Thursday, May 30, 2013

Living - Virtually Free Summer Fun For Kids!

The sign the kids made last summer for their lemonade stand!
I originally wrote the following article for the MOPS newsletter but thought it would be fun to share on the blog as well.  The article is written for mother's of preschoolers, however can be used for other age groups too!  Leave a comment with what fun things you are up to this summer with your kids!

Summer Fun
You wouldn’t believe it with the weather we have been experiencing (snow, snow go away!), but summer is just around the corner.  For some that means the older kids will be home from school for summer break and we will be busy trying to keep the little hands and growing minds busy!

A great way to save money in your family entertainment budget is to look for free or cheap activities to keep you busy.  And be sure to be prepared with ideas, rather than rushing out the door to spend $8 per child (more or less) to pay for entertainment.

In no particular order, here is a list of virtually free and cheap activities to do around Sioux Falls to fill your summer days with exploring, learning and making memories:

50. Through, you can register your family and each child can bowl 2 games free every day during the summer at participating bowling centers.

49. The Outdoor Campus is a semi-hidden gem in Sioux Falls.  One of my favorite spots and my kids get excited when they know we are going exploring.  They have a few nice paths for walking.  Simply head out and enjoy the great outdoors or make a checklist of things to locate while walking.  Make a list to look for from rocks, fish and flowers to wildlife!

48. Outdoor Campus Museum – a small, but fun museum of South Dakota wildlife.  It also provides a place for children to play in a tent, canoe and even a play fire complete with plastic makings for s’mores!  And don’t forget the giant walk-through fish.

47. Outdoor Campus Classes – the Outdoor Campus offers free classes from little tykes to adults.  You must register for these classes at  If your kids like the outdoors or want to learn more, you won’t regret it!

46. Reading at the Library – visit the library to cool off during the hot days of summer.  Grab a couple books and find a quiet nook and read to your kids.  Can you imagine the joy on their faces when they can go choose a book from the hundreds available at the library?!

45. Participate in the library lapsit readings and family story times along with other fun activities like puppet shows and craft times.  Check out their calendar at

44. Library Reading Program – the library offers reading programs for the summer where you track reading time and earn prizes.  They are offering a new program for as little as babies this year too!  Registration starts 5/11/13 at

43. Free book and movie rentals at the Library – just a reminder that you can check out books and movies from the library for free!  Honestly, the kids and I didn’t start utilizing this service until a couple years ago.  It just never crossed my mind.  Check out a new library each week!

42. A trip through the Old Courthouse Museum

41. The Old Courthouse Museum offers Kids Activity Days where they offer a story and a craft, call the museum in advance to register.

40. Storytime at Barnes & Noble is offered each Wednesday morning at 10:30. 

39. Child’s Play Toys Storytime takes place each Tuesday morning.

38. Explore the Falls and Falls Park, be sure to head up to the observatory

37. Picnic – add some adventure to any meal or snack throughout the summer

36. Downtown Trolley rides are free and super easy to get on and off at posted stops.  Pack a picnic lunch and ride the trolley from the downtown area to Falls Park.  Eat, explore and catch a trip back to your vehicle downtown.

35. Washington Pavillion Kirby Science Museum admission is free the first Friday of each month.

34. Free storytime at the Washington Pavillion is held in the Visual Art Center at 10:15 AM on Saturday mornings.

33. The Raven Children’s Studio in the Visual Art Center at the Washington Pavillion is open for little ones to create and be artistic.

32. The Sculpture Walk downtown can be a great adventure while taking a stroll.  I am amazed at how excited my kids get seeing the different sculptures!

31. Explore the Japanese Gardens.  Walk through the different areas of the gardens and stop to have fun taking pictures of each other in the natural beauty.  Why not let the kids take over the camera!

30. Look through and touch, read and explore what the Museum of Visual Materials has to offer, from books to stuffed animals.

29. The Museum of Visual Materials offers a Kids Craft Room open most Tuesday and Wednesdays from 9 AM – 4 PM, call ahead or check out their online calendar to verify before going.

28. Home Depot Kids Workshops are available each month.

27. Lowe’s Build & Grow Workshops are available each month, pre register by calling or by heading online.

26. Michael’s Craft Stores offer free craft workshops each month, either free or a minimal supply charge.  If you have to pay, be sure to grab the 40% off one item coupon in Sunday ads to help reduce costs!

25. The Sioux Valley Model Engineers Society offers a free monthly model train display open house at the Fair Grounds.  The dates are scheduled monthly, so check the webpage for upcoming dates.

24. Teapot Days Parade held June 15 at 10 AM followed by fireworks that night.

23. Moonlit Movies at Fawick Park

22. Explore Sioux Falls Parks!  Last summer the kids and I tried to explore a “new to us” park 1-2 times a week.  There are so many fun parks in Sioux Falls that it was not necessary to go to the same one each week.  For a full list of parks check out

21. Century Theatres is offering 10 children’s movie showings for just $5 this summer.  Contact them regarding the details on their Summer Movie Clubhouse.

20. Empire Mall children’s playland in the Sears Wing.

19. Lemonade Stand.

18. Scavenger Hunt – can be geared towards different age groups.

17. Visit a Fire Department!  Knock on the fire station’s door or call ahead.  Many are likely to give you a tour, answer questions, let your little ones climb in the trucks and give the kids coloring books if the firefighters are available. 

16. Alphabet Summer Scavenger Hunt – carry a camera along with you on your summer adventures (or do it all in one day), taking pictures with the kids and things that start with each letter of the alphabet.  At the end of summer (or when completed taking pictures) make a quick picture book or scrapbook for their ABCs.  It can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish.

15. Plan a baking day.  Let your little ones be your helpers!  Invite friends and their kids as well.  Make memories together.

14. Backyard camping!

13. Checkout a local farm.

12. Do a toy swap with your friends/MOPS group.

11. Visit game rooms at Community Centers.  Many offer totes of toys that preschoolers love. 

10. Tot Lot is available June 3 through July 25 9- 11 AM at local parks and offer games, toys and crafts.  Check out the Summer Activities Guide page 4 for more information.

9. Playtime at Pioneer Park is August 9 10-11 AM and offers inflatables, crafts, games and more.

8. Spray Park at Pioneer Park, season starts when pools open in Sioux Falls.

7. Summer Track Meets for all ages each Wednesday in June starting with registration at 5:45 at the Lincoln High School Track.  If your little one can run, they will love this event.  Running, throwing softballs and more depending on ages!

6. Disc golf at Tuthill park.  If throwing a Frisbee is too much, have them throw a ball!

5. Battleship Memorial off 12th Street can be explored by all ages.  Check out the museum inside and then run around the battleship outside.

4. Storyland Children’s Theatre does an amazing job in the summer with fun plays for kids.  Each week, starting in June, be sure to check out the new play available.  See more information in the Summers Activities Guide on page 22.

3. Wading Pools are free at Frank Olson, Kuehn, Mckennan and Spellerberg pools.

2. Pool Appreciation Nights can be enjoyed at each pool in May.  See Summer Activities Guide page 26 for more information.

1. Zoomobile in the parks will take place July 9th and 10th, see page 22 in the Summer Activities Guide.

Well, there you have it.  This list of 50 activities is truly just the start of virtually free things you can do with your preschoolers this summer!  Be sure to check out the Parks & Recreation Summers Activity Guide for even more fun events.  Pinterest is also a great resource for fun activities to do at home and beyond. 

Whether you have one thing on your calendar each week this summer or ten things, embrace your children and enjoy some one on one time with them.  Even when some days may seem long, in whole the days pass quickly and before we know it they are all grown up.  Have a great Summer Moms!

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