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The Money Mom: Summer Fun

This week, I invited Kimberly Danger, the founder of mommysavers.com, to guest post and share some ideas for entertaining your kids on the cheap this summer.  Read on for her great tips.

headshots 001With the school year coming to a close, moms everywhere are wondering how to keep the kids busy this summer without going broke. If you don’t have tons of money for camps and lessons, you can still keep your kids active and entertained thanks to some great in-store workshops and money-saving strategies.

Summer Reading Programs
Most community libraries host their own summer reading programs, but did you know that you can also sign up for them at a book store near you? You don’t even have to leave the house to get started. Download Barnes and Noble’s Passport to Reading form online and after your child reads eight books, bring it to a store to receive a free book. Check out the Double Dog Dare Reading Program at Borders, where kids get a free book after reading ten.

Tween Techies
Kids ages 8-12 can get creative with computers while they learn to produce photo slideshows, edit videos, or create custom CDs with their iPods at nearby Apple stores. When they’re done, they may even be able to teach their technically-challenged parents a few things! Registration begins in June, but you can submit your email now at the Apple Camp page to be notified when classes are announced.

Zoos and Museums
Most museums offer free admission one day a month or at certain times during the week. Go during those times to experience some culture – completely gratis. Other great discounts may be available through your employer, AAA, or your credit card. Some libraries even offer museum memberships for checkout as they would books and other media.

Summer Movie Camps
Summer movie camps have made theater-going for kids affordable again. Usually held mid-week when traffic is slow, theaters can offer showings classic movie favorites at rock-bottom prices. In some cases the passes are totally free. Just be sure to get there early to grab a good seat!
AMC Theaters
Regal Theaters

Playgrounds and Parks
Take your meals on the go and enjoy a picnic at a nearby park or playground. To make it more fun, consider packing balls, sand toys, bubbles, Frisbees, scooters, bikes, in-line skates or binoculars. Even national parks that normally charge admission fees have announced free entrance days this year. Their 2010 summer dates include June 5th -6th and August 14th-15th. To find a park in your state, visit this link.

DIY – Kid Style
Future home-improvers and crafters between the ages of 5-12 can create simple projects on Saturday mornings if they live near a Michaels, Lowe’s or Home Depot store. Check on upcoming projects and dates and register online.
Lowe’s Build and Grow Workshops
Home Depot Workshops for Kids
Michaels The Knack

Game On!
Kids can bowl two free games a day at participating AMF Bowling Centers all summer long. Sign up for a family summer bowling pass for just $23.95, and up to four adult family members can bowl along with them, making it a frugal summer activity that’s especially great on rainy days. Log on to Kidsbowlfree.com to check availability and to register.

Kimberly Danger is the creator of Mommysavers.com, an online community that helps moms live well for less. She is the author of Instant Bargains: 600+ Ways to Shrink Your Grocery Bills and Eat Well for Less and The Complete Book of Baby Bargains: 1,000+ Best Ways to Save Money Every Day. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and two kids.

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