Summertime is in full swing and families are underway with travel plans, vacations and getaways. With students out of school on summer break, parents are busy planning activities to keep children and teens entertained and to help create quality family moments. The summer season provides a great opportunity for outdoor experiences, i.e., swimming, hiking, nature walking, camping, riding bicycles, beach sports, etc. Summer plans, especially those outdoors, require all-day energy, stamina and strength to help fuel the fun activities. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and is essential for improving concentration, productivity, healthier body weight, lowering cholesterol and providing energy.
America’s No. 1 cereal, Cheerios launched Cheerios Protein, a family friendly way for moms and dads to help their kids start the day on the right foot with 11g of protein when served with milk. Cheerios Protein offers a smart solution that can fit into a family’s busy schedule and provide long-lasting energy throughout the day. It’s a good source of fiber, contains 13 vitamins and minerals, more than half your daily value of whole grain, and has 11g of protein when served with milk. Two Cheerios Protein flavors are Oats & Honey and Cinnamon Almond, which include toasted “O”’s and crunchy granola clusters.
After a bowl of Cheerios Protein, its time to start the summer fun. Free or affordable family friendly choices is a helpful way for all families to participate in activities and programs that are either low-cost or free. The following is a list of some free or affordable summer programs and options that can be found nationwide and online:
- Libraries across the country have summer programs (reading contests, music, movies) that are the free to the community and are suitable for all ages groups. More information at http://www.publiclibraries.com/ or http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/libraries/librarysearch/.
- Museums and Children’s Museums have summer hours, exhibits and special interactive programs for children of various ages. Local museums and children’s museums information can be found at http://www.museumsusa.org/ and http://www.childrensmuseums.org.
- Blue Star Museums are offering free admission to active duty military personnel and their families from from Memorial Day, May 26, 2014 through Labor Day, September 1, 2014. Get more information at http://arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums.
- Summer Educational Resources from U.S Dept. of Education, Scholastic, Scholastic Summer Reading, FamilyEducation.com, Barnes & Nobles (Free Summer Reading Books), iVillage, Sylvan Learning Center.
- Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) are often low cost day camps that offer fun activities, crafts, music, and outings centered around a specific theme in a religious environment. (VBS can also be conducted as a homestudy or homeschool course or as a summer home activity as well.) Find more information about VBS, including local locations at http://www.lifeway.com/n/Vacation-Bible-School, http://www.familychristian.com/church-resources/vbs.html and http://www.christianbook.com/vbs/1293701885, http://store.whatsinthebible.com/products/vbs.
In select bowling centers across the U.S. and Canada, children can bowl free during the summer. Find participating bowling centers in your community at http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/.
Regal Cinemas, United Artists, and Edwards Theaters will be participating in the Regal Summer Movie Express. Select Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres will offer selected G or PG rated movies for only $1.00 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00am. Find participating theaters at http://www.regmovies.com/summermovieexpress/default.aspx.
Movie theaters offering free or low-cost movies for kids at http://www.mrfreestuff.com/free-or-cheap-summer-movies-for-kids/.
Children’s Theatres often offer discounted or free plays for young audiences. Find more information at http://www.assitej-usa.org/ or see Kids Night On Broadway (New York and National events) at http://www.kidsnightonbroadway.com/.
- Macaroni Kid is a free weekly community newsletter that delivers family friendly events and outings within the local community. Find local information at http://national.macaronikid.com/.
- Disney summer crafts and activities at http://spoonful.com/summer/summer-crafts, http://family.go.com/crafts/pkg-holiday-and-seasonal-crafts and http://family.go.com/.
- Nick Jr. offers summer fun ideas at http://www.nickjr.com/summer-activities/.
- PBS KIDS summer games and summer reading challenge at http://pbskids.org/read/and http://pbskids.org/island/activities/.
KIDS EAT FREE
(Please call ahead to local restaurants to verify time and date of when kids can eat free since it’s subject to change)
Kids eat free locations nationwide can be found at http://www.mrfreestuff.com/101-restaurants-where-kids-eat-free, http://mykidseatfree.com and http://allkidseatfree.com/.
Applebees Kids eat for free on Tuesdays (or Mondays in select locations so call ahead to verify) evenings between 5-9 pm. For each paid adult entrée, 2 children (ages 12 and under) will eat for free at http://www.applebees.com.
Bennigan’s Kids eat free on Tuesdays at http://www.bennigans.com.
California Tortilla One free kid’s meal per adult meal purchased at http://californiatortilla.com.
Captain D’s Two free Kid’s meals with any adult entrée purchase at regular price at http://www.captainds.com.
Chick-fil-A Kids can eat a free kids’ meal at Chik-fil-A on Tuesdays for Family Night Promotions at http://www.chick-fil-a.com.
Cici’s Pizza: Kids 3 and under eat free from the Cici’s Pizza buffet at http://www.cicispizza.com.
Denny’s Kids can eat free at Denny’s from 4pm to 10pm at participating Denny’s at http://www.dennys.com/#/specials/eat.
Golden Corral Children 10 and under eat free from 5pm to 9pm on Mondays at http://www.goldencorral.com.
IHOP Kids eat free at IHOP if they are 12 and under daily. Kids can get 1 free kids’ menu item per adult meal purchased from 4pm to 8pm at http://www.ihop.com.
Moe’s Southwest Grill Tuesdays kids eat for free at Moe’s with the purchase of an adult meal at http://www.moes.com.
Red Robin Kids 10 and under can eat for free on Monday (and Tuesday in select locations) from 5pm to 9pm at http://www.redrobin.com.
Steak n Shake Kids eat FREE at Steak n Shake on weekends for every $8 spent. Remember, offers may change or vary by location, so always call first to make sure your location is participating. Children must be 12 years old or under to participate at http://www.steaknshake.com/.
TGIFriday’s Mondays and Tuesdays (select locations) kids 3 and under can eat for free at http://www.tgifridays.com.
- The YMCA has summer camps, exercise and swimming lessons for the entire family. Information about the YMCA and summer camps at http://www.ymca.net/ and http://www.ymca.net/camp/. The YMCA also provides military outreach initiative and respite child care at http://www.ymca.net/military-outreach/.
- Little Leagues offer a wonderful opportunity for children to be part of an organized sport, be active and learn sportsmanship. Local leagues can be found at http://www.littleleague.org/Little_League_Online.htm.
- Summer Camps, whether day or extended, offer the opportunity for fun outdoor experience, educational venues, and structured play. A directory of summer camps can be found at http://www.summercamps.com/ and http://www.acacamps.org/.
- U.S. State Parks have camping specials for families during the summer, including free entrance days in the national parks. Information is available at http://www.nps.gov/index.htm, http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm and http://camping.about.com/. All active duty military can receive a free annual pass to National Parks and sites.
- Going to the beach is a family favorite summer pastime. Find more information about local, national and worldwide beaches at http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/googleearthmap.htm, http://www.tripadvisor.com/Inspiration-g1-c1-World.html, http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/top-10/beach-cities-photos/, Florida’s best beach town, Best beaches, 51 great American beaches and 10 best southern beaches.
- Theme parks and water parks have special summer hours and discounts for families to enjoy a day at the park. Locate local amusement parks at http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/themeparks/locator/index.php, http://www.themeparkcity.com/USA_index.htm and http://themeparks.about.com/.
- Petting Zoos and Pick Your Own Farms are a fun family outing that provides access to animals, fruits and vegetables. Find local petting zoos and pick your own farms at http://www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/index.php and http://www.pickyourown.org/.
- Zoos and Aquariums offer special hours, discounts and children activities during the summer. Find local zoos and aquariums at http://www.officialusa.com/stateguides/zoos, http://www.aza.org/ and http://www.americanzoos.info/.
- Volunteer Match has a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities that are age appropriate including virtual volunteer options at http://www.volunteermatch.com.
Happy Breakfast and Summer!