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Looking for fun, easy, and frugal ways to have fun as a family? Take advantage of these Free or Super Cheap Business Sponsored Kids Programs to keep your kids active and entertained all year long!
For more genius kid-friendly activities, check out the following:
Summer Business Sponsored Kids Programs
These business sponsored kids programs are only held in the summertime to provide safe and fun activities for kids during summer break! Keep scrolling for programs offered year-round. Please note that any listed prices are subject to change and do not include tax.
AMERICAN GIRL IN-STORE EVENTS
Popular doll makers, American Girl, offers both free and paid events for kids in their retail stores across the country. One free summer program scheduled for July 2018 is Luciana’s Galactic Summer Adventure, an exciting celebration where girls can enter to win a Luciana Doll and Book and Luciana’s Robotic Dog!
AT-HOME MAKER CAMP
Maker Camps are a DIY, at-home option for STEM camp and can be found around the world, including many libraries, makerspaces, and community centers – or you can even start your own! At Maker Camps, kids build and create really cool projects for six weeks over the summer. To see the types of projects offered, check out the 2016 projects and 2017 projects. If your kids haven’t participated in previous camps, they can start any activities from previous years, which are all online.
BASS PRO SHOPS FAMILY SUMMER CAMP
Bass Pro Shops offers Free Family Summer Camp every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from June to July where families can participate in various games, activities, crafts, and workshops. Kids also receive a free lanyard and a free pin for every workshop they complete. If they complete all the workshops, they get a special pin.
KIDS BOWL FREE
Get over $500 worth of bowling free with Kids Bowl Free, a summer program that allows children ages 15 and under to bowl two free games every day all summer long (during Kids Bowl Free hours). Check your state listings to see if there’s a participating bowling alley near you. Family passes are also available for $30, allowing up to four adults to bowl two games per day with their kids. You’ll still need to pay to rent bowling shoes. Rules may vary by bowling alley, so check with your local alley for specific rules and hours.
If two games per day isn’t enough, or you don’t have a participating bowling alley near you, check out the AMF Season Pass. For more than 90% off (you pay per person), you can buy a season pass that allows you to bowl three games per day and pays for itself in just three visits!
KIDS SKATE FREE
Have a roller skating rink near you? Check out Kids Skate Free, which allows kids ages 10 and under to attend free roller skating sessions in their area. Please note the site does charge a small administrative fee per child at initial in some areas. If your local roller rink doesn’t participate in this program, you can send them this letter encouraging them to join.
KIDS IN THE KITCHEN
Teach your kids valuable life skills with free Junior Chef classes at Williams-Sonoma and kids’ cooking classes and events at Whole Foods. Bonus: Maybe they’ll cook some meals with their newfound skills!
MICHAEL’S CAMP CREATIVITY
Michael’s Camp Creativity takes place Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10-noon in June and July and offers new crafts each day, slime Fridays (fun!), coloring pages, and more for just $2 for kids ages 3 and up and $5 for kids ages 6 and up.
MOVIE THEATER DEALS
Take a break from the summer heat with these indoor movie theater specials. Participation may vary depending on location. Don’t have these theater companies in your area? Check with your local movie theater to see if they offer any programs to benefit your community.
AMC Theatres: Summer Movie Camp
Watch kid-approved movies at AMC Summer Movie Camp every Wednesday at 10 a.m. For just $4, kids get a movie ticket and a KidsPack with a drink, popcorn, and FrootiTooti fruit snacks!
B&B Theatres: Summer Movies
B&B Summer Movies are shown every Tuesday through Thursday at 10 a.m. all summer long and cost just $3 per person and only $2 for B&B Backstage members!
Cinemark Theatres: Summer Movie Clubhouse
At the Summer Movie Clubhouse, pay just $5 for 10 movies or $1 per show. Movies show Monday through Thursday morning and on Saturday mornings, too!
GQT Theaters: Kids Morning Movies
At Kids Morning Movies Summer Series, movies are free Monday through Friday mornings (check your local theater for showtimes) for FMG members (up to 6 guests) and $1 for all others.
Marquee Cinemas: Summer Kids Movie Program
The Summer Kids Movie Program offers new family-friendly movies each week completely FREE!
Regal Cinemas: $1 Summer Movies
Watch $1 family movies at Regal Cinemas every Tuesday and Wednesday.
SUMMER READING PROGRAMS
Don’t let their reading skills get rusty over summer – enroll them in a summer reading program! You may already know about summer reading programs offered by national businesses like Barnes & Noble, Scholastic, and Pottery Barn, but there are actually a lot more free reading programs available for kids to join.
Barnes & Noble will reward kids with a free book (kids can choose from several) after they read eight books and complete a reading journal this summer. Check out this definitive list for more programs. Most local libraries offer reading programs, as well.
Apple Stores offer free youth workshops and Apple Camp for Kids. Kids ages 8 to 12 can attend Apple Camp for free where they can choose one of three tracks – music, movies, or coding fundamentals – and then spend 90 minutes a day for three days at a local Apple Store to learn the subject of their choice.
Microsoft’s Tech Fun for Kids
Microsoft Stores also offer a variety of free workshops for kids, including YouthSpark Summer Camp, DigiGirls events, coding camps, and more! At YouthSpark Summer Camps, kids ages 6 and up learn about everything from robotics to the popular video game Minecraft.
SALVATION ARMY PROGRAMS
The Salvation Army offers a wide variety of summer camps and after-school activities, including sports, music, and art camps. Some after-school and overnight camps are free while summer camps may cost $45 to $90 per child, per week, which is hundreds of dollars cheaper than traditional summer camp programs.
Year-Round Business Sponsored Kids Programs
AMERICAN GIRL CRAFT EVENTS
American Girl stores offer free craft events every month. Girls ages 8 and older can attend free monthly craft events at their local American Girl store. Each event has a different theme and activity, so check with your local store for details.
HOME DEPOT KIDS WORKSHOPS
Home Depot offers free kids workshops where kids complete a new kid-friendly DIY project every month. Also, check out Science Fair Central, built by Home Depot and Discovery Education, for ways to support kids’ learning at home and in the classroom to prepare them for their future careers.
Lowe’s also used to offer weekly kids workshops, but stopped their program in December 2016. However, you can still purchase building kits for kids to assemble at home.
LEGO MONTHLY MINI BUILDS
If you live near a Lego store, check out their monthly mini builds where kids participate in a building demo and receive a FREE LEGO SET! Registration for the classes starts on the 15th of each month and fill up fast, so sign up now!
LOCAL FACTORY TOURS
If you have a factory near you, see if they do guided tours. Many companies offer free tours of their facilities to give consumers an inside look at day-to-day operations and may even offer samples (ice cream anyone??) and hands-on experience. For example, The Corning Museum of Glass offers guided tours and classes where you can make your own glass and more, and kids 17 and under always get free admission to the Museum!
Check with local museums and zoos to see if they offer free or discounted admission for specific days or for children under a certain age. Many museums offer free admission every day and often have summer activity programs, including scavenger hunts and other fun programs.
If you’re a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch card holder, check out the Museums on Us program for free admission on the first full weekend of every month to more than 200 museums and other cultural attractions in 35 states across the country. View the list of 2018 participants here. You can also check out the Target Community website for a list of Target-sponsored free admission programs in larger cities across the U.S.
NATIONAL PARK PROGRAMS
Every Kid in a Park
If you have a fourth grader this year, check out the Every Kid in a Park program. Fourth graders can earn free admission to national parks for them and their families. They just take a quick quiz on the program’s website, and print out their park pass. Current passes are valid for kids in fourth grade during the 2017-2018 school year and expire on August 31, 2018.
Junior Ranger Programs
Almost all national parks and many national historic sites offer free Junior Ranger Programs. Kids get an activity book for each park or site, and once they complete the activities for their age, your child can earn Junior Ranger status along with a certificate, pin, or patch (varies by park). You can even complete some of the Junior Ranger activities online and at your home! Download the booklet and find out more here.
POTTERY BARN STORY TIME
On Tuesdays at 11 a.m., Pottery Barn Kids stores host kids’ story time with book readings, children’s activities, and more. Kids who become members of the Pottery Barn Kids Book Club receive a special surprise after attending five events!
SALVATION ARMY PROGRAMS
In addition to summer camps, The Salvation Army also offers free and low-cost after-school activities to give back to the community all year long. Participation varies by location, so check with your local office.
TARGET COMMUNITY EVENTS
Check out Target’s Community Event website for listings of free or low-cost events sponsored by Target, including free admission to select museums, reading programs, and more.
If you’re looking for fun and frugal ways to spend quality time as a family, these Free + Low Cost Business Sponsored Programs for Kids are just the ticket! For more wonderful ways to make memories with your children, check out the following kid-friendly activities:
I would love to hear from you!
Do you know of any Super Fun Business Sponsored Kids Programs I’ve missed? Please let me know in the comments below, and be sure to share your experiences with the programs featured here!
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