Fun & free: Kids activities at little or no cost nationwide

Melissa Erickson More Content Now

The weekends are when you want to get things done, run some errands or finish up that project you’ve been working on, but what about the kids? If you’re looking for some good, cheap fun, check out these national retailers and their programs of free or low-cost children’s activities.

If I had a hammer …

n Kids can build a project and their carpentry confidence with Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics, held every Saturday. The free projects are usually a fun toy or game and include an apron and goggles. Register in advance at lowesbuildandgrow.com.

n During Home Depot’s free first-Saturday-of-the-month workshops, children, accompanied by an adult, use their skills to create objects that can be used in and around the homes or communities such as toolboxes, fire trucks and mail organizers, as well as more educational projects such as a window birdhouse, bughouse or Declaration of Independence frame kit. The workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety. Visit workshops.homedepot.com.

n The hugely popular free mini builds at Lego Stores happen the first Tuesday of every month. Can’t get to a Lego store? No problem! Every month, Lego posts instructions to these simple, seasonal and exclusive mini builds. Use pieces you already own or order what you need from Lego’s Bricks & Pieces, lego.com.

Arts and crafts

n Join Michaels Kids Club and you can shop while the kids craft. Club members get access to coupons and free classes several times monthly at the arts and crafts superstore. Projects are often holiday or seasonally inspired such as a school spirit shaker. Michaels.com

n Kids can drop in for make-and-take events (sometime requiring a purchase) almost every weekend at A.C. Moore Arts and Crafts. Kids can get creative with projects such as Duck tape bracelets, foam visors, mommy-and-me knitting and painting wooden trains. To see what’s next, visit acmoore.com.

Just fun

n Occasionally Toys R Us lets kids get in on the fun with free special events. Check toysrus.com for upcoming events that include trying out new toys and games, parades, crafts, giveaways, movie tie-ins and Geoffrey the Giraffe’s birthday party.

n Calling all characters! Disney Stores invite kids to take part in all sorts of activities, from enchanting princess teas with crafts to Halloween dress-up rehearsals and parades. Visit disneystore.com.

n Gymboree’s free classes encourage child development through play for infants to 5-year-olds. From sensory stimulation to problem-solving games, storytelling to balance and coordination, these play-based activities stretch the body and mind. Go to gymboreeclasses.com.


n Bass Pro Shops may seem to be a manly-man’s store, but don’t leave the kids at home. Stores may vary, but some of the highlights include giant aquariums with fish from large mouth bass to catfish, stuffed animals from raccoons to bears, and an arcade and shooting gallery for older kids. There’s special events, too. Just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean the fishing has to end. Bass Pro Shops Fall Fishing event offers free seminars, kids activities and crafts Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 27-28. Adult seminar topics include experts advice on following fall fish movement, selecting the right rod and reel and setting up your boat correctly. Kids will learn the basics to get started fishing during a special workshop for them that includes hand-on casting instructions. The Bass Pro Shops Fall Fishing event is one of several special free store events designed for families. Check your local store for information, dates, and times at www.basspro.com