Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fun on a Dime

by Barbara D'Amato

Michael Dymmoch’s excellent post, The Best Things in Life Are Free . . . [April 17] got me thinking. Several people lately have complained to me about the cost of entertainment in these days of constricted funds. Especially, some have said, “It’s too expensive to take a kid for food and out to a movie. I can't afford it!” And yet, they don't want to stay home all the time, as who would?

These are tough times. Let’s talk about what you can do with children, say over four and under fifteen, when they become extremely picky.

I’m grateful to Michael Dymmoch for telling me about a Chicago Sun Times article [April 1, 2009] explaining that there are still a lot of free days at Chicago museums:

The Mexican Fine Arts Museum is free year round -- 1852 w. 19th.

So is the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago – 5550 S. Greenwood.

The Adler Planetarium has certain free days. Call to inquire.

The Art Institute of Chicago is free 5-8 pm Thursdays.

The Chicago Children’s Museum is free 5-8 pm Thursdays.

The Field Museum is free the second Monday of the month and certain other days. Call to inquire.

The Museum of Contemporary Art [220 E. Chicago] is free every Tuesday.

The Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium are free certain days. Call to inquire.

Also, if you have a valid library card you can get a museum passport that gets you into several museums for free.

But I don’t want to talk just about Chicago. Speaking of libraries, in most of the country, libraries are one of the places to find a lot of entertainment for little or no money. Story-telling time. Play groups. Special-interest lectures.

Then there are parks. Many parks have free children’s events. But you need to look. I once lived just two blocks from a wonderful park my child would have liked and didn’t know it because my usual path didn’t go that way.

Make picnic lunches and take the child to the beach, the riverfront, or whatever you have nearby.

Tell the child, “Invite two friends over and we’ll make candy.”

An older child might be challenged by this: “See if you can buy the food and make dinner [with my help] for four for under twenty dollars.”

Let’s plant tomatoes in the back yard.

As I write, these suggestions all seem obvious, but then I think about all the obvious things I’ve completely overlooked in my life. And the suggestions are intended to spark ideas. Do you have free or cheap ideas that have worked for you and a child?


Anonymous said...

People totally underestimate the library for fun options. Our local library is located in the rec centre. Saturday mornings are spent swimming and then in the library as we pick out the week's books.

The other relatively cheap thing to do is to go to the airport to watch planes take off and land.

Anonymous said...

A lot of local libraries in our area (Boston) have free passes or low cost passes to museums in the area like Museum of Science, Children's Museum, Plymouth Plantation, etc. You use your library card to check them out for a day and go - makes for a nice free or low cost trip. It saved me last summer home with two kids and little money.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Godd suggestions. Thank you both.

Michael Dymmoch said...

Some libraries also have free movie nights (Northbrook Public Library for instance).