Field Trips, On A Shoestring Budget
First of all, the plan was for me to stay home until our first child was ready to start school. We would send him to a nice private school and I would return to my career as a dental assistant. Somewhere along the way, that plan changed, and we decided that home was where I was needed most. A very dear friend of mine told me that she was going to homeschool her children, and of course, I was intrigued. I’m not sure of the exact day that we decided that we would homeschool, it just kind of happened, and we never looked back. Of course, that means that we are living on one income, in this two income world. Add in the fact that my husband is in law enforcement and you quickly see that we are on a TIGHT budget.
What started out as park days and play dates in their younger years, quickly changed into learning events. As time went on and the economy changed, so did our budget for all the extras that we had become accustomed to doing. Most of all, our boys still needed to do these things. Field trips, at least in our homeschool, are a vital necessity.
I had to get creative.
We’re fortunate that our boys would rather be in the great outdoors than to eat when they’re hungry. That makes my job a whole lot easier.
State Park Field Trips
Many state parks offer very low-cost admission. (in our area it’s $2 per person) Some even offer memberships. Depending on where you live, and how often you go to a State Park, it may be worth the small investment. Check their websites as well, because many of them offer classes, most of the time, for free. (It’s always a good idea to tip any park ranger, to thank them for their time.)
We enjoy state parks. There are so many ways to turn even a picnic into the most educational field trip. If you have field guides (birds, insects, wildflowers, wild edibles etc.) take them with you and make sure the learning doesn’t stop at “oh that’s a pretty flower”. Find out what kind it is and if it’s edible. The learning opportunities are nearly endless.
Be A Tourist For a Day
We all drive around our towns, weekly, passing buildings or other structures that we’ve admired. Get on your most comfortable pair of shoes and let’s get some tourist action going! Take your camera and explore the busiest area of your town. You never know just what you’ll learn. Take a notebook along to write down things you want to explore further from the computer. The learning doesn’t need to stop once you get back in the car.
Yes, I know these cost, and with the amount of money you save doing the other types of field trips mentioned here, you’ll be able to justify the investment. You should think of it in just that way… an investment. You’re investing not only in the education of your children but in memories. Those are something you can’t put a price tag on.
If you feel the membership price is out of your budget, ask for it for Christmas. When Grandma and Grandpa ask what to get your children for Christmas, tell them a zoo membership. I promise your children will enjoy it!
Yes, yes, I know. Stay with me here. In our area, if you are a homeschooler, you are admitted to the state museum for FREE with proof of homeschool association membership. It doesn’t stop there. If your museum has “extras” (planetarium, 4D theater or special exhibits) your students will get a discounted rate, and generally, one teacher-parent is admitted to those extras, free of charge. It’s worth it to call and ask. Also, Ripley’s Aquarium has a low rate for homeschoolers as well. You’ll need to show them proof of homeschool status, the savings will justify lunch out that day.
Take a Day Trip
Do a little online investigating because you’ll want to see what you’ve been missing out on, in your area. I absolutely LOVE getting up early and telling our family that we’re hitting the road for the day. We usually pack a picnic and a list of a few places we’ll stop along the way. There have been times we’ve ended up at the beach (or a waterfall) without a swimsuit, so we always take those and a change of clothes, with us on day trips!
Airport Field Trips
I’m sure we’re not the only folks that have an airport with a designated space to park your car and watch airplanes take off and land. Our middle child is considering becoming a commercial pilot when he’s grown. Therefore, THIS is right up his alley. Absolutely free. If you contact your airport, I believe they’ll set up a tour of the airport for a small group of folks. We’ve been on a tour of the local airport and learned so many things that you just don’t realize, while you’re busy trying to get to your gate on time. We’ve not been charged for the tours, as a result of that, a couple bucks from each family makes a nice gesture.
This is a very short list of field trips on a budget. (or no budget) Again, for us, field trips are vital. They serve many purposes; getting us outside/out of the house, education, quality family time, and a hunger for more knowledge. We almost always come home and research something exciting that we learned that day. There have been many times that a field trip has sparked weeks (even months) long unit study. Call your local parks and recreation commission and see if they offer classes. I know in our area they are absolutely ZERO cost. (always collect a few bucks from each family to show the park ranger your appreciation. You’ll leave a great impression with them and they’ll know that you value their time.)
Have a favorite budget friendly field trip you’d like to share, be sure to leave a comment telling us all about it!!
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