Encore Years

Fun with grandkids: affordable ways to spend quality time together

Encore Years

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – Spending time with your grandchildren can create lasting memories for all involved, but what if you can’t afford to be as generous as you’d like when treating them to a good time? Check out these frugal-but-fun things to do with your grandkids.

Kids Bowl for Free

Register your grandkids on the website www.kidsbowlfree.com to receive two free games of bowling at participating bowling centers during the summer months. And if you’re spending that much time at the lanes, buy everyone a cheap pair of bowling shoes online and you can spare the shoe rental fees, too.

A Day at the Fair

Old-fashioned county fairs are an affordable alternative to pricey amusement parks and just as much fun. Many fairs even offer special discount days for seniors and children. You can find a nationwide directory of county and state fairs at this website, including links to the websites of individual fairs.

Free Factory Tours

For kids and adults alike, it’s pretty cool to see how stuff is made. The website www.factorytoursusa.com has a nationwide directory of factories and other businesses that offer tours of their facilities, either for free or at a nominal cost. It makes for some enjoyable — and educational — day trips, and you might even come home with some free samples.

Neighborhood Treasure Hunt

Make a treasure map and hide clues around your house or the neighborhood. Ask Mom and Dad for some topics from the prior school year and you can reinforce those concepts with math, history and grammar questions in each clue. One idea for what’s in the treasure chest at the end: a picnic lunch.

DIY Workshops for Kids

Visit your local Home Depot store for one of its free do-it-yourself workshops specifically for kids. Most locations offer Saturday workshops that combine building skills, creativity, safety and fun. Best of all, the kids get to keep the projects they make, along with some other freebies, such as a certificate of achievement and a workshop apron.

Free Meals for Kids

If you’re a kid, there is such a thing as a free lunch! Treating your grandchildren to a meal out need not take a big bite out of your bank account when you first consult the website www.mykidseatfree.com, listing over 5,000 restaurant locations that offer free meals or other specials to youngsters. An adult meal purchase is usually required, and other conditions may apply, so read the listings carefully.

Visit a National Park Service Site

Two-thirds of the 400-plus parks and other sites administered by the National Park Service always offer free admission, and the remaining ones will be open for free on Aug. 25 in celebration of the National Park Service’s birthday. While you’re there, help your grandchildren earn their Junior Ranger Badge, and remember that if you’re 62 or older, you can get a lifetime pass to all National Parks for just $10. https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/fee-free-parks.htm

Cardboard Castles and So Much More

Upcycling simple things like cardboard boxes and other would-be throwaway materials into creative craft projects and playthings can entertain children of all ages for countless hours. The place to start is by searching for upcycling projects on www.pinterest.com based on the materials you have on hand.

Play Frisbee Golf

Get that workout you’ve been putting off — and let the kids burn off some of their excess energy — by playing a round of “disc golf” (aka “Frisbee golf”) at an area course. See the interactive map on this website https://www.dgcoursereview.com/browse_map.php for the locations and details on disc golf courses across the country, most of which are open to the public and are free or charge a nominal fee.

Lights, Camera, Action

Use your smartphone to help your grandchildren make their own movies, maybe a home version of How I Spent My Summer Vacation. You’ll find plenty of free video editing apps available for download, so you can turn their masterpiece into a YouTube-worthy movie.

Hold a Yard Sale

Help your grandchildren earn extra spending money and hone their young entrepreneurial skills, while you get a hand decluttering your house. You provide the inventory of unwanted household items, and the kids plan and manage the sale — and pocket the profits.

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About Jennifer Feuerstein

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