By: Cheryl Maguire
Now that school is out and summer is here, I know your fear. It’s what every parent fears; hearing the dreaded, “I’m bored,” from your child. The best way to prevent this from occurring is to keep them busy. Easier said than done, right?
I know what you are thinking, everything kid related is so expensive and you are not exactly one of those Pinterest crafty people. Well, neither am I. And I love a bargain—free is even better. So I’m going to share with you my secret on how to amuse your children for free (or for a discount) over the summer. It is a one stop shopping kind of place. Any ideas? You guessed . . . It’s your local, public library!
Unless you are a regular like me, you probably didn’t realize all the amazing activities, discounts you can receive, and items you can borrow, besides of course books. So I’m here to enlighten you and help you entertain those little Rugrats of yours.
Most libraries offer a variety of free programs, such as a summer reading rewards program (free prizes for reading—yay!), entertaining shows such as magic or live animal shows (usually the person running the show is a comedian as well—added bonus for the parents), free movies shown at the library with free popcorn, musical bands, and arts and crafts, just to name a few offerings. Go to your local library’s website and click on “calendar of events” to find the full list and dates of events. Here’s another great tip, you can go to any library and enjoy these free events so check other surrounding libraries’ calendars as well.
Borrow Activity/Magic/Gardening/Craft/Cooking Books
Besides offering fun fiction books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid (my son’s personal favorite), you can borrow lots of other types of books too. The best part is these books can provide hours of entertainment for your child. For example, my girls are serious crafters, but I possess zero crafting abilities. They love to get crafting books which provide details of what materials you need and step by step instructions on how to make it, no mom crafting skills necessary.
Borrow Games/STEM Activities
My local library recently started offering STEM activities. You can borrow STEM kits such as a microscope with slides or create your own slides to look through. You could also borrow board games or large lawn games such as Connect Four which is four feet tall. As long as you have a library card, you can borrow from any library within your library system.
Going to the movies can be expensive. On rainy days, it’s fun to watch a movie. The library offers movies that are recently released on DVD and often you can borrow it for a week. For new popular movies, you may want to place a hold on it so that you will be able to borrow it. The library also offers music CD’s and magazines.
Free or Discounted Museum/Zoo/Parks/Aquarium Passes
Libraries offer either free or discounted passes to many places such as museums, zoos, national parks, and aquariums. Our local library offers four free passes to the Buttonwood Zoo. You can also get a free pass to park in many different national parks. If the pass isn’t free, then there is a discount for admission when you use the pass. Similar to borrowing other items, you can borrow or use other passes from libraries within your library system if the pass isn’t available or offered at your library.
So the next time you think your kid is about to say, “I’m bored,” stop them in their tracks and say, “Get your shoes on. We are going to the library.”