Whats in your wallet?

Today I wanted to share with you some of the most important tools in my home school wallet.

They are:  (in no particular order)

* Membership to Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

*Membership to the Ohio Historical Society

*Membership to The Toledo Zoo

* Membership to our local library

*Membership to our local Center for the Arts

For a family that follows a rather traditional text-book based home school model you might think it strange that I count  our family memberships as some of my most important and most effective teaching tools.  I wanted to share with you what I have learned about field trips. 

Hands on learning *sticks* better.    Hands on learning leads to more questions and more learning.  I continue to be amazed at how many places have programs in place just for homeschoolers!  Beyond that, if you look at the websites for many places you will find a link for educators.  There is some amazing material available to help you get the most out of field trips with projects and reading to do both before and after your visit. If you don’t see anything, call and ASK.  You may be surprised to learn that they have links available that are not visible on the main website or they may have packages you can pick up when you arrive.

Hands on learning is more fun. When we make a visit it often involves the whole family, sometimes aunts, cousins and grandparents too.  This is fun stuff!  For me one of the best parts of homeschooling is learning along with my children.  When we as parents show enthusiasm for learning it is contagious.  When other family members are willing to invest their time and share their experience and point of view..even better.  Learning together is more fun than reading from any textbook!

Hands on learning can be affordable.  Some may say it is a disadvantage to live over an hour away from any major city, and sometimes it is (especially when gas is nearly $4.00/gal), but we are lucky in that we can be in at least 3 major cities within 2 hours.  With our COSI membership in hand we can visit COSI or 6 other science centers in Ohio for free.  With our OHS membership we can visit any of 58 historic sites in Ohio for free.  ( For a 4th grader studying Ohio History… this is an amazing advantage) With our zoo membership in hand we can visit any of 8 Ohio zoos for free. (or  at a discounted price) Our family membership to our Local Art Center allows our family access to professional fine arts instruction, including music, dance, and visual arts.  This is a wonderful resource that we are so lucky to have in our community.  I am always surprised when I talk to people and they don’t even know it exists.  I would encourage you to look around your community and see where you can get connected.  You might try a local dance company or a community theatre.  There are many, many opportunities to visit local attractions that will reinforce learning. Many of these attractions are very reasonable or even free. Even living in a very rural area like we do, there are many choices available. Pick up the visitors information for your town, you might be surprised what you find.  And of course your local library is a great resource, a book  can take you around the globe, to the moon and back for free. 

I love the idea of spontaneous field trips!  Of course around here they don’t happen very often.  I just don’t happen to be much of a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of gal. What I have found is that by planning ahead I am able to get the most out of the experience.  By reading a book or doing some other activity, I am providing  Sunshine with additional ideas to think about beforehand.   It also inspires and motivates us to get our other studies done so we can take off for a day of fun.  And lets face it, it takes some planning if you want to take a growing family out for the day and not end up short on diapers or out of snacks.

Heres the bottom line, I have found that getting out of the “class room”  to learn is so worth it, for everyone involved!

COSI membership $90.00, Ohio Historical Society membership $50.00, Toledo Zoo membership $79.00, Library membership $free,  Art Center membership $80.00 – Knowing that my children have access to Top Quality Hands on Learning Experiences .. Priceless!

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