The DC public school lottery is currently open, and many District parents are exploring the selection of educational options for their children. And as a parent who has been through it more than once, I highly recommend taking advantage of opportunities to attend Open House events. It’s a great way to get a better feel for a school — you can get a look at the facilities, ask specific questions, and meet some of the people who will potentially be part of your child’s life.
Coming up in the next few weeks, Creative Minds International Public Charter School, which serves students from preschool to middle school, will be hosting two Open House events. The first will be held on Wednesday, February 8, at 6:15pm. And if you can’t make it on a weekday evening, there will be another Saturday, February 25, at 3pm.
Founded five years ago by Golnar Abedin, Ph.D., Creative Minds initially launched with preschool and elementary programs, and they’ve been such a success that Abedin expanded the school into 6th grade this year, and will add on 7th grade next year, continuing with 8th after that. The school strikes a unique balance in education by taking a global approach to learning, while always maintaining focus and attention on the individual student.
The global component is one that Abedin believes to be important in an international city like Washington, DC. Through the lens of this type of curriculum, students gain an understanding, appreciation, and respect for differences of all kinds, making them confident, culturally aware individuals capable of succeeding in a diverse and global society.
Creative Minds has designed an engaging program based on an international, project, and arts-based curriculum that includes foreign language instruction as well as standards-based literacy and mathematics. Students receive a well-rounded education that integrates both the arts and STEAM, all under the instruction of passionate teachers dedicated to the social, emotional, and academic success of their students.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Creative Minds International Public Charter School, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.
I love Ren Fest. But if you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you already knew that. Every fall, I express my fervor for the medieval time trip through dedicated posts and weekly recommendations to go during its seasonal run. We made our first visit of the season there this past weekend, and I say first because we’ll definitely be going back for more merriment. You can get more background on Ren Fest (and my love for it) here and here. And you can view some scenes from this year’s faire at Revel Grove below. And be sure to scroll all the way down for logistics and tips. Huzzah!
Where it all starts (and ends…this was shot on the way out)
The charming grounds of Revel Grove are a delight in itself
Getting medieval on that turkey leg
Fantastic jousting action!
Buy wear for the faire while you’re there
Little ones love the pony rides and parents love the cost: free!
Just a guy shoving a sword down his throat into his stomach
Hands-on in the House of Reptiles
Sasha enamored by bubbles, Owen by the bubble lady
Renaissance band jam
Good times in the Boars Head Tavern
The Maryland Renaissance Festival takes place at Revels Grove in Crownesville, Md, running every weekend through October 21 from 10am – 7pm. Admission is $17/ages 16 and up, $8/ages 7-15 thru September 16, then $22/ages 16 and up, $10/ages 7-15 from September 22 – October 21. Free for ages 6 and under.
When you go:
– Bring a stroller or carrier for little ones, as there’s a lot of walking. I recommend a stroller that navigates over dirt paths easily.
– Get a map and schedule on your way in to help you navigate and plan your day
– If there’s show you really want to see, get to the stage a few minutes ahead of time to get good seats so the kids have a good view.
– You might encounter less crowds on Sunday, when many folks are watching football
– Plan to spend on extras like food, games, and fun for kids (all reasonably priced but it can add up)
– Let the kids dress up! Princesses, knights, fairies, pirates will fit right in.
Last week, when I posted a compilation of fall festivals taking place around the DC area, I purposely excluded a big one. That’s because the annual Library of Congress National Book Festival deserves a post all its own. The DC tradition, a celebration of books, reading, and literature, consistently draws hundreds of thousands of people to the National Mall every year, giving book lovers of all ages a rare opportunity to interact with and get their books signed by their favorite authors.
This year’s event will take place September 22-23 with the theme “Books that Shaped America, ” inviting authors and the public to share their favorite books that shaped who they’ve become. More than 100 authors, poets, and illustrators from all literary genres will make presentations on the Mall throughout the weekend.
So, I know at least one 6-year-old who is going to particularly excited about the Festival this year when he finds out the author of his favorite book series is part of the event, and I bet there are lots of kids who will be thrilled along with him. Mary Pope Osborne, creator of the wonderful Magic Treehouse books, is among the children’s authors who will be presenting. (I, too, am pretty psyched to meet the writer whose stories pique Owen’s imagination and help foster his zest for reading.)
Many more celebrated authors of books for young and old will be there — you can view the complete lineup and schedule of presentations on the Festival website. And a KFDC tip: If you really want to get a spot in a pavilion to see an author, plan to arrive to their presentation early, as space fills up fast. And if you want to pick up a copy of their book for signings, there will be a whole pavilion dedicated to book sales.
Super Reader to the rescue at last year's festival
And that’s not all you’ll find at the Festival. There will be family storytelling events and reading-related activities for kids in the Let’s Read America pavilion; popular PBS characters on hand to greet children and pose for photo ops; the Gateway to Knowledge truck, which houses some of the top treasures and information about the millions of resources in the Library of Congress’ collections; the Digital Bookmobile, where visitors can explore download services from community libraries nationwide at interactive learning stations; and a 50th birthday celebration for Clifford the Big Red Dog.
The public is invited to enjoy this all rain or shine on Saturday, September 22, from 10am – 5:30pm and Sunday, September 23, from 12 – 5:30pm. Admission is FREE. For more information, visit the Library of Congress website.
A scenic ride on the Clark's Elioak Farm cow train
Fall is right around the corner, and so are the scores of festivals that come along with it, celebrating everything from the season to neighborhoods to medieval times. Enjoy local art and culture, pick pumpkins and take a hayride on the farm, eat turkey legs with characters straight out of the 16th century. Most of the hoopla begins in a couple weeks, but you can start planning now with this list of fall festivals. (And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the National Book Festival — I’ll post details for that soon — but if there are any other good ones I’ve missed, feel free to let me know in the comments.)
Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove in Crownsville, Md.
When: Weekends through October 21
Admission: Thru 9/16: $17/ages 16 and up, $8/ages 7-15. 9/22-10/21: $22/ages 16 and up, $10/ages 7-15. Free for ages 6 and under.
Take a day trip back to medieval times at Renn Fest. Besides the amazing variety of entertainment — jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters and sword swallowers, juggling acts, Celtic music, and much more — walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in puffy shirts in a 16th-century village as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of mead is an interesting little jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy (well, maybe not the mead). Get a little more background on the event here and here, both previous posts about my love of Ren Fest.
Montpelier Farms Fall Festival Where: Upper Marlboro, Md When: September 1 – November 4, Fridays 5-11pm, Saturdays 10am – 11pm, Sundays 11am – 7pm Admission: $10/ages 13 and up, $8/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under
Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, corn maze, animals, hill slides, and plenty more. And right now, you can get it all at a discount with this LivingSocial deal: Get four general admission tickets for $20!
Adams Morgan Day Festival Where: 18th Street NW, between Columbia and Florida Avenues When: September 9 Admission: Free
Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. The 34th Annual Adams Morgan Day Festival offers a day full of music, art, culture, dancing, and more. Arts on Belmont will feature original artisans and a variety of art mediums. The Green Pavilion will house eco-friendly wares and vendors. The Health & Fitness Pavilion will showcase clinic and hospital services, holistic and exercise regimens, and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Little ones will love the Kids Fair at the Marie Reed School field with loads of games, bounces, face painting. Details and the schedule of performances are available on the festival website.
Hartland Orchard Fall Festival Weekends Where: Markham, VA When: September 8 – October 28 Admission: $10/ages 3 and up, free for ages 2 and under
The website promises a wonderful farm experience, and from the looks of it, they’ll make good on it. The long list of amusement includes hayrides, pumpkin patches, a 60-foot slide, a corn maze, duck and pig races, and pony rides (some activities cost extra). The apple picking also comes highly recommended.
Fall Weekends at Clark’s Elioak Farm Where: Ellicott City, Md. When: Ongoing, pumpkin patch is open September 24 – November 6, 10am – 5pm daily Admission: $5, babies 1 and under are free
This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds scattered with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and more. On fall weekends, guests can also enjoy special activities like pumpkin coloring and crafts, a teddy bear visit, a reptile show, and gem mining. Face painting and pit beef are also available on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ticonderoga Farm Fall Pumpkin Festival Where: Chantilly, VA When: September 15 – November 4, 9am – 6pm daily Admission: $8.95/weekdays, $14.95/holiday and weekends
This festival has all the trappings for a fun on the farm: hayrides, swings, Noah’s Ark playground, hillside slides, s’mores roasting, cornshucking demos, a petting farm, a maze, antique tractors and firetruck, a pumpkin patch, and much, much more (seriously, see the entire list here). The Cow Pow Train, Jump and Bounce Pillow, face painting, and some children’s games are available weekends only, but there’s obviously plenty to keep kids entertained any day of the week.
H Street Festival Where: H Street NE When: September 15, 12-7pm Admission: Free
The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving corridor has lots to celebrate this year — the completion of the streetscape project, the opening of many new businesses along the corridor, and the survival of the businesses that have been part of the community for years. The event will feature live entertainment on five stages, including a kids stage; art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and kids’ activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces.
Celebrate 17th Street Where: 17th Street NW, from Riggs Place to P Street When: September 22, 12-6pm Admission: Free
This free event celebrates the 17th Street Corridor and surrounding community with musical performances throughout the afternoon, artist vendors, a pet zone, a kids zone, exposure for non-profit groups and appearances by city officials to celebrate the community and businesses.
Cox Farms Fall Festival Where: Centreville, VA When: September 22-23, September 29 – October 31, 9am – 6pm daily Admission: $9/weekdays, $14/weekends, $17 prime weekend for ages 2 and up
This festival is huge. So big that they actually have a Tips & Resources page on the website to help guests prepare and navigate their way around the sprawling venue that contains five slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and more. It’s a blast, especially the giant slide that takes you swooping down several humps over a hillside. (That’s right, I know firsthand because parents can enjoy many of the festival activities just as much as kids.) There is also a Kiddie Zone, especially for little ones aged 5 and under.
Barracks Row Fall Festival Where: 8th Street SE, Capitol Hill When: September 22, 11am – 5pm Admission: Free
Showcasing the marine barracks and commerce on 8th Street SE in Capitol Hill, this annual festival is fun for all ages. This years details will be available soon, but we can likely count on tours of the historic barracks, live entertainment, a petting zoo, food and art vendors, and tons of fun for kids (clowns, magicians, face painting, and more). And chefs from all branches of the military will be back again for a Military Culinary Competition. Check their website soon for updated info.
Butler’s Orchards 32nd Annual Pumpkin Festival Where: Germantown, Md When: Saturdays & Sundays September 29 – October 28, 10am – 5pm Admission: $10, free for children 2 and under
Kids will love jumping in the hayloft, hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food costs extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!
SW ArtsFest Where: Southwest DC (several venues) When: September 29 Admission: Free
This annual celebration will highlight art and culture in Washington’s smallest quadrant, Southwest. The lineup of festivities will include a central art market, music, dance, film screenings, walking tours, and more. Find more details here.
Great Country Farms Fall Harvest Festival Where: Bluemont, VA When: September 29 – October 28, 9am – 6pm daily Admission: $10/adults $8/kids weekdays, $12/adult $10/kids weekends, ages 2 and under are free
Great Country is known for it’s awesome festivals, and the Fall Harvest is sure to be no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Rubber Ridge, the tractor tire mountain; the Pumpkin Princess in the pumpkin patch, a giant Pumpkin’ Jumpin’ Pillow; five mazes; 60-foot slides, rope swings, tractor rides, and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, the largest u-pick patch in the area. See a schedule of activities here.
Marker-Miller Orchards – Multiple Festivals Where: Winchester, VA When: Several weekends in September and October Admission: Free
There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with three different festivals taking place. It starts with the Fall Farm Fun Festival September 22-23, which will include apple-picking, wagon rides, a cow train, and music. Next is the Apple Harvest Festival October 6-7 offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: 20 varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. Finally, October 27 is the Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.
20th Annual Fall For Fairfax KidFest Where: Fairfax County Government Center When: September 29, 10am – 7pm & September 30, 10am – 5pm Admission: Free
This annual event by Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. includes exciting, interactive, and educational programs, entertainment and activities. Especially designed for families with elementary and pre-K aged children, activities include scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, public safety and recycling-themed exhibits, pony rides, a petting zoo, hay rides, model trains, and the KidWay MidWay with more than a dozen rides, bounces, and attractions. And that’s just for the kids. Adults can enjoy more than 75 exhibits, live entertainment, activities, and great festival food. While admission is free, some rides and concessions will require a fee.
Frederick’s Oktoberfest Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds When: September 29, 11am – 10pm & September 30, 11am – 6pm Admission: $5, free for ages 2 and under
The Frederick Fairgrounds are transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, musical entertainment, and they claim they have a few more tricks up their sleeves just to keep everyone surprised. (See a schedule of kids activities here.) This all benefits Frederick County charities.
Columbia Heights Day Festival Where: Harriet Tubman Elementary School Field When: October 6, 11am – 3pm Admission: Free
The neighborhood’s 6th annual festival will celebrates the season and the community. There will family activities, live entertainment, local artists and vendors, food, and fun. Check back for more details soon.
Larriland Farm Fall Festival Where: Woodbine, MD When: All through October, Weekdays 9am – 6pm, Weekends 9am – 5pm, Admission: Free, but there may be fees for some activities
Enjoy the changing colors of the season as you select a pumpkin, pick apples from the orchard, take a hayride (weekends only), and find your way through a straw maze. Kids ages 4-9 can play in the Boo Barn filled with animated (but not too scary) ghosts and goblins.
Homestead Farm Fall Festival Where: Poolesville, Md When: October – exact dates TBD Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities
While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family. And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free! Of course, you still pay for pumpkins and cider. And caramel apples.