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Free/Cheap Things to Do with Kids


I do not need the headlines to tell me my wallet is getting squeezed–I can feel it every time I head to the grocery store or fill up my car with gas. Trying to stay within our family budget can be challenging, so finding creative ways to have fun with our kids that will not cost us a bundle is a must. Sometimes I find it helpful to be reminded that even the simplest (and cheapest) things amuse our children–crinkling the wrapping paper can be more fun for a toddler than the gift itself or riding a bike in the park may be tops on a child’s list.

At Kidoinfo we write about free / cheap things to do with our kids all the time, but now it will be easier for you to find them. I have set up a new tag; “Free/Cheap” that will identify future posts and eventually tag all the old posts that list “free or almost free” things to do with our kids.

Do you have your own ideas or activities that won’t break the bank–and maybe leave a little extra cash for an iced coffee–you want to share with us? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • This is a great thing to do with the kids, they’ve been putting on May Fair in East Greenwich for over 30 years.

    “Pirate Palooza” May Fair

    Where: Swift Community Center, 111 Pierce St, East Greenwich, RI 02818 (Academy Field)
    Date: May 1, 2011
    Time: 11:00am–3:00pm

    It’ll be a swashbuckling good time! “Pirate Palooza” May Fair will be held on May 1st from 11 am to 3 pm at 111 Pierce Street, Academy Field/Swift Gym in East Greenwich. This fun, family event will offer pony rides, face painting, pirate crafts, a dunking tank, a cakewalk, a plant sale, and a silent auction too. Admission is free!

    The Texas Roadhouse, Warwick, will be serving food off the grill. Dave’s Marketplace, Steve Filippou’s Twisted Pizza, Greenwich Pizzeria and Marketplace, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Cold Stone Creamery will also provide food and beverages.

  • My website has a ton of games, crafts, special events and other things to keep kids busy anytime of year and COST NO MONEY. Most of these games involve little or no equipment and many of the crafts use items found around the house. I even have a few tips and tricks to make handling the kids a lot easier for everyone. All of these activities are based on my years of experience as a camp counsellor with the local Boys and Girls Club. Visit http://www.whattodowiththekids.com for lots of great ideas!

  • Here are some of my old standards. I am a queen of thrift.

    This works well on the under 3 set, Older kids may not be fooled by these cheap dates.

    We relocated from Metro NYC, a haven for commuter rail stations. A trip to the train station to peek into the train yard, or just wait for the arrival and sounds of the next train was my boys favorite activity.

    Pet stores, especially if you don’t have pets, can be super fun with a large variety of animals to see up close and personal.

    Airports, or parks near airports are even better, for a real close encounter with some planes.

    Check out local farms or construction sites, even from your car – these can be fun and educational stops within your normal errands.

    So far in RI, I have added the following to my cheapskate repertoire

    Watching the cows get milked at Wrights Dairy Farm in North Smithfield.

    Free passes from my local library to the Providence Childrens Museum

    Hanging out at my friends store LoveBugs, while the boys play for free!

    Free movies in Lincoln, though my nearly 2yo is not really digging this option.

    Hope this helps someone!

  • Also, check out the carousel at Crescent Park in Riverside. Cost is $1 per ride, but kids under 3 ride free. The carousel is beautiful and meticulously restored. The kids love riding the horses and there is a great park across the street. Perfect for a picnic!

  • Check out…www.summerforless.com. It has been advertised on local radio stations. The site has 1/2 price tickets to all kinds of events and attractions in New England. It is updated every Wednesday and Friday at noon. My 2 1/2 year old and I have been so many places this summer for a fraction of the actual cost.

  • Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea, on the water in Mystic, CT is free for kids on Mondays in July. Great stuff for kids–the climbing boat “playscape”, the children’s museum for the under 7 crew, the Art Spot (indoor cool to make your own maritime masterpiece), the Discovery Barn, build your own toy boat workshops and horse and carriage rides.

    Plus, every visitor gets to tour the waterfront by boat for free, a great cheap deal!

  • play card games by a fan. a very young child can learn to play and love poker. backgammon is also good and addictive for all ages.

  • one idea: return something at target, then wander the aisles and chat with everyone you know. you might come out ahead, depending on the price of gas.