What cheap activities can Big Brothers and Big Sisters do with their Littles?
It’s the question that was posed to me a few weeks back when we asked our Facebook fans “What information do you need?”, “What can I help you with?”. When I saw the question I instantly knew the answer and I knew I had to share it with all of you.
Volunteering to be a Big Brother or a Big Sister can make such a BIG difference in the life of a child and if I can make that easier by sharing what I’ve learned then I am all for it. New Jersey is home to so many free and cheap things to do with kids. Any of them would make a great activity big brothers or big sisters can do with their match. We’ve picked our top ten. These activities aren’t just limited to Bigs and Littles in New Jersey, they are available across the country.
The quality of the time you invest with your Little is more important than the amount of money you spend. That’s why we don’t encourage spending a lot of money on your outings. The goal of the relationship is to help your Little see the world through a different lens so you can inspire your Little to become something they never thought possible. If you are going to spend money, we encourage you to seek out low-cost activities, especially in the beginning. “
We couldn’t agree more! We know Bigs and Littles will see the world differently and build a great relationship with these low cost and free activities.
10 Cheap Things Big Brothers/Big Sisters Can do with Their Littles
Watch a movie together
Sometimes your little brother or little sister doesn’t want to talk. Sometimes you might not know what to say. What can you do? Kids love movies! Catching a new movie at the movie theater can be expensive, but watching movies together doesn’t have to be. Here are a few options for taking your little to a cheap or free movie. During the warmer months check with your local parks and beaches, many host regular free movies.
- Check your local movie theater. Summertime is the most popular time for free movies or the $1 movies at Regal. But some theaters have special showings at a reduced rate.
- Subscribe to your library’s Calendar of Events. So many libraries offer free movies year-round. Some even offer free popcorn, too.
- Live in New Jersey? Visit our free listing of New Jersey Free & Cheap Movies.
Take a hike together
There’s something about getting outdoors that has a positive effect on kids. It opens up their lungs to fresh air and their minds to talking. In New Jersey, we have state parks, national parks and other parks with great trails for hiking. It’s not just New Jersey. Every state offers trails of all lengths and for all levels. For ideas on local places to hike in New Jersey read our 70+ Places to Hike in New Jersey With Kids.
Nervous about hiking with your little? Ask friends or use hiking apps to locate trails that are easy to navigate and well-marked. You can also buddy up with other Big Brothers/Big Sisters matches on a guided hike. Hiking groups, park systems, the National Park Service, and outside stores like L.L. Bean and R.E.I. offer organized tours with experienced hikers.
Does your little love to skate or want to learn how to skate? Give them the experience with you. In New Jersey, we have 3 roller skating rinks that offer free roller-skating times. Many others offer reduced prices at designated times.
Check and follow the Facebook page for the ice skating and roller skating rinks near you. That’s often the best way to find out about their specials. For Big Brothers and Big Sisters in New Jersey, visit our list of 100 Places to Skate in New Jersey for ideas for where to go.
Bowling is another cheap activity Big Brothers/Big Sisters can do with their littles. In New Jersey and across the country, many bowling alleys also participate in the Kids Bowl Free program. The Kids Bowl Free program runs October through May and allows kids to bowl for free up to 2 games and up to 7 days a week. Ask your little’s parents to register them or go register your little, Learn more here.
Again, follow your local bowling alley on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to keep up to date on specials and coupons.
Visit a museum
We are so fortunate in New Jersey to have museums with free admission. Every state has them and there is bound to be a museum that interests your little. Even when a museum doesn’t offer free admission, there may still be a way to take your little for free.
- See if your library offers a Museum Pass Program.
- Take advantage of Bank of America Weekends if you’re a cardholder.
- Check the museum’s website for Pay What you Wish Days
Visit our 10 Ways to Get into a Museum for Free for more ideas.
Make a project together
Not crafty? A Big Brother/Big Sister doesn’t need to be crafty or skilled to make a project with their little. Many stores offer Make and Take Projects for free or less than $5. You can find their schedule on our Calendar of Events or check their websites for more information.
- Home Depot
- Lakeshore Learning
Also check with your
- Nature centers
- Parks and Recreation departments
- New Jersey State Parks
Take a class together
Show your little that you’re never too old to learn and learning can be fun. Just imagine the memories he/she will have from learning something new with their Big Brother/Big Sister. Libraries, museums, and state parks offer wonderful free programs year-round.
Also check out these locations for free workshops for kids
- Bass Pro Shops
- L.L. Bean
- Pottery Barn Kids
- Nature Centers
Plan a beach day
There are so many ways to make a beach day fun. Build a sandcastle. Collect shells. Swim! Many New Jersey beaches don’t require kids to have beach tags. In fact, Atlantic City beaches and Wildwood beaches are free for everyone. You could also visit the beach before the busy summer season. Most beaches only require beach tags Memorial Day through Labor Day.
If the idea of taking your little to a big beach makes you nervous, try a smaller beach or a lake. In New Jersey we have Somers Point Municipal Beach, Egg Harbor City Lake, Belleplain State Forest, Atsion Recreation Area and other locations with smaller beaches, They may be smaller but they still offer big fun.
Plan an escape
Put the power of your brains together! Visit an escape room in New Jersey and work as a team to escape. Escape rooms are popping all over New Jersey. Some are in stand alone locations and some are part of museums. There are even libraries that offer escape room style activities. One thing to note, always check the minimum age before registering. While escape rooms might be the new popular activity not all escape rooms allow children to participate.
Make a unique memory
- Pipe Organ – I bet you’ve never walked through a working pipe organ! You can at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Free tours are offered throughout the week. Yes, there’s some history but there’s also a mini organ kids can play and real pipes kids and adults can walk through. Plus if you’re really luck your tour will be accompanied by a concert where you can hear the pipes beam music throughout the building.
- Lucy the Elephant – If you and your match have not walked through Lucy the Elephant, you really have to try. This is a unique experience that your little will remember for years to come. Read about, Lucy the Elephant, The ONLY Elephant You can Walk Through.
- Climb a lighthouse – Did you know we have 11 New Jersey lighthouses to explore with kids. Each offers something unique but all offer great opportunities to talk together as you climb to the top… and then just check out that view once you get there.
Learn more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America on their website. For more ideas on free things to do in New Jersey visit our guide to Free Places to visit in New Jersey.