Category Archives: Weekdays

From City Streets to Country Farms, Fall Celebrations Around the DMV

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Fall is on its way and so are the scores of festivals that come along with it. They celebrate everything from the season to city neighborhoods to books to cuisine to historic times. Have a blast on the farm, savor local food and culture, go medieval or colonial — all amidst brilliant autumn scenery in the cool, crisp air. Some of the fun has already started, and even more will begin over the next few weeks. This list of celebrations, ordered by start date, will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove in Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 23
Admission: Thru 9/11: $19/ages 16 and up, $8/ages 7-15. 9/22-10/23: $24/ages 16 and up, $10/ages 7-15. Free for ages 6 and under

This medieval time trip began in late August and gets a big endorsement from me as one of the best annual events in the area. You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, and games. And walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century village, as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of “mead” is an immensely fun and interesting jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy. Get a glimpse of and a little more background on the event here and here, both previous posts about my love of Ren Fest.

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 3 – November 6
Admission: $10/ages 13 and up, $8/ages 3-12 (look for a deal here

Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, and more. They also offer field trips and birthday parties, something to keep in mind for autumn-born children. And a tip based on our experience there: Do not, I repeat, do not miss the corn maze. It’s EPIC.

Fall Weekends at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Ongoing; Pumpkin patch open September 17 – October 31
Admission: $5, babies 1 and under are free

This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and more. On fall weekends, guests can also enjoy special activities like pumpkin coloring and crafts, a teddy bear visit, and gem mining. Face painting and pit beef are also available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Hartland Orchard Fall Festival Weekends
Where: Markham, VA
When: Weekends September 10 – October 30
Admission: $10/ages 3 and up, free for ages 2 and under

Hartland’s long list of opportunities for amusement include hayrides, pumpkin patches, a 60-foot slide, a corn maze, duck and pig races, and pony rides (some activities cost extra). On September 17, be sure to don your coolest accessory for “Cape Day” — everyone who wears a cape, superhero or not, gets $2 off admission. And FYI: The apple picking comes highly recommended.

H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, WDC
When: September 17, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is always huge If you don’t mind crowds, there is tons to see and do. The event features loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; cool art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and kids’ activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is recommended, as parking is guaranteed to be difficult.

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 17-18
Admission: $17/adults, $8/kids 6-11, children 5 and under are free

At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts and entertainment. More than forty juried artisans from across the nation will demonstrate their trades and sell their wares, while two stages of family entertainment delight audiences with 18th-century amusements. Try your hand at 18th century cricket — demonstrations and cricket games will be played throughout the weekend. General Washington will preside many festivities. And fair fare will be available from the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant concession stands.

Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 17 – November 8
Admission: $10/weekdays, $15/weekends, $17 prime weekend for ages 2 and up

This festival is HUGE. So big that they actually have a Tips & Resources page on the website to help guests prepare and navigate their way around the sprawling venue that contains seven slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and lots more. Expect some lines, especially for the giant slides that take you swooping down several humps over a hillside. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd! September 17-18 is a preview weekend, then it opens daily September 24.

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park
When: September 17 – November 8
Admission: $12.95/adult, $9.95/ages 2-12, under 2 are free

The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Slides, wagon rides, moon bounces, a maze, pedal carts, and live entertainment are fall additions. And, of course, animals add to the mix of amusement with pony rides, animals to pet and feed, and even camel rides.

Wayside Farm Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 17 – October 30
Admission: $10, ages 2 and under are free

The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, watch piggies race, pick a pumpkin, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slide, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Mention KidFriendly DC at the register and get a 20% discount!

Taste of Falls Church
Where: Falls Church
When: September 17
Admission: Free

Falls Church’s annual autumn tradition returns, highlighting the area’s popular restaurants and featuring live entertainment, pony rides, children’s amusements, crafters, businesses and civic organizations. Festival goers can sample cuisine from city restaurant kitchens for $3 per “taste” or 10 “tastes” for $25. The children’s activity tent offers face painting and craft projects. Most rides will also require the purchase of tickets.

National Book Festival
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: September 24
Admission: Free

Book enthusiasts, young and old, come from all over for this annual festival that celebrates reading. Works by more than 120 authors, poets, and illustrators will be showcased and the creators themselves will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for special appearances. All genres will be represented on stages — Children, Teens, Picture Books, Contemporary Life, Culinary Arts, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Science and Special Programs — where readings, presentations, book signings, photo ops with writers (and costumed PBS characters), and more exciting experiences for guests will take place. Check out authors scheduled to appear to help plan your day there.

Occoquan Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Mill Street in Occoquan, VA
When: September 24-25
Admission: Free

Plan for a day of family fun as the streets of Occoquan come to life with beautiful art, live music and great food! For the 47th year, the historic town will close its streets and host over 300 contemporary and country crafters and artisans from across the US. Find one-of-a-kind, hand crafted items galore! Located just 20 minutes south of Washington DC, but far from the hustle and bustle of a big city, exhibitors and shoppers alike will enjoy the small town oasis nestled along the Occoquan River.

Fall Pumpkin Festival
Where: Ticonderoga Farm, Chantilly, VA
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $9.95/weekdays, $16.95/holiday and weekends

This festival at one of my favorite farms in the area has all the trappings for a great time on the farm: hayrides, swings, Noah’s Ark playground, hillside slides, s’mores roasting, cornshucking demos, a petting farm, a bamboo maze, antique tractors and firetruck, a pumpkin patch, and much, much more. Some features are available weekends only, but there’s more than plenty to keep kids entertained any day of the week. For a peek at it all, see this post about their Winter Festival and this one about a field trip there.

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation
When: September 24 – November 5
Admission: $9.25 – $22.50, depending on day/time (look for a deal here)

The Fredericksburg farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. Slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. And the Maize Maze, with a rooster path to navigate, is an adventure in itself. Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

Harvest Happenings
Where: McLean Community Center
When: September 24
Admission: $5

A fun and exciting day for your whole family, activities include field games, fall-inspired arts & crafts projects, a hands-on educational experience with Squeals on Wheels Traveling Petting Zoo, children’s entertainers, yummy concessions, and pumpkin decorating. All activities are included in the entrance fee with the exception of the purchase of pumpkins for $3 and food concessions.

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Where: Middletown, MD
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: Free

Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy other fun activities for little ones at this 131-acre farm. A 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and wagon rides will delight young farm-goers. Concessions and craft shopping are part of the offerings, too.

Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $7.95/weekdays, $11.95/weekends (look for a deal here)

With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out. Be sure to check the calendar for any special events going on.

Barracks Row Fall Festival
Where: 8th Street SE, Capitol Hill, WDC
When: September 24
Admission: Free

Showcasing the marine barracks and commerce of 8th Street SE on Capitol Hill, this annual festival is fun for all ages. Enjoy tours of the historic barracks, live entertainment, a petting zoo, food and art vendors, and tons of fun for kids, including the National Symphony Orchestra’s Instrument Petting Zoo, back for another round of musical amusement. A Beer Garden for grown-ups is a bonus.

Autumn Activities
Where: Larriland Farm
When: Late September & through October
Admission: Free

Larriland is best known for their pesticide-free PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the corn maze. Hayrides are only offered on weekends, while the barn and maze are open every day the farm is open.

Taste of Georgetown
Where: K Street NW, Wisconsin to Thomas Jefferson
When: October 1, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but pay per taste

In its 23rd year, the Taste of Georgetown will showcase the spectacular cuisine of over 30 of the neighborhood’s premier restaurants, highlighting Georgetown’s culinary personalities and featuring more than 60 delectable dishes to sample, as well as wine pairings. Bring young foodies for free activities including face painting, balloon art, and more fun for kids of all ages. Tasting tickets can be purchased online or at the event.

Taste of Bethesda
Where: Woodmont Triangle
When: October 1, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but you pay for food samples

According to some stats, Bethesda has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. Accurate or not, DC’s suburban neighbor definitely has a food scene worth celebrating. The 27th year of Bethesda’s famous food and music festival will bring 60 restaurants and five stages of entertainment to the downtown’s Woodmont Triangle. Along with delicious food samples and live entertainment, there will be a kid’s corner for face painting, arts & crafts, and more fun for young ones. Admission is free, and taste tickets are sold on-site in bundles of four tickets for $5. Food servings cost one to four tickets. Ticket sales end at 3:30pm.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Weekends October 1-30
Admission: $11, free for children 2 and under

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. An area favorite, kids love jumping in the hayloft, heading out on hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food cost extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms, Bluemont, VA
When: October 1-31
Admission: $10/adults $8/kids weekdays, $12/adult $10/kids weekends, ages 2 and under are free

Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Rubber Ridge, the tractor tire mountain; the Pumpkin Princess in the pumpkin patch, a giant Pumpkin’ Jumpin’ Pillow; five mazes; 60-foot slides, rope swings, tractor rides, and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, the largest u-pick patch in the area. See a weekend schedule of activities here.

Fall For Fairfax KidsFest
Where: Fairfax County Government Center, VA
When: October 1-2
Admission: Free

This annual event by Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. includes exciting, interactive, and educational programs, entertainment and activities. Especially designed for families with elementary and pre-K aged children, activities include scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, public safety and recycling-themed exhibits, pony rides, a petting zoo, hay rides, model trains, and the KidWay MidWay with more than a dozen rides, bounces, and attractions. And that’s just for the kids. Adults can enjoy more than 75 exhibits, live entertainment, activities, and great festival food. While admission is free, some rides and concessions will require a fee. And be sure to check back on their website – the live entertainment has yet to be announced, and they usually have some pretty big-name acts perform.

Frederick’s Oktoberfest
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: October 1-2
Admission: $7/21+, $5/ages 4-20, free for 3 and under

The Frederick Fairgrounds are transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, musical entertainment, and they claim they have a few more tricks up their sleeves just to keep everyone surprised. (See a schedule of activities here.) This all benefits Frederick County charities.

Autumn Harvest
Where: Schlagel Farm
When: Weekends in October, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $8/ages 2 and up

The farm known for it’s strawberry picking in spring also welcomes guests to pick out pumpkins in the fall. Hayrides, farm animals to visit, and small slides, and a straw maze give kids a little extra fun, too.

Taste of DC
Where: Pennsylvania Ave., 3rd-7th Streets NW, WDC
When: October 8-9, 12-7pm
Admission: Start at $10

Celebrate the food, wine, and culture of our the city during Columbus Day weekend. Along with the obvious — tastings from more than 50 area restaurants — there will be cooking demos, live entertainment, a beer garden, and an area with activities — dancing, games, storytelling, arts & crafts,and more — especially for kids.

Farm Harvest Days & Carnival Fun
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 13-16
Admission: Free, but activities are extra

Fall is a busy — and fun — time on the farm, and you can be part of it at Frying Pan’s annual festival! Carnival fun and games start on run October 13-16 with rides, games, fair food, and more. On Saturday & Sunday, you can also watch the cider press in action, milk a goat, shell corn, peel apples, meet farm animals, and see traditional farm demonstrations.

18th Century Autumn Market Fair
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: October 15-16, 11am – 4:30pm
Admission: $8/adult, $3/ages 3-12, under 3 are free

Enjoy the splendor of fall on a living history farm. Warm yourself by the fire while savor crisp local apples, spit roasted chicken, and hearty breads. Watch and participate with period tradesmen like the spinners and blacksmith. Live music, singing and dancing, and games are also among the festivities. And kids will delight in seeing turkeys, pigs, and chickens. Period food, beverages, and wares available for purchase.

Game On, Greater Washington
Where: FedEx Field
When: Saturday,
Admission: Free (but some activities are extra)

The American Diabetes Association is teaming up with the Washington Redskins for this one-of-a-kind festival featuring activities for the entire community, from rappelling and zip lining, to biking and fun runs, and everything in between. Including a ton of family and kid friendly events (kids’ zone with glitter tattoos, inflatable bounce and slide and so much more), the adventure-filled day is designed to raise funds for diabetes education, programs, research and advocacy. Registration fees vary depending on activity but the Kids’ Zone and entrance is free, and it’s an awesome opportunity to check out the Redskins stadium like never before, all while having fun for a good cause.

Fall Festival and Craft Beer Showcase
Where: Cathedral Commons
When: October 22
Admission: Free

Cathedral Commons, the mixed-use development located on Wisconsin Avenue, is hosting its second annual Fall Festival & Craft Beer Showcase. The free community event will feature live entertainment including craft beer tastings, live music, food offerings from neighborhood restaurants, and fall activities for the kids — a pumpkin patch, pumpkin decorating, face painting, and an inflatable slide.

Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: Several weekends in October
Admission: Free

There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with a couple of different festivals taking place. The Apple Harvest Festival is October 8-9, offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: 20 varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. October 22 is their annual Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: October – exact dates TBD
Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family. And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free! You still pay for pumpkins and cider – and their can’t-miss caramel apples.

Have a favorite festival you don’t see listed here? Let us know about it in the comments!


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Farm, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: September 12-16

What's not to love about the sculpture gardens on the National Mall?

What’s not to love about the sculpture gardens on the National Mall?



Monday – Enjoy the outdoors on the National Mall. View art al fresco — kids will love the whimsical creations at the National Gallery of Art and Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Gardens. Stroll along the paths at the Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. Take a spin on The Carousel for $3.75 a ride. And, of course, pop into a museum (or two or three) while you’re there.

Tuesday – Venture up to Baltimore for a day of play and learning at Port Discovery. Several levels full of awesome hands-on exhibits will keep the kids entertained for hours! Open 9:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is $14.50 for ages 2 and up (free for under 2).
Update: Port Discovery is closed for exhibit maintenance. Instead, check out the Baltimore Museum of Industry, a fun little time trip through the city’s early business days with lots of interesting, interactive exhibits. Hours are 10am – 4pm (Tuesday – Sunday). Tour on your own — admission is $12/adult, $7/ages 7-12, free for 6 and under — or join the Wee Workers program for preschoolers 10:30-11:30am (free for kids, $5/adults).

Wednesday – Catch a free concert for little ones as the Teddy Bear Band plays a lunchtime show, perfect for children ages 2-5 and their families. Pack some snacks and join the fun in the McLean Central Park Gazebo at the McLean Community Center. Showtime is 12:30pm. Admission is free.

Thursday – Hit the playground at Wheaton Regional Park. Two levels of slides, climbing nets, monkey bars, swings, and more fun features will appeal to all ages and abilities. Pack lunch to eat at nearby picnic tables under the lofty trees. It’s open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

Friday – Head to the National Portrait Gallery for some creative fun at an Open Studio Friday session. All ages are welcome to explore a different art medium each week with all kinds of neat projects. Drop in anytime from 1-6pm. Go earlier or stay after to explore the museum’s collections and hang out in the Kogod Courtyard. Museum hours are 11:30am – 7pm. Admission is free. Read more about the Penn Quarter gallery in this KFDC post.


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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Park, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays

A Birthday Party Giveaway, Classes, & Open House from My Gym Bethesda & My Gym Potomac!

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Yes, you read that right… it’s a birthday party giveaway! One lucky KFDC reader has a chance to win a celebration for their child at My Gym Bethesda or My Gym Potomac, an opportunity you definitely don’t want to pass up.

Parties at My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac cater to both kids and parents. Tailored to delight each birthday boy or girl, they take special song and game requests and incorporate them into activities that reflect their regular offerings for families. Even better, they include just about everything — set up, decor, staff to lead activities and serve refreshments, and clean up — so parents can relax and enjoy the celebration along with their child.

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Three levels of birthday party packages are available, Grand, Deluxe, and Preimer. All of them give party-goers exclusive use of the space.

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Birthday packages are just part of the great offerings from My Gym Potomac and My Gym Bethesda. They also have age appropriate classes for ages 3 months to 10 years. There are Mommy and Me movement and music classes for babies and preschoolers, and older kids love tumbling, sports, and parkour classes. Plus, they have school holiday camps and special events. Read more about everything offered at My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac.

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You can all go scope it all out for yourself! This Saturday, September 10, My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac are hosting their Free and Fun Fall Open House. From 9:30am – 1:30pm, stop by either location to learn more about their programs and parties firsthand, meet the staff, and get the year’s best prices when you sign up!

My Gym Bethesda is located at 5110 Ridgefield Road and My Gym Potomac is located at 11325 Seven Locks Road.

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Giveaway: For a chance to win a Grand Birthday Party package at My Gym Bethesda or My Gym Potomac, simply leave a comment below telling me what theme your child would pick for a birthday party. To be eligible to win, you must like My Gym Bethesda or My Gym Potomac on Facebook and follow KidFriendly DC on Facebook as well. This giveaway will run through Friday, September 16, 2016, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by My Gym Bethesda and My Gym Potomac, however, I only promote places, programs, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, Birthday Parties, Camp, Indoor Play, Maryland, Ongoing, Party, Professional Service, Sponsored Post, Weekdays, Weekend

Family Programs at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center

An infant class recreates a landscape at the National Gallery of Art during a class on water

An infant class recreates a landscape at the National Gallery of Art during a class on water


[Note: This is a sponsored post contributed by Cynthia Raso of SEEC.]


Nestled inside the National Museum of Natural History and American History is a little known secret — the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC), a school serving infants through kindergartners. Nearly 30 years ago, our founding director recognized the profound importance of a child’s early years and the benefits of learning in museums and the community. Today, it has evolved into a school that provides educational opportunities for children and adults, integrating innovative learning methods tailored to each learner.

“How do I enroll?” is a question staff hears a lot. Parents are encouraged to peruse the many options available. Responding to the high demand after years of limited space, SEEC recently began offering more and more classes beyond its full-time school. We now have weekend programs for children up to 3rd grade and a part-time program for families with children aged 18 – 24 months, the Smithsonian Early Explorers.

While our family workshop team is committed to high standards, they also know that these programs are about family, spending time together, and having fun. When you first arrive at a workshop, the classroom is set-up with several play options — play is learning for young children, and this free time is also a great opportunity for families to get to know each other. For the first half hour, participants move about the room while the children choose what most interests them. Each activity is carefully selected to introduce a concept and support developmental growth. Descriptive signs guide parents in how to encourage and engage with their child, ideas we hope they can take home and integrate into their daily routine.

A sensory table for infants during a recent class on birds

A sensory table for infants during a recent class on birds

Toddler practices fine motor skills while creating a pipe cleaner sculpture

Toddler practices fine motor skills while creating a pipe cleaner sculpture

After playing, we head into morning meeting. Different for each age group, they can include hands-on objects, experiments, interactive songs and books, and opportunities to wonder. From there, we often get together as a group for some art and a snack.

Two-year-olds imagine what it would be like to swing like monkeys from trees

Two-year-olds imagine what it would be like to swing like monkeys from trees

Toddlers get ready to see how powdered pigment can turn into paint using oil

Toddlers get ready to see how powdered pigment can turn into paint using oil

Next, we head out to a museum! These visits connect children to objects, literally bringing them to life. Often a combination of teacher-led and parent-led activities, SEEC educators introduce the subject using the same techniques as in morning meeting and encourage families to explore galleries together. Simple instructions help promote inquiry and observation in the galleries, a less-structured approach that helps keep young children engaged, bring families together, and give children autonomy in choosing in what interests them.

A simple basket plate helps connect this young child to the artwork while visiting the Renwick Gallery

A simple basket plate helps connect this young child to the artwork while visiting the Renwick Gallery

A mother and child stop at a painting before drawing at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

A mother and child stop at a painting before drawing at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

So many of our families have asked about programs for their elementary-aged children that we recently launched Artful Afternoons. One Sunday a month, SEEC’s art educator hosts an open studio featuring artful challenges around a central theme. This year we’ll be making Alexander Calder-inspired mobiles, exploring movement and food in art, and mixing in some theater, too! While these sessions don’t include a museum visit, each family is given a brochure outlining the activities and connecting them to objects at the Smithsonian and beyond. Parents enjoy the leisurely pace and are encouraged to bring siblings and make some art of their own.

Families make landscapes on sand paper with chalk and watercolors during a session on Impressionism

Families make landscapes on sand paper with chalk and watercolors during a session on Impressionism

Weekends are for family time and fun and SEEC staff really enjoy being able to share the Smithsonian collections with you. We hope that when you walk away from one of our classes, you and your child have learned something, had the chance to meet some great people, and enjoyed spending time with each other.

Come and join us sometime!
* Weekend Family Workshops: Children 4 months – 5 years and meet Saturday and Sunday mornings for 90 minutes
* Smithsonian Early Explorers: A 2 days/week program for caretakers and children aged 18 – 24 months on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30 – 11:30am with a 12-week commitment. Fall trimester begins September 26 — two spaces are left
* Artful Afternoons: Elementary school-aged children meet most 3rd Sundays of the month 1 – 3pm
* Bring Your Own Baby: Beginning in January, a program for caretakers and their newborns
* SEEC Celebrations: Book a private event for your K – 3 grade child

A complete listing of events can be found here. You can also read a KFDC write-up about SEEC here.

Cynthia Raso is Assistant Director of the Center for Innovation in Early Learning at SEEC. Her interest in programming for young children in museums began almost a decade ago when her own children were small. She makes sure to find time to teach a class once a month — it is the best part of her job.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under Art, Class, DC, Educational, Indoor Play, Museums, Schools, Sponsored Post, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: September 6-9

Exploring the exhibits in imagiNATIONS at the National Museum of the American Indian

Exploring the exhibits in imagiNATIONS at the National Museum of the American Indian



Tuesday – Play the day away at Clemyjontri, the brilliantly colored, sprawling playground in McLean that accommodates kids of all abilities. Hours are 7am to dusk, and admission is free.

Wednesday – Join Step Arika! for a special storytime for toddlers that combines reading and creative movement. The 10:30am session at Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library is part of Step Xplosion!, a tour of all 8 Wards to kick off their new season. Admission is free. (Note: This also takes place on Thursday at 4pm at Mount Pleasant Library.)

Thursday – Enjoy a class especially for preschoolers (ages 2-5) at Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens. Explore a new mansion room or garden each week through make believe, art projects, and imaginative play. During this three-session Fanciful Heroes-themed series, children will hunt for dragons, make a hero’s cape, and explore a fantastical world of adventure. The series is $30 per child with one accompanying adult (($25 member; $18 additional adults), or you can pay $12 per class ($10/members). Classes are 10:30-11:15am on September 8, 15, and 22.

Friday – Discover American Indian culture with all kinds of interactive pursuits at imagiNATIONS, the family activity center in the National Museum of the American Indian. Weave a big basket, play in a teepee and models of native dwellings, do some arts & crafts, hear bird calls of the wild, read kids books in the library, and much more. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

*Want to cool off in the sprays? With expected high temps this coming week, DC DPR announced that operations will continue at public spray parks in the District through September 11! Hours are 10am – 7pm daily. You can also find a list of other spraygrounds in the area here.


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Filed under All ages, Art, Class, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Museums, Outdoor, Park, Play, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays