"I’m bored!" If you have school-age children, chances are you’ve heard this refrain more than once as the weeks of summer roll on. The trick is finding creative, productive ways to fill the free time that the more relaxed structure of summer opens up. We’ve put together a list of free and low-cost activities that your kids will enjoy while getting the exercise they need—and some will even help them keep up with academics! So instead of watching endless hours of television or playing computer or video games, fill up those unproductive hours with activities that are fun, challenging and foster creativity. Who knows, you may even start a new summer tradition!
AMF Summer Unplugged
AMF Bowling Centers - Various Locations
Note: Free (Shoe Rental Not Included)
AMF’s Summer Unplugged is a program where children 15 and under can bowl two free games per day per child at any local AMF Bowling Center during the summer. AMF summer is May 14 through September 3, 2012. FREE bowling is available from open until 8:00 p.m., 7 days a week during this period, based on lane availability. It's free to enroll, and the bowling games are free, but please note that shoe rental is not included. You can register up to six children in the program. If you would like to add more children, you will need to create a new account using an alternate email address.
Your game vouchers will be available to print online prior to each time you go bowling. Vouchers will need to be printed once a week, as they are valid Monday to Sunday. Click here for quick and easy registration!
For a list of AMF Bowling Centers on Long Island, click here.
Holtsville Wildlife And Ecology Center
249 Buckley Rd, Holtsville, NY
631-758-9664, ext. 10
Open daily 9AM – 4PM. All Ages Welcome.
The Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology Center is a great place to take the kids to visit more than 100 injured or non-releasable wild and farm animals. A leisurely stroll through the well-kept grounds will reveal cows, ducks, donkeys, goats, llamas, ponies, a big pig, and even a black bear and a pair of bald eagles. Bring your camera to capture the day’s fun and a photo of your little one’s faces poking through the large “photo-op” board where they will appear to be farmers or farm animals. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the picnic area and plan on a visit to the playground before heading for home!
Free Summer Sundays At Brookhaven National Lab
2 Center St., Upton, NY
Sundays July 15–August 5 10AM–3PM
Brookhaven National Laboratory welcomes members of the public to its site for its free Summer Sundays program. Tour the world-class facilities, attend an array of dynamic science talks, and participate in different science show each week. All activities are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors age 16 and over must bring a photo ID. Click here or schedule of activities. No reservations needed. Handicapped accessible.
Hofstra University Museum
Emily Lowe Hall, South Campus
Hours: Monday–Thursday: 10AM–5PM, Friday 10AM–4PM. Ages 4–9 Welcome.
Sculpture Mystery: The Great Art Caper:
Uncover clues to help solve a mystery in the outdoor sculpture collection at Hofstra University’s South Campus. Pick up your caper kit at Emily Lowe Gallery, have fun while discovering more about these works; and at the end of the caper return to Emily Lowe Gallery for a prize.
Sculpture Exploration Backpacks:
The Hofstra University Museum's two distinct Sculpture Exploration Backpacks offer activity-filled ways for adults and children to explore the outdoor sculpture collection on the University's beautiful campus. One backpack focuses on sculptures of animals and one focuses on sculpture based on shapes. Stop in at the Hofstra University Museum's Emily Lowe Gallery, located on South Campus behind Emily Lowe Hall, and pick up a backpack. At the end of your tour, return the backpack and each child will receive a small gift from the Museum.
Mommy & Me Mornings At Garden Of Eve Organic Farm & Market
4558 Sound Ave., Riverhead, NY
Tuesdays 10:30AM –1:30PM, Children 10 and under welcome.
Visit Garden of Eve in Riverhead on Tuesday mornings this summer for a free Mommy & Me Morning on the farm. Kids can feed animals, play in the flowers, and hang out in picnic area with other moms and kids, including farmer Eve and her two little ones. Circle time begins around 11am. R.S.V.P. to 631-722-8777 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Nature Explorium at Middle Country Library
101 Eastwood Blvd., Centerach, NY
Middle Country Public Library is proud to be the first library in the nation to offer the Nature Explorium, an outdoor learning space for children and families. The Nature Explorium contains a variety of areas, all geared toward connecting children to a different aspect of nature: Create it", "Dig it", "Plant it", "Climb it", "Splash it" and “Play it”. Whether they're reflecting on a poem under a willow tree, climbing on a tree stump, or expressing artistic talent through song and dance on the Play It stage, children will discover the gift of nature. Dedicated to exploration and discovery, the Nature Explorium provides children with the opportunity to learn and reinforce valuable life experiences, including the development of observation skills, visual-spatial skills, and social skills.. After the outdoor activities, be sure to visit the “Read it” area and let your kids explore wonderful books about nature! Click here for calendar of Nature Explorium's summer schedule.
Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum's Summer Programs
301 Main Street, Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Have a little investigator living in the house? A budding scientist? A child who wants to know how things work? From whales to greenhouses, Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum’s summer programs will satisfy their curiosity while they have loads of fun!
Sun. July 15 Sharkfest 2:30PM: Discover all things shark! Find out amazing shark facts, touch shark jaws, see a prehistoric Megalodon tooth, and excavate your own real shark tooth fossil to keep. Ages 5-12. Free with Paid Admission; Members $4 Child. RSVP.
Tues. July 17: Shipwreck in a Bottle 12:00 & 3:00PM: Learn why and how sailors at sea squeezed tiny ships into bottles, and create your own shipwreck-in-a-bottle to take home. Bring a wide-mouthed, label-free jar with you (pasta sauce jar works well). Ages 5-12. Free with Paid Admission; Members $4 Child. RSVP.
Sun. July 29: FossilFest 1:00PM: Calling all budding paleontologists! Touch amazing fossils from prehistoric oceans, including trilobites, and find out what it’s like to use rocks to study the past. Cast your own fossil to take home. Ages 5-12. Free with Paid Admission; Members $4 Child. RSVP.
Click here for the museum’s full summer schedule.
Long Island Live Steamers Public Run At Southaven County Park
Sun. July 29, 2012 from 10:30AM – 3PM. All Ages welcome.
Price: Free, but donations requested
Hop aboard a miniature electric, diesel, or steam train as it chugs along eight acres of tracks at Southaven County Park in Brookhaven. Long Island Live Steamers was founded in 1966 to preserve the fine art of precision steam model making. The railroad operates on 8.5 acres of land, and on Public Run Days, children and adults can ride the many trains. Picnic area and snack bar available. You can come early to watch the trains "steaming up."
Dora's Pirate Adventure At Smithtown Center For The Performing Arts
2 East Main Street, Smithtown, NY
July 14, 2012
Hours: Saturdays 2PM; Sundays 11AM. Ages: Pre-school & younger, Young elementary
The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts proudly presents this fun-filled, highly interactive musical! Dora and friends embark on a trip to Treasure Island and the audience helps them navigate over Dancing Mountain, through Silly Singing Bridge and to confront the Pirate Piggies. The audience uses their map-reading, counting, musical and language skills to help Dora reach the treasure!
Teachers Rock At Long Island Children’s Museum
11 Davis Avenue, Garden City, NY
Tues. July 24 at 2PM, Ages: Pre-school & younger, Young elementary, Adult
Price: $4 with $11 museum admission; $10 theater only
Do you ever wonder what teachers do over the summer? Seattle's celebrated band of teacher-rockers "Recess Monkey" bring their special brand of "undeniably hip, yet also kid-accessible" music and humor to kids and their parents at the Long Island Children’s Museum. This show offers circus-themed songs from their new CD "In Tents," along with a variety of "fan favorites." Kids and grownups will zoom around the room with Drew, Daron, and Jack on "Flying," join the Monkey Bar conga line (located everywhere), take a soapy ride at the Bubble Factory, and give that loose tooth an extra jiggle with Dr. Wiggle. From flapjacks to jetpacks and everything in-between, families should be ready for more disco dancing, knock-knock jokes, puns, shenanigans, and catchy sing-alongs than you can shake a stick at.
KIDFEST #2: The Mr. Molecule Science Show At Guild Hall
158 Main Street, East Hampton, NY
Wed. July 18, 2012 at 1:30PM & 5PM, Ages: Young elementary, Tween
Cost: $16, children $13
Description: There’s no reason science can’t be fun. In Kidfest#2: The Mr. Molecule Science Show at Guild Hall in East Hampton, Mr. Molecule puts on a whimsical show using puppets, magic, and audience participation to sneak in a comprehensive lesson about core curriculum science principles. Recommended for ages 4-12. Call or click here for tickets.
Check the Guild Hall Website for these KidFEST Summer Wednesdays:
KidFEST #3: Hamptons Shakespeare Festival's The Taming of the Shrew: Special One Hour Family Show
Wed., July 25 / 5pm. Recommended for ages 6 and up
KidFEST #4: Aesop Bops!
Wed., August 1 / 5pm. Recommended for all ages
KidFEST #5: Cirquetacular! Aerial, Acrobatic and Variety Show
Wed., August 8 / 1:30pm (matinee) & 5pm. Recommended for ages 4 and up
KidFEST #6: Laughing Pizza
Wednesday, August 15 / 5pm. Recommended for all ages
KidFEST #7: The National Marionette Theatre presents Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty"
Wed., August 22 / 5pm. Recommended for family audiences ages 4 and up
KidFEST #8: Captain Courage and the Maritime Pirates Stage Show
Wed., August 29 / 5pm. Recommended for ages 5-105!
MAGIC IN THE PARK - The Magic of Amore
Belmont Lake State Park, North Babylon, NY
July 14, 2012 at 2PM. Good for All Ages!
Prepare to be part of the show when Amore performs his brand of magic at Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon. Amore has over 20 years of professional magic experience and has appeared on numerous TV shows!