Hop Aboard the Goldstar Comp Train!


Free tickets, anyone? Hop aboard the Comp Train, Goldstar’s popular two-day promotion that features complimentary tickets to tons of fun events throughout the country.

For just 48 hours, Goldstar, the online discount ticket outlet, will be offering literally thousands of free tickets to live theater, concerts, dance, comedy, and more. And since all you pay is a tiny service fee (the amount varies depending on the event, but it’s usually just a couple of bucks), the Comp Train is a great way to discover new events in the area and treat the family, your plus-one, or even just yourself to something totally great — and totally unexpected.

Go here to see what’s free. And while you’re on the website, be sure to browse around — there are always loads of fantastic discounts on all kinds of live entertainment.

Disclosure: KidFriendly DC is an affiliate of Goldstar, which means I get a small commission on any sales generated through my blog. However, I only promote events, programs, and services, that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Deal, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Professional Service, Sports, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Help Your Kids Overcome Sports Injuries with a Free Ebook from Medics USA


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Medics USA, however, I only promote products, activities, and programs that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under Free, Product, Sponsored Post, Sports

Museum-Based Learning at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center


That first introduction to school for our children is important to us parents. We want their early associations with being part of a class in an educational environment to be good ones. We want our kids to be engaged, to feel inspired, to find learning fun.

The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC), a model lab school with a museum-based curriculum, understands that. In their words, “SEEC invites children to be extraordinary, to wonder and to explore the world around them. SEEC teaches children to search for knowledge rather than simply be fed information.”

I got to see this in action all for myself on a recent visit to observe the Smithsonian Early Explorers, one of their preschool groups. It started in Q?rius jr. at the National Museum of Natural History, where the class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays. (Already I have to note how great that is — “school” in the activity center in one of the coolest museum’s in the city!)


There are currently two open spots in that class, and applications for the 2015-2016 school year will be accepted in late spring. But the SEEC also hosts Family Workshops on weekends, four consecutive Saturday sessions that meet for approximately two hours, the next series beginning January 31. They are structured just like the class I joined, and while it’s recommended that participants sign up for all four, they are offered individually as well.



The sessions explore various concepts, and this particular one was “Under the Sea.” Stations were set up around the room with simple activities that related to the theme, so as the two-year-old children arrived, they had about 15 minutes to get hands-on with the subject. There were seashells to touch and trace, stamps with sea birds and creatures that corresponded with a book, a light box to examine transparencies of marine animals, a dress-up area with pirate and and other sea-themed outfits. The class is led by a teacher, who roamed the room and guided the kids through the projects, but parents and caregivers stay with their children and enjoy the experience with them.


After that initial introduction to the topic, the class met for Circle Time, where they did a familiar welcome song that gave each student a chance to stand up and dance. That was followed by a story and group activity, again associated with the theme. After that, we all grabbed our coats and got ready to head out. That’s right — the class doesn’t necessarily stay at Natural History every time; they sometimes venture to other museums on the Mall to tie in different kinds collections to the lessons. Even though we could have gone right downstairs to the Sant Ocean Hall for some straight-up sea exhibits, we went to the Hirshhorn to incorporate art, too.


Once there, the teacher read a book in the lounge area, then we strolled through the main walkway to a couple of sculptures, where the kids “saw” sea creatures in the modern designs. The teacher also brought some visuals along to add to the experience (plus the hands-on opportunities were a good distraction in a no-touch museum).



The Hirshhorn portion lasted about 45 minutes and took us to the end of the class. The entire session runs from 9:30-11:30am, so parents can take advantage of being on the Mall to do some more museum-hopping. Or, they can head home and anticipate another great outing at the next class.

To learn more about the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center and register for the Family Workshops, visit the website.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote events, activities, and programs that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under Class, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Museums, Preschoolers, Sponsored Post, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: January 26-30

Little ones love exploring the Botanic Garden

Little ones love exploring the Botanic Garden

Monday - No matter what the weather outside, it’s always pleasant in the U.S. Botanic Garden. Walk amid tropical rainforest, desert, and woodland flora without a drop of precipitation falling on you, unless you count the misters in the jungle area. Be sure to stop in the “Plants in Culture” exhibit, where you can smell the scents of herbs and spices and learn about their everyday uses. Hours at the USBG are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday - Let the kids take the wheel at the Washington Auto Show. The annual event showcasing the newest models of cars and trucks will be at the Washington Convention Center through February 1. Kids (and adults) can sit in the driver’s seat, pretend to cruise around, check out dashboard details, and more. Hours are 12-9pm Monday – Thursday (12-10pm on Friday). Admission is $12/adult, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under. Read more about what to expect in this post about one of our experiences there.

Wednesday - Little ones can shop at the market, tend to the ranch, bake in the kitchen, decorate cupcakes, and do some art projects — all possibilities in the Playseum’s various themed rooms and crafts areas. Visit the Capitol Hill or Bethesda location and plan on lunch while you’re out; both are convenient to many eateries for a pre- or post-play meal. Hours are 9am – 4pm. Admission is $7/person (siblings under 10 months are free) and is good for the whole day.

Thursday - Catch a colorful magic show with The Great Zucchini at Jammin’ Java. Doors open at 10am and the fun begins at 10:30am. General admission tickets are $5.

Friday - See “Grandest Show on Strings” at The Puppet Co., where Circus! is the new main stage production. Featuring a collection of clowns, death-defying acrobats, and an amazing menagerie of fauna from the farthest reaches of the globe, children are guaranteed to be entertained. Showtimes are 10am & 11:30am. Tickets are $10.


Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

The Weekend Round-Up: January 24-25

Demonstrating how to make a Mini Cooper a family car at the Washington Auto Show

Demonstrating how to make a Mini Cooper a family car at the Washington Auto Show

We might be hitting the thick of winter, but that doesn’t mean the fun is thinning out. You and the kids have loads of options for a good time out of the house — yet still inside. Park yourselves at the Washington Auto Show, jam to live music or a monster truck rally, enjoy a museum program, cheer on a college sports team, take a chilly plunge in the Chesapeake, or check out the Everyday Play page for even more ideas. Happy Weekend!

Washington Auto Show
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: $12/adults, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under

The annual Washington Auto Show is zooming back into town. And if there’s any “grown-up” event that is equally fun for all ages, this is it. The Auto Show is like a Truck Touch, but with automobiles — more than 700 of them! — on display for guests to check out. Other activities, like Ride ‘n Drives and celeb appearances, give guests even more to do and see. And especially for kids is a Family Activity Zone and pop-ins by some of their favorite characters along with the auto-fun. This post about one of our experiences at a past show has more about what to expect.

Monster Jam
Where: Verizon Center
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $17-90

The world’s largest and most famous monster truck tour featuring the biggest names in monster trucks will thunder its way into the Verizon Center. Grave Digger, Backwards Bob, Aftershock, Krazy Train, Crushstation and Stinger are among the vehicular beasts you’ll see tearing up the indoor terrain this year.

Udvar-Hazy Open House
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

The Air & Space Museum’s other (some even say better) half is hosting it’s second annual open house. This special event gives guests a behind-the-scenes look at historic artifacts, documents, and works of art that are not on public display. Find out what it takes to collect, preserve, and restore it all.

Winter Blast
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

Bring the kids to the American Indian Museum for a family celebration of native games. Join representatives from the “World Eskimo Olympics” as they demonstrate traditional Inuit games including the seal hop, two-foot high kick, Indian stick pull, and others. There will also be exhibitions of traditional Hawaiian games like Pala’ie (a ball and hoop game), Konane (Hawaiian “checkers”), Moa pahe’e (a sliding game with wooden “darts”) and other games, plus opportunities to join the Comanche Nation for traditional Hand games.

Polar Bear Plunge
Where: Sandy Point State Park
When: Saturday, 8am – 2pm
Admission: $75 to plunge, free to spectate

If you want to take a quick dip in the cooold, cooold Chesapeake Bay for a good cause or want to watch others endure a frigid swim, head toward the Bay Bridge on Saturday for the 19th Annual Polar Bear Plunge. All ages can participate in this event that raises funds for Special Olympics Maryland. And you can still donate if you don’t want to plunge in.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Little ones will enjoy interactive theatre with Inside Out at Imagination Stage
* Join the Circus! at The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo Park
* Panda-Monium is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre on Saturday morning
* Karen K and The Jitterbugs are playing the Saturday morning show, and Recess Monkey is performing on Sunday at Jammin’ Java
* Mockingbird opens at the Kennedy Center this weekend (look for a deal on tickets)
* Mr. Gabe and the Circle Time All-Stars are playing at the Takoma Park Community Center on Saturday
* Join a Playdate with Rocknoceros at Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase on Sunday morning.

Hometown Hoops
Where: Area colleges
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Varies

With so many universities in the area, there’s always some college hoops action to enjoy on the weekends. The Terps will try to makeup for Thursday’s loss when they welcome Northwestern on Sunday (tickets here). The lady Hoyas host St. John’s tonight and Seton Hall on Sunday (tickets here). The GW men’s team is playing Duquesne on Saturday (tickets here). And the George Mason Patriots men are playing the Davidson Wildcats on Sunday evening (tickets here).

Grounds for Play
Where: Local indoor play areas
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Various by venue

Don’t let winter weather stop you and the kids from getting out to play. Even on the most dreary days there are places to go and run, bounce, climb, swing, flip, and slide — all in the warmth and comfort of the indoors. This post has a bunch of recommendations for playground-style fun out of the cold.

Get Q?rius
Where: Natural History Museum
When: Saturday & Sunday 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The interactive and experiential learning space at the Natural History Museum is, in a word, AWESOME. Visitors can view up close — and in many cases handle — real artifacts and specimens from the museum’s collections. Microscopes let young guests feel like real scientists, and drawers full of everything from animal species to cultural relics are accessible for examination. And even though it’s been promoted as a space for teens and tweens, younger children definitely can appreciate it, too. On Sunday afternoon, there will be a special “Genes in a Bottle” program, where guests can take part in a molecular biology activity and create a necklace pendant made up of your own DNA (recommended for ages 7 and up).

See Stars
Where: Local Planetariums
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Get a glimpse of the night sky at the David M. Brown Planetarium in Arlington, at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center, or the Air & Space Museum on the National Mall. All of the locations are presenting shows that explore space and the stars and planets within. Click through each link for descriptions and schedules.

Portrait Story Days & Discoveries
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 1-4pm & Sunday, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Drop in to the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story and participate in a hands-on activity utilizing materials of the educator’s choice based on this weekend’s theme, “Faces.” When you’re done there, pick up a Portrait Discovery Kit to explore the museum. For more about the program, see this post about one of our experiences there.

Stop & See the Orchids
Where: National Museum of National History
When: Saturday & Sunday (through April 26)
Admission: Free

See what’s blooming at the Natural History Museum. Smithsonian Gardens and the U.S. Botanic Garden 20th annual orchid exhibition opens on Saturday. More than 300 flowers will be on display as Orchids: Interlocking Science and Beauty explores the rich crossroads where orchid botany, horticulture, and technology connect. It’s always gorgeous exhibit, and worth stopping by if you’re visiting the museums on the Mall.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Seasonal, Sports, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter