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Free Summer Fun

Think outside the playground!

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Free summer fun doesn't have to be elaborate. Let's face it, if it's free summer fun, it's probably pretty simple.

What puts the "fun" in these ideas is parent participation. Work-at-home moms need plenty of  everyday summer activities to keep kids busy,  often in addition to summer child care. But all work and no play makes mom a dull girl. And kids start to get a little stir crazy after finding their own fun for too long.

And if this isn't enough summer fun check out these 100 ideas for kids and parents to do together.

Picnics

Picnic with Kids
Getty
You've got to eat, right? So take it outside because kids love picnics. Picnics can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. You can throw together sandwiches and eat lunch under a tree in the backyard or fry chicken and spend the day at the beach. (Or perhaps somewhere in between like buying fried chicken and going to a local park.) And dinner picnics are after standard business hours, plus they give kids something to look forward to.

Free Family Films

Free Family Films
Getty/Digital Vision
Many movie theater chains offer free or deeply discounted (i.e. $1 or $2 admission) movies during week day mornings in the summer. This list of theaters gives locations of the chains so you can find the ones in your area. Along these same lines, drive-in movies, though not free, are a lower cost alternatives if there aren't any free movies near you. Read more on how to save money on kids movies.

Summer Concerts or Outdoor Movies

Picnic Outdoor Concert
Getty/Mario Tama
Many cities sponsor free concerts and sometimes movies in parks and other outdoor spaces. Keep an eye on the local paper or go to About.com's local site for your area to find these events near you. Invite friends and it becomes a party (that you don't have to host). Many of these are evening events, so they won't cut into work time.

Museums, Zoos and Attractions

Elephants at the Zoo
Getty/Cameron Spencer
Most attractions are not free (though a few are), but many have "free days" when they waive admission. Often it's on a regular basis, like the first Tuesday of the month, but sometimes it's just a once a year event. Go to the websites of attractions in your area and search using the keyword "free" and see what come up. Make a list of what's free and when in your area and refer to it often.

Play in the Sprinkler

Kids in the Sprinkler  Summer Fun
Laureen Miles Brunelli
This one is the most fun when mom joins in, but if you like, you can stay dry and work by a window where you can watch the fun. Water balloons, spray bottles, wading pool and water guns all add to the fun.

Biking

Spring Flowers - Spring Break
Peter Macdiarmid
If your child is young (but older than one year), consider buying a child carrier and bring him out on your bike. If you live somewhere you can safely bike on streets or bike paths, use your bike to run errands. You'll get exercise; your child will get outside, and the errands will get done.

As kids get older, they can ride their own bikes, but it takes a while before they can cover long distances and safely navigate roads. Biking with your kids gives you the opportunity to teach them safe biking safety rules for the day when they'll bike without you.
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