Category Archives: Educational

Off the Beaten DC Path: Museums in Maryland and Northern Virginia

Checking out a display at the Calvert Marine Museum


Washington, DC, is well known for its legion of museums.  There are all the super popular venues along the National Mall as well as many off-the-beaten-path spots around other parts of the city.  And there are even more beyond the District lines that are great to explore with kids.  Here’s a round-up of museums in Maryland and Northern Virginia to add to your family’s activity mix. Happy Exploring!



Operating a control panel at the College Park Aviation Museum

College Park Aviation Museum
Where: 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive | College Park, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $5/adult, $4/senior, $2/child

Located right next to the College Park Airport, the oldest continuously operating airport in the world, the College Park Aviation Museum, is a great place for young visitors, with eye-popping displays and lots of hands-on fun. Early airplanes are on view along with more objects to get a close-up look and learn about the history of flight. There is also a kids area where they can dress up like aviators, create flight-inspired art, and much more.  PS: Keep an eye on the runway right outside the floor-to-ceiling windows — you might see planes take off and land right there.



Glenstone’s Split Rocker sculpture blooms from May to September

Where:  12100 Glen Road | Potomac, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

This one is for the T(w)een Scene, as Glenstone requires visitors to be at least 12 years old.   The indoor/outdoor modern art museum sprawling gloriously over 300 acres in Potomac showcases modern works inside a gallery and outside around the beautiful grounds. Take advantage of the Guaranteed Entry program, which admits students and one accompanying adult without having to reserve tickets. Be sure to note that they don’t allow children under 12 at all, but it’s a wonderful place to visit with tweens and teens.



An “inside” look at the National Museum of Health and Medicine

National Museum of Health & Medicine
Where: 2500 Linden Lane | Silver Spring, MD
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Originally established as the Army Medical Museum, the National Museum of Health & Medicine houses collections of medical specimens for research in military medicine and surgery. The collections are quite fascinating as they explore human anatomy, the history of medical techniques and tools, and historical exhibits like one about Abraham Lincoln that includes objects associated with his last hours of life, including bone fragments, the bullet that killed him etc. I should warn that it’s probably not best for young children or the faint of heart (read my post about it here), but if you’re into that kind of thing, it’s very compelling.



Building tube trails at he former Kid Museum space

KID Museum
Where: 3 Metro Center | Bethesda, MD
When: Sundays Open Explore, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $15/age 3+

KID Museum is all about learning through doing. Providing fun, innovative educational experiences for young makers, visitors can get hands-on with all kind of activities that encourage invention, creativity, experimentation, and discovery. Previously located on the lower level of Davis Library in North Bethesda, the museum now is in a larger space right in downtown Bethesda. There are various stations with different projects that will keep kids (and adults) engaged for awhile. It’s open to all visitors on Sundays, and workshops for different ages are offered other days of the week. Read more about KID Museum in this KFDC post.



See old street cars — and ride on them, too! (Photo: Wiki Commons)

National Capital Trolley Museum
Where: 1313 Bonifant Road | Colesville, MD
When: Days/hours vary by time of year
Admission: $10/adult, $8/child & seniors

Learn about a major part of the DC area’s history as you check out old street cars and even take a ride on one. This museum  transit systems that built and served communities across DC, Maryland, and Virginia  from 1862-1962. Check out exhibits in the Visitors Center, then climb aboard their collection of historic street cars for a ride down one mile of woodland track in Northwest Branch Park.


Whimsical works in Annmarie’s art center

Annmarie Sculpture Garden
Where: 13470 Dowell Road | Solomons, MD
When: Daily, except Christmas
Admission: $5 suggested donation
Anmmarie is more of an art center than a museum, but there are always fantastic exhibits to tour — and it’s all full of artistic delights. See beautiful works, both indoors and out, in a garden full of sculptures — some big and bold, others small and hidden — and inside the art center, where there is always beautiful and whimsical art on display.  Kiddos will love playing in the Fairy Lolly, the sweet playground outside, and creating their own art in the fantastic artLAB… and so will adults, for that matter.



The Megalodon model is one of many cool highlights at the Calvert Marine Museum

Calvert Marine Museum
Where: 14200 Solomons Island Road | Solomons, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $11/adult, $6/ages 5-12, free/under 5

The Calvert Marine Museum highlights the environment and maritime history of the Chesapeake Bay. Several large scale exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, live fish and other creatures, and a real lighthouse to tour are interesting and engaging for all ages. There are things to see both indoors and out, including beautiful scenic views. And you can bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy by the water.



Go big at the Maryland Science Center

Baltimore Museums
Where: All around Baltimore
When: Hours vary by venue
Admission: Varies by venue

Baltimore is home to so many wonderful museums, and it’s an easy 45-minute to get to most of them. Port Discovery, Maryland Science Center, American Visionary Arts Museum, Baltimore Museum of Industry, B&O Railroad Museum, Fort McHenry, National Aquarium, Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Walters Museum, are some of the of the many places that make the drive up very worthwhile.  There is a whole KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids that has details on all of them, plus some extra tips for eating in and exploring Charm City.


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Get a close look at Discovery (photo credit: KFDC Contributor Emily Moise)

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Where: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway | Chantilly, VA
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Discover Air & Space beyond the National Mall at the Udvar-Hazy Center out near Dulles. Some say the Chantilly arm of the museum is even cooler than its DC counterpart. Showcasing extra fascinating artifacts of flight, you can see all kinds of air and space crafts, pretend to pilot in flight simulators, get hands-on in a discovery station, and so much more.



Learn about the life of George Washington at Mount Vernon

George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Where: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Daily
Admission: $28/adult, $15/child, free/5 & under

The iconic estate of our nation’s first president covers hundreds of sprawling acres along the banks of the Potomac River. Mount Vernon offers a glimpse into the world of George Washington and life as it was in colonial times. Washington’s Mansion and many of the estate’s original structures still appear just as they did over 200 years ago. A four-acre working farm offers demonstrations of Washington’s farming practices. You can even talk with people who knew George Washington at one of the interpretive character programs. A museum features exhibits filled with hundreds of artifacts detailing the history of Mount Vernon and the legacy of the first POTUS. There are also two high-tech theatres that let you experience history in uniquely interactive ways.




Exhibits that let you get hands-on

Alexandria Archaeology Museum
Where: 105 N. Union Street | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: Weds-Fri 10am-3pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

This one-room space within the Torpedo Factory is worth a stop if you’re visiting the art center in Old Town. Several exhibits and displays offer insight into Alexandria’s history, several letting you handle bits of artifacts and get a close look. It’s located on the third floor, and visitors are welcome to pop-in.   KFDC Tip: Plan for time to browse the many artist studios at the Torpedo Factory and head outside to the waterfront area, where you can take in the views and see boats, and there are sometimes special art installations and historic ships temporarily moored.



A historic landmark in the heart of Old Town

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum
Where: 105-107 South Fairfax Street | Alexandria, VA
When: Weds-Fri, 11am-4pm, Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm
Admission: $5/age 13+, $3/age 5-12
, $8/guided tour
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum boasts a vast collection of herbal botanicals, hand-blown glass, and medical equipment. It also has a spectacular collection of archival materials, including journals, prescription and formula books, ledgers, orders and invoices. The museum is also a National Historic Landmark!



Visit the museum within the US Patent & Trade Office Building

National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum
Where: 600 Dulany Street | Alexandria, VA
When: Mon-Fri, 10am – 4pm | First Sat of the month, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Located in the building that houses the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is a museum all about inventions.  You can experience the past, present and future of American ingenuity as you are introduced to more than 600 world-changing Inductees/inventors and immersed in stories of passion, perseverance, and progress.



A sample of artifacts on display (Photo: Wiki Creative Commons)

National Museum of the Marine Corps
Where: 1775 Semper Fidelis Way | Triangle, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Located next to Marine Corps Base Quantico, the museum is a tribute to the commitment, accomplishments, and sacrifices of U.S. Marines. Exhibits cover all the wars and include innovative technology and unique artifacts that recreate scenes and tell a story of what it’s like to be a marine in action. Tanks, aircraft, and artillery will fascinate museum-goers of all ages.



A peek inside the US Army Museum (Photo: Duane Lempke, Wiki Creative Commons)

National Museum of the U.S. Army
Where: 1775 Liberty Drive Fort | Belvoir, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry tickets

Capturing over 245 years of Army history, the museum “brings to life that history in times of war and peace as told through the eyes of Soldiers. The Museum also offers educational experiences illustrating the Army’s role in building and defending our nation, humanitarian missions and technological and medical breakthroughs built on Army ingenuity.”


Are there any great museums in Maryland and Northern Virginia missing from this round-up?  Let us know in the comments!

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Check it: Silver Knights’ Cyber Monday Sale on Chess Programs for Kids!

Join the Silver Knights online chess club!


Silver Knights has been teaching chess to kids at hundreds of schools in the DC area since 2009, instructing thousands of students on the game every week.  For the last few years, they’ve also been doing an online chess club for kids, and they are currently offering a great way to get started.

Between now and Cyber Monday, November 29: Use the coupon code “cyber” when you buy one month, and get the second month free!

How does an online chess club for kids work?  Read on to find out!

1. New students start with a quick assessment to figure out what level classes they should take, from Pawns (how do you play chess?) to Kings (some of the best kids in the state for their age).

2. Schedule your weekly semi-private classes, which look like this:

Classes are offered 25 times a week before school, after school, and on Saturdays, so that you’ll definitely be able to find good (and flexible) times that work for your family. Experienced coaches keep the classes engaging, approachable, and fun for the students.

3. Join as many extras —  like online tournaments (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays) and broadcast lessons (weekdays) — as you want.

4. Occasional events like tournaments with clubs from other countries, and guests like Anish Giri (picture below, the #7 player in the world and very fun!) on Wednesday, November 24, or Judit Polgar (best female chess player ever).


Winter is a perfect time to start chess, and this Cyber Monday sale is a great way to do it (think holiday gift)!  A few more things to know:

  • Cost is $79/month.
  • The club is month-to-month with no long term commitment.
  • Start anytime and stop any time.
  • If you join the club, and for whatever reason it’s not the right fit, cancel in your first two weeks for a full refund.

Sign up here — and remember to use the coupon code “cyber” for your second month free!

Questions?  Email or schedule a chat!


This is a paid post by Silver Knights, however, I only promote programs, places, and businesses that I genuinely believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under 2021, Class, DC, Discount, Educational, Professional Service, Winter

Kids Can Explore the Magic of Opera with Opera Starts with Oh!


You and your little ones are invited to what The Washington Post calls, “The best Zoom there is!

Opera Starts with Oh! is a virtual series of live, interactive lessons created by professional opera company Opera Lafayette to introduce young audiences to the magic of opera. Led by teaching artist and professional choreographer, Tamrin Goldberg, and joined by a new guest artist for every session, Opera Starts with Oh! is perfect for families with children in pre-K and up. 

Each month a different opera is explored.  Families can drop in for one or sign-up for every session in the series. And, in an effort to keep the programming inclusive, it’s a pay-what-you-can model!

After the virtual live sessions, participants gain access to Play On! Activities to do at-home and off the screen to keep everyone singing, dancing, and creating. 

Learn more here and explore all of the fall sessions below! 



Zélindor: King of the Fairies! (Week 2) | October 23, 11am
Journey to an enchanting land with this opera-ballet filled with fairies, gnomes and muses through dance and costume design with professional costume designer Anna Kjellsdotter.
Learn more and register.

Pygmalion (Week 1) | November 6, 11am
Join us and special guest artist, dramaturg Peregrine Heard, as we use storytelling and sculpting to explore a love story about a sculptor’s creation that comes to life.
Learn more and register.

Pygmalion (Week 2) | November 20, 11am
Join us and special guest artist, dramaturg Peregrine Heard, as we use storytelling and sculpting to explore a love story about a sculptor’s creation that comes to life.
Learn more and register.

Orphée et Euridice (Week 1) | December 4, 11am
Journey to the underworld through music and song as we learn about how the talented musician Orpheus set out on a journey to save his love Euridice.
Learn more and register.

Orphée et Euridice (Week 2) | December 18, 11am
Journey to the underworld through music and song as we learn about how the talented musician Orpheus set out on a journey to save his love Euridice with special guest artist, flutist Delandria Mills.
Learn more and register.


Meet Tamrin Goldberg, leading teaching artist for all sessions in this short video:


This is post is sponsored by Opera Lafayette, however, I only promote programs, places , and services that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2021, Class, Educational, Extracurricular, Fall, Music

Five Hidden Histories and Stories on and Around the National Mall

[Note: This is a guest post contributed by JoAnn Hill, a DC area educator and author of the book “Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.” ]


A carousel’s connection to the Civil Rights Movement, an accidental shooting by the US army, an anti-dancing law that rivals the injustices of Footloose, world-renowned graffiti, and a science-touting statue that just might make you smarter… these lesser-known, feel-good, and bizarre stories are just waiting to be explored on and around the infamous National Mall.

Below are five fascinating stories to uncover at familiar sites on your explorations around the National Mall.  Check out local DC author JoAnn Hill’s book Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure to learn more about the hidden histories below as well as to discover dozens of additional gems and off-the-beaten path locales in and around the Washington, DC area.

Carousel on the National Mall

“Round and Round: A Carousel Takes a Turn into the Civil Rights Movement”

For decades, the National Mall’s iconic carousel has been a prominent fixture on the city’s most popular strip of grassy land. The carousel, however, is much more than an exuberant ride; it also serves as a hopeful window into the Civil Rights Movement.

On August 28, 1963, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his powerful “I Have a Dream” speech before a crowd of some 250,000 people during the March on Washington. On that same day, about 45 miles away outside of Baltimore, Gwynn Oak Amusement Park discontinued segregation. An 11-month-old baby named Sharon Langley was the first African American child to go on a ride there and rode the classic carousel, which was originally located in the park, along with two white children. The three children riding the carousel together exemplified King’s message of integration and racial harmony.

In 1981, the famous carousel made its way to its new home on the National Mall when a Smithsonian concessionaire purchased it, unaware of its historical significance. Seven years later, Donna and Stan Hunter purchased the special carousel and have owned and operated it ever since.

Read All About It: Learn more about how the beloved carousel reflects Civil Rights history on pages 74-75 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.

Thing to Know: Unfortunately, the Carousel is currently closed due to Covid.

Where: The Carousel is located on the National Mall: Jefferson Drive SW.


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Lincoln Memorial

“Oops! We Didn’t Mean to Shoot, Mr. President!”

The Lincoln Memorial is a national treasure, commemorating one of America’s most revered presidents, Abraham Lincoln. What many may be surprised to learn is that nearly 80 years ago, it was also the site of an accidental shooting by the US Army.

In 1942, as part of World War II defenses, an anti-aircraft gun was installed atop the US Department of Interior. The gun was positioned near a local bridge to protect the city against an air attack. On September 3, at 10am, a US Army soldier accidentally released a round of ammunition at the Lincoln Memorial. The accidental firing left its mark on the east side of the memorial. Bullets struck the structure’s frieze and damaged three of the 36 states’ names: Connecticut, Maryland, and Texas.

It is certainly safe to say that the Lincoln Memorial may just be the one US structure attacked by its own country.

Read All About It: Learn more about the US Army accidental shooting on the Lincoln Memorial on pages 186-187 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.

Go and Explore:  A baseball-size indentation was imprinted into the marble of the memorial’s outer wall. The gouge has been fixed before, but the patchwork has fallen out. There are no plans to refill or fix the hole.

Where: The Lincoln Memorial is located at 2 Lincoln Memorial Circle NW.


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Jefferson Memorial

“Leave Those Dancing Shoes at Home”

There may be a time and place to dance like no one’s watching, but dance enthusiasts should beware of adding the Jefferson Memorial to their lists of dance venues.

On May 17, 2011, a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, declared expressive dancing as prohibited inside the Jefferson Memorial. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit stated that expressive dancing “falls into the spectrum” of prohibited activities, including picketing, demonstrations, and speechmaking, at the memorial. The rules are intended to ban conduct that has the propensity to attract spectators while detracting from the dignified and ceremonious setting of the national memorial.

The court’s ruling was in response to the 2008 arrest of several individuals silently dancing to commemorate Thomas Jefferson’s 265th birthday. The dancers’ expressive performance was deemed as unlawful. The court viewed the performance as a distraction to fellow visitors, as well as an attraction to onlookers.

While some of the laws passed in our nation’s capital have caused many to scratch their heads, this one may just be among the strangest and surprising of them all.

Read All About It: Learn more about this bizarre law at the Jefferson Memorial on pages 2-3 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.

Go and Explore:  The Jefferson Memorial is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Where: The Jefferson Memorial is located at 16 E. Basin Drive SW.


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World War II Memorial

“Bald-Headed and a Little Bit of Comfort”

Wandering around the World War II Memorial evokes numerous emotions: feelings of sorrow, honor, remembrance, and respect, just to name a few. Individuals walking near the Pennsylvania pillar, however, may find themselves feeling additional emotions of surprise and bewilderment.

During World War II, various drawings of a large-nosed, bald man peering over a fence next to the words, “Kilroy was here” popped up all over the globe wherever battles were being fought. The mysterious sketches were proof that an American comrade had previously been there, providing comfort and reassurance to many anxious soldiers. The identity of the artist behind the graffiti was unknown, resulting in many to be confused by these peculiar drawings.

While the popularity surrounding ‘Kilroy was here” eventually dwindled, the widely recognized graffiti symbol can still be seen around the world, causing some to fondly remember its historical meaning and others to scratch their own heads in bemusement.

Read All About It: Learn more about the worldwide “Kilroy Was Here” WWII drawings on pages 80-81 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.

Go and Explore: The “Kilroy Was Here” graffiti sketch is located behind the golden gate next to the Pennsylvania pillar.

Where: The World War II Memorial is located at 1750 Independence Avenue SW.


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Albert Einstein Bronze Statue

“Save a Seat for Science”

Many of the capital city’s monuments ask visitors to quietly reflect when visiting, creating tranquil and sometimes even somber memorial site settings. One lesser-known monument, however, has chosen to take a quite different approach; visitors coming to pay tribute to one of the world’s most famous scientists are encouraged not only to sit on his statue, but also to climb upon it.

Standing twelve feet tall and weighing approximately four tons, a bronze statue honoring physicist Albert Einstein is situated near the southwest corner of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) grounds. In 1979, the NAS unveiled the sizable statue to commemorate the centennial of Einstein’s birthday. The famous physicist appears relaxed, leisurely sitting on a three-step bench made of white granite.

The statue’s base is characterized by a star map—a 28-foot expanse of emerald pearl granite that’s embellished with more than 2,700 metal studs representing the sun, moon, stars, planets, and other astronomical objects precisely placed by astronomers from the US Naval Observatory as they were on the centennial date.

Read All About It: Learn more about this this bronze tribute to science on pages 184-185 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.

Go and Explore:  Legend has it that if you rub Einstein’s nose, some of his genius will rub off on you!

Where: The Albert Einstein Statue is located at 2101 Constitution Avenue NW.


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JoAnn Hill has lived in Washington, DC, with her husband Thalamus and dog Jackson for over 19 years. An avid traveler and foodie, JoAnn writes about their DC living and dining experiences, as well as their global travel adventures, on her blog Her writing has been published in BELLA Magazine, Escape Artist, and Triptipedia. JoAnn served as a DC Public Schools teacher for 17 years before co-founding Capitol Teachers, a tutoring company servicing the greater DC area. This is her first book.



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Filed under DC, Educational, Monuments & Memorials

Welcome Back to School, DC!


This post is sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, however, I only promote programs, services, and places that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Educational, Schools