Frugal Things to Do
GO TO THE LIBRARY! It's one of your best resources for all kinds of free entertainment. They usually have story hours for preschoolers, craft programs and reading programs for school-age kids. You can check out books and sometimes magazines and audio and video tapes. Our local library (and we live in a very small town) even has fishing rods and tackle boxes that kids can borrow! Go visit your library and find out what they have to offer.
RENT A VIDEO TAPE. It's a LOT cheaper than taking the family to the movies. Make a big batch of popcorn, mix up some lemonade and you've got an evening of entertainment for less than $5.00. This is even cheaper if you get the tape from the library but they don't always have the newest ones that you want to see.
GO TO THE PARK OR PLAYGROUND. Kids enjoy playing on the slides and monkey bars and you'll probably meet some other parents to chat with. Some public parks have pools or beaches that residents can use for free or a small fee. Others have summer craft or sports programs for kids.
DON'T FORGET YOUR OWN BACKYARD! If you live in a location with a yard take advantage of it! Put the kids lunch in their school lunchboxes and let them have a picnic. Let them run under the lawn sprinkler on a hot day. In the fall collect colored leaves to identify and make a collage out of. Let them have their own garden space to plant whatever they want. Give them some old sheets or blankets to make a tent.
GO TO MUSEUMS. This can be a great entertainment value as well as being educational. Check with them to find out if they have free admission afternoons or 2 for one coupons.
Aaron Noble sent us this information about museums: I have an idea for saving on museums. We live in Alabama and we checked around at all of the museums around. We joined one (90 miles from our home) over the phone for $35 a year for our family. This gives us UNLIMITED admission to any of the 265 science museums across the world for our whole family. Other museums are $80 or more a year. Be careful though. Some of them have a 90 mile radius rule. Make sure if your favorite museum is close to you, that you find a cheap museum in another state that is further than 90 miles away. We used our membership about 10 times last year(saved $30-35 each time!). Everywhere we went, even out of town, we found a museum close by and were able to go for FREE!!! You can go to the list of museums and web pages at ASTC but DO NOT JOIN THE ASTC!!! They are THE MOST expensive!!! Just use this as a guide. We also gave these memberships (we joined one in Tennessee. It doesn't matter where you live)as gifts to our siblings and their families. They loved it. All we have to do is renew it every year!! Some of the ones that are the cheapest are Anniston Museum of Natural History, Anniston, AL $35/year/family. Also one that doesn't have a web page is the Tullahoma,TN Hands on Science Museum $30/family/year. Have fun looking!!
After publishing the suggestion above we received this letter from Wes Lyons:
My name is Wes Lyons and I am the Membership Coordinator for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. I had a homeschool member who sent me an e-mail about your website and your posted comments about joining a museums. The purpose of the ASTC Passport Program was to encourage people to join their local science center and support their local community. It was not meant for people to choose the cheapest museum and run with it.
I would like to respectfully ask that you add a statement encouraging people to join their local science center and help support their local community. If people want to continue to see great exhibits close to them, they need to help support their center by purchasing a membership.
From Lisa: We like to visit small historical sites and other out of the way places. They are usually cheap (less than $5 admission) or even free. Another plus is that they are not crowded so you have the full attention of the tour staff, since they are so glad to see you! Also, if you have little kids, you don't have to worry so much about losing them since there aren't hundreds of other people milling about obscuring your view. You can let your kids run around a bit instead of keeping a vice grip on their hands.
And another one from Lisa: Some of those fast food places have pretty cool play places now. It is comparitively cheap to buy some fries and let the kid play for an hour in the hamster tubes. I think a couple bucks on fries is a pretty good value for somewhere enclosed like this where your kid can run and climb. Cheaper than amusement parks anyway. ;-)