During the dog days of summer, it is tempting to allow our kids to veg out in front of the television or tablet or to play endless video games. They work hard during the school year, after all, so they deserve a little down time, right? Sure. But, as always, too much of a good thing can be dangerous.

It takes work and planning on the part of parents, but it’s rewarding to put a plan in place to keep the kiddos busy, active, and learning all summer. Where to begin? How about this list for starters:

1. Free Stuff

If you check your local library, you will likely discover an endless array of activities and events for children big and small. And the best part is, the events are focused around reading and education. Also, your city and county might also offer activities for the summer to keep kids engaged and out of trouble.

2. Play Dates

You are not alone in the struggle to find ways to keep your kids active this summer. Contact some of your mommy and daddy friends to see if you can create a loose schedule of get-togethers for a wide variety of activities. If you go on field trips, you might even get a discount as a large group.

3. Parks

It might be hot, but this is the perfect time to visit and explore some of the parks in your area. There are probably several that you’ve never checked out. Also, investigate whether your city or surrounding area have any public water parks. The kids would love that.

4. Camps

Depending on your child’s interests, you can probably find a camp for just about every interest. (In Florida they even offer Surf Camp, which sounds like the coolest thing ever, in my opinion.) Check into these early, however, because they can be pricey and enrollment might be limited.

5. Movies

Okay, I know that I said off the top that screen time can be dangerous, but many areas offer movie deals for kids during the week that are simply too good to pass up. First, there’s air conditioning. Second, the movies prices are super cheap. Third, the kids love it and you can get some peace and quiet for two hours.

6. Swimming

If you have a pool, you’re all set. If you belong to a community pool, you’re all set. If you live driving distance to a beach, you’re all set. If not, buy a cool, themed inflatable pool, pop it in the backyard, and watch the kids wear themselves out.

7. Bowling

Like many activities, lots of bowling alleys offer summer memberships hoping to entice parents to bring their kids to an air-conditioned building with the lure of previously worn shoes. I kid about the shoes, but bowling is great fun for everyone and even toddlers can get the hang of it.

8. To-Do Lists

I don’t know about you, but every day I think of a cool craft or building project that I should do with my boys. Lots of books that sit on their shelves offer project ideas and Pinterest is a veritable never-ending to-do list of cool kid activities. Take the time now over the summer to dig out a few and make them happen.

9. Museums

Many of the attractions in your area might be offering summer passes or memberships at reduced rates. In some spots, attractions like zoos, children’s museums, and art museums combine together to offer memberships to multiple locations for a reduced price. If the money is right, you can join three or four museums or attractions and spend the summer hopscotching between them.

10. Reading

Summer’s here so few kids want to crack open a book. This is where you have to get creative. Give your kids an incentive to read like rewarding them with an ice cream or pizza night or movie night if they read a certain number of books. You can also barter for screen time based on how many books they read.