We all know sometimes entertainment for kids can be expensive, so when I was clued into a free kids activity last year by my friend Emily, I was thrilled.
Lowe's Build and Grow Clinics are recommended for kids in grades 1 through 5 (per their website), but my older two started attending at age 5, while still in preschool. This is an event for a child and caregiver to attend together. There is a scheduled craft, generally of the woodworking variety, and your child gets to bring home what he or she has made. On their first visit my boys received an apron and each time they complete a project they receive a badge to sew onto their apron. They have made things like squirrel/bird feeders, periscopes and trucks. These events occur on Saturday mornings approximately twice a month. Registration can be completed online and is very simple.
Home Depot Kids Workshop, this event is recommended for ages 5-12 (per their website) and is also an event for a child and caregiver to attend together. The kids received an apron there as well and each project completed earns them a pin to place on their apron. The boys have brought home projects like pencil holders, race cars and flower boxes. We do not have a Home Depot close to us, but my parents (who live an hour away) do. It has become a fun adventure to go to Grammy and Granddad's for an overnight and then they all go to complete a project together on Saturday morning, before coming home again. The Home Depot lists only one event a month on a Saturday morning, but at the one my children attend, they run clinics twice a month; once with the monthly project and once with leftover kits from previous projects, a sort of pot luck project day. Home Depot is not terribly user friendly in their registration process; they do not offer online registration, nor do they allow phone registration as a general rule, they prefer you come to the store and sign up at the customer service counter. They have taken phone registration for us as a special circumstance, when my parents couldn't make it to the store to register the boys.
Overall, we find these to be a wonderful diversion on a Saturday morning. The projects are cute, the boys get a wonderful sense of accomplishment from having created something, they enjoy the special time with parents or grandparents and the price can't be beat!
My father has started carrying a couple of extra tools to these events. Generally they supply hammers, wood glue and paper towels. He brings his own pliers and a utility knife (like a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife), as he finds that they are sometimes handy.