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Learning Through FREE {or super cheap} Summer Fun

Written by Chelsea Gonzales.

Summer is here, and that means your days are longer, you're probably taking a break from school work, and consequently, your kids have lots of extra time on their hands. Fortunately, most homeschooled kids are generally pretty good at finding ways to fill their own time. However, as a mom, it's always helpful to have a few new and interesting ideas up your sleeve.

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In my opinion, free and cheap summer programs are the secret sauce for summertime sanity. Believe it or not, these local activities actually provide an enormous number of amazing ways to get out of the house, play together, and even learn something new during the lazy summer months—without spending a small fortune.

Free (or Cheap) Bowling

Did you know that kids can bowl for free during the summer? The Kids Bowl Free website can give you all the details, but essentially you 1) sign up, 2) choose a participating center, and 3) get your kids ready to bowl 2 free games each day.

Want to join in the fun? Simply buy the (super reasonably priced) family pass to get free games for up to four adults as well. You will have to pay for shoe rentals all around, but this is fairly affordable, especially if your alley offers an “unlimited shoe rental” card.

Of course, if you don't have a participating center near you, this won't work. Additionally, if you'll be traveling a lot, you may not want to be confined to one bowling alley alone. Luckily for you, there is another option.

The Bowl Summer Games program is a paid pass which, unlike the Kids Bowl Free pass, gives different alley options. It includes 3 games per day and shoe rentals. To top it off, for a bit more money, you can invest in a passport (rather than just a pass) which will allow you to visit participating locations all over the country instead of sticking to one center the entire summer.

If you're anything like me, you'll probably be searching for ways to squeeze some learning into your summer bowling experiences. Here are some ideas for doing just that:

Kindergarten readiness

This article highlights some of the ways bowling can help preschoolers prepare for typical social situations, improve body awareness, and boost confidence.

Counting and basic math

Young children can work on their counting and basic addition and subtraction skills while figuring up how many pins they knocked over, counting how many are left, and adding up scores.


By choosing to keep score on paper, you can give little bowlers a chance to work on handwriting by allowing them to be scorekeepers.


Older children may be interested in the physics behind bowling. This article breaks it all down for high schoolers, and this one is another pretty interesting read. I also really love this YouTube video, which is ideal for middle school students, as well as this one which is good for all ages.

Free Skating

Free summer skating is another option that kids adore. This program is just like the Kids Bowl Free program in that you simply visit the website, sign your kids up, and watch them skate.

That said, there is no option for parents to join in the fun unless they pay full price. Skaters are limited to one rink and must pay for any rental skates they need. Each rink sets their own age limits, so be sure to check on that before signing up.

Wondering how to turn your skating fun into a lesson? Check out these fun options:

Balance and coordination

Obviously, skating presents a great opportunity for little ones to learn balance and coordination. These are both important skills that can't be gained from sitting around the house.


The history of roller skates is really quite fascinating (and a bit funny). Read this article to learn all about it before hitting the rink.

How skates are made

Learning about all the work that goes into a pair of skates may help your kids appreciate them a bit more. Check out this video to learn all about it.


As with any sport, the science behind skating is pretty interesting. Learn the physics behind roller skating by reading this article or watching this video.

Cheap Movies

Almost every movie theater out there offers some sort of cheap summer movie program and most charge between $1 and $2, making this a super affordable outing. Or if you have a few more dollars to spend, you can snag the MoviePass for under $10 and get admission to one movie every single day, all month long.

While these programs rarely include brand-new flicks, kids don't tend to mind watching a favorite movie again or seeing an older one they have yet to enjoy. It's also important to note that the cheap showings are usually on weekdays at around 10am, meaning you will have to get out and about in the morning to take advantage of this deal.

Turning movies into fun educational experiences tends to be pretty easy, but your options will vary based on the movie in question. Try these suggestions:


If the movie you see is based on a book, read that book beforehand and discuss the differences after viewing.


What is the setting of the movie? The place and moment in history? Try taking a trip back in time by reading or watching videos about that particular era.

Creative writing

Give your child a writing prompt based on the movie. You might ask him to write a sequel or a prequel for it, or maybe ask him to write how he would have handled a situation differently than how the main character handled it. Don't give too many rules, just allow him to write freely and encourage illustrations.


Many of these cheap movies are animated. You might use this fact as an opportunity to dive into the science (and even history) of animation with the kids.

These options, in addition to the many free summer reading programs out there, should keep your kids pretty busy throughout the summer months while still sneaking in some learning. Start signing up today and get ready to have some fun!

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