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Bright Ideas From Our Readers: Inexpensive Summer Outings

From factory tours to collecting bugs, our readers share their ideas for free and low-cost summer outings.

By GreatSchools Staff

Thanks to our readers who shared their tips for free and low-cost summer outings.

Here are a few of their tips:

An Arizona Mom Suggests Factory Tours

"I recently compiled a list of local summer activity ideas for a church activity. I found many ideas on the Internet! Some of my favorites included: summer movies (10 movies for $7) at local theaters; factories and a bakery that offered free tours and samples. (The Wild Flower Bread Co. offers free kids' activities and cookies on Wednesdays. )There are freebies everywhere! Search the Internet under 'free activities'!"

Picking Berries With Mom

"I am a mother of a 13-year-old girl. When my daughter was younger, during the summer we would go to the local u-pick farm to harvest strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. We would bring them home and make jam or preserves. I would utilize this activity to practice math skills. How many quarts did we pick? How many pints? When making the jam, I would have my daughter measure the sugar and talk about how this relates to the math she learns at school."

Learning About Bugs and Other Topics With a Mom in Texas

"I have three boys whom I take care of after school and in the summer. I have a topic for each week in the summer. We then go to the public library and check out books on that topic. I read to them and they read about the topic.

"We did insects one week and had the best time collecting dead bugs on the walking trail near our house. I purchased a magnifying glass for each at the dollar store. We viewed them with our magnifying glass to see if it was an insect and they had to tell me 'yes' or 'no' and why they think it is or isn't. They each just took a paper cup and plastic spoon to pick the dead bugs up with. They dumped them on a paper towel once we returned. They had a blast. You can even let them figure out if the bug does or doesn't have all its parts and what is missing."

Summer Neighborhood Baseball in Texas

"I am a mother of two boys, ages 8 and 9 years. We have arranged for our community teenagers to teach our youngsters basketball. Our North Independent School District lets us use their school gym twice a week. All parents take turns in providing cold water and snacks, and at the end of July we have a celebration to recognize the participants and the teenage coaches. It has worked really well keeping the teenagers occupied in a productive activity, out of trouble and helpful to our youth. The expense is almost nothing so parents are happy also. We do the same for art classes and self-esteem classes."

Free Movies in Texas

"Northwoods Regal Theatre has free G and PG movies for kids and adults on Tuesdays and Wednesdays all summer long at 10:00 a.m. in San Antonio, Texas. The theatre is full every time. Check your local theatre for similar programs."

Feeding the Ducks in Upstate New York

My two boys, ages 3 and 5, love to go to some of our local lakes to feed the ducks. We live in upstate New York in the Finger Lakes Region, which allows us to visit many different sites. This is a great outing for them because we get to be outside, enjoy the local scenery, and as an added bonus, do not need to spend much money. We usually take a loaf of bread (less than $1.00 at the grocery store) and are off. This is even cheaper if we have leftover or stale bread or bakery products that would normally have been thrown away.

Get a Pass to the Zoo

"We buy a pass to the local zoo. This also allows us to visit some other zoos for free or for a discounted price. The zoo has changing exhibits and summer events. They also offer discounted classes for children for zoo members."

Comments from readers

"Thanks for the ideas! Now I have another item to add to my to-do list: Plan activities for the summer (so that you don't get to the end and wish you did more!) Seriously, I am SO glad I read this now...thanks Great Schools for doing this article early! "
"These ideas are great! One idea that worked for me with my young son was going to a lumber yard and getting a few scraps. We headed home and got out the nails and a hammer. The only purchase I made was a pair of goggles at the beginning of the end of summer, he had spent many happy hours making things and showing them to any member of the family that venured near the wood pile! "
"Teach your children about giving back in the community during the summer by volunteering at a local shelter. My children and I had to stay at our local shelter for a few weeks last year. Activities were very limited because the place was very secured and safe. I think my children would have liked other children to play with. Maybe an outdoor adventure to a local park. A good many of women and children who come to these shelters are in hiding and are often from other areas and states. They don't know what there is to do in the town they have found themselves in and are often afraid to venture out alone. "