With the end of the school year just days away, it's time to start scoping out ways to keep the kids busy without spending a lot of money.
Triangle movie theaters, bookstores and bowling alleys are all offering special programs over the next three months -- many of them completely free.
So parents, before you panic, peruse this list of free and ultra cheap summer activities. I'll add more as I find them. And if you know of a "summer on the cheap" activity, please post it in the comments section.
Barnes & Noble bookstores will reward your children with free books just for reading. Print out the store's reading log HERE and once the kids complete eight books, they can choose a free book to take home. Among the titles your kids can earn: Syd Hoff's "Danny and the Dinosaur," Beverly Cleary's "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" and for older readers, "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster. The program runs through Sept. 4.
Stadium 10 at Northgate theaters in Durham will be opening its doors every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning this summer for free kids movies. The series of movies includes "Yogi Bear," "Mr. Popper's Penguins" and "Hop." The program starts June 12 and continues through Aug. 16. Click HERE for a complete schedule.
At Regal theaters throughout the Triangle, the movies aren't free this year but still a bargain at $1. The movies will be shown at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays for nine weeks, starting June 12. Each theater will show two movies each week -- one G and one PG. Titles include: "Dolphin Tale," "Hugo" and "Chimpanzee." Click HERE for the complete schedule.
AMF bowling centers in the Triangle are offering free bowling to kids 15 and under all summer long through Sept. 3. Register HERE, pick your nearest bowling alley and print a weekly voucher that entitles each child to two free games per day. For $29.95, parents may purchase a summer pass that allows them to bowl with their children. Up to four adults may use the pass. Shoe rentals for kids and adults are extra. In the Triangle, AMF centers are located in Cary, Durham and Raleigh.
Rainbow Lanes Family Fun Center in Clayton, which is independently owned, is participating in the national KidsBowlFree.com program. Kids 15 and under may also bowl two free games every day all summer long through Sept. 30. Click HERE for details and to sign up. KidsBowlFree.com is a nationwide program but Rainbow Lanes is the only Triangle-area bowling center listed as participating. Adult family members who want to bowl with their children can purchase a Family Pass for $24.99. Shoe rentals for kids and adults are extra.
Pottery Barn Kids stores have launched a summer reading challenge for kids ages 10 and under. Print a reading log HERE, have the kids track what books they read and turn it in at the end of the summer for a free book. The program runs through Aug. 22 and also includes in-store story times. The Triangle's Pottery Barn Kids store is at Streets of Southpoint in Durham.