As school comes to a close, the freedom of summer approaches. Kids watch the clock tick by and they jump at the first opportunity to head outdoors, into the sunny weather. But in modern day society, it’s a myth that summer has to just be about free play, fun, and anything but math. It’s also a myth that math can’t be fun and full of play! There are plenty of classes offered around NYC this summer that encourage the intersection between learning, creativity, and fun, both inside and outdoors. Oh, and did we mention that they’re free? We know that expenses add up throughout the school year, between school fees, after school programs, and the never ending cycle of new clothes for those your kids outgrow. Therefore, we created a list of the best free summer classes. Introduce a sprinkling of education into the break from school to support your kids’ love for learning, highlight education as a priority, and encourage your kids to pursue their passions. Class topics include art, science, mathematics, writing, and more, in addition to athletic classes, such as soccer, basketball, and swimming. And if you’re looking to fit in a summer camp with your free summer classes, check out these camps for late summer, day camps, and sleepaway camps!
Battery Park City Parks
Battery Park City Parks offers a series of classes throughout the summer for kids of all ages. Classes cover all areas of learning: athletics, art, gardening, music, and more. All classes run for the whole summer at 75 Battery Place, so drop in anytime before school starts back up again. We’ve outlined their best free classes below, so browse through the list and write down your favorites in your planner!
Bring your preschoolers to create mini masterpieces this summer! Young artists will learn various mediums, including paper, clay, paint, and recyclable materials. Dress your little ones in old clothes that you don’t mind getting messy, and bring them over for an introduction to art. Thursdays except July 4, 10:30am-12pm, Rockefeller Parkhouse.
Youth Sprouts Gardening
Plant the seeds of gardening while your children are young, and watch them grow into gardeners! This class offers an introduction to organic gardening for ages three to five, in which students will learn how to properly take care of plants. Gardening is a great way to instill patience and concentration, so head to Young Sprouts Gardening this summer. Tuesdays, 3:15-3:45pm, North Rockefeller Park.
Drawing in the Park
Use the Hudson River and the landscape of South Cove as your inspiration to create. Students will learn to use watercolor, pastels, chalk, and charcoal under the guidance of an artist or educator. If your children doodle all day in their drawing pads, then try out Drawing in the Park this summer to take those doodles to the next level. All ages are welcome. Saturdays except July 6, 10am-12pm, Wagner Park, North of Historic Battery Park.
Basketball for Preschoolers
Bring your preschoolers, ages three to four, to learn the basics of basketball in a noncompetitive environment. They’ll learn how to dribble, pass, and shoot the ball through fun and creative games. This is a great class for an introduction to sports, as well as a way for kids to release some of their energy in a safe environment. Mondays, 2:45-3:15pm, Rockefeller Park.
Soccer for Children
Young children will love this beginner’s soccer class, where they’ll learn dribbling, passing, shooting, and how to strategically play the game. The class focuses on balance, coordination, movement, and awareness as students are led through games and drills. Bring your kids to learn about soccer, play fun games, and meet new friends! Tuesdays, 3:30-4:15pm, Rockefeller Park.
Chess is a classic game that sharpens the mind and challenges players to outsmart each other (in a fun and respectful way, of course!). Bring your kids to learn how to play chess with tips from an expert. The class focuses on problem-solving, concentration, and strategic planning for ages five and up. Tuesdays, 3:30-5pm, Rockefeller Park.
Art & Games
Bring your children to engage in creative art and crafts projects. Afterwards, kids will get a chance to play lawn games, such as tag, races, and more, as well as meet new friends. This is a great class for children to learn focus for a period of time as they draw and paint before heading into free play mode. Thursdays except July 4, 3:30-5pm, Rockefeller Parkhouse.
Queens Public Library
Across all of the Queens Public Libraries in New York City, there are several classes to check out this summer. While many of the classes focus on reading and storytime, there are others that cover science, arts, and educational games. The dates of classes vary, so be sure to consult the dates and times listed in the following slides. Take advantage of these amazing (and free) classes hosted by Queens Public Library.
Bring your little ones, ages two to three, for stories, music, and movement. This class serves as an introduction to reading for toddlers through simple books, rhymes, finger plays, and songs. Stay for the play session afterwards as well! June 6, 13, 20, 10-11am, Queens Library, Flushing, 41-17 Main Street.
Arts and Crafts for Kids
Stop by for one or all of these arts and crafts classes this summer. Students will have the chance to create a new mini masterpiece each class and bring it home for mom to hang on the fridge or display in the living room. Tuesdays and Thursdays June 6-27, 3-4pm, Queens Library, Cambria Heights, 218-13 Linden Boulevard.
Do your kids love school and miss the challenge of problem-solving and creative thinking in the summer? Or perhaps you want your kids’ minds to stay sharp during the nearly three month break? Either way, Computer Kids is a great class for children ages 8 to 12. They will learn the basics of computer coding and make friends while doing it! Thursdays June 6-27, 4-5pm, Queens Library, Windsor Park, 79-50 Bell Boulevard.
Math Games for Kids
Bring your children ages six to ten for an hour of interactive and educational games. Math is one of those subjects that builds each school year, but then when kids come back from the summer, teachers have to spend a significant amount of time refreshing their memories and reteaching the concepts. Drop in to this class to keep your kids thinking about math during the summer, so that when next school year starts, they’ll be engaged and ready to learn! Monday-Friday July 1- August 30 (Except July 4), 3-4pm, Queens Library, Briarwood, 85-12 Main Street.
Summer Reading- Make Art with Science!
All children ages three and up are welcome to join to experience the intersection of science and art- which may not be all that different! Learn about the science behind artistic projects and create art inspired by science, such as slime making and homemade toys. Tuesdays July 2-August 20, 2-2:45pm, Queens Library, East Flushing, 196-36 Northern Boulevard.
Summer Reading Program: STEM Storytime
This class, designed for kids in preschool to first grade, involves a reading of a picture book with a craft or activity afterwards. The activity is STEM related, so come for an educational experience related to science and mathematics! Fridays June 21-August 23, 11-11:45am, Queens Library, South Jamaica, 108-41 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard.
Offering events throughout the year, NYC Parks specializes in their summer season with plenty of free classes for kids, many of them outside so kids can enjoy the warm weather as they learn. And the best part about these classes is that they are offered for lengthy periods of time, June through August, so you have plenty of time to try a class out. If your kids love the class, then they can keep going each week! Before or after the class, bring your kids to the park’s playground (whichever park is hosting the event) for some outdoor play.
Learn to Swim
Are your children nervous about taking off their floaties this summer? Well NYC Parks is here to help with free swimming classes throughout the summer. Although the cost is free, space is limited, as these swim classes are very popular. To register, you must enter in the lottery. Registration is as follows: Session I June 10-23, Session 2 June 10- July 8, Session 3 June 10- July 29, Advanced Session June 10- August 12. You may register for as many sessions as you want, but do not register more than once for the same session. There are separate classes for toddlers and children, so you can be sure that your kids are learning in a safe environment, surrounded by other children of similar ages. Your kids will enjoy cooling off in the water, and they will definitely enjoy the feeling of swimming in the pool (without floaties) like a “big kid” afterwards! Session 1: July 8-19, Session 2: July 23- August 5, Session 3: August 7-20, Advanced Session: August 21-23, Location TBA.
Bryant Park: Knitting
Knitty City, New York City’s favorite yarn community and store, guides children through the basics of knitting. Yarn and needles are provided, so all you need to bring is a creative mind! Join this class for one or all of the weekly sessions to master your knitting skills. Tuesdays June 11- August 27, 1:30-3pm, Upper Terrace in Bryant Park, 25 West 40th Street, Midtown Manhattan.
Saturday Sculpture Workshops
Every Saturday throughout the whole summer, bring your children to a sculpture workshop! Each week features a different theme, activity, and artist, so you will have a new experience each time you go. Our favorites are Whatever Floats Your Boat on July 20, in which students create floatable sculptures and mini toy boats, and Inflating Colors on August 31, in which students create their own colorful inflatables for an interactive movement performance. Saturdays through September 14, 12-3pm, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, 32-01 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City.
Brooklyn Public Library
The various Brooklyn Public Libraries scattered throughout the borough host plenty of free classes to keep your kids involved and engaged the entire summer! From cooking to art to building, these libraries have it all. Read about the different classes and mark in your calendar the ones that stand out.
Kids Create, a program featured at many of the Brooklyn Public Libraries, features different arts and crafts each week, including beaded jewelry, t-shirts, popsicle stick structures, collages, and so much more. Browse Brooklyn Public Library’s Events Calendar so that you can find either the library closest to you or the craft that you think your kids will love. Kids Create is generally intended for children ages 5 to 12, but the age group varies slightly depending on the library. Through August 26, various times, various Brooklyn Public Library locations.
Creative Art for Teens
For your teens and tweens ages 10 and up, drop in for a more advanced version of arts and crafts. Activities include coloring, embroidery, painting, lanyard making, and duct tape creations. This is a great class to do with school friends or meet new friends! Tuesdays and Thursdays through July 27, 3-5pm, Midwood Library, 975 East 16th St. at Avenue J, Midwood.
Cooking Matters for Kids!
Sponsored by City Harvest, enroll your children in this cooking class to explore healthy food. Students will learn how to cook healthy snacks and dishes that taste delicious, while simultaneously learn about the importance of fruit and vegetables and how to build strong muscles and bones with protein and calcium-rich foods. Your children will emerge from this class with a newfound appreciation for a healthier lifestyle and tons of memories from cooking with their friends! Wednesdays July 10- August 14, 1-3pm, Cypress Hills Library, 1197 Sutter Avenue at Crystal Street, Cypress Hills.
Bike Skills 101- Learn to Ride- Kids
Bike New York is a non-profit organization that offers bike education programs throughout all of the boroughs. Jump on the bandwagon of biking as a healthy means of recreation and transportation with Bike New York’s summer classes. Your kids will surely enjoy biking in the beautiful summer weather, and their confidence will increase as they progressively learn how to ride their bike without training wheels. Bike New York hosts various classes around New York City for children to learn how to ride a bike. Ages five and up are welcome to bring their bike and helmet for these two hour sessions in traffic-free environments with trained instructors. If your child is ready to leave the training wheels behind, sign them up for Learn to Ride to be introduced to bike riding in a safe and encouraging environment, surrounded by others who are learning too! June 8, 9, 11, 15, 16, 22, 29, July 20, August 17, 24, various locations, check website for times.
Karma Kids Yoga Storytime
Calling all kids ages six and under for free weekly yoga classes throughout the summer, complete with a story. The stories involve puppets, songs, and yoga poses as the yoga becomes an interactive experience of the story. As you come across animals and nature in the story that spark a related yoga pose, the class stops to perform the pose and then continue through the story. This is the perfect combination of education, athletics, and creativity all in one! Wednesdays, 11:30am-12pm, Karma Kida Yoga, 25 West 23rd Street between 5th and 6th avenues, Flatiron District.
New York Public Library
Much like the Queens and Brooklyn public libraries, New York Public Library hosts an assortment of free kids summer classes for your little ones, young children, tweens, and teens. Classes take place at the various branches of New York Public Library. There are plenty of topics offered, but be sure to check out the writing classes, ranging from creative writing to college essay prep!
On Wednesdays we wear pink (couldn’t resist the Mean Girls reference!), but we also write. This class caters to both children (ages 5 to 12) and teens (ages 13 to 18). Every week features a different prompt, and afterwards children and teens share their writing with others their age. This is a great environment for kids to gain confidence in writing through constructive and encouraging feedback. Wednesdays 3pm, 1701 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Bronx, Morris Heights.
Dancing is Fun
Free dance classes? Yes, please! Head to these Saturday dance classes this summer. Your kids will have a memorable introduction to dance, in which they’ll learn dance techniques, play games, and meet new friends. 3pm, Saturdays through July 27, Tremont Library, 1866 Washington Avenue, West Bronx.
How to Write Great College Essays
Is college right around the corner? Do you have questions about where to start, how to get in, and how did my little boy/girl get so old so fast looming over your head? Well, the college essay is a good place to begin. The essay counts for a lot more than some may believe, because it’s your chance to show who you are beyond your test scores and achievements. Sign up for the class beforehand, either July 10 or August 20 to learn about what admissions officers are looking for in the college essay. 5-5:45pm, 53rd Street Library, Community Meeting Room, 18 West 53rd Street, Midtown Manhattan.
This class is all about science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, as per the trendy abbreviation. Kids will do cave painting, build legos, garden, and make slime. While your kids still have the lingering school mindset, before summer truly kicks in, prolong it a bit more with these educational classes in June. 3:30pm, June 12, 19, 26, Eastchester Library 1385 East Gun Hill Road, Bronx, Baychester.
Summer Academy Programs by Summer in the City
If you’re looking for more of a traditional classroom setting during the summer, complete with field trips to museums, parks, and other cultural sites, then check out the programs offered at Summer Academy. While some of the programs require an application in which the due date has passed, many are still open. You just have to contact your principal or parent coordinator to find out if seats are still available at your school. Free breakfast, lunch, and transportation are all included in these free summer classes. Browse the following Summer Academy programs to find the right one for your kids!
The First and Second Grade Summer Academy
For first and second grade students who want to continue their learning through the summer, join Summer Academy to explore and create. The classes involve both play and engaging lessons with the goal of providing them with a head start into the next grade. Students will learn topics and skills that will both prepare them for the next school year and make education fun. 8:30am-2:30pm, July 2- August 8, programs in every district in NYC.
Community Schools Elementary Summer Academy
If your children go to NYC community schools, then they’re eligible to enroll in this full day, free community schools program. The classes involve hands-on STEM projects, art, games, and team building activities. Summer Academy invites students, grades first through eighth, who want to play, learn and explore this summer! July 2- August 8, 8:30am-2:30pm, programs in every borough.
Community Schools Sixth Grade Summer Academy
Starting middle school can be daunting. It’s a new school with different classes and older seventh and eighth graders. Summer Academy offers a program specifically for sixth graders to address this transition. Students will spend time getting to know their school, teachers and classmates, and participate in project-based learning, team-building, academic support, and recreation. Dates and times vary per school, programs in community schools.
Kids Corner at Habana Outpost
Free creative workshops and crafts every week? Yes please! During this weekend program, kids learn about environmentalism, wellness, and community. Each weekend class, 11am-2pm, features a different craft, so check out the following activities and projects below:
June 30 and July 1: Red, White, and Blue Fire Cracker Crown
July 7 and 8: Paper Bag Puppets
July 14 and 15: Solar Powered Art: Sun Collages Using Objects from Nature
July 21 and 22: Make Music with Bottle Caps
July 28 and 29: Recycled Popsicle Stick Paper Frame
August 4 and 5: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
August 11 and 12: Egg Carton Bugs
August 18 and 19: Toilet Paper Roll Binoculars
August 25 and 26: Corn Husk Sunflower