Category Archives: 2020

Where to Play on the Weekdays: February 24-28

Monday – Enjoy a quintessential winter activity and go ice skating! It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors during the season, and there are rinks located all around the area. Several offer push aids to help newbie skaters, and most are located in places with even more to do beyond the ice. This post has details for all of them.

Tuesday – Visit the U.S. Botanic Garden, where it kind of feels like pulling a fast one on the weather gods. Explore the different plant collections as you walk amid tropical rainforest, desert, and woodland flora. Take a stroll through the lovely National Garden outside if it’s not too rainy. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free. Read more about the USBG here and here.

Wednesday – Catch a performance of Mouse on the Move at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE. The interactive show recommended for ages 1-5 is also part of the annual INTERSECTIONS Festival. Showtime is 10am, and tickets are $15. Plan to grab lunch at one of many nearby eateries after.

Thursday – Explore an off-the-beaten path gem: The U.S. Navy Museum. Located on base in the Navy Yard, it’s a trove of fascinating exhibits. See an amazing collection of model ships, peer into a real periscope, sit in the gun seats of old fighter planes, view naval artifacts hundreds of years old, and much more. Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission is free. *Be sure to note requirements for access to the base and museum.

Friday – Head out to Calvert County to Annmarie Sculpture Garden for artsy adventures. Tour beautiful works, both indoors and out, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. The grounds are lovely all year ’round, just bundle up to roam around. Trust me, it’s worth the drive out there. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, 10am – 5pm at the arts center. Admission is $5/adult, $3/ages 6-17, free for 5 and under.

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

Play: A Necessity for the Child and the Student at Rochambeau The French International School

[Note: This is a sponsored guest post contributed by the staff at Rochambeau, the French International School.]

“Start by closing your eyes…the intensity, power of laughter, the pleasure and the joy are incomparable and unforgettable. Open your eyes, cut the sound: the joy on their faces, the enthusiasm, friendships, exploration, total and absolute engagement: pure enjoyment,” advises Fréderic Tavernier, the Director of the Maternelle Preschool at Rochambeau The French International School.

For a teacher, this small experiment is a way of reminding us that preschool and kindergarten are all about fun.  “For the child, play is a source and a vehicle for learning,” he insists. This principle is at the heart of France’s official Maternelle program and at the core of the curriculum taught at Rochambeau The French International School Maternelle for children ages 2 through kindergarten.  

While Rochambeau offers a comprehensive education all the way to 12th grade, “Maternelle is an essential step in the journey of students to ensure their academic success,” emphasizes Frédéric Tavernier. It is a school where children will learn together and live together. Here they develop their oral language and begin to discover writing, numbers, art, sciences… in both French and English. They learn through play, reflection, problem-solving, practice, recall, and memorization.

This attention for the well-being of the child, with a curriculum adapted to their rhythm, ensuring a balance between academics and recreation, meets the recommendations of American specialists. In August, the American Academy of Pediatrics sounded the alarm in a report expressing concern about the decline in the amount of time devoted to play in the lives of toddlers. “From 1981 to 1997, children’s playtime decreased by 25%. Children three to 11 years of age have lost 12 hours per week of free time. Because of increased academic pressure, 30% of US kindergarten children no longer have recess.”

The Maternelle teachers have one central goal: to ensure that the children are excited to go to school to learn, gain confidence, and develop their personality.

“Mission accomplished,” say parents like Erika Aparakakankanange. “When my children are at Rochambeau, they have so much fun that they don’t always realize that they are learning things, and for children like mine, who are not native French speakers, it makes the immersion process much easier…I can honestly say that my boys like to go to school every day and that is one of the many things we love about Rochambeau.”

“What I like,” says another parent, Sabine Durier, “is that the school combines classroom work, where all activities are intentional, with moments purely reserved for free time, where they can be children before they are students.”

Quoting Montaigne, the French philosopher, Maternelle teacher Bénédicte Le Nouën Maurice notes that “a child is not a vase that you fill, but a fire that you light”, which you let grow. “It’s important to give children free time to play, to make choices. This free time is not a waste of time, quite the contrary! During these moments of freedom, the child thinks about what he could play; he can make choices, invent, create, reach out to others. Many skills are built during this time. The child must not always be waiting for instructions, he must be able to learn to think for himself, to make his own choices, to invent, to create… and for this he needs free time.”

Preparing Global Citizens
Beginning at the preschool level and continuing through 12th grade, all students at Rochambeau, the French International School receive regular, guided instruction in both English and French, and can start a third language as early as elementary school (Arabic, Spanish).

Students represent more than 80 nationalities and communicate in over 25 different languages. As the only accredited French school in the Washington, DC, area, Rochambeau proudly enrolls children without any knowledge of French until the 4th grade. Our adapted immersion program gives students the opportunity to be part of and benefit from this extraordinary community. 

Graduates of Rochambeau go on to study at top universities in the US, Canada, UK, France, and all around the world. Students receive their US high school diploma at the end of 11th grade and the French Baccalaureate at the end of 12th grade. Starting in 2021, Rochambeau will also offer the IB dual language diploma. 

Tours of the school are offered on Thursdays and Fridays on all three campuses — register for them here. For more information about Rochambeau, The French International School, visit the website.

This post is sponsored by Rochambeau The French International School, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2020, Educational, Gradeschoolers, High Schoolers, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, Preschoolers, Schools, Teens

The Weekend Round-Up:
February 21-23

Disc golfin’ – a great way to enjoy a nice day outdoors with the fam

Happy Weekend!

Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Varies by show–see the website

The Atlas is kicking off its annual INTERSECTIONS festival that presents tons of fantastic performances in music, theatre, dance, film, and spoken word with several exhibitions especially for families. Family Fun Days are this weekend with free and ticketed shows for young audiences plus a Creation Station by Happy Little Art Studio and an Instrument Petting Zoo with Capitol City Symphony. On stage for kids: Building Better People Productions’ Friendlier Fables & Thoughtful Tales, Imagination Stage’s Mouse on the Move, a free show by Mr. Skip, and more! These are just the most family-friendly opportunities — the whole line-up throughout the Festival is worth checking out by adults.

Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission:Varies by Locale

It looks like it’ll be great weather to get outside! You’ve got your pick of places around the DC-Metro for adventures in the fresh air. Take a hike, play some disc golf, hit a playground, explore a garden, visit animals, or see what else there is to do al fresco in this post with tons of inspiration for fun (hopefully) in the sun.

Wizards vs. Cavaliers
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Friday, 7pm
Admission: Tickets start $10

Kick off the weekend with some basketball! The Wizards are hosting the Cavaliers on Friday evening. Plan on a pre-game dinner in Penn Quarter — there are plenty of family-friendly places to go in the neighborhood. Some recs: Carmine’s, Jaleo, Pi Pizzeria, Cava Grill, and Shake Shack. Before you get tickets, learn about the Wizards Kids Club that offers some great perks for young fans!

Ford’s For Me
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Downtown DC
When: Saturday, 9am
Admission: Free (reserve by phone: 202.347.4833)

Ford’s Theatre Society is hosting a sensory-friendly open house for families and those with cognitive and sensory processing disabilities. Guests are invited to explore Ford’s Theatre spaces with fewer crowds than a typical public entry time. Activities include time to explore Ford’s Theatre and Museum, a Lincoln-related craft activity in the Ford’s Theatre lobby, tactile costume interaction in the Museum, a puzzle activity in the balcony, a story time reading of Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln By Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and more. Read more about Ford’s Theatre in this KFDC post.

Washington Justice for All
Where: The Anthem | Southwest DC
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The District’s first esports team, The Washington Justice, will be playing their first set of DC-based matches this weekend. And if, like me, you’re not familiar with esports, I’ll save you a Google search. Per Wikipedia, “esports often takes the form of organized, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players, individually or as teams.” There are several matches throughout the weekend, and both kids and adults can enjoy them.

Cartoon Skate
Where: Washington Harbour Ice Rink | Georgetown, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm

Join some costumed characters on the ice — a great way to enjoy the outdoors during winter and have some family fun. And for more places to skate the day away, see this post.

Thread of Evidence: Exploring the Science of Fibers and Textiles
Where: National Law Enforcement Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: Saturday, 1-3pm
Admission: $19.95/adult online, free/12 & under

Enjoy a fun-filled afternoon of STEAM activities at the National Law Enforcement Museum! For “scientists” of all ages, experiment with museum educators by participating in hands-on activities with a Fiber and Textiles theme. Practice your investigative skills with crime scene fiber pick-up, uncover the identities of textiles with a liquid test, and create your own fiber magnifier! Fibers and Textiles introduces participants to chemistry, optics, and engineering. Note: Science Saturday occurs the fourth Saturday of every month and is free with admission to the Museum. Admission for kids under 12 is always free. No need to register.

Show Time
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by show

* The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats is on stage at Adventure Theatre
* The National Symphony Orchestra is performing a Mozart Mash-Up for young audiences at the Kennedy Center
* Thumbelina is making a big impression on the Imagination Stage.
* Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth is also at Imagination Stage on Saturday (read a KFDC review)
* See legendary prima ballerina Irina Kolesnikova in the US debut of Tschaikovsky’s Swan Lake at National Theatre
* It’s opening weekend for Beauty and the Beast at The Puppet Co.
* And really little ones will enjoy Baby Bear’s Birthday, Sunday’s Tiny Tots performance there
* Make it a date night for Synetic Theatre’s production of Phantom of the Opera

Maple Sugaring Days

Where: Brookside Nature Center | Wheaton, MD

When: Saturday & Sunday

Admission: $7

February is Maple Sugaring Month at Brookside Nature Center, and you can be a part of the maple sugaring process. Help collect the sap from trees, watch as its boiled down into sweet maple syrup, and enjoy a taste! This is the last weekend to take part in this program, and sessions fill up fast, so register now!

Portrait Stories & Discoveries
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Saturday & Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the National Portrait Gallery to listen to a story about Frederick Douglass and complete a hands-on activity. When you’re done there, pick up a Portrait Discovery Kit to explore the museum. For more about the program and museum, go here and here.

Mardis Gras Celebration
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: Saturday, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

The Wharf is bringing New Orleans to DC! Come celebrate Mardi Gras with a free community-wide extravaganza featuring a lively parade down Wharf Street, a dance party with live music on District Pier, and a special fireworks finale.

Black History Month Celebrations
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

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. See where they’re all happening here.

IKEA After Dark Bedtime Stories
Where: IKEA locations around the DMV
When: Saturday, 8=9pm
Admission: Free

Let IKEA help get your little ones ready for bed by reading classic bedtime stories in Smaland from 8-9pm. Drop them off in Smaland while you enjoy the IKEA After Dark FREE yoga and mediation session in the Restaurant. Pajamas, their favorite stuff friend, and blankets are all welcomed. RSVP required. (Note: This links to the College Park location, so be sure to RSVP to your location!)

Mark Nizer 4D
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: Saturday, 7:30-9
Tickets: $20

The only live 3D show in the world! Okay, technically any on-stage performance is a live 3D show, but this world-champion juggler uses lights, music, special effects and his own incredible skill to put on a dazzling performance with thrills and outrageous laughs. Special 3D glasses available to the audience give a surreal sensation of depth that take this family-friendly show beyond anything you’ve ever seen on stage before!

2020 Family Gras
Where: Capitol Cider House | Petworth, DC
When: Sunday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $10

Join Capitol Cider houser for their 2nd annual Family Gras, a family-friendly Mardi Gras celebration! Kids will enjoy complimentary face painting, balloon animals, festive crafts, and beads (gently) thrown from a cider house float. Adults will enjoy our stellar weekday happy hour, and as an added bonus, they’re flying in king cake from Gambino’s – a legendary New Orleans bakery. Tickets required for ALL AGES, and it’s highly recommended to purchase ahead.

Cuenta Cuentos: STORYTIME in Spanish
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Sunday, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Bring the littlest art lovers for an introduction to an artist on view, interactive read aloud, and a hands-on activity. This week, take a close look at artworks in the exhibit Manifesto: Art x Agency and hear a reading of Mi Voz by Jose Fragoso. Stay to create an artwork that amplifies your own voice! All audiences are welcome to join this Spanish-language program, led by a multilingual educator. (FYI: Each week STORYTIME features a fresh and fun theme!)

Caps vs. Penguins
Where: Capitol One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Sunday, 12pm
Admission: Tickets prices vary

The Washington Capitals will be taking over Capital One Arena on Sunday afternoon when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins. If you want to plan on a pre-match brunch in Penn Quarteo, there are plenty of family-friendly places to go in the neighborhood. Some recs: Jaleo, Carmine’s, Oyamel, Shake Shack, and Pi Pizzeria.

2020 Relay-Palooza
Where: Jammin Java | Vienne, VA
When: Sunday, 1pm (doors open at 12pm)

Join Relay For Life of Northern Virginia for their annual Relay-Palooza Battle of the Bands kickoff celebration benefiting the American Cancer Society. Doors open at 12 pm and the event begins at 1 pm. Local acts register to perform on the Jammin Java stage, then you get to vote to determine a winner. The winner of Relay-Palooza will get the chance to headline the 2020 Relay For Life event! This is a family-friendly event. Donations benefit the live-saving mission and programs of the American Cancer Society. 

* The giveaway for a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see A Snowy Day at Adventure Theatre is still going on.
* The new National Children’s Museum is opening VERY soon!
* I highly recommend Playa del Carmen for a family getaway!
* These have really come in handy for our beach vacay, and they’d be great for a ski trip (and for many other outings), too.
* Saturday is National Margarita Day. Ole!

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Filed under 2020, All ages, DC

{Review!} Thumbelina at Imagination Stage

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

[Note: This review is by KFDC contributor Emily Moise.]

Young theater-goers can experience the art of storytelling like never before at Imagination Stage’s Thumbelina, playing now through April 5. The classic Hans Christian Andersen tale about a girl trying to find her place in the world is reimagined with artistry inspired by Kamishibai, a form of Japanese street theater. Along with traditional acting performances, this unique production utilizes live video projections of small-scale puppetry and dioramas to bring the story of a thumb-sized girl to life.

Thumbelina employs the same ensemble of actors as Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth, a musical currently playing in repertory, in this contrasting brand of theater. [You can read the KFDC review of Zomo here.] If you happen to see both shows, the versatility of these actors is awe-inducing — once rapping and hip-hop dancing in Zomo, now maneuvering mini puppets along mini video-projected sets on right and left stage, then moving center stage for their life-sized roles in Thumbelina.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina, like Zomo, offers lessons abound for young audience members just beginning to learn about the world and their place in it. Most importantly: you have the power to create your own story, and you will eventually find your people and place, just be kind to those that are different along the way.

The multi-media aspect of the production adds a whole other layer to the lessons, as Thumbelina certainly writes its own category of theater. And look at all of the different skill-sets needed to bring it to life!

Zomo is a tough act to follow with its high-energy and audience engagement. But Thumbelina captivates with its creative production methods, flawless lead performance, a climactic act with a villainous mole, and a touching ending that’s a reminder to kids and adults alike that the rest is still unwritten.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina is playing now through April 5 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $15 – $35. Recommended for ages 4+.

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Filed under 2020, DC, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, Preschoolers, Seasonal, Theatre, Weekend, Winter