6. Turn half-pints into handymen (and handywomen)
In addition to free weekend "how-to" workshops for adults, Home Depothosts them for kids between ages 5 and 12 on the first Saturday of each month, while Lowe's offers them on select weekends. In these clinics, kids get the lowdown on do-it-yourself projects and typically build a wooden craft they can keep.
7. Let them be crafty
For those who prefer pipe cleaners and beads for their creative construction, Michaels, Hobby Lobby and A.C. Moore host regular, in-store crafts classes specifically for kids; many are free, others cost $5 or less. Legostores hold free, monthly model-building events. Meanwhile, any-aged offspring -— or you — might enjoy spilling creative juices at BeFunky.com, where uploaded photos can be tweaked into cartoons, Warhol-esque painting or who-knows-what.
8. Host a yard sale
You can get rid of clutter, teach some entrepreneurial-enhancing skills and earn a few bucks. For the best turnout, pick a Saturday morning — and have the kids spend Friday designing and hanging signs in the neighborhood. You can post a free advertisement on Craigslist and in some community newspapers.
9. Instill a science alliance
No disrespect to the classic "volcano" made from baking soda, vinegar and food coloring, but an at-home Science Fair can reap more inventive, if not yuck-inducingly offbeat, projects — and also help your kids get a jump on mandated assignments for the coming school year. Find dozens of creative experiments, for various skill levels and ages, at ScienceBuddies.org,ScienceAndMath.com or other websites by doing a Web search on "science experiments." Most projects can be done with less than $20 of already kitchen-stocked or store-bought materials.
10. Hit the big screen (at a small price)
They may not be new releases, but some theaters have free or low-cost showings of family-friendly films, typically on weekday mornings. Chains offering freebies include REI Cinemas, Muvico and Clearview Cinemas. Admission is $1 at Regal as well as Cinemark and Century theaters, with the latter providing a $5 punch card to see 10 films in its series.