Keeping kids educated and entertained can cost a pretty penny, so we like to help our readers find ways to keep expenses from getting out of hand. That’s why we keep our eyes peeled for FREE and low-cost classes and activities for kids of all ages.
Below we’ve rounded up classes offered by local stores, which include STEM programs, crafting, fitness, and more. We’re big fans of the $0 price tag, but we’ve also included a few that allow for one-time visits up to about $30. Many stores have various locations, so be sure to check with these to confirm local schedules, offerings, and rates.
Looking for more? We’ve previously rounded up 60 FREE Places to Play, which include stores, nature centers, play spaces, and other venues. Of course, libraries are also a great resource, and many offer one-time and recurring classes in coding, 3D printing, yoga, Zumba, cooking, and more. Most importantly, keep tabs on our Event Calendar, where we curate the best local events with a heavy emphasis on FREE and inexpensive.
Free & Nearly Free
The Maze Challenge is just one of the many classes offered at Apple stores.
Apple Store – White Plains, Yonkers
Learn coding, music composition, and other gadget tricks during FREE classes on varying dates. The stores maintain a display of products to play with, which not only offers a second activity to keep busy but the opportunity to discover new apps.
Home Depot – Hawthorne, New Rochelle, Yonkers, Port Chester
Home Depot’s FREE Kid Workshops are offered in a three-hour time slot on the first Saturday of each month. Each session features a different project, often seasonally planned, from making a birdhouse to crafting a holiday ornament or a heart-shaped candy box for Valentine’s Day. Kids are given a Home Depot work apron to use and take home.
Jefferson Valley Mall – Yorktown Heights
This mall offers activities and classes for kids, though registration in the mall’s KidX Club is sometimes required. Currently there’s a weekly science class, focusing on varying topics from coral reefs to rock formations and more, plus a Move Your Body class. Classes are FREE.
Lakeshore Learning – Scarsdale
Also on Saturdays are FREE crafty workshops at Lakeshore Learning on Central Avenue in Scarsdale. Projects are often tailored to the season or an upcoming holiday. Registration is not required. The store’s merchandise is worth a gander while there, as there’s an extensive selection of educational and art supplies (many teachers purchase their stash there, including handy-dandy items like reward charts).
L.L. Bean – Yonkers
L.L. Bean offers assorted classes and excursions for all ages year-round, many of which are geared towards adults. For young kids, they’re currently offering the FREE Tent Tales for Tykes, which combines storytime and crafting with the theme of nature education. Seasonally, other offerings that may be suitable for older kids include kayaking clinics and snowshoeing.
RELATED: Free Perks That Come with Your Westchester Library Card
Learn to make unicorn slime at a Michael's workshop. Photo courtesy of Michael's
Michael’s – Pelham, Hartsdale
Unlike some other stores, Michael’s class fees include all supplies, so when you sign up for a $2 workshop, you’re paying $2. Kids can create cute crafts with seasonal and holiday charm. Workshops vary by time, age, and location, so check the schedule carefully before registering, which you can do on the store’s website.
The Westchester – White Plains
The Westchester mall frequently offers events for varying ages, such as free family movies. Additionally, classes are a frequent offering. Currently, Yoga for Tots is a weekly event, a drop-in program taught by Budding Buddha. Classes are FREE.
Girl AGain – White Plains
This resale boutique offers gently used American Girl dolls and associated accessories at discounted prices. More noteworthy is that the boutique is a non-profit organization supporting girls with autism, though event participants need not be on the spectrum. Frequent workshops invite kids to learn doll care, make fashion accessories, and other related functions concerning 18” dolls. Classes generally run $10.
Lil Chameleon – Tuckahoe
A little over a year old, this resale boutique also boasts a petite café and numerous events and classes for “lil” ones. From Baby Sign Language and sensory stimulation to assorted craft projects, the classes generally cater to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Classes typically run $10-$20.
Joann – Scarsdale
Up the street from Lakeshore Learning is Joann, the chain store known for sewing and crafting supplies. While classes aren’t free, each month there are several classes offered for kids in needlecraft or culinary skills, such as sewing a pillowcase or decorating a cake. Some are single sessions, while others involve a two- or three-class commitment. Tuition is around $25-$35, but check with the store before committing, as the need for supplies might require an additional expense.
Paper Source – Scarsdale
The workshops at this art supply and gift shop run around $20-$30 and allow one-time attendance. Often bearing a seasonal theme, workshops emphasize holidays and milestones. Older teens can join in some of the adult classes, like fancy hand lettering or creative journaling.
Williams-Sonoma – White Plains
Also in the $30 price range are Junior Chef classes at Williams-Sonoma, though occasionally there might be a lower-priced offering. Classes focus on various techniques or styles of cooking, often with seasonal themes, such as a Chinese New Year cooking class, for ages 8-13, whose registration fee includes a take-home wok. Practically speaking, it’s not the worst idea to have another cook in the family… Online registration is not available; call the store to sign up.
In addition to the above, some stores offer classes and other events for kids on occasion, but the lack of recent offerings prevents their inclusion on this list. For instance, both Whole Foods (White Plains and Yonkers) and Fairway Market (Pelham Manor) have been known to host food-themed classes, while Found Herbal Apothecary (Bronxville) has taught kids to make lip balms, salt scrubs, and room sprays.
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Photos courtesy of the stores.