A new study finds that the average parents only last 13 days into their kids' summer break before they go NUTS. And the main reason is . . . you feel a lot of pressure to keep them entertained. The kids are just as antsy as you are. We've come across some ways you can beat the heat and stress with some free and low cost activities:
(PLEASE NOTE: The programs are offered at participating locations throughout the United States. Be on the safe side and check with your closest location for more details. Also parents are typically required to stay during the activities.)
Sports, crafts and more
Bass Pro Shops: The outdoors store's free Family Summer Camp runs through July 22 with events every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Activities include free crafts, games and 20-minute workshops, which are recommended for kids ages 8 to 12. Check local store for event details and times. Learn more at basspro.com/summercamp.
Home Depot: The home improvement store holds monthly workshops throughout the year geared to kids ages 5 to 12. The free workshops are typically held the first Saturday of each month. Learn more at homedepot.com/workshops.
Bowling: Kids ages 15 and younger can bowl two games a day for free through Aug. 31 at more than 1,350 participating bowling alleys nationwide. Preregistration at kidsbowlfree.comis required and most bowling alleys require shoe rental. There’s also discounted family summer passes available online for kids older than 15 and parents. Participating AMF, Bowlmor, Bowlero or Brunswick Zone locations also have a discounted summer games program. Learn more at bowlsummergames.com.
Michaels: Through July 27, the arts and crafts store has its annual "Camp Creativity" series with classes from 10 a.m. to noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for kids 3 and older. Space is limited and the class is $2 per session for ages 3 and up and $5 per session for 6 and up. Register for classes in-store or online at michaels.com/camp-creativity. A parent or guardian must stay at the store during the class. Michaels also has $2 activities on Saturdays as part of its Kids Club.
Skating: Kids ages 10 and younger can get two free skating passes each week to use at skating rinks participating in the nationwide Kids Skate Free program during specified free skating hours. Some rinks charge a small administrative fee and some require skate rental. Learn more and register at kidsskatefree.com.
AMC Theatres: Participating AMC Classic Theatres are having a “Summer Movie Camp” every Wednesday at 10 a.m. all summer long except for July 4. Dates and movies vary by location. During the special movies, kid's tickets are $4 plus tax and include a KidsPack snack with a kid’s popcorn, fountain drink and a fruit snack. Learn more at amctheatres.com. Also on Tuesdays, with the free AMC Stubs membership program, movie tickets are $5 at participating theaters.
Cinemark: Participating Cinemark theaters, which include Century Theatres, CinéArts, Tinseltown and Rave Cinemas, have the Summer Movie Clubhouse program. See 10 movies for $5 or pay $1 per show. Find movie schedules and learn more at cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse-theatres.
Cobb Theatres: Participating locations have a free Kids Summer Movie Escape program with shows starting at 10 a.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Dates and times vary by location. Learn more at cobbtheatres.com.
Regal Cinema: Participating theaters have $1 kid's movies at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays for Regal's Summer Movie Express. Dates and movies vary by location. Learn more and find the movie schedule at regmovies.com.
Apple: The free Apple Camp is for kids ages 8 to 12 and there are three different tracks to choose. Each is a three-day program with 90-minute sessions. Topics include: coding with Sphero Robots; how to write songs using GarageBand on iPad; and how to tell stories with video using the Clips app. Be warned, however, spots and waiting lists fill up quickly. Learn more and register at apple.com/today/camp.
Microsoft: The Microsoft Store’s free YouthSpark Summer Camps consist of two-hour sessions for students with different skill levels. Sign up for one, two or four classes at your local Microsoft Store or online at microsoft.com/events-for-students.
Library systems nationwide have summer reading programs, as well free workshops and activities. Businesses are getting in on the reading game, too.
Barnes & Noble: Kids in first through sixth grades who read any eight books and bring in a Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Journal to the store by Sept. 3 can pick out a free book from a selection on the back of the journal. Journals are available in-store and online at bn.com/summerreading.
Books-A-Million: Through Sept. 3, kids who read any four books from the Summer Reading Adventure program’s reading list and bring a completed book log to a Books-A-Million store get free Mo Willems pencils and a case, while supplies last. Logs are available in-store and online at booksamillion.com/summeradventure.
Chuck E. Cheese: The popular pizza/arcade has printable calendars where kids and parents log activities such as reading every day for two weeks and other tasks such as “no nose picking” and doing chores. Bring the completed calendar to participating locations for 10 free tokens. This promotion is valid through Dec. 31 and a food purchase is required. Find printable forms at chuckecheese.com under deals and offers.
Half Price Books: Through July 31, kids in preschool to high school can participate in the Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program. By reading 300 minutes per month and logging the time on printable forms, kids can earn a Bookworm Bucks reward for each month. Logs need to be turned in by Aug. 30, which is when the rewards expire. Learn more and download forms at halfpricebooks.com/fyb.
H-E-B: The H-E-Buddy Summer Reading Club is for children 3 to 12 who are Texas residents. Kids need to read ten books and record on a reading log and will be rewarded with a special shirt. Forms can be submitted through Oct. 1. Learn more at heb.com.
Pottery Barn Kids: Every Tuesday at 11 a.m., participating Pottery Barn Kids stores have a book club with readings and activities. Kids who become Pottery Barn Kids Club members get a special surprise after attending five events.
TD Bank: Kids in kindergarten through fifth grade who read 10 books get $10 deposited into a new or existing TD Simple Savings account when they bring in a completed form by Aug. 31. Learn more at tdbank.com/summerreading.
Now let's have some FUN!