2018 East Valley Family Fun Summer Guide (That Won’t Break The Bank)

Local blog readers, last year I did a post that contained free or inexpensive activities around the East Valley. It was one of the more popular posts on the blog last year and I thought I would bring it back for 2018.  I have lived in this area for 27 years and I feel I have a pretty good idea of the local spots that are fun, free/inexpensive, or air conditioned to hit up during the summer months.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but this is a list of things that our kids enjoy or we think they will enjoy this summer, we enjoy doing with them, and also do not cost much money. Without further delay here is the updated list for 2018!

EAST VALLEY SPLASH PARKS

Our community has so many splash parks! Many master planned neighborhoods are featuring these in the parks surrounding new homes. I know there are probably many more that I could have included in this list.

CHANDLER

Spray pads operated by the city run 9am-7pm May through August and 10am-6pm September through October. In case you haven’t been to Desert Breeze in awhile be sure to stop by this summer to visit the newly remodeled spray pad! It is so nice!

  • Chuparosa Park spray pad has a ground spray, spray rings and a candy cane-shaped shower. 2400 S. Dobson Road. (480) 782-2750.
  • Desert Breeze Park spray pad 1 Buttercup, 1 misty mountain, 1 ground spray, 3 ants, 1 corn poppy, 1 flutter, 1 morning cross and 3 surf stones.. 660 N. Desert Breeze Blvd. (480) 893-6652.
  • Espee Park spray pad has a water tower, candy-cane-shaped showers, spray rings and ground sprays. 450 E. Knox Road. (480) 782-272.

Chandler Mall also has a splash pad that is located in the outdoor Village. It is open daily April thru September from 9am-4pm. 3111 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler. (480) 812-8488

GILBERT

Water Tower Park’s splash pad is among other water features, including a floating granite kugel ball and a water wall. 6am-10pm daily, year round. 45 W. Page Ave. (480) 503-6200

Santan Village Mall has a splash pad that opened for the season on May 6th and it will close in October. It is located in the Children’s Play Area between Build-A-Bear and Gymboree. 2218 E. Williams Field Rd., Gilbert. (480) 282-9500

MESA

The newly updated Pioneer Park has a splash pad featuring a 15-foot water wall and is located next to the public restrooms. 10am – 10pm daily, year round. 526 E. Main St, Mesa, AZ 85203

The Eastmark Community’s Great Park has a public splash pad operated by the city of Mesa. 7am-10pm daily, year round. 5100 S. Eastmark Parkway. (480) 644-2352

The city’s Riverview Park also has a splash pad with multiple water features. 9am-10pm daily, year round. 2100 W. Rio Salado Parkway. (480) 644-2352

TEMPE

City of Tempe has four parks with splash pads. There used to be a splash park at Tempe Town Lake but it is permanently closed. The brand new splash playground at Kiwanis Park is scheduled to be open this summer! For more information call (480) 350-5200.

  • Kiwanis Park. Opening this summer! 5500 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85283
  • Jaycee Park. Open April 29-October 29. 10am-7pm daily. 817 W. Fifth St.
  • Hudson Park. Open April 29-October 29. 10am-7pm daily. 1430 S. Cedar St.
  • Esquer Park. Open April 29-October 29. 10am-7pm daily. 2407 E. McArthur Drive

KIDS CLUB @ SUPERSTITION SPRINGS MALL

Free, fun & educational games and activities for kids! The Superstition Springs Center Kids Club is a great opportunity for your child to learn in a fun, interactive setting. National Geographic Kids creates activities and games that focus on discovery through play.

Details: Kids Club is hosted by Persephone (she is a singing clown) and Dewper the Prairie Dog every Thursday from 10-11am through October 26, 2017 in JCPenney Court. 6555 E Southern Ave, Mesa. (480) 832-0212

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL

Many churches offer Vacation Bible School in the summer months! Our church included. Ages 4+ will become scientists researching THINGS THAT MATTER. They will complete experiments, examine God’s Word, explore creation, and observe God’s work in our world.! Compass Christian Church is offering VBS in the evenings from June 3-June 6.

Details: Cost is $5. VBS is 6:30pm-8:30pm on June 3-June 6. Register HERE. 1825 S Alma School Rd, Chandler. (480) 963-3997

FREE SWIM @ CITY OF CHANDLER POOLS

I love public pools. I know that sounds weird but I took swim lessons at Kiwanis Wave Pool during the summer months I was in elementary school and eventually became a lifeguard at this same pool. That is how Josh and I met.

My degree is Recreation Management with an emphasis on community and urban recreation. I previously worked as a Recreation Coordinator for the City of Chandler and I absolutely love all the amazing programs Chandler offers to the community!

Every summer Chandler Aquatics has free swim hours at each of it’s pools. Here is a list of this years schedule. To my knowledge they are the only city in the east valley that offers this. Be sure to check out free swim this summer during the months of June and July.

  • Arrowhead Pool: Saturdays 11am-1pm. 1475 W. Erie St. (480) 732-1064
  • Desert Oasis Aquatic Center: Wednesdays 3-5pm. 1400 W. Summit Place. (480) 732-1062
  • Folley Pool: Fridays 3-5pm. 600 E. Fairview. (480) 732-1063
  • Hamilton Aquatic Center: Tuesdays 6-8pm. 3838 S. Arizona Ave. (480) 782-2630
  • Nozomi Aquatic Center: Sundays 4-6pm. 250 S. Kyrene Rd. (480) 783-8261
  • Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center: Fridays 6-8pm. 5901 S. Hillcrest Dr. (480) 782-2635

ARIZONA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY 

Explore the history of the Southwest, from dinosaurs to explorers, at the Arizona Museum of Natural History. Pan for gold, search for dinosaur bones, and much more! If you go in the morning be sure to head down to the basement level to see if the activity center is open for your little ones to color, read books, work on puzzles and play games.

This is one of the most expensive places on this list but if you purchase a year membership it is so much cheaper! Last year we visited at least twice each month and it paid for itself in two visits.

It is the perfect size museum for little kids and the new dinosaur play area with slide and tunnel makes it even more perfect for the hot summer months! We enjoy this place over the IDEA Museum which is right down the street.

Details: Cost is $12 for adults, $7 for ages 3-12, and is free for children 2 and under. 53 N. MacDonald. (480) 644-2230

SUMMER READING PROGRAMS

We love going to the library! I have since I was little. Does anyone else remember  Book It? Loved earning pizza by reading books :).

Sign your kids up for the reading program at the library this summer. They may not earn pizza but establishing the love of literature in your child is a gift that will last forever. Here are several of our favorite libraries in the east valley:

SWEETIES

Located in Chandler Sweeties is what little kids dreams are made of! Aisles and aisles of candy. So much candy! You can buy it prepackaged or make your own little bag of all your favorites. Sozo Coffee and the .99 cent store is in the same shopping center if you want to make a full morning or afternoon adventure of it!

Details: 1986 North Alma School Road. (480) 899-4245

BRUNSWICK BOWLING (FOR FREE)

Kids 15 and under can score 3 FREE games of bowling this summer at Brunswick through September.  Shoe rental is not included. Simply register HERE and coupons will arrive via email.

BASS PRO

The Mesa Bass Pro Shops has fun things planned for kids on Tuesdays!  Every Tuesday participate in their Kids Night event where they will have crafts, games, archery, and food for everyone! Events run from 5-8 p.m. (602) 606-5600

WIGGLE WORM ADVENTURES, GILBERT

Located at the McQueen Park Activity Center, take your kids 5 and under (max of 4) for play. Come play indoors with mats, hoops, balls, tunnels, ride on toys, music, and more!

Details: Cost is $1.50 for Gilbert Residents and $2 for Non-Gilbert Residents. Adults are FREE! Drop in between 9-11am on M,W,F from May 1 – August 11, 2017. 510 N. Horne St., Gilbert. (480) 503-6294

STORY TIME ADVENTURE WITH BEAR, GILBERT

Located at the McQueen Park Activity Center,grab your best stuffed friend and come for a classic children’s story. Each month set out on a new adventure through the pages of our books and create a story inspired craft!

Details: FREE. Held 2nd Friday of every month at 10am or 10:30am. No registration needed. 510 N. Horne St., Gilbert. (480) 503-6294

TUMBLEWEED TOTS, CHANDLER

Much like Wiggle Worm Adventures this is also a community sponsored preschool playtime held at Tumbleweed Recreation Center. Drop in and play in the air-conditioned gymnasium. This is a fun, safe, and clean area with plenty of toys and equipment to keep the kids entertained.

Details: Cost is $2 for Chandler Residents and $3 for Non-Chandler Residents. Drop in between 12:30pm-2:30pm on M,W,F. 745 E. Germann Rd., Chandler. (480) 782-2900

TEMPE HISTORY MUSEUM

If you are heading to Tempe Public Library at all this summer you might want to make a stop here as well. The museum is within walking distance of the library and while it isn’t geared towards children specifically it does have an area called Kids’ Place where children can play in a miniature Sun Devil Stadium, climb on a police motorcycle and hear music from bygone eras. There is no cost to enter.

Details: Free. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 1-5 p.m. Sundays. 809 E. Southern Avenue. Free admission, donations accepted. (480) 350-5100, tempe.gov/museum.

READY, SET, PLAY – INDOOR PLAYGROUND, GILBERT

I recently took the kids here for a playdate. It was fun, safe, entertaining, and beyond clean for an indoor playground. Adults must stay while their children play. You can even bring snacks from home to eat. They offer complimentary coffee, magazines and free WiFi access.

Details: Kids 1- 6 years $10, Siblings $8, 6 months – 12 months $8, Adults FREE. 10am – 7:30pm Monday – Friday. Call on the weekends before coming to check on open play hours. 2270 E. Williams Field Rd., Gilbert. (480) 855-7998, readysetplayaz.com

POLLACK TEMPE CINEMAS SUMMER MOVIE CLUB, TEMPE

For $5, you can get a season ticket that is good for all ten movies. Limit to one show per person. Each movie shows Monday through Friday at 10am! Tickets on sale now at the box office!

Detailspollacktempecinemas.com

KIDS EAT FREE

Here is a small list of several restaurants that your kids can eat at FREE!

RUSTLERS ROOSTE STEAKHOUSE

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, kids eat free everyday. Kids menu includes burgers, ribs, top sirloin and chicken fingers. Restrictions: Ages 10 & younger. rustlersrooste.com

 JASONS DELI, CHANDLER

On Tuesday nights this location off of Ray and I-10 offer two free kids meals with every adult meal purchased. Restrictions: Tuesday nights only between 5pm-8pm. jasonsdeli.com

IKEA, TEMPE

Get up to two kids meals with purchase of one adult entree. Kids 12 and under. Restrictions: Tuesday’s only. ikea.com

GRUBSTAK, GILBERT

One free kids meal for every adult meal purchased. Good on Tuesday’s only. Restrictions: Tuesday’s only. grubstak.com 

DILLY’S DELI (MULTIPLE LOCATIONS)

One free kids meal for each adult meal purchased for $6 or more. Good on Saturday and Sunday only. Cannot be combined with any other offer. This sandwich shop offers one free kids meal for with each adult meal purchased on Saturdays and Sundays. Kids menu features half grill cheese or pbj sandwiches, chips, cookie and a small drink. Restrictions: Saturday and Sunday only. dillysdeli.com

CHOMPIES (MULTIPLE LOCATIONS)

Kids, 10 and under, choose from 18 items on their award-winning kids menu, FREE! Restrictions: Tuesday’s only. chompies.com

There you have it! I am sure I am forgetting something and I am sure there are many amazing things in our local community I don’t know about but should. Let me know what I can add to this list? Would love to hear from other locals!

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How Family Discipleship Works in Our Home

For the last 6 months our family has been reading, studying, and memorizing scripture together, and using a shorter catechism. Josh and myself did not grow up in homes where this was modeled. So if we can do this anyone can. I know I am always so thankful to read examples of what this looks like in other families and thought that I would offer out a very basic outline of what we are doing.

First and foremost, if you as the parent aren’t committing to read your Bible it will be hard, to nearly impossible, to make a habit of family discipleship with your kids. In order for this to work you have to be in God’s word yourself. This year I am reading a chronological version of the Bible. Josh is using The Bible Project reading plan.

Second, pick a time of day that works for your family and be consistent. But also be aware that leading your children to follow Christ should be happening throughout the day. For our family breakfast time Monday – Friday is what has been working best. I make sure that the kids food is at the table with our books ready to be opened. We spend 15 – 20 minutes five days week at breakfast focusing on family discipleship. If you are looking for ideas on how to disciple your kids during the ins and outs of the day check out Reset for Parents: How to Keep Your Kids from Backsliding by Todd Friel.

And lastly, keep it simple but keep the truths of scripture in front of your kids. My kids need to be reminded daily of the Gospel message and to be honest so do I.  The resources I am sharing today are what we have been using for the last 6 months. They don’t sugarcoat or downplay Biblical concepts or doctrine but the wording and repetitiveness of the lessons makes these these truths easier to grasp.

Our breakfast time begins with prayer. We pray that God opens our eyes and ears to see and hear what he is saying in the Bible. I always make sure to remind the kids that they are about to listen to God’s Holy Word. This helps to insure there is minimal amount of interruption while scripture is being read.

We are currently working our way through the New Testament with our kids using Old Story New by Marty Machowski. You can look inside the book on Amazon to see how the lessons workOld Story New uses a ten-minute a day structure and walks children through the great truths of the Christian faith in the New Testament. There are simple discussion questions (and answers!!) for each day’s devotion to help children understand and remember Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and the birth of the Christian church. Old Story New is a family devotional program designed to explain God’s plan of salvation through the New Testament and is suitable for children from preschool through high school. I can’t say enough about this great book! We also have The Gospel Storybook Bible and read the corresponding story several times throughout the week.

After we complete the lesson for the day we spend 5 minutes on our catechism question for the week. For reference we are using New City Catechism. Today many churches and Christian organizations publish “statements of faith” that outline their beliefs. But in the past it was expected that documents of this nature would be so biblically rich and carefully crafted that they would be memorized and used for Christian growth and training. They were written in the form of questions and answers, and were called catechisms

Josh and I truly believe there is benefit for us and our children being familiar with and knowing doctrine. Using this question and answer method the catechisms explains clearly what the gospel is, but also  lays out the building blocks on which the gospel is based, such as the biblical doctrines of God, of human nature, and of sin. It also helps to address false beliefs of our culture so that believers can reflect the likeness of Christ.

You can download the New City Catechism app on your phone. We love this app because it is free and we also have easy access to the songs that make it super easy to memorize each question/answer. There are 52 questions and every week we do a new question. Our kids enjoy the songs and it is amazing to see how much they are learning. We also have it in book format as well which can be purchased HERE. We finish the last few minutes reviewing memory verses from Sunday school and preschool.

And that is how we have been doing family discipleship in our home the last 6 months. It is nothing fancy but it works for us. As parents we can’t feed into our kids what we aren’t nourishing ourselves with.  We have to believe what we are pouring into our children now is what the Holy Spirit will build upon later. The concepts we are teaching our kids are being imprinted on their mind and heart, waiting to be connected with new insights, teaching, and experiences.  It is our responsibility to build this biblical foundation in their minds and hearts.

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The Buschel Digest: January 2018

Here are the highlights of what I have read including fiction, non-fiction, and around the internet for the month. I am reading this Chronological Bible reading plan six days a week and the kindle version is on sale right now for $2.99. It is always a great day to start reading your Bible and highly recommend this plan by George Guthrie.

Apple Investors Urge Action on iPhone Addiction Among Kids

“These creators-turned-critics say the software is programmed to trigger rushes of dopamine in the brain that keep users coming back over and over again, with little consideration, beyond profit, of the long-term consequences of that behavior scaled across billions of users.”

Parents, Please Don’t Let Your Kids Watch Logan and Jake Paul

If your kids have access to YouTube you must read this article! “He leveraged a suicide for content. For attention. For views. What Logan Paul did was messed up, no doubt, but what Logan Paul did is simply a single strain of a much larger, multi-faceted disease. Logan Paul’s suicide video stunt exposed the world to a major problem with YouTube and a major problem with social media entertainment in general.”

Millennials Can Leave Evangelicalism. But Not Its Pop Culture.

Brio and Adventures in Odyssey sum up my childhood and I am so thankful for the biblical truths these resources planted in me.

How to Read Through the Bible in a Year with Your Kids

This is hands down one of my favorite articles I have read this year, and I will still be saying that in December too! I am so appreciative when other parents share how they are engaging their children in scripture. Josh and I both loved this example and will be offering this challenge up to our kids when they turn 10 years old.

Intentional Parenting: Family Discipleship by Design (By: Tad Thompson)

If I had to pick one word to describe this book it would be convicting. So so convicting. I am thankful for this book and how much it made evaluate my own spiritual growth. I highlighted so much of this book below are just a few! I would recommend it for anyone, not just parents.

Taken (By: L.N. Cronk and Jenn Faulk)

Ugggg. This book. I was so sad for it to end. I was completely surprised by the direction this story went and could not put it down. I might have stayed up until 1am reading it when Josh was on shift. This never happens because I value my sleep so much but I seriously could not stop reading. This is a stand alone book but also is part of the Chop Chop Series by L.N. Cronk. You can read my review on those books HERE. I have read every book these authors have written and love that they are combining their talents! You don’t have to read the series to enjoy this book there is just a crossover storyline.

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