Christmas is coming – and that means parents all over the country will have their children home for the holidays.

This means a lot of opportunities for fun activities, but with all the money you spend on gifts and food, we don’t necessarily have a lot left to allocate.

This is why I’ve reached out to a friend, Shelly at Free Homeschooling 101, to brainstorm some great ideas for fun (and educational) places to take your kids without breaking the bank.

We’ve put our heads together to bring you 4 great ideas for a cheap field trip:

Emergency Services and Public Institutions

Fire stations, Police and Ambulance services are often, incident permitting, willing to host visits by local children. Naturally, the kids also love playing with the equipment and meeting their real-life heroes.

Government offices (and Capitols) are also great places to visit for free, allowing children to see how laws are made and public services delivered. City Council Members are also always up for showing kids around the town hall.

Libraries are an amazing community resource; they regularly offer free classes and book reading activities for the public. Check with your local library whether they do ‘Library Days’, where local business people and community workers provide talks and demonstrations to children about their fields of expertise.

Nature Centers are a great option, also funded by our tax dollars. They have a plethora of indoor exhibits, daytime hours and often hold free classes about the animals/exhibits indoors and outdoors.

Local Merchants

The classic places to take children are the more traditional businesses, like florists (where they can learn about growing and arranging flowers, as well as the role of bees in agriculture), bakers (where they can experience how their favorite staples are made) and pet stores (because all kids love to pat a newborn puppy!). Often, these visits inspire children to think about pursuing a career in one of these areas.

Another favorite of mine is the local hardware store, where the children can learn about construction and see how nuts and bolts work to hold things together. For example, Home Depot has a free wooden craft activity once per month. Each child receives a free apron, lapel pin and can join in the class to build the craft with an adult.

Group Discounts

Many parents can gather a group of children and parents together to create a ‘group’ large enough to receive the group discount to various events such as Science Centers, Museums, Zoos and Theaters.

This can make otherwise costly activities significantly cheaper, and sometimes they will also give you a guide or additional activity, like a workshop, for free.

Facebook is an excellent place to find homeschool groups or playgroups filled with parents and children just waiting to jump into a planned outing.

Local Landmarks and Culture

Further to supporting the children experiencing their local community businesses and institutions, is to enrich their education by researching local sights of historical or cultural significance and build educational experiences around them.

For example, is there an old building in town with a particular historical significance? If so, they may be kind enough to provide a guide to tell its stories to your children. Historical trusts and societies are always extremely passionate and keen to explain the history to the next generation.

Don’t let a tight budget keep you from seeking new educational experiences. Finding a new place to explore or tour with your children can be as easy as picking up the phone and asking. Follow your child’s interests and get in touch with people in those areas – you’ll be surprised how happy people are to go out of their way to help educate and inspire the next generation.


This article was co-authored with Shelly Mabe, founder of FreeHomeSchooling101.