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RISMEDIA, July 10, 2010—(MCT)—The fireworks are over, but the heated debate lingers about summer-time activities for kids. Once the Fourth of July has come and gone, parents are left with far more than a fifth or sixth of summer to occupy school-age children.

August family vacations are weeks away and the long, hot days of July demand relief from boredom. Fortunately, there are a number of low-cost or no-cost options for parents, especially those with teens and tweens in the house.

Movie camps: National movie chains host summer programs for kids. Typically, these programs are weekly, mid-morning showings of family-friendly features. Check out your local movie theaters to see what programs they offer that your kids will enjoy.

Employment: Older children, especially those 12 and up, can be employed to carry out different household chores during the summer. Given the shortage of summer job opportunities for teens, this option creates a win-win for families. Create a list of long-delayed household projects to delegate to your teenage children. Tasks can include unpacking boxes of books, organizing kitchen cabinets and sorting through closets. For work-at-home parents, teens and tweens can provide entertainment and supervision for younger children.

DIY crafts: Check out your local craft and hardware stores and pick up supplies that will allow your children to get crafty. An example of a fun project that children will enjoy involves decorating wooden frames with ribbons, stickers and other decorative items. Once the frames are finished, insert a family photo and showcase your child’s project.

Education: Community centers, public playgrounds and libraries offer a variety of cultural, sports and educational programs that are free or affordable. Many libraries provide summer reading programs with attractive prizes and other perks to encourage younger children and teens to read. Other library programs include dance classes, poetry workshops and storytelling activities. Check local calendars for events that your children will enjoy.

(c) 2010, The Miami Herald.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.