Join a Summer Playgroup in the Park at Glen Echo (+ Giveaway!)

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Most of us know Glen Echo Park as the place to see children’s plays and puppet shows, go for a spin on the carousel, and enjoy arts, cultural, and nature programs. But dd you know the park also plays host to a collaborative early childhood learning program?

Playgroup in the Park is a two-year program for children ages six months to two and a half years old. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach of child driven exploration, the program is propelled by the belief that children come to Playgroup with their own ideas, while still needing support from adults, peers, and their environment to safely explore those hypotheses. Parents take an active role in their child’s experience in Playgroup, forming a partnership of learning while being supported by the faculty in the classroom. Faculty have created a high quality environment for this learning to take place. Items in the classroom, children’s art studio, tea room and outdoor classroom are chosen with intention and purpose.

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This summer, Playgroup in the Park at Glen Echo Park will be offering a 10-week summer session for children who are six months to two and a half years old with their parents from June 8 – August 14. Participants can register for all 10 weeks or choose a five-week session that fits with their summer plans (June 8 – July 10 or July 13 – August 14). Summer classes meet Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday, plus Friday outings from 9:30-11:30am that take place at a different location around the Washington-Metro area each week.

Summer Playgroup in the Park activities will include creative fun in the Candy Corner art studio; outdoor classroom with sensory activities; outdoor water play, spray painting, bubbles, sand, lots of mud; the Friday outings tailored for the season; and more! The next Parent Information Session is Saturday, May 16 at 3pm. If you’d like to attend, RSVP to Sarah at admissions@pgip.org.

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And if your child doesn’t fall into the age group, there are other PGiP programs for both older children and infants:

*Little Echoes is a Reggio-inspired drop-off program with a preschool approach in a beautiful national park setting for children three to five years old. PGiP’s amazing faculty collaborates with the children, faculty, expert advisors, and parents to create individualized learning plans that take each child from where they are, at their own pace. The program weaves together art, music, socialization, early literacy, math, and more to support each child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and motor development while forming a community of learners and close friends. There are two and four half-day options, plus Friday Outings.

*PGiP is also currently forming a group for parents with new infants. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet other new parents and play with your baby in our inspiring classroom.

*Saturday Art Explorers Family Studio, for ages 10 and under, is a weekly drop-in program. Just pop in to do some art in Glen Echo Park’s historic Candy Corner building. Art activities change each Saturday. Fee is $10/child.

For more information about all of the programs, visit the Playgroup in the Park website at www.pgip.org.

GIVEAWAY: I have 10 tickets for Saturday Art Explorers up for grabs. For a chance to win one of them, simply leave a comment telling me your favorite spring activity with your child(ren). To be eligible to win, you must also like KidFriendly DC on Facebook. The giveaway will run through this weekend, then the winners will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Playgroup in the Park, however, I only promote programs, services, and events that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: April 20-24

The Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark

The Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark




Monday - Go for a swim! The warmer, sunnier weather probably has you itching to take a dip, but since it’s not quite outdoor pool season, make a splash inside. There are plenty of indoor pools in the area that are open to the public: Wilson Aquatic Center in NW is popular, and Deanwood in NE even has a slide. In Maryland, Rollingcrest in PG County has a special preschool area, and there are several indoor aquatic facilities in Montgomery County. In Northern Virginia, Arlington County has a few indoor public pools, and there’s one in Alexandria, too. Be sure to check schedules for open swim times at all of them.

Tuesday - Roam around the lovely grounds, view wildlife in the ponds, and visit the Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna. Admission is $5/adults, $2.50/ages 7-17 and seniors, free for ages 6 and under. Hours are 10am – 7pm.

Wednesday - Frolic on the playground and sprawling fields and do some light hiking at Montrose and Dumbarton Oaks Parks in Georgetown. Both are fun, easy places to enjoy a nice day with little ones (and big ones, for that matter). Admission at both locales is free. Plan to grab a bite at one of the many nearby eateries on M Street or Wisconsin Ave.

Thursday - See a show on strings at The Puppet Co., where Jack and the Beanstalk is the current Main Stage production. Showtime is 10:30am. Tickets are $10.

Friday – Join an Earth Day celebration at the US Botanic Garden. Drop in to learn how to make the earth a healthier planet, enjoy cooking demos using seasonal produce, and meet representatives from environmental organizations throughout the area. And, of course, take a tour the plant collections, too! The progam runs 10am – 2pm. USBG hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.


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The Weekend Round-Up: April 18-19

Our howler monkey neighbors in Nicaragua

Our howling neighbors in Nicaragua



I don’t monkey around when it comes to KFDC. Even on spring break vacay, I’ll still make sure you have the scoop on the best happenings at home. So, if you want to know where to hang with your crew over the few days, just keep on reading. (And if you want to see some monkeys locally, head to the Zoo, where there’s also a special celebration on Saturday.) Happy Weekend!

Celebrate Kids’ Farm
Where: National Zoo
When: Saturday, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

State Farm is hosting a day of special activities at the Zoo to celebrate the Kids’ Farm! Visitors to the exhibit can enjoy arts & crafts, giveaways, and other fun festivities. “Tend your Garden” to learn how to recycle used shipping pallets to easily create beautiful urban gardens, meet members of the Zoo’s horticulture team and help “plant” seedlings in the pallets, see performances featuring children’s entertainment, and more.

Bethesda Literary Festival
Where: Throughout Downtown Bethesda
When: Friday – Sunday
Admission: Free

The 16th annual festival celebrating reading and writing begins Friday night and runs through the weekend. Both local and national authors, journalists, and poets will be there to present their works, lead discussions, and sign books. Especially for the younger set will be family storytimes, writing contests, and a chance for American Girl fans to meet Valerie Tripp, author of 31 of American Girl Doll books – bring your American Girl doll along to hear her discuss her most recent book Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit. View the schedule for event times and locations.

National vs. Phillies
Where: Nationals Park
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Nats are hosting the Phillies this weekend, and there are promos to enjoy along with the action on the baseball diamond. Saturday is Pups in the Park (see website for more info) and Sunday is Kids Opening Day as well as Screech’s Birthday and Kids Run the Bases, when 4-12-year-olds can loop the infield after the game.

National Math Festival
Where: Haupt Garden
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

National Museum of Mathematics (aka MoMath) is bringing the marvelous world of math to DC on Saturday. Math Midway, their exhibition of interactive, carnival-like mathematical attractions, will make its DC debut at the National Math Festival, the country’s first national festival dedicated to discovering the delight and power of mathematics. Visitors can ride the Square-Wheeled Tricycle, enjoy laser-based geometry exploration with the Ring of Fire, and play with algebraic gold doubloons along with Pirate X and Lady Y. They will also be able to participate in Spacellation, a giant geometric coat-hanger construction making its national debut, or tie themselves up in String Upon a Star. Visit the website to learn more.

Happy Birthday to the Bard!
Where: Folger Shakespeare Library
When: Sunday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

‘Tis Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, and the Folger Shakespeare Library is celebrating with an Open House on Sunday afternoon. In true Renaissance fashion, there will be song and dance, jesters and jugglers, and opportunities to recite your favorite Shakespeare lines on stage. Especially for children will be fortune telling, shield making, quill writing, arts & crafts, a Shakespeare portrait contest, and a giant birthday cake with the cutting lead by Queen Elizabeth I. The event is free and will take place rain or shine. Some concessions will be available for purchase. The Folger Shakespeare Library is located at 201 East Capitol Street SE.

Privateer Festival
Where: Fells Point
When: Saturday, 10am – 7pm & Sunday, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Free

Yo ho ho, mateys! Head to Baltimore to honor the maritime history of Fell’s Point and the patriotic privateer fleet and celebrate the ‘pirate’ fantasy of sailing lore. The weekend will be full of family-friendly activities from Thames Street Park and Ann Street Pier to Broadway Square, Broadway Pier. Festivities include live entertainment for buccaneers of all ages, plus loads of kids’ activities – bounce house, arts & crafts, magic shows, storytimes, and treasure hunts. You can also opt for a sail on the high seas with Urban Pirates Adventure Cruises (fee for these). Craft and food vendors, plus a grog garden will keep the grown-ups happy, too.

Free Parking
Where: National Parks
When: All weekend long
Admission: Free

There’s no entrance fee to national parks that usually charge admission this weekend, so it’s a good time to hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, take a ride on Skyline Drive to see the mountains in their spring greenery, or visit Harpers Ferry.

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

* Catch a performance of Sinbad: The Untold Tale at Imagination Stage
* The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is on stage at Adventure Theatre
* See a show on strings at The Puppet Co. where Jack and the Beanstalk is the current main stage production
* And Panda-Monium is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre
* The Northern Virginia Players present Seussical, Jr. starting this weekend
* The Russian National Ballet Theatre will be performing Cinderella on Saturday and Seeping Beauty on Sunday at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts

Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
When: Saturday, 11am – 7:30pm (gates open at 10am)
Admission: Free

If you don’t mind a crowd, celebrate Earth Day on the National Mall. While the focus of the rally is global poverty and environmental issues, the main event will be a live concert featuring big acts including No Doubt, Usher, Fall Out Boy, and more, plus many speakers and celeb appearances.

Building Bridges Family Day
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy a bridge-themed family day collaborative partnership between the National Portrait Gallery and Ivymount School in Rockville. This special program will include an exhibition of work by Ivymount Middle School students, musical performances by Sean Lane and Bay Jazz, and hands-on art activities for all ages.

BSO Music Box: On Safari
Where: Strathmore
When: Saturday, 10-11:30am
Admission: $10

Adventure awaits as your family is whisked away to enjoy a musical safari full of elephants, giraffes, lions and zebras. This concert is part of the BSO Music Box series, a unique music program for children ages six months to three years and their families. Featuring the musical talents of a small ensemble of BSO musicians, each 30-minute program promotes musical, motor and language development through bouncing, clapping, listening, singing and other hands-on activities.

Explore Games of the Past
Where: DAR Museum
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

George Washington, Dolley Madison, Harriet Tubman, and Abraham Lincoln were all kids once — what games might they have played? Find out at this DAR family program. Try out some active games, some games of skill, and some that involve strategy. Learn about “quoits,” and see how good you are at hoop rolling. Discover a new favorite game, and make a toy to take home! Recommended for ages 4 to 104. Pre-registration is encouraged, as materials and space are limited.

Dairy Day
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday,
Admission: $3/adult, $2/child, free for 2 and under

Have you ever wondered what curds are and whey look like? Do you know how to wash butter? Join in as the farm wife at Claude Moore makes soft cheese and churns butter, and gain a new appreciation for these foods so precious to the Farm family.

Design a Kolam
When: Saturday, 2–4 pm
Where: Freer | Sackler Gallery
Admission: Free

As part of National Math Festival activities, guests can discover the curved loops and geometric symmetry of kolam, a South Indian style of painting that uses rice flour. Watch a professional artist create a kolam and try making your own. All ages are welcome, but it’s recommended for ages 8–14 with adult companions.

All Aboard for a Model Train Open House
Where: Historic Vienna Depot of the W&OD Railroad
When: Saturday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Chug on down to Vienna to watch model train and trolley activities that realistically depict an actual railroad that existed in North Carolina in the 1950′s, the Western North Carolina (WNC). Every hill, town, building, locomotive, rail car, and industry in this layout is modeled after those places and things as they looked in that era. Well, almost everything. To satisfy popular demand, expect an occasional sighting of Thomas the Tank Engine (and a few of his friends) chugging around among the bigger steam and diesel locomotives. The Vienna Depot is located at 231 Dominion Road NE in Vienna, Virginia just down the street from the red caboose. Check out a virtual tour.

Cavalcade of Cars
Where: National Capital Trolley Museum
When: Sunday, 12-5pm
Admission: $7/adults, $5/children 2-17

Hop on board for a day of fun! Along with the museum’s array of exhibits and regular trolley rides, there will be several European trams and North American street cars offering visitors a spin through Northwest Branch Park during visits.

Children’s Festival
Where: Kent Gardens Elementary School
When: Saturday, 12-3pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy a fun-filled afternoon featuring games, sports, arts and crafts, and performances by children from around the world! This festival is part of the annual Children’s Day, a day dedicated to children by Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey. Plan to eat there — delicious Turkish food and drinks will be for sale. Register at contact@turkishembassy.org.

Catch the Ultimate Breeze
Where: Gallaudet University
When: Saturday, 6:30pm
Admission: $10/advance, $12.50/day of

Bring the kids out for fun, fresh air, and Pro Ultimate Frisbee! Not only will you get to see exciting Frisbee action as local team DC Breeze takes on the Ottawa Outlaws, kids can join a free youth clinic (for ages 6-17) before the game at 5pm (FYI: they offer this at every home game!). And while your kids are learning ultimate out on the field, you can enjoy food and drink specials and listen to a live band to get ready for the game.

DC United vs. Houston Dynamo
Where: RFK Stadium
When: Saturday, 7pm (parking lot opens at 4pm)
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Kick it at a soccer game as the DC United host the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening. Get there early for activities at the Lot 8 Tailgate, and be sure to stop by section 222 for a variety of kids activities. For some extra goodies just for young fans, join the Kids Club!


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: April 13-17

The Emancipation Monument in Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill

The Emancipation Monument in Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill



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Monday - Go see the cherry blossoms! The sight of DC’s iconic trees in bloom truly is breathtaking. Head to the Tidal Basin and National Mall for quintessential views of them (and pop into the museums while you’re there). Before you go, be sure to check out these tips for families!

Tuesday - Continue the flower peeping at Riverbend Park while the bluebells add a brilliant pop of color to an already lovely place. Make that your starting point for a 2-mile hike to Great Falls, where you can take in magnificent vistas, visit the nature center, and have a picnic. Or just wander around Riverbend and enjoy the Visitor Center and views there. Park hours are 7am to dusk, Visitor Center 9am – 5pm. Admission is free. For some evening fun, head to RFK Stadium for the 3rd Annual Capital Soccer Classic. See participants from more than 15 embassies from around the world compete in a tourney, plus the annual Republican vs. Democrat Congressional Soccer Match featuring members of Congress and U.S. National Team/MLS/NWSL Soccer Stars! Along with on-field excitement, there will be a Kids Zone complete with soccer-themed games and activities, cool giveaways, and opportunities to meet and get autographs from soccer stars including Cobi Jones, Lori Lindsey, Cindy Parlow Cone, and Andrew Dykstra! The matches begin at 5pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday - Take a little trip back to the 18th century at Claude Moore Colonial Farm. The living history farm recently re-opened for the season and welcomes visitors to explore the grounds — there is a tobacco barn, farm house, garden, orchard, and animals. Guests can also interact with a family portraying life as it was back then. Read more about it in this post (ignore the “autumn” part; it’s a great outing in the spring, too). Hours are Wednesday thru Saturday 10am – 4:30pm. Admission is $3/adults, $2/children ages 3 and up, free for 2 and under. For older children (even some younger) on Spring Break, commemorate the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre where they are hosting The Lincoln Tribute. The special program includes ranger talks, theatre tours, screenings of the film Lincoln, and more. See the website for the schedule. Tickets are free with a small service fee, but should be reserved in advance.

Thursday - Celebrate DC Emancipation Day at the city’s annual parade commemorating the abolition of slavery in the District. The procession featuring US Armed Forces units and bands, grand historic balloons, DC neighborhood groups, and more special guests will head down Pennsylvania Avenue from 4th Street NW to Freedom Plaza starting at 11am. Later on, catch a free concert at 4:30pm, then fireworks at 8:45pm.

Friday - Reach new heights of fun at ClimbZone in Laurel, Md. Kids and adults will have a blast scaling the many colorful, whimsically-themed walls at the new indoor climbing center. Hours are 10am – 9pm (10am – 8pm other weekdays). Admission is $25/ages 6 and up, $12/5 and under for a three-hour session.


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The Weekend Round-Up: April 11-12

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Spring break for DC students is starting on a peak note! The cherry trees are blooming, sunshine will be abundant, and there are some fantastic events going on to savor it all. Find details below and even more ideas in the post listing The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy A Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids and The Great Indoors. Happy Weekend!

A Peek at the Peak
Where: Tidal Basin & National Mall
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

The cherry blossom peak is beginning! And it’s practically guaranteed to be wonderful. If you can swing a visit to the Tidal Basin and National Mall, you’ll get to see some iconic DC scenes, as the monuments and memorials are gorgeous with a backdrop of blossoms. Expect crowds and be prepared — this post has tips for families viewing the blossoms (as well as alternative locations to see the flowers).

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: April 11, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is, hands-down, the parade. Thousands of people line the Constitution Ave sidewalks every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel through town. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: 12th & Pennsylvania Avenue NW
When: April 11, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $10/ages 13 and up, free for 12 and under

Immediately following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head right over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. There will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. Be prepared for a crowd.

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park
When: Sunday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the natural world by focusing on the Anacostia River, its history, ecology, and the communities along its riverbanks! 11th Street Bridge Park and National Park Service present the first annual Anacostia River Festival, a premier event and official closing of the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival. Activities will include hands-on art projects, musical performances, boating, fishing workshops, tours of historic Anacostia, bike parades, and other unique programs to engage families with the environment. Read more about the festival locale, Anacostia Park, here.

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

* Catch a performance of Sinbad: The Untold Tale at Imagination Stage
* Blue is also still running at the Bethesda theatre
* The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is on stage at Adventure Theatre
* Arts on the Horizon presents Blossom’s Rainbow at The Atlas on Saturday
* See a show on strings at The Puppet Co. where Jack and the Beanstalk is the current main stage production
* And Animal Crackers is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre
* Add some Shakespeare to your weekend as Theatre on the Run presents Much Ado About Nothing
* Bring little ones and their stuffed animals to the NSO Teddy Bear Concert Imagination Duo at the Kennedy Center
* Join the Nature Jams Baby Rave at Jammin’ Java on Saturday morning

Enchanted Cherrybration Weekend
Where: Clark’s Elioak Farm
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $5 (rides cost extra)

Let your little princesses dress up for this visit to the storybook-themed farm (you can read more about it in the list about outdoor outings). Clark’s Elioak will be celebrating Howard County’s “Cherrybration” Days with treats fit for young royalty and plenty of pink pizzazz. Children in a family will get a free hayride if at least one person in the family is dressed as a pink princess. Kids can also dress up in gowns on hand at the farm for a photo opportunity with “Princess Cherrybella.” A Truly Pink Treasure Hunt in the Enchanted Forest Maze will round out the weekend activities.

Explore the Universe
Where: Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

It takes a lot of hard work and innovation to go from Galileo’s early telescopic observations in the 17th century to NASA’s launch of the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in 1990. This family day will explore the amazing accomplishments in astronomical observing from Galileo to Hubble. Through astronomy presentations, hands-on activities, and more, learn about telescopes and how different cultures see the sky.

Bluebells at the Bend
Where: Riverbend Park
When: Saturday
Admission: $5

Celebrate spring at Riverbend Park’s Bluebells at the Bend Festival in Great Falls! The gorgeous flowers usher in springtime by carpeting the park’s floodplain with their magnificent blooms, and the bluebells are so abundant in some areas you can’t see an end. Read more about Riverbend (and see some pics with bluebells) in this post and in this one about local hikes with kids.

Catch the Ultimate Breeze
Where: Gallaudet University
When: Saturday, 6:30pm
Admission: $10/advance, $12.50/day of

Bring the kids out for fun, fresh air, and Pro Ultimate Frisbee! Not only will you get to see exciting Frisbee action as local team DC Breeze takes on Toronto, kids can join a free youth clinic (for ages 6-17, register in advance here) before the game at 5pm (FYI: they offer this at every home game!). And while your kids are learning ultimate out on the field, you can enjoy food and drink specials and listen to a live band to get ready for the game.

DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
Where: RFK Stadium
When: Saturday, 7pm (parking lot opens at 4pm)
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Kick it at a soccer game as the DC United host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening. Get there early for activities at the Lot 8 Tailgate, and be sure to stop by section 222 for a variety of kids activities. For some extra goodies just for young fans, join the Kids Club!

STEMosphere
Where:
 Charles E. Smith Center
When: Saturday, 9:30am – 3:30pm
Admission: Free

The George Washington University is hosting STEMosphere on Saturday. Part of a larger event for educators called Share Fair, this STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) focused expo will offer fun, hands-on, interactive activities and education methods for a PreK-12 audience. Exhibitors include NASA Aeronautics, Discovery Education, the Smithsonian Science Education Center, First Robotics and more. Participants are encouraged to register in advance.

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