Summer is upon us, and while it’s great having the kids at home, it won’t take long before you hear, “Mom, I’m bored!” With a little planning, you can fill your calendar with FREE and low-cost family activities around town. Here are a few suggestions:

Museum Visits

Check the websites of museums in your area for their regularly-scheduled discount days (some offer FREE admission the 1st Wednesday of the month, for example). You can also check for FREE and low-cost museum admission through programs like Bank of America’s Museums on Us program or Target’s Art & Culture program. Military families get FREE admission all summer at museums participating in the Blue Star Museums Program.¬†

Summer Reading Programs

National chain bookstores Borders, Half-Price Books and Barnes & Noble offer summer reading programs where you can print out the reading log, have your child complete the requirements, then head to the store to choose a FREE book in-store from a participating selection. Check with your local library for their Summer Reading Program as well; ours rewards kids with a coupon book with a free ice cream cone, game of mini-golf, and other activities.

Free and Low-Cost Kid Movies

There are plenty of opportunities for air-conditioned fun with many theaters offering $1 or FREE movies for kids all summer. Check out local theaters in your area that are part of the Cinemark, Classic Cinemas, Harkins and Regal chains for their $1 programs. National Amusements Theaters are offering FREE weekday movies when kids bring in a book report, and both Clearview Cinemas and Rave Theaters are offering completely FREE movies. Movies are G and PG and are usually on weekday mornings.

Hands-On Activities

Almost every Saturday, there’s a FREE kids project happening somewhere in my area. Both Lowe’s and Home Depot offer kids’ building clinics on Saturdays, where kids can use tools and wooden kits to create (best for kids ages 5 and up). If your family enjoys arts and crafts, check out the FREE project every Saturday at Lakeshore Learning.