.
Any of the ideas mentioned in this article are sure to engage your playful side, especially when you don’t have to worry about spending money.
We don’t live very close to a big city. If you do, then you most likely have even more options for free activities for kids away from home.
Check online or ask around. You will be amazed at how much there really is to do for free.
Now, take your kids and go!