As a mom of three active kiddos, I'm constantly looking for opportunities for my kids to learn something new and have a great time doing it. And if it's free, that's a huge bonus to my budget!
With so many classes being offered this list could keep us busy every weekend. And with such a variety of options, there's absolutely something for any mood we're in.
Crafts and Building Workshops
1. Lowe's Build and Grow Program-- offered several times a month, Lowe's workshops happen on Saturday mornings starting at 10 am. Children will have the opportunity to build projects like birdhouses, games, and pullback cars. Workshops are free including kit, apron, and goggles and are available for kids starting at age 5. Registration is required in advance through Lowe's website.
2. Home Depot Building Classes-- offered the first Saturday of the month starting at 9 am, projects may include picture frame, planter, car, etc. Classes are free and included apron and achievement pin. Registration is required in advance through Home Depot's website for children starting at age 5.
3. Lakeshore Learning Center Classes-- offered every Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm, class projects include seasonal crafts, wreaths, masks, cards, etc. Registration is not required. Simply arrive at your local store during the designated time to participate. Visit the Lakeshore Learning events page for upcoming classes and the nearest location.
4. LEGO Monthly Mini Builds-- offered once a month, children will receive a free model kit to build and take home. Registration is required and each store is limited to around 120 participants. Spaces fill quickly. Past projects have included lighthouses, lawn mowers, and animals. Children ages 6-14 are invited to attend and households are limited to four builders. See LEGO mini build registration for further details.
5. Apple Multi-Day Workshops-- Apple offers multi-day summer camp workshops focusing on using technical creation tools. These three day workshops are open to kids ages 8-14 years and fill up quickly. For more information and to sign up, go to applersvp.com
6. Microsoft Multi-Day Workshops-- Microsoft also offers multi-day camp workshops in the summer with additional themes. Topics may include coding, game design, movie making, video and photo editing, etc. Workshops are designed for ages 8-14 years and usually run for a couple of hours for 3-4 days. For more information and to sign up, see your local Microsoft store.
7. Maker Camp-- offered online through Google+ or on-site at select libraries, kids ages 13-18 will explore how to break down items, investigate them, and re-build. Younger kids may participate through their parent's Google+ accounts. Projects run throughout the summer, but 2015 saw the introduction of a fall camp as well. Topics include design, technology, science, etc. See Makercamp.com for more details.
8. National Parks Service Junior Rangers--offered for kids ages 5-13, the Junior Rangers program requires participants to complete projects in the parks to receive a park patch and certificate of completion. Activities can include animal tracking, preserving park resources, gold panning, and plant identification. Most national parks have a Junior Rangers program. To find one near you, check out the National Parks Service page.
9. Bass Pro--These "summer camp" style workshops include archery, fishing, bird watching, kayaking, etc. Kids can earn a free lanyard and pin for each 20 min workshop they complete. Workshops typically run Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. See Bass Pro website for details.
Misc In-Store Events
10. Pottery Barn Kid's Events-- offered several times throughout the month, events include character appearances, crafts, tea parties, and a weekly story time. These free events are appropriate for a variety of ages and most do not require advance registration. Although check the Pottery Barn Events page for details. Story times run Tuesdays at 11:30 am.
11. Toys R Us Special Events-- offered throughout the month, Toys R Us Events may include promotional items to try out, giveaways, parades throughout the store, or free activities. Check out the Toys R Us Events page for upcoming activities. Registration is not required and events are open to children of all ages.
13. Disney Store Events-- open to children of all ages, but appropriate for preschool and early elementary, events may include costume parades, story times, or promotional items. Events occur from Friday-Sunday throughout the day. Pre-registration is not required. Check Disney Store Events page for details including date, time, and minimum age.
14. Barnes and Noble Story Times-- offered every Saturday at 11 am, story times include readings by local authors and volunteers as well as activities and coloring.
Nearly Free Workshops
15. Michael's The Knack Craft classes-- Michael's offers a variety of kid's classes on Saturdays throughout the year for a small fee. Some classes simply require the purchase of a kit while others have a small fee covering minimal supplies. Class projects are small in range from holiday decorations to jewelry to food decorations. For more information, check out Michael's events page.
Also be sure to check out your local library or Parks and Recreation Department for free or low cost events in your area.