Tag Archives: Activities with kids in Maryland

Hands-On Fun & Learning Experiences at KID Museum

I have no good excuse for not visiting KID Museum in Montgomery County before this summer. The space that provides fun, innovative learning experiences for young makers has been around for several years, and I’ve been aware of it, have even promoted some of their events on the blog, but until a few weeks ago, had never actually been there. Sure, it’s not exactly down the street from me, but still…no excuse.

That’s because KID Museum is a pretty awesome place for kids, especially those who enjoy hands-on activities that encourage invention, creativity, experimentation, and discovery. Located on the lower level of Davis Library in North Bethesda, it’s generally comprised of a large open space with activity stations and Maker Studios, with workshops that offer opportunities to implement and enjoy all of this and then some.

When we were invited to take a tour one Sunday back in July there were kids and parents doing everything from building ziplines to constructing marble mazes out of cardboard to creating balloon cars to making Calder-inspired mobiles and much, much more. The whole place was buzzing with excitement as children and adults worked on their projects and tested them out or tinkered with a variety of materials and tools. Staff — Maker Educators and high school Apprentices — are at each station to demo projects and help kids as they need it, all of them friendly and enthusiastic.

This is all open to the community for drop-in visits on weekends from 10am – 5pm ($12/child, membership options also available), and KID Museum offers more scheduled programming to school groups during weekdays and to kids in Kindergarten through 9th grade after school and during summer, winter, and spring breaks. During those in-depth programs, kids can build skills in coding, robotics, engineering, and more.

Visit the KID Museum website for more information about their ongoing programs for kids and families.

* * * * *

Every September, KID Museum hosts FutureFest, one of the DC area’s largest, free family festivals where kids can spark their imagination and families can celebrate their collective power to invent the future through all kinds of exhibits, demos, and live performances.

A few highlights:
* KID City: Participants will build a city of the future — from the ground up — for a one-of-a-kind, immersive experience. Light up a high-tech street, construct a sculpture using 3D-printed bolts, race a vehicle down the maker highway, and more.
* Cultural Crossroads: Explore cultures that shape our community, from China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Korea, and beyond, through hands-on activities, collaborative art installations, and live music and dance performances.
* Innovation Expo: Discover technologies and innovations that are transforming our world and inspiring the next generation of innovators. Glimpse the future of Work & Play, Space & Exploration, Food & Sustainability, and more.

FutureFest takes place on September 15, 12-5pm, at Veterans Plaza and the Silver Spring Civic Center — One Veterans Place, Silver Spring MD 20910.

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Filed under 2019, All ages, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Special Event, Weekend

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from DC

Rows of apple trees at Homestead Farms.


The apple picking season has begun! Several farms in the area have opened their orchards for guests to start gathering.  And with so many apple varieties that ripen at different times, the pickings often last through October, sometimes even into November. Here’s a selection of farms and orchards where you can pick your own. My disclaimer: I haven’t been to every one of these places, but they all come recommended through local sources. If you have feedback on any of them, feel free to add it to the comments section. Happy picking!

Homestead Farms
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: Open daily, 9am – 5pm
Seasonal scoop: The apple picking season has begun and is expected to last through October. Bring your own container for collecting your fruits or purchase one there. You can also visit farm animals, and their seasonal festival begins in late September.

Larriland Farms
Where: Woodbine, MD
When: Saturday & Sunday 9am-5pm, Tuesday-Friday 9am-6pm, closed Mondays in September, but open Mondays in October 9am-5pm.
Seasonal scoop: A few varieties are already ripe for picking and many more will be harvested in September and October. See the list here to find out when you can snag your favorites.

Butler’s Orchard
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Tuesday – Friday 8:30am – 6pm, Saturday & Sunday 8:30am -5pm
Seasonal scoop: The orchard is expected to open soon with a variety of apples available. The picking season should last through September.  (And a heads-up: their Annual Pumpkin Festival runs every weekend in October.)

Rock Hill Orchard
Where: Mount Airy, MD
When: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday, 10am – 5pm, closed Monday
Seasonal scoop: The apple picking season begins in September. Be sure to call ahead, as the picking is not open every day.

Stribling Orchard
Where: Markham, VA
When: Tuesday – Sunday, 9am-5pm, closed the Tuesday after Columbus Day
Seasonal scoop: The picking season is in full swing with Gala, McIntosh, Empire, Jonathan, Cortland, Ginger Gold, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious ripe and ready. While you’re there, see their historic buildings, visit farm animals, and enjoy scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Baugher’s Orchard & Farm
Where: Westminster, MD
When: Pick-your-own is 9am-5pm Friday-Sunday, but the farm is open daily 8am-6pm
Seasonal scoop: Early harvest apples are ready to pick and there will be more varieties to come. You can also enjoy a petting zoo, playground, and wagon rides there.

Hartland Orchard
Where: Markham, VA
When: Open daily 8am–6pm
Seasonal scoop: A huge variety of apples grow in the orchard, and some should be available to pick now. Their Fall Festival weekends begin September 6 –see what that includes here.

Marker-Miller Orchards
Where: Winchester, VA
When: Monday – Friday 9am-6pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm
Seasonal scoop: A couple of varieties are ripe for picking and more will be ready soon.  Their Apple Harvest Festival is October 11-12.  Other days, family fun includes a playground, wagon rides, and a cow train.



Filed under All ages, Annual, Eats, Fall, Farm, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

History on the Potomac at Fort Washington Park

Heavy artillery at Fort Washington


It’s pure coincidence that I’m posting about Fort Washington on the eve of the 198th anniversary of the Burning of Washington. Not that the fort as it is now was even affected by the incident; in fact, it wasn’t even there at the time. Fort Warburton, which was built to defend Washington, was at that site from 1809-1814. But the day after the attack on the capital, the British headed up the river toward the fort. Rather than fall to the enemy, Warburton was evacuated and destroyed by its own garrison. But when the dust settled, it didn’t take long for a new fort to be constructed, and a decade later in 1824, Fort Washington was complete.

Okay, I’m not even going to try to pretend I’m some kind of military history buff.  I actually had no clue about any of this until I read about it in the guide I picked up  when the kids and I visited Fort Washington recently (and even hope I got that all correct).  And, honestly, I wasn’t even aware of the historic site until a park ranger at Oxon Hill Farm mentioned it on a recent visit, suggesting it as an interesting place to bring kids.

Fort Washington sits on a hill overlooking the Potomac on the river’s Maryland shores. It’s part of the larger Fort Washington Park, and you actually get to it by driving through a gate then a couple minutes along a road in the park before reaching the actual fort. We walked up to it from the lighthouse parking lot, but there is a larger one closer to the Visitor Center. After crossing the drawbridge, we peeked into a couple of rooms in the guardhouse —  quarters for guards on duty — then passed through a set of big wooden doors that opened up to a large field just beyond.

inside the guardhouse

The open grassy space contains several buildings, enlisted barracks and officer quarters, plus some smaller ones for arms storage on one side, a row of cannons in the middle, and one big 24-pounder cannon. The kids were quite intrigued by the historic weaponry.

Along the northwest and southwest corners of the fort are bastions with platforms and tracks where guns were rolled over and lined up to shoot over the walls from various angles. The views from those areas are expansive, an obvious advantage for the soldiers back in the day.

There are some precarious areas within the fort –steep hills and staircases without much of a barrier or railings — so I didn’t let the kids wander too much on their own. After exploring the main areas and peeking in the windows of the buildings, we headed out and down toward the river to check out the lighthouse.

The fort is the main attraction at Fort Washington Park, but there is more to see and do there.  A few more historic buildings are in other areas (though we did not visit them) and a trail runs along the river and throughout the park. There are many scenic areas with picnic tables, and we noticed people carrying fishing rods down to the river.  Historical reenactments are occasionally held there, and one Sunday per month, the park has Civil War artillery demos.

Fort Washington Park is located in Fort Washington, Maryland. The Visitor Center and Historic Fort are open daily 9am – 4:30pm, and park grounds are open 8am – sunset. Admission is $10/vehicle or $3/person.


Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Maryland, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend