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Free or Cheap Ideas

Page history last edited by starkfamily1@... 14 years, 7 months ago



Please edit this page to add your free or cheap home education ideas.


Table of Contents:



Libraries and Museums

make good meeting places and are free.




  • Simply use these venues as a family, or agree to meet with friends and share some time together. Libraries usually have a play area for very small children as well as a café.
  • See if your librarian will organise a story time for a home ed group or book time on the computer for older children. These would be free.
  • Ask if you can use one of the rooms in the library to share an activity with your home ed group or small group of home educating friends. You may be able to do this for free or very cheaply.
  • Local Museums often have a list of educational activities they will do, free, with a home ed group. Some also have resource boxes for loan that a family or group can borrow.
  • Museum and library exhibitions are free. Look for information leaflets and websites from your local council listing upcoming exhibitions and events. Get on a mailing list for “What’s on” publications from the council or look for them at a library, museum or council contact point.
  • Look for library and museum open days and free events.
  • Look out for the annual library sale of books. This will produce some amazing bargains in books and other materials such as music and other dvds etc.






  • Girl’s Brigade
  • Boys Brigade
  • Brownies/Guides
  • Boy Scouts/Cubs
  • Woodcraft Folk
  • Wildlife Watch
  • St John's Ambulance Brigade. Badgers and Cadets





National Schools Film week offers free showings of films to groups, well worth while for home ed groups. The site may also offer downloadable support education materials. 

See: http://www.nsfw.org/


Free Education Website:


Free online couses at free-ed.net


"Free-ed.net brings together the best courses, tutorials, and learning materials we can find on the Internet -- including some we are developing ourselves. Free-Ed means the best possible FREE EDUCATION for everyone.


"... find actual content and study aids for homeschool and other mentored programs. "



There are live webcams for just about every creature. Bird cams, pond cams, tiger cams, you name it. The Natural History Museum, in their Kids Only part of their website, have an ant cam, bee cam and a flesh eating beetle cam.

Natural History Museum cams for kids.

Peregrine Falcons nesting at Derby Cathedral.


(Educational) Trips Out and Holidays







Look out for cheap room deals if you are going to be staying away. A time of writing there is:








  • try traveling out of season, - easier for a home ed family than a schooling family to do!


  • Supermarkets often give vouchers or points. These can be cashed in and sometimes include offers using the vouchers or points toward the cost of hotels – just in the city or town where you need to make an educational visit!


“Last year we went on holiday to Ironbridge, Shropshire. The cottage was quite expensive but I spent my Tesco vouchers on the Ironbridge passports, which was a brilliant week. We also went to a couple of English Heritage properties (pre-booked) and RAF Cosford, which was free. I felt very pleased with myself!”



  • Youth Hostels are usually cheaper than hotels/b+b and also do special offers. See: http://www.yha.org.uk/



  • National Trust





You can join the National Trust and have free parking and free visits to properties. There is a special rate for home educating families!!! Ask for the Education Group Membership. Added Advantage You get the National Trust Handbook and quarterly magazines posted to your home free and included in this are publications for the children with fun educational ideas and lovely posters. (TIP: if you want full membership, you can join NT Scotland for a fraction of the price and still visit other NT properties in the rest of the UK!)





  • English Heritage





If you want to visit an English Heritage property, let them know you are coming for educational purposes as a family, in advance, and (where there is a charge,) you will often be allowed free entry.




  • The Space Centre in Leicester gives you a free annual pass if you go once and 'donate' the entrance fee instead of paying it. (Other museums may also offer a years pass like this or a membership fee for a year giving free or cheap entry, which is excellent value if you plan to visit a few time.)





Nearer Home:



Take full advantage of Your Town! Sometimes, a family can be so busy with the business of day to day living that they don’t see their town the way a tourist might. Look at your town through the eyes of a tourist and see what you are missing! Go to your nearest Tourist Information Centre, you may be surprised at just how much you didn't know about your town and local activities.




  • Churches




Places of worship - churches/synagogues/temples/mosques are always very happy to give tours and answer questions about their faith. Many places of worship now have their own websites.



  • Other buildings of architectural or historical interest


  • Visitor Centres


  • Local Observatory open evenings


  • Local festivals





“Here in Leicester there is a packed itinerary of free festivals at parks around the city in the summer. Free music/face-painting/circus skills/traditional wood carving etc were on

offer recently.”




  • Local independent theatres/ cinemas




“At the Phoenix in Leicester if you get a group of 20 people together they will show the film of your choice! Worth doing if you want to see something non-mainstream and there is a group. Ideal for families with younger children who don't want to worry about being 'shushed' in normal cinema!”



“Also good for educational projects that include a particular piece of drama/cinema not currently showing!”


Our local independent cinema do special showings for deaf children and children on the autistic spectrum.



  • Ask tourist information for leaflets about your own town





Does your town have interesting industrial or natural history? There may be free exhibitions or venues designed for tourists that would be very interesting to your child.





Does your town have areas of natural beauty; rivers and or canals, beaches, millponds, way marked walks, parks, forests and woods? Take a picnic and a drawing pad/camera/bug hunting kit/bikes and have a great cheap, and educational, day!





A Mum who lives in the country so can’t chat to neighbours to find out what is going on, looks at the council’s website for what’s on and tourist info (a popular tip.) She says, “try to take advantage of the local landscape. For example: On our doorstep we have a fishing pool - ideal for pond dipping. We also have a huge forest - great for nature studies. A few miles away we have the river - and the first (famous) iron bridge.

We have a few castles - they often hold free events. We have loads of museums - mainly about the industrial revolution. We have some Roman ruins not far from us, a power station - with it's own educational centre that you can visit.




  • Allotments




Get an allotment. This is normally under £20 a year. I recommend getting one as a small group to share the responsibility!! :-) I know of some people who have kept chickens on their allotment and built the runs etc. Free food and eggs - should save you money rather than cost you, is healthy and educational into the bargain!




  • Pre-school learning alliance.




“Our local one has a lounge area where parents and children can sit and have drinks and chat and do drawing etc. All though it is pre-school I think it is also great for older children.”




  • Children’s Centres




“These are for children up to age 18 so check out what they offer. Generally their activities are free. They also often have large light airy cafe areas where you can help yourself to tea/coffee, meet up with others etc. There are often toys and art stuff. Ours also has a wonderful toy library. You can also generally hire out rooms for free.”





National Day Of …




First of all I keep an eye on anything that has a week every year, like for example science week, insect week, moth night, national heritage weekend etc. These events which are associated with the week are often local and either free or minimal cost.”




“For example for science week we went to an event at the British Geological Survey in Keyworth for free which consisted of looking at fossils, making plaster cast fossils, panning for gold, tour of core store and loads more.”





- Film education week, is normally in October but if you join their email list there are often free viewings at local cinemas throughout the year.


- Chaos science roadshow, a free touring science event by students from Cambridge university, we went last year it was great.


- National events advertised for example, at the minute, Springwatch roadshow is going on at lots of places and is free.





- I also have joined various email lists and groups, ie home education resource yahoo group, planet science newsletter, arts news digest through the arts council. I am also on the mailing list for all local museums, as often you get to know about free or cheap events this way.


- Registering at the local volunteer bureau, we helped with a survey to assess all the local green sites in Lincoln, which was educational plus we got travel expenses so were not out of pocket. Also they run a timebank at ours where you can gain credits by doing work for other people then cash them in for either a gym session or by getting work from other people ie sharing skills, help with shopping etc”




Your House and Garden:





Scrap Stores:



What could be cheaper than free scrap for art and crafts and all manner of stuff for other projects? Scrap stores sometimes also have a toy lending library and cheaper than usual bulk bought crafting and play items for sale. Scrap stores are usually play support charities and their focus is to promote play. Play is educational J










Cooking is very educational and a life skill that schools are now beginning to regret failing to prioritise! Library books are free, but you should also be able to get for free as an educator, Cook School, The Food Education Magazine. Tel Design Dimension 01422 383191 email




Children's Literature


Download stories to your child's ipod or MP3 player, burn to a cd or let them listen on their computer from the website itself or using Windows Media Player. VERY COOL stuff here and all for FREE. http://www.storynory.com




English resources are a non-profit making site and say they will remain that way!

They provide hundreds of free resources to download for teaching and revising English Language and Literature from primary stage to age eighteen years.


Spelling with the Spellits! This is one of the BBC Schools pages. BBC schools, learning resources for home and school.


Sign up to Daily Grammar! to improve your writing with free grammar lessons emailed to you Monday through Friday, with a quiz on Saturday. The service is free. Sample lesson, schedule, lesson archive available on the site for teaching use.


Magic key to English skills for primary stage based on the characters from the Oxford Reading Tree written by Roderick Hunt and illustrated by Alex Brychta. Games, worksheets and teacher resources.



Free Blank line maps for geography testing at Click and   Learn. (This is an American site but has maps of the world and different regions.)




Learning resources for home and school from pre-school to 16+ from the BBC.


Teaching ideasfor Primary teachers including free lesson plans, etc. (Wide range of subjects.)


Primary resourceswith free lesson plans, activity ideas and resources.





A webtool for building a family tree, Geni is also a private place for your family to build the tree, preserve history and share your lives.




learn languages free online with the BBC


or search CBBC





Free worksheets and educational resources for Maths from (UK) key stage one to advanced (age 16 - 18 years)at project Happy Child. The main site has resources in other subjects too.


More Maths worksheets for (US)grades four through nine, at Maths goodies.


Multiplication.com provide free worksheets, games, quizes, charts and flash cards here.


Notebooking (Various subjects.)


Another American site, so some material is specific to America, but worth a look as some is still useful for British children to download and print off. "Notebooking" pages with some free prints available. I have downloaded nature book page blanks for my children. Also available are science notes pages and copy pages for language such as a pack based on "Charlotte's Web" and a smaller one based on a poem, for example.






This is an excellent free astronomy lesson that is also good fun!


The Periodic Table

Provided by Nottingham University, a periodic table with videos of the elements.




Don’t buy a science book yet! Try the krampf experiment of the week by joining a free Emailing list. You get sent one experiment a week. They vary in what age range they are suitable for and are really good. You also get an explanation of the science behind


the effect. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/krampf






  • Hire a venue




If you are a large group look out for the possibility of hiring a whole venue instead of all going and paying individually.




  • Swimming




“A swimming pool near here you can hire for £90 for an hour. Sounds a lot but with 20 families it would be £4.50 per family! Not so bad.”




  • Gym/Play Barn




“A large indoor play barn where I live is available for hire before they open to the public, (so quite early - 9.30ish) and it costs about £100 to hire for 1 hrs exclusive use plus a one hour 'party' afterwards. Split between a group, it would be a good price.”





Worksheets (Various subjects.)




Frugal Living:



  • Recycling lists


  • Find out about Freecycle and find your nearest Freecycle goup here
  • http://www.freecycle.org/
  • Home Ed recycling and bring and buy lists


  • Book crossing


Free Audio Books for Children


  • Classic stories for children - download then put onto cd or mp3
  • Print off the covers
  • Old & traditional stories
  • http://tinyurl.com/2y7lud


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