There are so many amazing experiences to be had this winter that help kids learn, grow and develop. What’s even better is that these experiences don’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, many are FREE. Yes, I said FREE! At Mommy University, we love sharing brain boosting activities but we also know that most families, like ours, are on a budget. This winter, we have put together a list of exciting brain boosting experiences your entire family will LOVE!
FREE Brain Boosting Winter Fun
Home Depot Kids Workshops
If you follow Mommy University on Facebook, then I am sure you have seen our pictures at the Home Depot Kids Workshops. I have been bringing my older son since he was 4 years old. Even though it says it starts at age 5, I have never had a problem bringing my kids. Home Depot Kids Workshops take place the first Saturday of every month from 9am-12pm. The workshop is great for building fine motor skills, increasing independence and sparking creativity.
Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics
My kids and I have also been attending Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics for the past 4 years. We have made some amazing projects from monster trucks to games to wooden puppets. Lowe’s projects help increase visual-spatial skills, hand-eye coordination and listening skills. (Registration is required!)
Barnes and Noble Story Time
Since my kids were babies I have taken them to the FREE story times at Barnes and Noble. Not only do kids get to enjoy a great story, they also sing songs and complete a fun activity. Most Barnes and Noble stores offer weekly story times so check your local schedule for more details. Special events also take place throughout the winter. Here are some you may enjoy:
- Hap-Pea All Year Storytime December 31
- Clifford Storytime Event January 7
- How Do Dinosaurs Choose Their Pets? January 14
- Nanette’s Baguette Storytime January 21
- I’ll Never Let You Go Storytime January 28
Simon Kidgits Club Events
At select Simon Malls around the country, kids can join the Kidgits Club for FREE! Throughout the year, members can enjoy exciting free Kidgits programs and activities at their local Simon Mall. We have enjoyed activities such as pretzel rolling with Auntie Anne’s, holiday celebrations, Pirate and Princess Day, Dinosaur Day and making ice cream sundaes. Kids will also learn important lessons about health, wellness, safety and more! For a list of malls visit the Kidgits website.
Free Crafts for Kids at Lakeshore Learning
Every Saturday from 11am-3pm at Lakeshore Learning stores, kids can enjoy a fun themed crafting experiences. This winter kids can make a variety of adorable crafts while building fine motor skills and sparking the imagination. Here are the crafts you can make this winter:
- January 7 100th Day Celebration Mask
- January 14 Prehistoric Pal
- January 21 To the Moon and Back Rocket
- January 28 Let’s Build a Snowman
Bank of America Museums On Us
On the first full weekend of every month, Bank of America card holders can enjoy FREE admission to museums all over the country. The Museums On Us program gives families access to amazing learning experiences that they otherwise may not have been able to afford. In NJ, families can visit Morris Museum, Liberty Science Center, Garden State Discovery Museum, Newark Museum, The Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton University, Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Montclair Art Museum and Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art.
Groundhog Day Celebration
Whether you want winter to end early or last a little longer, Groundhog Day is always a fun experience for everyone. This year, learn all about this furry creature and its role in the ecological community at the Groundhog Celebration at Stony Brook Millstone Watershed in Pennington, NJ. Families will also enjoy games, a hike and roasted marshmallows by a fire. This FREE event takes place January 28, 2017 10am-11:30am.
Free First Thursday at Montclair Art Museum
On the first Thursday of every month through June 2017, Montclair Art Museum will open its doors to the public for FREE allowing families to explore everything MAM has to offer. Admission is from 5pm-9pm and tours take place at 6:30pm and 7:30pm. There will be live music, free drop-in art classes, complimentary chair massages and a Kids’ Creativity Center. Here are the winter dates: January 5, February 2 and March 2.
Cape May County Zoo
Zoos offer amazing developmental and academic benefits for kids. This winter families can explore Cape May County Zoo for FREE. In fact, this zoo is free all year long! It’s a wonderful way to enhance vocabulary and introduce kids to the world of science!
Bergen County Zoo
From November through May, the Bergen County Zoo is FREE to visit. It is open every day from 10am-4:30pm. Not only will guests get to see a variety of animals, there are also several special events this winter that the entire family will love.
- January 8 Save the Eagles Day
- January 28 Chinese New Year
- February 4 World Wetlands Day
- February 26 Polar Bear Day
- March 19 Frog Day
Maple Sugaring at EEC
This winter head over the Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge for an exciting maple sugaring event. This 90-minute family experience will take guests on a journey through the maple syrup process, past and present. Families will also enjoy a 1/2 mile hike. The suggested donation is only $1/person. (I know it’s not FREE but I figured it was pretty close.) The dates for these events are: February 18, 19, 25 and 26 and March 4, 5, 11 and 12.
Maple Sugaring Fest
Families will love Maple Sugaring Fest which takes place February 26 1pm-4pm at Reeves Reed Arboretum in Summit. The event includes a family scavenger hunt, a lesson on tapping trees, tastings and more! The event is FREE for members and nonmembers only pay $5/person ($25 max per family).
Okay, sledding may not be an event but it is definitely a FREE activity that families can enjoy this winter in NJ. There are a number of state parks that offer free sledding such as Hopatcong State Park, Allamuchy Mountain State Park and Citizen’s Park.
Keep checking back as we will be adding to this list as new events are released! Have fun learning through play this winter!
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