Category Archives: Gradeschoolers

Visit the Washington Waldorf School for a Tour or Open House!


This post is sponsored by the Washington Waldorf School, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


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Filed under 2019, Educational, Gradeschoolers, High Schoolers, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, Schools, Teens, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

DC Way is Hosting One-Day Camps on Upcoming Days off from School!


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


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Filed under 2019, Camp, DC, Fall, Gradeschoolers, Middle Schoolers, Outdoor, Sports, Weekdays

A Unique Educational Experience at Sandy Spring Friends School

[Note: This is a Sponsored Guest Post contributed by the staff at Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Spring, MD.]

Are you searching for the perfect school for your child? If you are seeking a unique educational experience that provides small classes and personalized learning; an inquiry-based approach to academics where our hands-on (project-based) curriculum takes place inside the classroom and across our beautiful 140-acre campus; and a character-based education that fosters critical thinking and empowers students to make the world a better place, then you should check out Sandy Spring Friends School.

A Personalized Approach
Founded in 1961, Sandy Spring Friends School (SSFS) enrolls just over 600 students from age 3 to 12th grade, a “just-right” size that allows students to be part of a diverse community of learners (including a robust international student population in the Upper School), while also allowing for an intimate classroom setting. With class sizes maxing out at 16 students, our first-rate teachers can offer personalized attention and cultivate each student’s talents and interests.

Teachers at SSFS know their students well and along with guiding them toward success in the classroom, they can help direct students and families towards in-house support they need to help them thrive. From a Student Resource Team to our Learning Resource Collaborative, support staff help students achieve academic success as well as improve their skills in self-awareness, self-advocacy, and independence.

Hands-On and Experiential Learning
At SSFS, the curriculum is informed by the latest scientific research on how the brain works and learns best. With continual professional development on mind-brain education, our teachers learn to effectively apply these best practices into their classrooms. When the mind-brain approach to teaching is combined with the benefits of learning in nature, you experience the magic that is Sandy Spring Friends School.

The 140-acre campus provides many unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. Wide-open spaces and a natural playground are used daily for exploration and play. Additionally, the campus includes a farm, a pond, an old-growth forest, a stream that feeds into the Anacostia Watershed, six miles of cross-country trails, and an aerial adventure park adjacent to the School.

The Lower School program takes advantage of these assets through a variety of learning activities. Students tap maple trees and re-enact the Oregon Trail experience in the fall, and make regular visits to the pond throughout the spring to see for themselves how tadpoles develop into frogs. A Farming Program engages students in inquiry-based learning as they reflect on their explorations, record their experiences, and formulate their own conclusions.

Classes in all divisions use the campus environs not only to expand students’ scientific thinking but also to further develop their understanding of stewardship and continual care of the earth. Seventh graders spend time studying sustainable agriculture methods on our campus’s organic farm. Upper School students use the farm and school land for scientific field study in Biology, Geology, and AP Environmental Science courses. Upper School students even utilize the farm for athletic conditioning (not many other DC-area school athletic departments can boast a “Farming for Fitness” class!).

A Values-Based Education
Strong academic, arts, and athletics programs are vital components of a college preparatory school—and indeed, SSFS seniors are accepted at selective colleges and universities across the country and around the world. However, for Sandy Spring Friends School, our education extends beyond what our students know and focuses on who our students become.  

The School’s values are rooted in Quakerism, which has a long history of commitment to social justice, equality, integrity, and peaceful resolution of conflict. SSFS focuses on instilling the Quaker SPICES— Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship— into each child, from preschool (age 3) all the way to senior year.   SSFS offers distinctive programming that integrates the SPICES throughout the school year:

  • Each division participates weekly in Meeting For Worship, a meditative practice which offers time for quiet reflection for students.
  • Students participate in social-emotional education that teaches students from an early age how to navigate conflict peacefully and respectfully.
  • Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools have a student body government, where students using consensus to select leadership.
  • A Senior-Buddy Program pairs up 12th graders with Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st-grade students. The groups get together several times throughout the year for lunches and playdates, forming special bonds of friendship between the oldest and youngest students on campus.
  • A “Community Day” in the fall and an “Our People, Our Planet Day” in the spring bring the entire preschool–12th-grade community together for environmental stewardship projects, reflection, team-building games, and opportunities to learn more about the various cultures represented by the School’s diverse student body.


  • Come and See Us In Action!

    Fall Open House | Sunday, October 20, 2019, 1-3:30pm
    Preschool-12th grade families are invited to come and meet our community of scholars, performers, thinkers, and doers. During our Open House, you will have the opportunity to tour our amazing 140 acre campus, meet our dynamic faculty, students, and parents, and visit our classrooms and facilities. Can’t make it to the open house? Schedule a private tour by emailing us at [email protected]

    Snapshot Days | November 12 & November 19, 2019 • 9-10am
    Preschool and Kindergarten families are invited to join us for a Snapshot Day on our beautiful campus! Snapshot Days allow a first-hand peek into our Preschool and Kindergarten classrooms for you and your child. Your little learner will spend one hour exploring our classrooms while you have an opportunity to speak briefly with teachers, administrators, and other parents; ask questions; and see our program in action. You may also sign up for an optional campus tour.


    This post is sponsored by Sandy Spring Friends School, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


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    Filed under 2019, DC, Educational, Gradeschoolers, Guest Post, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, School Event, Schools, Teens, Tweens, Weekdays

    Tips for Visiting Smithsonian Museums with Young Children (Ages 0-6)

    [Note: This is a Guest Post contributed by Jennifer Liao, local mom and founder of Family Trip Guides. As my own kids are now well past the little kid stage, Jennifer brings a fresh take on navigating the National Mall’s museum scene with younger children.]

    I started taking my kids to the Smithsonian museums as a tactic to survive the long summer, but it turned into the highlight of the season! We set a goal to visit all 12 Smithsonian museums with my then 2- and 5-year-old and made a passing grade of 8 over the summer and finished this past year. At first, my goals were to escape the suburbs and enjoy the free, world-class museums, but I wasn’t prepared for how much we would grow to love our visits! Now my kids regularly ask which museum we’re going to this week: The Dinosaur One? (Natural History), the Vehicle One? (Postal Museum), or the Inventions One? (American History).

    Channeling Julia Childs at Wegmans Wonderplace in the American History Museum

    The museums sparked so much curiosity and wonder in my kids that it became contagious. They were excited to share with kids and adults alike about what they discovered that, by the end, we were bringing neighbors with us on our museum trips. I started to get lots of questions from my friends about taking kids into DC by themselves, where to park on a weekday, and food options outside the museums. So, I started texting my tips to friends, which turned into emails, then ultimately created Family Trip Guides for the top five museums.
    I love lists so below are: 1) My 3 favorite things about visiting Smithsonians with young kids, 2) Trip tips, and 3) Favorite museums for this age.

    Exploring the African Art Museum

    My 3 Favorite Things about Visiting Smithsonians with Young Kids

    1. Following Their Wonder: I LOVE watching kids’ faces light up when they explore something new! I often follow behind my children when we first enter a gallery and listen to their oohs and ahhs and have them lead me to what they want to explore. Most recently, in the African Art Museum right behind the Smithsonian Castle, my 3-year-old was so transfixed by the beautiful gold exhibit from the Wolof in Senegal, commenting that one necklace looked kind of like a cupcake!

    2. Free = No Pressure/No Guilt: All the Smithsonian museums are free which relieves a lot of the pressure to “see everything.” If you need to leave because of nap time or a tantrum, you have a guilt free pass to do so. We used to live in Chicago where the Field Museum is $26 for the basic admission per person so you wanted to get your money’s worth, i.e. you stayed awhile, even if the kids were no longer into it. The Smithsonians can be a great pop-in destination whether you live nearby or not.

    3. Connection: Visiting a museum with younger kids requires a lot more attention for the parent or caregiver (why is Obama’s portrait at toddler-touch-level at the Portrait Gallery?!), but it leads to incredible moments of connection with your child. My kids help me live in the moment and see the wonder in the nature, art, and artifacts.

    Don’t miss the Volunteer Carts for extra exhibits (and stickers!)

    My Top 3 Trip Tips for Visiting Museums with Little Kids

    1. Go at the Right Time: Parents and caregivers all know that timing is everything with this age group. Pick the time when your child will be the least tired, hungry, and overstimulated. For my kids, that’s in the morning, but I know some parents who visit museums after an afternoon nap. I aim to get to the museum right at 9:45am to get parking close to the museum (often right on the National Mall!) and get in line five minutes before the museum opens at 10am. This is my “magic time” before a lot of the school and tour groups seem to arrive around 11am, and tourists later in the afternoon. It gives my kids a couple of hours to enjoy a much less crowded museum and make a clean exit for lunch, either a picnic on the Mall or at an eatery close by. (I have 20+ food options categorized by each museum on my blog.)

    2. Go to a Little-Kid Friendly Museum: There are 12 museums and an amazing National Zoo as a part of the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world! All of them are special and wonderful in their own way, but for this age group, I would highly recommend focusing on the most kid-friendly of them (see below), especially if you will need good changing tables and nursing areas.

    3. Avoid the Gift Shop: Confession time… my kids have never been to a museum gift shop! I think my daughter knows they exist, because we had to walk by one and I diverted her to another gallery. We really avoid the gift shop because, as all parents know, it can be a drawn-out negotiation that takes time and energy I’d rather be spending on the exhibits. So, instead, I have included Gift Shop Alternatives for each age group and for each museum in my Guides. A few ideas for little kids: If you’re near the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall, take a ride on the historic Carousel — for $3.50 the only dilemma is which animal to ride. If you’re at Natural History or Air and Space Museums, ask the information desk where the Volunteer Cart is for the day — they might be giving out free stickers. If you’re near the Postal Museum, get a food treat at Au Bon Pain, Shake Shack, or another place in Union Station.

    Start a stamp collection at the National Postal Museum!

    My 3 Favorite Smithsonian Museums with Young Kids

    1. National Postal Museum: This was the surprise favorite of our whole family during our summer challenge and definitely the “easiest” of the Smithsonians with kids. It has wonderful hands-on exhibits and the largest collection of stamps in the world — and they let you take a few to start your own collection! My 3-year old son calls this the “vehicle museum” because it houses a real train, a stagecoach, and an 18-wheeler truck to climb all around. The museum is located right next to Union Station, making it perfect for metro, parking, and dozens of food options from Shake Shack to Chipotle! 

    2. American History Museum: This museum has so much to offer for all ages, plus the best enclosed play area for smaller kids. Wegman’s Wonderplace feels like a real museum (because it is!) with paintings and artifacts behind child safe glass and at their eye level. It is created for ages 0-6 and includes a kid-friendly bathroom, a nursing room in the back corner, a volunteer-staffed gate to keep kids inside, and an amazing kid-sized replica of Julia Childs’ kitchen! (Note: Wegman’s Wonderplace is closed Tuesdays.)

    3. American Indian Museum: I love this museum because our kids don’t have much interaction with Native American cultures, and the museum does a great job at welcoming kids to learn more. We love the kids’ area called the imagiNATIONS Activity Center on the 3nd floor and The Mitsitam Food Court (which means “Let’s eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples). It’s an extension of the museum with foods from different regions. (Note: imagiNATIONS is closed Mondays.)

    I hope something in all these lists sparked interest in taking your kids (or neighbor kids!) to one of the amazing national treasures we call Smithsonian Museums.

    Thanks so much, Jennifer!

    KFDC community, what are some your favorite Smithsonian Museums? Let us know in the comments below!

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    Jennifer Liao is a mom of two curious kiddos in Fairfax County who unabashedly loves museums. She created FamilyTripGuides.com to help other families have great visits with their kids. She also loves cooking with her husband and long bike rides.






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    Filed under Babies, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Gradeschoolers, Guest Post, Indoor Play, Museums, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend