Have you ever wanted to take college courses but couldn’t afford the tuition? Well, now you can take real college courses for free from several online sites, although you will not earn any college credit for completing them. Coursera currently offers 728 courses from it’s 110 partners, among them the University of Florida, Stanford, Caltech, The University of Toronto and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Classes may be either self-paced or structured, depending on the subject and sponsoring institution.
Another well respected program is non-profit Khan Academy, which encourages you to “Learn Almost Anything. Completely free, forever.” This program is unique in that there are interactive challenges, assessments, and videos, as well as statistics and learning badges to brag about. Most classes are math oriented and are designed for individual school grade levels, as well as post-high school and beyond.
Even the venerable MIT is offering MITOpenCourseWare. The site currently offers materials from 2,150 courses designed for independent learners. These are actual courses taught at MIT, but like those offered by Coursera and Kahn Academy they are non-credit.
Doctor’s / Dentist’s Office
If you’re going to the doctor’s office and they write a prescription, ask if they have samples available. Many do, so it’s worth asking about. At the dentist office, ask about mouthwash, floss toothpaste and toothbrushes, especially when the kids visit.
Home school instructors should check out Homeschool.com‘s free stuff page. There you can find printables, field trip information, curriculum and more. Incredibleart.org has a great listing of art and general resources for teachers. Another good, but less extensive, site for home school savings is PEAH’s HomeschoolCiriculumSavings.com. Another pretty comprehensive site offering a lot of good information is Iamhomeschooling.com, which also offers Aspiring Heights Academy, a umbrella cover for home school educators in Florida.
Museums are a great place to visit and see fine art, historical items and much more. But they can also be pricey for a family to attend, especially if you are on a budget. The Smithsonian Institute, based in Washington, D.C., is probably the best know museum, or actually collection of museums, in the country, and admission to them is always free. In the spirit of the Smithsonian’s policy of free admission, Smithsonian Magazine sponsors Museum Day Live!, an annual event where participating museums open their doors to the public for free to anyone holding a Museum Day Live! ticket. For 2014, the date is Saturday, Sept. 27th. Click here to search the list of 1,045 participating museums and botanical gardens.
If you are a Bank of America customer, you can also get free admission to museums across the country. On the first full weekend of every month, BoA customers can get free admission from Museums on Us to 150 museums, science centers, botanical gardens and more just by presenting their card and valid ID at participating institutions.
Finally, many large museums in major cities offer free or discounted admission days throughout the year for local residents. These include those in Houston’s Museum District, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Getty Center in L.A., and many of the most popular museums in New York, including MoMA.
California Pizza Kitchen locations offer VIP-style tour opportunities for school groups and non-profit organizations for kids 10 and under. Kids get to go behind the counter and into the kitchen for a hands-on pizza making demo. Each child also receives an activity book, a CPKids pencil, and a certificate for a CPKids meal on their next visit. Tours are available at participating locations, contact the manager for more information.