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Free & Cheap Summer Kids’ Activities Round-Up

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Here are a few summer entertainment deals and reading programs that will hopefully help you to keep your kids’ bodies and brains active over the next few months…


Enjoy a great selection of films at participating Regal Cinemas, United Artists, and Edwards Theatres with the Summer Movie Express program. They will offer selected G or PG rated movies for only $1 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10AM. Start dates for each theater vary (some have already started and some will not be participating until June 26th).  Go here to find a participating location near you, and to view its start date. (Thanks April, Laura, One Frugal Chick, and One Momma Saving Money!)

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is offering up G or PG rated summer movies for only $0.50 each if you purchase 10 tickets in advance for a total of $5. Otherwise, the movies will be $1 each at the door. Note that dates and times vary by theater.  Click here to find the theater closest to you and for a schedule of what will be shown and when.

Summer Movie Clubhouse punch cards are valid only at participating theatre box offices where originally purchased and are not transferable. Punch cards cannot be purchased or redeemed online and may only be redeemed for one person each week. (Thanks, One Momma Saving Money, and 4our2cents!)

Carmike Cinemas:

Visit participating Carmike Cinemas every Thursday at 10AM for their Summer Kid Series. For only $2 per person, the Summer Kid Series Combo includes admission, popcorn, and a drink! Go here for more details, and to see if there’s a location near you. Keep in mind that there is once location list with a start date of June 7th and another with a start date of June 21st. (Thanks, Midget Momma!)

Kids Bowl Free

At bowling alleys across the country, Kids Bowl Free all summer long! Just head on over here and click your state on the map to find a participating location near you. Go here to sign up your children (even if you have done this in the past) and they can get 2 FREE games of bowling per day. Each bowling alley has its own start and finish dates and age restrictions, which you will see when you select one from the list. There is also a family pass available for $24.95, which allows adults to bowl with the kids at a huge discount. Taxes and shoe rental fees apply, and vary by location. Call your local participating bowling alley to find out the shoe rental cost. (Thanks Kim, Victoria, and Kellie!) 

AMF Free Bowling

At AMF, kids 15 and under can bowl free all summer. Simply register here and you’ll get a weekly voucher for two free games per child per day through September 3rd. Shoe rental is not included. Free bowling is available until 8PM, 7 days a week. An AMF Summer Pass is just $29.95!allows up to four family members ages 16 and up to bowl two games per day all summer as in just $29.95. Go here for more details.

Brunswick Zone Free Bowling

Brunswick Zone is offering up one FREE game of bowling per child, 18 years and younger, each day of June, July and August. Just head on over to here to register your child. Find a participating location near you here. Taxes and shoe rental rates may apply, see Brunswick Zone locations for more details. (Thanks, The Centsible Family!)

Kids Skate Free
At participating Kids Skate Free Skating Rinks, kids 12 and under can skate for free this summer (valid at most locations through 6/30 only)! Go here for a list of locations, and to sign up for the rink of your choice to get FREE skating passes! See each location for specific hours and additional fees, skate rental fees may apply.

Reading Programs

Barnes & Noble

To reward your children in Grades 1-6 for reading during the summer, Barnes & Noble is offering up a Summer Reading Program that rewards kids with a FREE book after they have read 8 books of their choice. To participate, your kiddos will need to:

*Read any 8 books and record them in the Reading Journal found here.
*Take the completed Reading Journal to their local Barnes & Noble store between May 22nd and September 4th, 2012.
*Chose a FREE Book from the selection found here. It’s that easy!

(Thanks, Leah, Dayna, Clip and FollowFree Stuff Times, and One Momma Saving Money!)

Half Price Books

Children 14 and under can earn $5 in Half Price Books Back to School Bucks when they join the Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program! They will need to read for at least 15 minutes each day for 30 days, or have a grown up read to them. Download the reading log found here to record your child’s progress. Then turn it in to receive $5 in Half Price Books Back-to-School Bucks. The $5 discount card can then be applied to the pre-tax amount for a future purchase between 7/25/12 and 8/31/12. Not valid during sales or in combination with any other discount or coupon. Limit one coupon per person, per visit. Go here for more details. (Thanks One Momma Saving Money and Free Stuff Times!)

Chuck E. Cheese

Each time your child reads for 2 weeks in a row, they will earn 10 FREE tokens at Chuck. E. Cheese!  Head on over here to print the form. Valid through 12/31/12 at participating locations. Food purchase required for redemption. Limit 1 of any free token offer per child per day. (Thanks, One Momma Saving Money!)

TD Bank Summer Reading Program

If you have a TD Bank near you, your kids can earn $10 to be deposited into their new or existing TD Bank Young Saver Account when they read 10 books.  Participating kids need to:

1. Read 10 books this summer. See suggestions.
2. Print out the Summer Reading Form
3. Write down the names of the books they’ve read
4. Take the form to the nearest TD Bank
5. Watch $10 be deposited into a new or existing Young Saver Account

Valid through September 29, 2012. Must be 18 years of age or younger to participate. Bring form of ID for child for new account opening. Go here for more details.  (Thanks, One Momma Saving Money!)

Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge

Kids 10 and under can complete the Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading List to earn a FREE book! There is one list for those who can read on their own and one for early readers who need to be read to. Download it here. Track your progress with the reading list, as there is a box to check next to each title. Also print the downloadable coloring page found here, on which kids will color in a book each time they complete a book. When they have read every book, print the certificate found here and take it, along with the completed checked off reading list, to Pottery Barn Kids to receive a FREE book! Your child can also enter to win a backpack full of books!

While supplies last. Limit 1 per customer. Promotion starts on 5/17/2012 and ends on 8/22/2012. Must redeem by 8/31/2012. Open only to children under 10 years of age on any day during the promotion period. Must present completed Award-Winning or Early Reader book list to receive a free book at participating Pottery Barn Kids stores. Go here for more details.

Do you know of any other free or cheap activities for kids this summer? If so, share them with us in the comments below! 😀

Join The Discussion

Comments 28

  1. Debbie

    got an internal server error.

  2. Anisha

    Free museums and Chicago botanic garden also Brookfield zoo, get vouchers from local library. Program is called museum adventure pass program.

    • Shirley

      I just want to mention that a library card is required.

    • Heather

      Chicago Suburbanites can also ‘borrow’ these passes?

      • Darcie

        I just called the library in Chicagoland, and yes! Mine does a 7 day borrow, and passes are limited. Wish I would have known last week, we went to Brookfield:(. Would have covered general admission!

        • Darcie

          Thanks for the great tip btw!

  3. becki

    We have a skating rink nearby and there is a ‘kids skate free’ program also! We get 2 passes per week/per child. We just pay for skate rental($1.50)–or if we bring our own skates, it’s totally free!!!!

  4. Tilla R Ham

    the museums in my area (Pierce County WA) have a free day once a check out local museums. and the library puts on free puppet shows and reading plays and fun stuff for little ones. library also has free zoo passes if you read a certain amount.

  5. Erica

    Rainforest Cafe has a special if you read for 20 mins a day for a month you get a 99cents kids meal.

  6. nicole

    thanks so much collin

  7. nicole

    thanks ericka.

  8. Sarah

    Poetry Barn Kids has a similar reading program to Barnes & Noble. You can pick up a list of books in store to read, and once you complete it your child can pick a free book.

  9. Erica

    Also check out your local public library! (I’m a librarian, so tooting my own horn here!) Many of them offer free summer reading programs for kids, teens and often adults too with prizes for reading and many times grand prize drawings at the end of summer for bigger prizes. Offerings can also include special programs with entertainment such as magicians, jugglers, live animal presentations, puppet shows, storytellers and arts and crafts. If you live in Michigan, this summer the Park & Read program is back (also available at your local public library) with a pass valid for free one day admission to any state park or recreation area as well state museums and historic sites. Check it out at:,4570,7-153-10365-215611–,00.html.

    • Rebecca

      Ditto. Dan Wardell from IPTV (PBS in IA) travels to different libraries & schools everyday throughout the summer. Check out the schedule to see when you can see see him in person for a free, fun time. We saw him at our library, & everybody got to take individual pics with him afterwards. He actually talked quite a bit with my son & me. It was really fun, and it was cool to see down to earth and fun. Check out this year’s Dan’s REading Roadtrip schedule:

  10. Jenny

    I was bummed that there wasn’t any of these participating movie theaters near me.. I googled the movie theaters near me and Rave Cinemas has a free family fesival where the movies are free!! yay.. they play 2 a week.. just go to the rave cinemas website for details..can’t wait to go with kids.. thanks collin

  11. Juanita

    Hello everyone in Colorado this weekend fishing is free no fees. On June 9th national forest to national parks no fees.

  12. michelle

    thanks for the info on the bowling and the summer $1 movies (i almost forgot about those) we have seen most on the list in our town, but there are 2 we havent seen, so will be neat to see them in the theater since we missed out..

  13. sarah

    Is school out yet? Ours ends the 15th…

    • Rebecca

      Wow, that’s late! Our town’s last day is June 1 – this Friday. In my hometown, we were usually out by May 25-28, unless there were a lot of snow days to make up for.

  14. Rebecca

    We have an awesome line of family-owned & run movie theaters in our area that has the “BEST MOVIE DEAL” every day – Eisentraut Theatres. The movies are the same ones showing in other theaters – not older movies!
    They’re in Hillsboro, IL; Gillespie, IL; Pana, IL; & Keokuk, IL.

    Admission, Popcorn,& Soda for one low price!
    Best Movie Deal – Admission, Popcorn, Soda $6.00

    • Rebecca

      Forgot to include the link for showtimes, prices, & info:

      Ticket options:
      Best Movie Deal – Admission, Popcorn, Soda $6.00
      Large Best Movie Deal – Admission, Lg Popcorn, Lg Soda $8.00
      Adult – Ticket Only $4.00
      Child – Ticket Only $4.00
      Senior – Ticket only $4.00

    • Sarah M

      We LOVE these theaters! Show up early and you can usually grab a seat on a comfy leather couch instead of the theater seats at the Pana and Hillsboro locations.

  15. Amber

    Does anyone know if the adult tickets are the same price for the movies? I didnt see any other info on the site oter than $1 a piece or 10 for $5.

    • Kelly

      I’m in So. CA and the adult prices are always the same as kids for the movie deals.

  16. Sandra torres

    Thanks for all the information It would help me to choose places where I can afford.

  17. julie

    Thanks for the info on free skating. My girls are so excited.

  18. Samantha

    most of these ideas are great but only if you don’t have special needs kids or medically fragile kids, I do. So most of these things will not work for our family. Most people don’t keep that in mind , that if your family doesn’t match the normal family you are at a loss of what to do when your child is in a wheelchair, outside is not always an option, they have to stay cooled off. and with autism, you have to think about them getting over stimulated very quickly. Most people do not understand how hard it is to plan a family activity with this much going on.

  19. statenislandmom

    hey if you have a Bank of America card, the cardholder can get into museums the first full weekend of the month for free. So if you take your child to the Liberty Science Center in NJ this weekend, its only $12.50 total, not bad, save $16.00. You do have to bring ID and use your card.

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