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Local Events & Activities to Celebrate Black History Month

A Statue of the famous 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the African American History & Culture Museum

A Statue of the famous 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the African American History & Culture Museum



February is Black History Month, and there are events and activities throughout the DC area to celebrate it. Museum programs (including an entire museum), special tours and exhibits, story time sessions, and more will be enlightening and fun for all ages. Here’s where they’re happening over the next few weeks.

Tour the NMAAHC
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

If you can get in, this is the best place to learn about black history and culture in America. (This was #1 in my Top 16 of 2016… and now that I’ve taken the kids, will be doing a write-up about it very soon!) It’s a tough ticket to get right now — museum admission is still by timed entry passes — but it is possible to get same-day tickets. They are available online everyday starting at 6:30am until they run out.

African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: February 11
Admission: Free

Each February, the museum celebrates the significant contributions African Americans have made to flight and space exploration despite the overwhelming obstacles they had to overcome. Enjoy presentations, hands-on activities, and stories. Learn about African American astronauts, pilots, and scientists of the past and present and their accomplishments.

Slave Life Tour
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Daily through February, 11:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $10/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under (+ $4/exhibit)

Tack this on to a visit to George Washington’s estate. The 60-minute guided walking tour highlights the lives and contributions of the enslaved community who built and operated Mount Vernon. In 1799, more than 300 slaves lived and worked on the five farms that made up Washington’s 8,000-acre plantation. Listen to their stories and learn more about their daily life at Mount Vernon. Visit the refurbished slave quarters and view reproduction clothing, tools, furniture, cookware, ceramics, toys, and personal accessories that represent their experiences.

Celebrate Frederick Douglass’ Birthday
Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site
When: February 18-19; Ongoing
Admission: Free ($1.50/house tour)

Celebrate the 199th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth with the National Park Service and its community partners. The estate in Anacostia where Douglass lived for nearly the last 20 years of his life is now a historic site that welcomes the public to tour, and every year they host a birthday event in his honor. This year’s programs and activities explore the significance of the visual, performing, and culinary arts in Frederick Douglass’s life. You can also go other times — the grounds are always open to visitors, though you need to make reservations to tour the house.

African-Americans at Walney Walking Tour
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
When: February 11, 11am & February 19, 2pm
Admission: $6

In this interactive walking tour, learn the names and stories of the many African-American families who lived here in slavery and in freedom. The one-hour program is recommended for ages 6 and up. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. Sign up for Feb. 11 here and Feb. 19 here.

Portrait Story Days
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Most Saturdays, 1-4pm & Sundays, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Drop in to the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story from friends at the DC Public Library about a notable person featured in the collection and complete a hands-on art project. All through February, the program highlights black Americans in honor of Black History Month. Read more about the program and museum here.

Civil Rights at 50
Where: Newseum
When: Through January 2, 2018
Admission: $24.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-18, free for 6 and under (look for a discount)

This new exhibit explores the civil rights events of 1967, when black Americans used their First Amendment freedoms to challenge police brutality, economic inequality and the Vietnam War amid deadly riots and the rise of the Black Panther Party. This exhibit is probably better for older kids.

Jim Crow on Streetcars
Where: National Trolley Museum
When: Through February, Saturdays & Sundays, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $7/adult, $5/child

In recognition of Black History Month, the Museum presents this temporary exhibit. Learn about the nature of segregation aboard the cars in 19th century New York, the efforts to black the practice as it developed across the South, and the eventual success in opening employment opportunities.

Celebration: Black History Month 2017
Where: PG County Parks
When: Throughout February
Admission: Varies by activity

Celebrate and honor African American heritage during Black History Month with PG County Parks and Recreation. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are plenty of exciting events and activities planned throughout the area. For a complete listing of Black History Month events, go here.

Montgomery Parks Celebrates Black History Month
Where: Josiah Henson Park
When: February 25 & 26
Admission: Free

Montgomery Parks will celebrate Black History Month during the last weekend in February with free, educational events that highlight the stories, struggles, and successes of African Americans. Events include free guided tours of the park, the screening of a PBS documentary about the park, and the annual spoken word poetry event, “Lyrical Rhythms: The Sounds of Freedom.”

Hidden Figures
Where: Local movie theaters
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by theater

Playing in theaters now, this film that tells the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program is inspiring and a perfect movie pick during Black History Month. Common Sense Media says it’s appropriate for ages 10 and up, but I’d say kids a little younger could watch it, too.


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Valentine’s Day-Inspired Activities Around the DMV

Graffiti art with heart created by Mr. Brainwash at Union Market's Dock5

Graffiti art with heart created by Mr. Brainwash at Union Market’s Dock5



Do you *heart* celebrating Valentine’s Day with your little (and big) sweeties? Here are some activities happening around the area over the next week that you’re all bound to love. Happy V-Day!

Library Love
Where: DC Public Libraries
When: Various dates
Admission: Free

Join story times, craft sessions, and sing-alongs at some of the city’s libraries; Valentine’s Day-themed activities are taking places on several dates over the next week. Find one that your child will love here.

Skate Date in the Village: Pop-Up Roller Rink
Where: Village at Leesburg
When: February 10-14, 1-9pm (Sunday, 1-5pm)
Admission: Free

Grab your Valentine for a Skate Date in the Village! Go for a spin in a pop-up roller skating rink in the heart of Village at Leesburg all Valentine’s Day weekend. Enjoy merchant specials, surprise treats and a maybe even a fun date night. BONUS: There will be Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 4-9pm! (Rides pick up at Altar’d State.)

Sip, Sew & Art Pre-Valentine’s Day Pop-up (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: West Elm Pop-up/Lab 1270 @ Union Market
When: February 10, 6:30-9pm
Admission: $40

Sip Some, Sew Some and Create Some! Participants will use a sewing machine to make a pillow (no sewing experience needed). Once your pillow is completed, you can tap into your inner artist skills by creating a Valentine’s Day greeting card. All materials including sewing machines are provided. Light refreshments will be served.

DIY Valentines
Where: National Postal Museum
When: February 11, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Love is in the details at the Postal Museum’s annual Valentine’s Day Card Workshop. We’ve attended this event several times, so I can tell you firsthand it’s one to love. They’ll have pretty papers and neat valentine-themed stamps, all you need to bring is your creativity to decorate your card. Visit the museum’s stamp store and send the cards to your loved ones with a special Postal Museum postmark. And for more about the museum, see this KFDC post.

Unshrink My Heart
Where: Brentwood Arts Exchange
When: February 11, 2pm
Admission: Free

The arts and crafts icon, Shrinky Dinks, from the 80’s is back! And nothing says “love” like a hand-made pre-shrunk Valentine. Families are invited to create beautiful jewelry, key chains, and other Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones. Children will receive their first 2 sheets of blank Shrinky Dinks free, additional sheets will be available to purchase for 50 cents each.

Valentine’s Day Treats for the Birds
Where: Meadowside Nature Center
When: February 11
Admission: $6

This is the time of year when birds could use a little help finding food. Join staff to identify some common winter birds and make them a few treats from household items. Adults must accompany children.

Valentine’ Day Crafts & Cookies
Where: Michael’s
When: February 11
Admission: Varies by session

Head to a Michael’s location for some creative Valentine’s fun. The arts & crafts supply store is hosting drop-in workshops over the next week for cookies, crafts, & more — all with a love theme. Search the website to find a store near you.

Love in Every Language
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: February 11 & 12, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to enjoy a digital slideshow of images of love in Asian art. Use that as inspiration to create Valentine’s Day cards with woodblock prints that say “love” in more than a dozen Asian languages and fold heart-shaped origami.

The Power of Chocolate
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: February 11-12
Admission: Free

So, it’s not a Valentine’s Day activity, per se, but the timing of this festival focusing on chocolate likely isn’t a coincidence. The story of chocolate begins with a small tree that has its roots deep in the world of Mesoamerican culture, and you can join the NMAI to celebrate one of the world’s most beloved foods. Explore the rich history and ongoing story of chocolate by grinding chocolate, creating a vase with Maya glyphs, and learning more about the science, art and culture of chocolate.

Animal Valentines
Where: Hidden Oaks Nature Center
When: February 12, 1:30-2:15pm
Admission: $7

Play musical valentines and critter sweetheart games as you learn how animals find a mate. Meet live animals at the Nature Center and make an animal valentine craft. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Valentines Tea and Chocolate
Where:Brookside Gardens
When: February 12, 2-4pm
Admission: $12

Parents and children can celebrate with love, tea, and chocolates. Enjoy a variety of tea, treats, learn about chocolate, taste chocolate treats, plus make a valentine and a tea cup floral arrangement for yourself or a loved one!

Valentine Tea and Poetry
Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
When: February 12, 3-4pm
Admission: $8

Enjoy poetry and tea at the Machen Farm at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park with your little sweetheart. A costumed interpreter shares a Walney mystery love poem and invites you to write your own while dining on mint tea and sugar cookies. Frame your poem in the style of a childhood Valentine. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. For ages 2 and up.

Love on Ice (with Kids or KidFree)
Where: Canal Park Ice Rink
When: February 14
Admission: Details below

Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday, which conveniently is two-for-one skating at the ice rink — two can skate for the price of one from 4-6pm. Canal Park is also hosting Valentine’s Couple Skate. The rink will be romantically decorated, a capella groups from neighboring universities will perform lovely tunes, and couples can take the memories with them by snapping photos at a photo booth. For a $60 packaged deal, couples can enjoy a pre-fixe dinner for two at il Parco including a bottle of sparkling wine plus skate admission.

Brunch and Skate (with Kids or KidFree)
Where: Washington Harbour
When: February 11 & 12
Admission: $35/person

Enjoy a champagne brunch and some skating at the Washington Harbour. Bring the kids to dine with you (minus the bubbly, of course) at Nick’s Riverside Grill, then glide the day away at the ice rink. The package includes a two-course brunch menu, a bottle of champagne for every two guests, a carafe of OJ, and ice skating. If you go on Sunday, look for a deal on skating admission for the kids from CertifiKid.

All You Need Is Love 5: A Tribute to The Beatles & Love Songs (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Jammin Java
When: February 12
Admission: $16

Are you in love, looking for love, or scorning love? Either way, this is how love songs are meant to be heard — intimate and stripped down. Jammin Java’s official Valentine’s tradition is back by popular demand. Anthony Fiacco, Todd Wright and Luke Brindley pay homage to the group that influenced every musician out there with covers of your favorite Beatles love songs as well as originals of their own. Three singer/songwriters sharing the stage, telling stories, and playing songs, it’s like seeing the best local musicians singing your favorite songs in your living room.

Wild Love
Where: City Wildlife
When: February 12
Admission: Free

Take advantage of this rare occasion to visit City Wildlife, the animal rescue and rehabilitation center, as it’s the only time they open their doors to the public. join the Valentine’s Day celebration and tour the facility, enjoy some goodies and get a gift for your Valentine. You can also show your love for DC’s wildlife and help fulfill the organization’s wish list.

Spread Your Wings
Where: iFly Loudoun
When: Discount on purchase through February 14
Admission: Rates vary

Take flight and get your heart racing with sheer exhilaration this Valentine’s Day. iFly, the indoor sky diving experience, is offering a special promotion to celebrate. Use the promo code VDAY17 at checkout and get $20 OFF on the Spread Your Wings for Two and Spread Your Wings Return packages.

Seeing Deeper: Love to the World
Where: Washington National Cathedral
When: February 14, 6:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

On Valentine’s Day, bring your family, friends or that Special Someone to weave messages of love to the world in this interactive art exhibit. Sized for the grandeur of the Cathedral and the intimacy of human connection, we’ll provide art supplies (or bust that yarn stash!) to help you build a collective expression of love. Or, find your own way to fill the space—explore the depth and breadth of the Cathedral’s space, find a nook for quiet contemplation.



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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, Date Night, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Enter to Win Tickets to ‘Ella Enchanted’ at Adventure Theatre!

ella_enchanted

Adventure Theatre is getting ready to debut a new production just in time to have a cozy indoor activity during the thick of winter. Ella Enchanted, running February 3 – March 19 is a show the whole family can enjoy. And KFDC readers have a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see it!

Based on the Newberry Honor book by Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted tells the tale of Baby Ella of Frell, who is given the “gift” of obedience by Lucinda, a misguided fairy, and thus cannot disobey any direct order. Then when tragedy strikes, Ella is reduced to an obedient servant in her new home with Dame Olga. Can Ella find a way to rid herself of the troublesome curse?

See the show to find out! Tickets for Ella Enchanted are $19.50 and available for purchase online and at the Box Office (I recommend getting them in advance, as shows often sell out). You can also try to win them through the giveaway below.

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win the Family 4-Pack of Tickets to see Ella Enchanted at Adventure Theatre, simply leave a comment below and/or on the KFDC Facebook page (but you must “like” it first!) letting me know which performance — date and time — you would prefer to see the show. Extra entry for commenting on both! This giveaway will run through Wednesday, February 1, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Adventure Theatre, 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 All ages, DC, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Take a Nature Break at Prince William Forest Park

pwfp_lead

My kids are funny when it comes to hiking. Sometimes they are gung-ho, but every now and then when I suggest we hit the trail, there’s a little protest: “But it’s just walking!” is something I’ve heard more than once.

Then I explain that it’s much more than just walking. It’s observing the nature around us, enjoying some active recreation, getting out of the bustling city for peaceful surrounds, unplugging, spending quality time together. I relish a good hike and, at the risk of sounding eye rollingly cheesy, think it’s the perfect thing for a mini reboot. Taking even a little break from our busy, hurried city life to slow down and connect is good for all of us.

pwfp_hike

The thing is, I can almost always guarantee that even when there is initial resistance to the hiking plan, they end up being happy trampers. (“Mom, you were right…” is not uncommon either 😉 ). Once we get to our destination, they’re excited to be there — racing each other down the path, looking out for wildlife, finding a perfect walking stick, and just exploring the environment around us.

pwfp_mushrooms

When we visited Prince Washington Forest Park in Northern Virginia this past fall, they were actually quite amenable to the idea. This mostly had to do with the fact that Owen had just been there for Nature Bridge , a three-day outdoor education program with school, and loved the location. I had been there myself a year before for a trail race and recalled it being a beautiful park with varied terrain and interesting trails. Collective enthusiasm to go someplace is never a bad thing!

pwfp_visitor_center

Prince William Forest Park stretches over 15,000 acres in Northern Virginia. The largest protected green space in the DC-Metro area, there are over 37 miles of trails to hike, plus miles of paved and gravel paths to cycle, rivers for fishing, and cabins and tent sites for camping.

There is a $7 entrance fee per vehicle (or $5 for walk- and bike-ins) that we paid at the Visitor Center upon our arrival. While we were there, we picked up a trail map, checked out the exhibits, and learned a little more about the park’s nature and history. A couple of tidbits: The area was significant strategic point in the Civil War, and during the Great Depression when the park was called the Chopawamsic Recreation Area, it housed children’s relief camps.

pwfp_exhibit

There are a few trail heads near the Visitor Center, and trails within the park are as short as a half mile and as long as almost 10. Many connect, so you can extend your hike and explore different areas. Our jaunt along the Laurel Loop Trail took us through the woods, which were vibrant with fall colors at the time, and along the Quantico Creek. Owen pointed out some of the spots he visited on his school trip, like a beaver dam and small waterfall, and we had a picnic lunch by the water.

pwfp_sash

Then we hopped onto another trail that took us deeper into the woods, and eventually to small cemetery. We learned that there over 40 family cemeteries in the park, mostly from the late 19th and early 20th century, but some even earlier. It’s important to respect these sites and also illegal to alter them in any way. You can read about a couple of them here.

pwfp_tombstone

pwfp_grave

While we didn’t see much wildlife besides birds, squirrels, and fish, plenty do live there. Deer, beavers, and black bears (!) are some of the other mammals you might encounter. And sightings of snakes, turtles, and frogs are pretty common.

The variety in trails makes Prince William Forest Park a great place to hike with young children, since there are plenty of short, flat trails. And if you’re with older kids who want more of a challenge, there are longer and more difficult trails, too. You even can make it a weekend trip — cabins are available May – October, and tent sites May – November. Whether you overnight it or just go for a few hours, it makes for a great escape from the city.

pwfp_owen



Prince William Forest Park is located in Triangle, VA, about a 45 minute drive from DC. It’s open daily from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Center is open 8am – 4pm November – February, and 9am – 5pm March – October. Admission is $7/car or $5/walk- or bike-in.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Educational, Exhibit, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Celebrate MLK Day 2017

mlk_2017post

Special events and activities to honor and celebrate MLK have started this week and even more will be happening throughout the coming weekend. Whether you’re looking for ways to teach kiddos about MLK, want to give back on the Day of Service, enjoy live entertainment that pays tribute to his legacy, or join a special event to observe the occasion, these recommendations will have you covered.

Day of Service
Where: Various locations
When: January 16
Admission: Just your time

If you want to volunteer on the MLK, Jr. Day of Service, there are many ways and places you can do so around the area. Start here to find opportunities that suit your family.

ConSERVE DC
Where: Anacostia Park
When: January 16, 9:30am – 2:30pm
Admission: Just your time

Join the Student Conservation Association as they gather to ConSERVE DC this MLK Day by mobilizing the next generation of community stewards to help restore our public lands. With the support of American Express, they will be bringing together hundreds of volunteers for a massive cleanup of the Anacostia River. Join them to honor the legacy of Dr. King and connect the issues of social and environmental justice and help improve the health of DC’s urban waterfront.

More Family Volunteer Ops
Where: Various locations
When: Ongoing
Admission: Just your time

For more places to volunteer as a family that aren’t included in the official MLK Day of Service database, this KFDC post has suggestions. All of the organizations listed welcome kids to help out, though some have age requirements, so be sure to note them.

Learn about MLK
Where: Local libraries
When: MLK Week, now through January 16
Admission: Free

DC Public Libraries are hosting many events to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Storytime, arts & crafts, songs, and exhibits are just some of the ways you and the kids can take part.

Artsy MLK Days
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Gardens
When: January 14-16
Admission: Free

Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King with a community art activity! Each year, Annmarie invites guests of all ages to help create a community art installation in honor of a dream. This year’s big MLK Days project is a collective mural titled “#WDUS4 – What Do You Stand For?”. There will also be coloring and poetry activities, and the whole family can enjoy them.

Visit Memorials
Where: MLK & Lincoln Memorials
When: January 16
Admission: Free

Pay tribute to Dr. King at sites that honor his legacy. Visit the MLK Memorial, a powerful and poignant memorial along the Tidal Basin. From there, you can head to the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and see if you can find his words etched in the stone there.

I Have a Dream Weekend Celebration
Where: Port Discovery
When: January 14-16
Admission: $14.95/ages 2 and up

Community comes to life at the Baltimore children’s museum over the three-day “I Have a Dream” weekend. Celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with special programs, including a meet and greet with the Negro League Baseball Museum, painting quilt squares for their community quilt with the Baltimore African-American Quilters Guild, making a birthday card, a birthday tribute by The Kindersinger (Saturday), and more fun festivities.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Tribute & Celebration
Where: Strathmore
When: January 16, 3:30pm
Admission: Free

This multi-cultural program engages diverse, talented performers and award honorees who serve their communities unselfishly. Approximately 2,000 young people, including county officials and local press, participate in the commemoration in the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Limit four tickets per household.

KanKouran West African Dance Company
Where: Dance Place
When: January 15, 4-6pm
Admission: $15-30 (1 child free with adult paid ticket)

KanKouran, an integral part of the DC dance community for nearly 30 years, presents their annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in an electrifying, athletic, and family-friendly performance of traditional West African dance and drumming. During this special Family Series show, reserve one free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult.

MLK Parade, Peace Walk, & Festival
Where: Throughout SE & SW DC
When: January 16
Admission: Free

Commemorate the life of MLK, Jr. on a peace walk and parade along Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. The Peace Walk begins at 10am at 2500 MLK Ave SE and ends at the R.I.S.E Center at 2730 MLK Ave SE. The MLK Parade will commence at noon from 2700 MLK Ave SE and continue up MLK Avenue to Anacostia Park, where the MLK Holiday Festival and Health Fair will be underway. All ages are welcome to join.

Let Freedom Ring at Millennium Stage
Where: Kennedy Center
When: January 16, 6pm
Admission: Free

It’s the annual special Millennium Stage performance in honor of MLK Day. The Kennedy Center and Georgetown University host a musical celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. This year the concert will feature a special performance with Gladys Knight and the Let Freedom Ring Choir. Free tickets will be given away up to two per person in line in the Hall of Nations at 5pm on a first-come, first-served basis.


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