Category Archives: Preschoolers
Monday – Take advantage of a seasonal activity while you still can, and go ice skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Hours are 10am – 9pm, and cost is $8/adult, $7/child, $3/skate rental. Later on, head to Politics & Prose in Takoma Park for a celebration of all things Eric Carle. There will be an appearance by the Very Hungry Caterpillar himself, arriving in style with a decked out VW Bug (naturally!), to meet all of his fans. This will complement a special story time featuring a selection of Carle’s classic works. The fun starts at 3:15pm. Admission is free.
Tuesday – Spend the gorgeous day playing in Georgetown. Roam the enchanting gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, where admission is free for only another week. The grounds don’t open to the public until 2pm, but you can play at nearby Montrose Park (also free), hike nearby trails, or grab a bite to eat on M Street beforehand. I promise, it’s worth waiting for the afternoon visit.
Wednesday – Have some fun on the farm at Frying Pan Park. Visit the animals, take a wagon ride, play on kid-sized tractors and playgrounds, and much more. The locale in Herndon is a guaranteed hit with little ones. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk, the farm is open 9am – 5pm, wagon rides 10am – 4pm. Admission is free, though the wagon rides cost a little extra. If you can’t make it during the day, consider a twilight tour in the evening from 7-8pm and learn how the farm animals settle down for the night. This special program will take place March 9, 10, 15, and 16. Admission is $8/person, and registration is required.
Thursday – Head out to Dulles for Air & Space exploration beyond the District. The Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center showcases flight artifacts they can’t fit into the museum on the Mall. See all kinds of air and space crafts, pretend to pilot in a flight simulator, get hands-on in a discovery station, and much more. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free, but parking is $15.
Friday – Get a glimpse of the past on the Potomac at Fort Washington Park. Kids will love seeing the cannons and other historic sights there. Grounds are open are 8am – sunset, buildings 9am – 4pm. Admission is $5/vehicle.
Thanks to a proposal last year from Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen, the DC Public Library is launching Books from Birth to help foster early childhood literacy. All children enrolled in the program will receive a new book by mail every month from birth until the age of five – for free!
As DC Public Library notes, “Even at an early age, reading to young children is the best thing you can do to put them on a path to success. Your kids pick up new words, have fun while they learn, and develop skills they will need later in school.”
The Library wants to make reading with your child fun and easy. All parents have to do to receive the monthly free books is register here. Children must live in DC to participate.
Books from Birth will officially launch in early February with an announcement from Mayor Bowser and the DC Council. More details about the program will be released at that time.
To learn more about Books From Birth see these Frequently Asked Questions or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents with little ones, take note: The new Wegmans Wonderplace at the National Museum of American History should be among your go-to places to take your babe to play. Designed especially for children 0-6 years old, the activity center in the recently opened Innovation Wing incorporates play and learning in the museum’s context with fun and interesting features that cater to curious young visitors as well as their accompanying adults.
My kids are too old for it now, but it’s exactly the kind of place I sought out in their early years. (I know this from joining a friend and her 4-year-old on a recent visit there.) As the museum puts it, “Wonderplace is built around the enduring wonders of childhood, the things kids are naturally curious about — blocks, animals, sounds — and branches out to make connections to the museum’s diverse collections and exhibitions.”
They achieve this with a variety exhibits that appeal to little guests with hands-on activities, active fun, and pretend play opportunities. A big boat in the middle of the room welcomes children to climb aboard, slide down, and drive. There’s a market to shop for veggies, and a kitchen where they can use them to prepare a meal. A farm area lets them collect eggs from chickens, and a corner dedicated to blocks and building encourages them to use their imaginations to create all kinds of structures. A wall of full of framed portraits is shows how history is the story of people. And throughout the space are items from the museum’s collections on display that relate to the exhibits.
A nice feature at the stations are panels that explain the connection of the activities to both the museum and childrens’ learning, plus tips for parents on ways to explore them at varying stages — infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. And all of the exhibits are at eye-level for kids, so they can engage completely and comfortably.
These are among many thoughtful details that parents can appreciate. Some others are boppy pillows in the reading area for nursing moms, a crawling area for babies with soft toys and a low-hung mirror, and a restroom within the space that includes a changing table and child-sized toilet. And enthusiastic museum staff are on hand to answer questions and occasionally jump in with helpful suggestions for both adults and children.
When I asked my friend, Jody, what she and her son thought of Wegmans Wonderplace, she said, “I think the fact that I had to drag him out of there speaks volumes!” She noted that the mix of activities kept him occupied for a full two hours and also pointed out that the location inside the American History Museum is a bonus “because it gives some good variety in the outing for grownups, as opposed to trucking to a play zone place just for that purpose.”
A great point, indeed! You can extend your visit beyond Wegmans Wonderplace and explore other parts of the museum that young children enjoy, like some of the displays in the Innovation Wing and America on the Move, where they can sit on an L train car and gawk at other vehicles. And the newly renovated Spark!Lab is adjacent, but generally geared toward older kids. (That’s also good to keep in mind…while Wonderplace is supposed to be for ages 0-6, I thought it seemed like 4 and under would enjoy it best. But you can always bring your 5/6-year-old, and move to the Spark!Lab next door if they seem too old.)
And did I mention that it’s all free? That’s right, like many Smithsonian gems, there is no entrance fee. There’s a chance of a short wait if it happens to be crowded, but you have a whole museum to explore until it’s your turn to go in.
Wegmans Wonderplace is located on the First Floor West of the American History Museum (14th & Constitution NW). It’s open every day except Tuesdays and December 25 from 10am – 4pm. Admission, as mentioned, is free. There is street parking nearby, and you can probably find a close spot on a weekday, but weekends will be more challenging. The nearest Metro station is the Smithsonian stop, just across the National Mall at 12th and Independence SW.
With the hubbub of the holidays completely over, it’s time to delve into some 2016 fun! Happy Weekend!
NSO in Your Neighborhood Museum
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: Saturday, all day & 7:30pm
The annual program that brings free chamber music, orchestral concerts, and educational events throughout a different neighborhood each year is back, this time in Penn Quarter. The American Art Museum will be one of the hosting venues on Saturday with family programming all day, including an instrument petting zoo, a concert for children, and pop-up performances leading up to the grand finale – an evening concert by the full orchestra in the Kogod Courtyard!
Health & Fitness Expo
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: Saturday, 9am – 5pm & Sunday, 9am – 4pm
NBC’s annual exposition celebrates healthy living at the Washington Convention Center all weekend. There will be free health screenings, exercise and dance demos, opportunities to try new sports, giveaways, and lactivities especially for kids. The Convention Center is located at 901 Mount Vernon Place, NW. Metered street parking and garages are nearby, and you can take the Metro’s yellow line to the Mount Vernon stop.
Where: Royalty Learning Center
When: Saturday, 11am – 2pm
Looking for early education options for your little one? Royalty Learning Center in Maryland is hosting an Open House on Saturday, where you can learn more about their programs that focus on education and uniqueness of each child. Meet the director and lead teachers, tour the center, and gain insight into their curriculum. Children are welcome, too! Light refreshments will be served.
Summer Camp Sampler
Where: Imagination Stage
When: Saturday, 9:45am – 12:45pm
Get an up-close and personal taste of what summer camp is like at Imagination Stage – they promise you’ll have a blast! Sample camps are 20 minutes long, with the exception of longer drop-off Musical Production. Parents are encouraged to join the samplers for children in grades 2 or younger. Parents of campers in grades 3 or older are welcome to observe the sampler, but not required. Register for a sample class here.
Where: Jammin’ Java
When: Saturday, 10:30am
The “cross between ‘Yellow Submarine’ and Dr. Seuss” is back with his unique multi-media performance of live music, animated illustrations, and storytelling. Plan to dine along with the show — the full lunch and drink menu will be available.
NSO Kinderclassics: Break it Down
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Saturday, 11am & 1:30pm
If your kids love to tinker, they’ll enjoy this high-energy concert, where they delight in dissecting the pieces and parts of music and instruments! There will also be pre-show fun in the Hall of States: Starting an hour before the concert, a Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo” gives children a chance to get up close with the instruments they’ll see played on stage, from violins and trumpets to oboes and flutes. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Star Wars on the Really Big Screen
Where: Air & Space Museum & Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $15/adult, $13.50/child
If you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet (or if you have and are ready for a repeat), Smithsonian’s IMAX theaters are easily among the best places in the area to view them. Some of the key sequences of the film were shot using IMAX cameras, the highest-resolution cameras in the world, so only in IMAX theaters will those scenes expand vertically to fill the entire screen for a truly immersive experience. (Plus, Star Wars in the museums that showcase space!)
Where: Local Ice Skating Rinks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink
Get out and glide. Enjoy art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; circle the rink at Washington Harbour; meander the paths at Canal Park; or do some holiday shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area. And note that both at Canal Park and Washington Harbor are hosting Cartoon Skate on Saturday morning!
Rock Creek Explorations
Where: Peirce Mill
When: Throughout the weekend
Get a glimpse of Rock Creek Park’s past on a visit to the historic Peirce Mill. Tour three-levels of 19th-century machinery and find out water from the creek powered the mill to make flour and meal. Plan on some hiking, too — the site is situated right next to a couple of nice trails. This new post has details on an outing there.
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Tickets: $15/adult, $10/child
Take your kids to see other kids perform as Encore Stage & Studio theatre brings a fairytale classic to the stage. Their signature by kids for kids is great for young audiences. This show is recommended for ages 4 and up, and there are a few performances throughout the weekend.
InterAct Story Theatre
Where: Wheaton Library
When: Saturday, 11am
Enjoy the 4th installment of Wheaton Family Theatre Series as Arianna Ross and Story Tapestries with “The Giggling, Wiggling Book Worm,” a dynamic arts and literacy program for all ages. Combining a dramatic live storytelling performance with an engaging post-performance literacy workshop for kids and families, Arianna and fellow Story Tapestries artist Suzanne Richard leads guests in a literary adventure. Kids and adults alike will dance, sing, wiggle, and giggle as their inner bookworms read, write, draw, dance, and make music about new, exciting stories.
On the Imagination Stage
Where: Imagination Stage
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Tickets start at $14
This weekend is the last chance to catch A Year with Frog & Toad at the Bethesda theatre — the musical inspired by the acclaimed children’s books is coming to a close. The youngest audiences will enjoy Wake Up, Brother Bear that includes hands-on activities along with the performance.
Jonathan Blum Retrospective
Where: Caos Gallery
When: Sunday, 12-6pm
I love the work of Jonathan Blum and wanted to give him and his retrospective exhibit a shout-out. You may be aware of his art – the DC native now residing in Brooklyn occasionally sells his whimsical portraits (often of half-faces or animals sitting on serious heads) at Eastern Market and has some hanging in venues around town. Go to shop his art, or just to enjoy viewing it – kids will appreciate the fanciful faces just as much as you.
The Day the Dinosaurs Came to Noyes
Where: Kensington Town Hall
When: Sunday, 3-5pm
Admission: $15/family donation requested
Join the Noyes Children’s Library Foundation for a fantastic family event featuring dino-mite activities and crafts, plus a theater workshop by the teaching artists of Imagination Stage, based on the book “How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read?” RSVP on the Noyes Facebook page.
NSO Goes Undercover
Where: International Spy Museum
When: Sunday, 4-5pm
So, they may not be undercover, but members of the National Symphony Orchestra will again be playing in a different context as part of the NSO In Your Neighborhood program. A small ensemble will perform an espionage-themed concert for this family-friendly event. And patrons who attend this one will also receive a coupon for $5 off the price of admission to visit the museum’s exhibits!
Wizards vs. Raptors
Where: Verizon Center
When: Friday, 7pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary
Start the weekend with some hoops action as the Wizards host Toronto. And the Verizon Center is within the NSO in Your Neighborhood area, so expect a pre-game bonus: Members from the National Symphony Orchestra will be performing during the warm-ups!
Caps vs. Senators
Where: Verizon Center
When: Sunday, 7pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary
There will be some extra Senators in DC on Sunday as the Caps host Ottowa’s hockey team at the Verizon Center. And you can get a T-shirt along with seats to view the action on ice through from Certifikid.