Tag Archives: DC Museum Programs for Kids

Where to Play on the Weekdays: September 30 – October 4

Roosevelt Island has been a fave for years

Roosevelt Island has been a fave for years



Monday – Get a dose of nature and history in one fell swoop at Roosevelt Island. Hike the easy trails, look out for wildlife, and explore the Memorial Plaza to learn about the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt. The entrance to the park is located right off the GW Parkway, just past the Roosevelt Bridge. It’s accessible only from the northbound lanes. Hours are 6am – 10pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Enjoy storytime at the National Building Museum’s Book of the Month program. Readings of If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen will begin at 10:30am & 11:30am. Get there early for play time in the Building Zone, as entry is on the hour ($3/person). After, stay to romp in the Great Hall or check out the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit upstairs ($5/person).

Wednesday – Take the kids to play amid the lovely wooded setting of Cabin John Regional Park. They can climb, swing, jump, slide, and run on the sprawling Adventure Playland. Unfortunately, the Miniature Train is only open on weekends right now, but the playground alone has plenty to keep little ones thoroughly entertained for a good while. Bring along food for a picnic — there are several tables to eat on, or you can spread out a blanket in a nearby grassy area.

Thursday – Visit a perennial DC kids’ fave: The National Air & Space Museum. Discover the history of aviation and aerospace exploration through the many fascinating exhibits, IMAX movies, and engaging interactives. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Friday – Bounce on over to Joyful Jumps in Bowie, Md. The indoor play center offers Open Play everyday, just drop in anytime for a two-hour session of amusement on their bouncing inflatables, slides, and obstacle courses. Admission is $8.50/ages 17 mos. – 16 years, $6.50/12-16 mos. Hours are 10am – 8pm on Fridays (10am-7pm Monday – Thursday).


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The Weekend Round-Up: June 15-16

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There are plenty of great ways to celebrate the weekend’s honorees — summer activities, fun on the farm, trucks, cars, and much more. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, then check out the list of outdoor ideas — you can plan a great day for Dad and enjoy the superb weather on the way. Happy Weekend! And a very Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

Truck Touch
Where: RFK Lot 7
When: Saturday, 9am – 2pm
Admission: Free

The Truck Touch event that easily takes the title as Mac Daddy of them all is happening this Saturday. The DC Department of Public Works welcomes guests to climb aboard and explore all kinds of cool vehicles. There will also be opportunities to test ride Segways, test drive hybrids and electric cars, and sit on mounted police horses. Even more, over in adjacent Lot 6, Mayor Gray’s official Summer Kick Off will offer fun activities for the whole family. Read more about it and see images from last year in this post from earlier this week.

Be a Pilot Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Join the Air & Space Museum for the ninth annual Become a Pilot Day! You’ll see nearly 50 visiting vintage, recreational, and home-built aircraft — plus special attraction Solar Impulse — at an outdoor display for one day only, and enjoy indoor presentations and activities for all ages.

Astronomy Festival
Where: National Mall
When: Friday, 5-11pm
Admission: Free

Go stargazing on the Mall as Hofstra University presents an astronomical extravaganza featuring optical and radio telescope observations, exhibits, hands-on activities, a multimedia presentation, and a chance to mingle with real astronomers. Starting at 5pm., visitors will be able to view sunspots with the help of specially filtered telescopes and the Moon. After dusk and until 11pm, telescopes will provide close-up views of the first-quarter Moon, Saturn with its beautiful rings, Venus, Mercury, colorful double stars, and star clusters that sparkle like diamonds on black velvet. This will all take place by the Washington Monument at 15th Street and Constitution Ave.

Summer Time
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity

Seize the season with a host of activities that only occur this time of year. Enjoy an open air concert at one of several series in the area. Go berry picking. Stay cool under the sun at an outdoor pool, sprayground, or water park. Ride mini-trains and carousels at local parks. And much, much more. Find details on all these summer pursuits here.

Father’s Day at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
When: Saturday & Sunday, 8am – 5pm
Admission: $15/adult, $7/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under

Spend the day with the Father of our Country! This weekend, guests can enjoy a meet-and-greet and photo ops with “General Washington” as well as a special “Father to the First Family” program. After, head to George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, located three miles from the estate on Route 235 South – entrance is included in admission to Mount Vernon.

Best in Shows
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Here’s where the shows are this weekend: Be among the first audiences to see Bathtub Pirates at The Puppet Co. Or head there early for Tiny Tots, puppets show performances especially for little ones. Encore Stage & Studio presents Sleeping Beauty for the second and final weekend. Talented actors from the Maryland Historical Society will tell the brave story of Sgt. Maj. Christian Fleetwood, the first African American awarded the Medal of Honor at this week’s Saturday Morning at the National. Elska is playing the 10:30am show on Saturday at Jammin’ Java.

Juneteenth
Where: Watkins Regional Park
When: Saturday,11:30am – 5pm
Admission: Free, but some activities require a small fee

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. The celebration at Watkins offers a great lineup of culturally inspired  dance and musical performances , plus family activities. Face painting, the interactive playground, the animals at the Old Maryland Farm, miniature train and Carousel rides, and mini-golf will all be available, those requiring a fee at discounted prices. There will also be several vendors selling a variety of food.

Father’s Day Fish-n-Putt
Where: Great Country Farms
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $8/child, $10/adult

The farms’ annual Father’s Day Putt Putt and Fish-a-Rama Competition provides just the right amount of fun and challenge for Dad’s big day. Competitors for Saturday’s Putt Putt Golf Championship are welcome to arrive early to warm up for the 11am Tee Time. Sunday features the catch and release fishing contests. The pond is stocked with catfish, bass, and blue gill and no licenses are required. Prizes are on the line for the largest fish hooked and the most fish caught during the power hour. Bring your own pole and gear to fish (no drag hooks). GCF has worms for purchase in the country store. The amusement continues on the five-acre farm-style playground featuring the Giant Jumping Pillow, Triple Threat slide, corn bin, animal barnyard and more.

Crystal Car
Where: Crystal City
When: Sunday, 2-6pm
Admission: Free

Tune up your ride and bring the family to the starting line in Crystal City for the first annual Fathers Day Auto Festival. The Crystal City BID in partnership with Vornado/Charles E. Smith, the 23rd Street Business Association, and the Washington Wine Academy, is launching Crystal Car on Sunday. The festival plans to showcase a variety of automobile categories, including innovative electric vehicles, area sports car auto clubs, classic muscle cars, and more. One of the many attractions of Crystal Car will be the electrical vehicle collection, which also features Vornado/Charles E. Smith’s new charging stations and Vornado’s Chevrolet Volt fleet. The Washington Wine Academy will host a cash beer garden to further enhance the experience and celebrate Father’s Day in style. The festival will be located within the Courtyard at 2121 Crystal Drive in Arlington; the parking lot at 220 20th Street S., and the parking lot behind Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant at 555 23rd Street S.

Food for Thought Celebration
Where: U.S. Botanic Garden
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Where does our food come from? Why are we drawn to certain flavors and seasonings? Contemplate these and other food questions during the USBG’s festival Food for Thought: A Celebration! Offered in conjunction with their annual terrace show, this year’s festival will feature food-related activities for all ages: Explore the flavors of Africa with Chef Tania Mercer, learn about food pollinators and the BIG BUGS created by artist David Rogers, discover the secrets of salad gardening with Master Gardener Jon Traunfeld, assist USBG Plant Health Care Specialist Jim Willmott in protecting the plants from pesky pests with an insect release, and much more.

Community Forklift Half-birthday
Where: Community Forklift Warehouse
When: Saturday, 9:30am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Community Forklift, the DC area’s thrift store for home improvement supplies, is turning 7½ years old, and they’re celebrating with a half-birthday party halfway through June. Help them blow out the candles on their cake, and celebrate Father’s Day a day early. Festivities will include reuse crafts and activities for kids, live music from local bands, half-price discounts on modern and vintage building materials throughout the store, and yummy food and free lemonade. Guests can also participate in free do-it-yourself workshops to inspire you to complete the half-finished projects around your house. The Community Forklift warehouse is located at 4671 Tanglewood Drive in Edmonston, Md.

Wheat Harvest
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: $3/adult, $2/child

Experience life in colonial times at Claude Moore’s annual event: Help the Farm family harvest their wheat and rye crops, important staples of colonial living. Watch as they carefully cut the grains and join in to help bind and stack the crops. Then help make bread on an open hearth, made from those very same grains. Before you go, get a little more background about the farm in this post about our first experience there.

International Delivery: Postcard Making Workshop
Where: Transformer
When: Saturday, 10:30am
Admission: Free

Transformer invites DC children ages 5-10 to participate in International Delivery – Capital Sister Cities Children’s Postcard Exchange, a fun & creative workshop for children in Washington, DC to work with DC artists in making handmade postcards for children in Beijing. All materials will be provided, and the workshops are free-of-charge.

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Art in the Heart of Penn Quarter: The American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery

Horse sculpture - looks like driftwood, but made of metal

Horse sculpture – looks like driftwood, but made of metal



The off-the-Mall location of the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery is both a good and bad thing. Good because it’s not as prominent on the tourist radar as, say, the Natural History Museum and National Gallery, thus keeping the crowds at bay. But bad (or, perhaps, “not as good” is a better way of putting it), because they are wonderful museums that are often overlooked by both visitors and locals, since they’re not right on the beaten path.

Indeed, they are worth the detour from the more popular attractions. Not only are they filled with compelling art, including works that even little ones may find appealing, they offer programs especially for kids that engage and encourage them to look at art in new ways.

Studying "Portrait of Mnonja"

Studying “Portrait of Mnonja”

Nam June Paik's "Electronic Superhighway"

Nam June Paik’s “Electronic Superhighway”

If I’m in the area with the kids, we almost always pop in to stroll around, usually heading to the third floor of American Art, where interesting sculptures, provocative installations, and brilliant colors tend to capture their interest. The special exhibits are often great, too — we loved The Art of Video Games, and there is currently a fascinating exhibition of works by Nam June Paik, who created the video map that’s part of the permanent collection, that focuses on media in culture.

Wandering the halls

Wandering the halls

Portrait Gallery or bust

Portrait Gallery or bust

On a recent visit to the museums, we took advantage of some of their family programs for the first time. (Yes, I almost hate to admit that even though I recommend the programs regularly, we had never actually participated in one.) Portrait Story Days, offered by the National Portrait Gallery every weekend, welcomes guests to drop in to hear a story about a famous American whose portrait is hanging in the museum, then do a craft inspired by the person. Keith Haring was the week’s honoree, so after the reading, we used stencils and a bit of freehand to create our own Haring-esque drawings.

Making Keith Haring-inspired art

Making Keith Haring-inspired art

Guess which is mine?  Hmmm...

Guess which is mine? Hmmm…

The project didn’t last long, so we picked up a Portrait Discovery Kit, which are available from the Education Center and recommended for kids ages 5 and up. The kit included seek-and-find cards that prompted a little scavenger hunt to locate “sitters” in various paintings, a drawing pad to do some of our own sketching, and worksheets that encouraged kids to write down the emotions they observed in a portrait. Owen was engrossed in the hunt for famous mugs, which led us throughout the gallery to find them. He also enjoyed describing the emotions of subjects in the Hall of Champions, the walls lined with portraits of well-known athletes.

On a hunt to find famous faces

On a hunt to find famous faces

The King and O!

The King and O!

Both Portrait Story Days and Portrait Discovery Kits are offered just about every weekend, usually both Saturday and Sunday. But it’s always a good idea to check the schedule to confirm.

The American Art Museum also offers Art a la Cart almost every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Four carts throughout the museum provide hands-on activities for kids to explore different kinds of art and spark their creativity. It’s recommended for ages 7-12.

The kids are always mesmerized by this sculpture

The kids are always mesmerized by this sculpture

Along with the regular programs, both occasionally present special Family Days that usually correspond with a current event or new exhibit — you can find out about them on the museums’ calendars here and here. Of course, I’ll keep you posted as well.

Splashing in the Kogod Courtyard

Splashing in the Kogod Courtyard

The National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum are located at 8th & F Streets NW. They are connected by the lovely Kogod Courtyard, a must-stop on any visit to the venue, where you can enjoy lunch from the cafe on premises or bring food from another eatery nearby, and kids can stomp in the one-inch deep water scrims. Note that hours at these museums are 11:30am – 7pm. Both are open daily, except for Christmas Day, and admission is free.

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: August 6-10

Kids can do more than look at the pretty flowers in the Children's Garden at the USBG

 

Monday – It’s the final week of Stories in Art at the National Gallery. Kids ages 4-7 can explore the works of Vincent Van Gogh at the summer drop-in program. They’ll enjoy a reading of the book, “Katie and the Sunflowers” by James Mayhew, then join Katie’s imaginative adventure through museum masterpieces, exploring van Gogh’s still-life paintings. After, guests will make their own flower-filled works of art to take home. Sessions begin at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, and 1:30pm on Monday (and Tuesday). Sign-in takes place in the West Building Rotunda, beginning at 1oam, and will continue until all spaces for all five time slots are filled. Read a KFDC review of the program here.

Tuesday – Make it a movie day! Catch a flick for just $1 with the Regal Summer Movie Express, which presents family movies on the cheap Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am through August 22 — go here to find a theater near you and see what’s playing. Parents with really little ones can take advantage of AMC Theater’s Bring Your Babies Matinee, which occurs the first Tuesday of every month.

Wednesday – Play and get a little glimpse into the past at the newly renovated Jones Point Park in Alexandria.  We haven’t been yet, but Preparing for Peanut has a great write-up about the locale just off the George Washington Parkway under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  Open dawn to dusk, admission is free.

Thursday – Experience Suprasensorial, the super cool interactive exhibit at the Hirshhorn, before it closes on August 12. A walk through doesn’t take very long, so head over to the nearby U.S. Botanic Gardens after to tour the plant collections, check out the Savage Gardens exhibit, and play in the Children’s Garden. Hours at the Hirshhorn are 10am – 5:30pm, at the USBG 10am – 5pm. Admission is free at both places.

Friday – Have a wild time at the National Zoo. Visit your favorite animals, and see the new cheetah cubs — zoogoers can now view them at 10am and 1pm as they explore their yard.  Be sure to check the website before you go to see what other daily programs are going on. The Zoo grounds are open 6am – 8pm, exhibit buildings 10am – 6pm.  Admission is free, though parking is $16 for the first three hours for non-members.   Look for street parking nearby to curb the cost, or take Metro — both the Woodley Park and Cleveland Park stations are a short walk away.

 

Hanna Andersson

 

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: July 23-27

The time is ripe for peach picking at area farms.

 

Monday – Go peach picking at a local farm!  The fuzzy fruits are ripe this time of year and ready for picking at just about all of the farms listed in this post from last summer. However, it’s always a good idea to check websites or call ahead to confirm availability the day you plan to go.

Tuesday –  Drop in for play date at the National Children’s Museum Launch Zone.  Kids can experience a fantastic day of playing and building with foam blocks and other loose parts in the Imagination Playground. Hours are 11am – 4pm, and admission is free. For afternoon entertainment, head to the National Portrait Gallery for Portraits Alive!, a theatrical tour of the museum’s collections performed by teens from DC’s Summer Youth Employment Program.  Everyday through August 3, visitors can join the group on a journey that explores a variety of works as the students become the portraits — performing original, student written play, they will portray the people represented in the photos, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints displayed in the museum.  Sessions begin at 2:15pm, and admission is free.

Wednesday – Celebrate Peruvian culture at the National Museum of the American Indian as the 2nd annual Kaypi Perú Festival kicks off for six days of performances, hands-on activities, animal exhibitions, and traditional food. Be sure to stop by the imagiNATIONS family activity center on the third floor for programs especially for kids. The festival runs daily through July 30. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

Thursday – See The Puppet Co.’s latest production, Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, a fun, sideways view of the classic fairytale.  Showtimes are 10am & 11:30am  (Thursdays and Fridays). Tickets are $10.

Friday –  Take the kids to play amid the lovely wooded setting of Cabin John Regional Park. They can climb, swing, jump, slide, and run on the sprawling Adventure Playland. And don’t miss a ride through the woods on the Miniature Train, just $1.75 per passenger.

 

sale

 

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