5+ Resources for Creating Your Own Family’s Calendar of Free Fun for the Summer

By: Martianne Stanger

In 2011, I created our family’s Summer Bucket List of 94 Things to Do and a more general Bucket List of Summer Sensory Ideas.  And here on the Signature Moms Blog, I shared how to make a Summer Bucket List.

In 2012, I shared six specific ideas for summer sensory fun and focused on sensory experiences and outdoor fun with my own children all summer long.  Indeed, our Summer of 2012 was replete with smart sensory activities which included, among other things, the simple pleasures of swimming at local beaches, enjoying many meals outside, taking hikes at local parks, and having pool noodle fun all over our yard.

This summer, we have a complementary, yet different focus: to enjoy a multitude of experiences out in our community.  Yes, all three of my children are finally at the stage where they can not only handle oft-crowded community events, but also enjoy and learn from such experiences.  (Until this year, one of my children’s sensory needs sometimes precluded our family from fully enjoying such experiences while another of my children was simply too young to handle some of them.)

With our goal in mind, I sat down last week and began browsing websites for local libraries, parks, and organizations in order to find free (or almost-free) fun that would appeal to my children.  Before I knew it, I had up to five or six ideas listed for some days throughout July and August.  In fact, I was wowed to discover that without committing to any tuition-based classes or camps, I could ensure my children enjoy a fully enriched and engaged summer.  We are so blessed to live in an area that offers so many experiences – indoors and out, creative, intellectual and athletic – for families to share.

Before long, I whittled the list of possible summer activities down to but one or two opportunities a day that my family might enjoy and am now happy to report that we have already begun to do so.

July began for us with a full, fun first: free play at home, Bubbleology at Middleboro Library, Big Ryan’s Tall Tales at Halifax Library, and a brief foray at a playground.

Want to create your own calendar of free (and almost free) fun and learning for Summer 2013?

Some places to check for free summer events that you might enjoy include:

  1. Your Local Library Network:  Check out your local library’s summer reading program and related events, as well as those at other libraries within driving distance.  So far, we have seen a live animal show, a science show, a magic show, and a storytelling show.  We have Lego events, Museum of Science shows, Mad Science classes, and more on the horizon as the summer moves on.
  1. The Department of Conservation:  Not only can you find great parks and beaches that you can go to for free with a DCS pass from some of the local libraries (or for a season parking pass that costs $35), but you can also enjoy free nature programs, guided hikes and more.  For a small fee, your family can enjoy an intro-to-camping weekend.  This summer, we have already swum for free at the Freetown Wading Pool and seen a seal released at Scusset Beach (with thanks to the National Marine Life Center). We looking forward to enjoying some of the Cape Cod Canal kids’ programs later on this summer.

    Seal Patients
    At the National Marine Life Center
  2. Seal release at Scusset
    Seal release at Scusset

    Visitor Centers:  When it’s too hot or too stormy out (or just for a change of pace), young children like mine often enjoy playing (for free!) at visitor centers, such as the National Marine Life Center and the Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center.

  3. Free Fridays:  The Highland Foundation has once again partnered with many venues to offer 60 or so choices to enjoy Free Fridays this summer. Venues can get super crowded on Free Fridays days, but, with wise selection of which events to go to, can still be lots of fun.
  4. Local Outdoor Movie, Concerts and Play Schedules:  Many towns offer a host of outdoor movies, concerts, and plays.  Some we are considering for this year are Project Arts in Plymouth, Philharmonic Concert in Hanover, Striving Artist’s Shakespeare in the Park and free movies and concerts in Hingham

Then, there are Providence Waterfires, forays to town beaches, Widlife Trust Fund trails, local playgrounds, semi-pro baseball games, and so much more.

Digging at a local pond
Digging at a local pond

Truly, once you start looking, you will likely find there are more free opportunities in our area for summer fun and learning than you have days on your calendar.

What free (and almost free) summer experience ideas have you uncovered?  Please share with the rest of us!

2 thoughts on “5+ Resources for Creating Your Own Family’s Calendar of Free Fun for the Summer

  1. Love this Martianne! The school year is full of insane schedules and everyone going different directions in my house. Every Summer, we have made conscious choices to keep our kiddos close to home and not to send them all off to different camps! We felt that the money spent on camps, could certainly be used to do some wonderful things together as a family! The kids even look forward to it, each year – telling their friends that they attend, “Camp Holloway!” each year! I truly enjoyed your post — what a wonderful resource! Thank you!

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