Tag Archives: DC Museum Programs for Kids

Regularly Occurring Museum Programs for Kids Around the DC Area

Make your own art at the National Gallery of Art

 

Not only are we so lucky to have a wealth of world class museums right here in DC, many also offer special programs to explore them even more.  Among them are sessions especially for kids that take place on a regular basis — monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, and a couple even more often.  There are story times, art activities, and all kinds of opportunities to discover the museums’ collections and related topics in new, fun ways.  So, if you’re looking for a weekday activity with little ones or something for the whole family on the weekend, there are a bunch of great options.  Even better, just about all of them are free. Here are details… and be sure to bookmark, too!

 

Get inspired at the National Portrait Gallery

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
Where: 8th & F Strets NW | Penn Quarter, DC

Weekend Workshops
When: Most Saturdays & Sundays, 11:30am – 3pm
All ages are welcome to drop in and get creative at these workshops. Learn about artists and change-makers, then create art inspired by their stories.

Storytime in the Explore! Family Space
When: Mondays, 1:30-2pm
Admission: Free

Immerse in tales of artists, presidents, inventors, athletes and more! Plan for a longer visit in the family space before or after story time to play and learn about portraiture. Read more about the Explore! space here.

National Portrait Gallery Kids
When: Select Mondays, 11:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: Free

Children and families are invited to learn, play, and create at the Portrait Gallery!  Join educators to explore topics like colors, emotions, STEM, and history through art viewing, hands-on activities, music, and movement. This program is a fun way to engage with art and each other.

Teen Conversation Circles
When: Every other Saturday, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Teen English language learners ages 13-19 are invited to join NPG educators and friends all over the world in person and via ZOOM. Together, use portraiture to learn about U.S. art, history and culture. Meet new friends and learn about different cultures while practicing English. Note that some sessions are virtual.

 

 

Say hello to fun at the Postal Museum

NATIONAL POSTAL MUSEUM
Where: 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE | National Mall, DC

Hello, Museo
When: Every other Tuesday, 10:30-11:30am
Admission: Free

This bilingual program features music, stories, crafts, and gallery exploration. It’s designed for children ages 1-3 and their caregivers, but all are welcome! Read more about the National Postal Museum in this KFDC post.

 

 

Explore natural history on a Play Date

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Where: 1000 Madison Drive | National Mall, DC

Playdate at NMNH
When: Tuesdays, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Early learners and their caregivers are invited to explore elements of nature with museum educators, usually in the Q?rius activity space or the Explorer Theatre in the Sant Ocean Hall.

 

 

Tinker away in the Spark!Lab

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY
Where: | National Mall, DC

Spark!Lab
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm

While this isn’t a special program, the activity center is a special space within the museum where kids ages 6-12 are invited to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment, and invent. STEM activities are integrated with art, museum, and creativity.

Wegmans Wonderplace
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm

Again, this is not a special program, but the space for children ages 0-6 is full of features that cater to curious young visitors, incorporating play and learning in the museum’s American history context. Read more about it in this KFDC post.

 

 

Take kiddos for storytime and more at the Hirshhorn

HIRSHHORN MUSEUM
Where: 7th & Independence SW | National Mall, DC

Storytime (ON BREAK FOR SUMMER)
When: Wednesdays, 10-11am
Admission: Free

The Hirshhorn’s one-of-a-kind storytime experience offers a fun and fresh theme for kids (from birth to age 8) and their caregivers. They encourage everyone to get hands-on with their art maker projects inspired by the museum’s collection, plus enjoy read-alouds filled with music, tales, and lots of movement.

Art Cart
When: Saturdays, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Drop in with little ones on Saturdays between 10am and 1pm to make art inspired by Hirshhorn works on view. The Art Cart offers young artists a hands-on maker experience with a fresh and fun theme inspired by an artwork on display, an artmaking activity to do in the museum, and projects to extend the fun at home.

 

Hear stories about air and space

NATIONAL AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
Where: 6th & Independence SW | National Mall, DC

Story Time 
When: Thursdays, 11am
Admission: Free

Bring little ones to hear a children’s story that’s related to air and space. Some sessions include hands-on activities and play time, too. Note that the same story is repeated throughout the month.

One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
When: Thursdays & Sundays, 10:30am
Admission: Free

Join Big Bird and Elmo as they explore the night sky with Hu Hu Zhu, a Muppet from “Zhima Jie,” the Chinese co-production of Sesame Street. Together they take an imaginary trip from Sesame Street to the moon, where they discover how different it is from Earth. They also journey to Zhima Jie to learn about the similarities in our view of the sky.Note that it’s always the same show, but kids can pop in now and then and maybe discover something they previously missed.

 

 

Udvar-Hazy hosts story time and more

UDVAR-HAZY CENTER
Where: 14390 Air & Space Museum Pkwy | Chantilly, VA
Admission: Free, but note that parking is $15

Story Time
When: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11am & 11:30am
Admission: Free

Bring little ones to hear a children’s story that’s related to air and space. Some sessions include hands-on activities and play time, too. Note that the same story is repeated throughout the month.

Second Saturday Sungazing
When: Second Saturday of the month, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Become an astronomer and observe the sun safely with a filtered telescope. Join museum staff outside at the entrance to view a variety of features on the sun. Knowledgeable staff are there to answer questions and guide observing.

 

 

 

Get crafty at a First Saturday

NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART
Where: East Building, 4th & Constitution NW | National Mall, DC

First Saturday
When: First Saturday of the month, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

The museum’s monthly program is a special day-long affair with multiple free programs for visitors of all ages. There is a morning story time for little ones, hands-on art projects, sometimes films especially for kids, a pop-up library, and activities centered around a new theme or exhibit each month.

 

 

 

Discover the art of Asia through museum kids’ programs

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ASIAN ART
Where: 1050 Independence Ave SW | National Mall, DC

Art & Me Workshops
When: Select Saturdays monthly, 11am – 12:30pm & 1-3:30pm
Admission: Free

This program is back in person, exploring works in the museum then returning to the ImaginAsia studio to learn more through a hands-on activity. There are currently workshops scheduled for January and February, but check back soon for more to be added to the schedule.

Discovery Days
When: Select Wednesdays monthly
Admission: Free

Plan for a day of discovery and experiential learning at the National Museum of Asian Art. Choose your own adventure and explore the galleries at your own pace — there will be activities and interactions with pop-up museum educators along the way. You can also select a time slot for a thirty-minute guided art activity. This would make a great field trip — a room for eating brown-bagged lunches can be arranged upon request as well as free bus transportation for DC public and public charter schools.

 

 

Enjoy STEAM fun in a stunning space

NATIONAL BUILDING MUSEUM
Where: 401 F Street NW | Judiciary Square, DC

STEAM Saturday
When: Second Saturday of the month
Admission: Free with museum admission ($7/child, $10/adult)

Join the museum for STEAM activities. that challenges kids to think creatively and experimentally using principles of design thinking and engineering. The program is targeted towards 2nd-8th graders and their caregivers.

 

 

Drop in for play at the Zoo — and visit the animals, too!

NATIONAL ZOO
Where: | Woodley Park, DC

Little Critters Nature Play
When: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, 9:30am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free

Little zoogoers can drop in to explore animals and nature through creative, free-choice activity stations, water play, and story times. Designed for kids ages 0-8.

 

Art to explore indoors and out at the Kreeger

KREEGER MUSEUM
Where: 2401 Foxhall Road NW | Foxhall, DC

First Studio: Art, Story, and Workshop
When: Select Saturdays monthly, 10-11am
Admission: $10

Young artists ages 3-5 and an adult companion are invited to use their imagination as they explore the paintings, sculpture, and architecture of The Kreeger Museum. Each program focuses on a theme supported by a story, works of art from the collection, and a hands-on art-making experience. Read more about the Kreeger Museum in this KFDC post.

 

A new story and theme every month

CAPITOL JEWISH MUSEUM
Where: 575 3rd Street NW | Judiciary Square area, DC

Story Time at CJM
When: Second Thursday of each month
Admission: Free

Playing is learning! Children and their caregivers are invited to join the museum for stories, songs, and exploratory play as a means of reinforcing early literacy skills. Each month features a different theme and book suited for children of all backgrounds as they learn about themselves and the world around them. Most appreciated by kids aged 5 and under.

 

Explore aviation through special programs

COLLEGE PARK AVIATION MUSEUM
Where: 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive | College Park, MD

Cub Corner
When: Third Saturday of the month, 10:30-11:30am
Admission: $5/adult, $2/child

Enjoy a short story and craft in the museum’s gallery. Designed for younger learners 5 & under.

Afternoon Aviators
When: Last Saturday of the month, 1-2pm
Explore a variety of STEM and aviation-themed sciences with a short lesson and hands-on activity. Ideal for learners ages 8-12.

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Filed under 2024, DC, Maryland, Museums, Virginia

The World & Me Family Program: Amphibian Week Celebration with the USDA Forest Service & Friends!

 

Celebrate Amphibian Week with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s family program, The World & Me! Join the fun this Saturday, May 6, to learn about amphibians with friends and resources from the USDA Forest Service, USGS, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service!

Families with kids of all ages are invited to explore different stations and learn through play, art, and museum collections.  Learn all about these remarkable vertebrates that spend their lives in both land and water. Discover how a healthy ecosystem supports frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders, and why we need to preserve their habitats.

 

 

The program will take place at the National Museum of Natural History. Meet at the entrance of Q?rius, the Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center, on the Ground Floor of the museum. Q?rius is located next to the Constitution Avenue entrance.

This is a drop-in event — families can join anytime from 10am – 12:30pm and stay for as long as they’d like. No registration is required.

The World and Me Family Program: Amphibian Week Celebration
Where: National Museum of Natural History
Location: Constitution Ave.  & 10th St. NW, DC
When: Saturday, May 6, 10am – 12:30pm
Admission: FREE!

 

This post is sponsored by the National Museum of Natural History however, I only promote programs, events, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2023, DC, Museums, Spring, Weekend

Make Your Own Holiday Cards at the National Postal Museum’s Annual Workshop!


Looking for a unique, fun, and meaningful way to bond with your family this holiday season? The National Postal Museum’s Annual Holiday Card Workshop is a perfect opportunity for just that! Visitors of all ages can enjoy the free, open-house event that will be held on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8, 10am – 4pm.

The museum’s card making workshops are a KFDC favorite, and I highly recommend going if you haven’t yet been to one — or even if you have. They provide a beautiful, bountiful spread of patterned papers, postage and rubber stamps, gems and other 3-D embellishments, special cut-out scissors, washi tape, stickers, markers of every color and more. Guests can follow their own creative instincts, choosing whichever supplies they would like to design one-of-a-kind greetings for any holiday, or even just a wintery “Hello!”


The workshop takes place in the Postal Museum’s lower-level Atrium, which is full of various postal mail transports from over the years, including a real train car, semi-truck (that kids can climb in and pretend to drive), a horse-drawn carriage, and airplanes hanging from the ceiling. It’s quite a stunning space! And thanks to Smithsonian Gardens, the Atrium will be decked out in festive foliage to help get everyone in the holiday spirit.

The layout of the card-making stations and supply tables encourages sharing, friendliness, and a sense of community. We always enjoy meeting and chatting with our table mates, and the fun, creative vibe always has everyone in a good mood. The museum’s pleasant staff and volunteers are also available to answer questions, provide examples of completed cards, or help in any other way.

For many, a handmade gesture can mean much more to a friend or a loved one than a store-bought gift. What better way to get into the holiday spirit than taking the time to express your love and gratitude with a heartfelt greeting?

*As a special treat this year, the U.S. Postal Service’s Operation Santa will be featured at the event. Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Santa from children and families arrive at Post Offices around the country. Most letters ask for toys and games. Some ask for basic necessities. Some ask for help for themselves and their loved ones. USPS Operation Santa makes it possible for individuals and organizations to adopt these letters and send responses and thoughtful gifts in Santa’s place.

Annual Holiday Card Workshop
Where: National Postal Museum | 2 Massachusetts Ave NE, WDC
When: December 7-8, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free


This post is sponsored by Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, however, I only promote events, places, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, Art, Christmas, DC, Free, Holidays, Museums, Seasonal, Special Event, Weekend, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: September 30 – October 4

Roosevelt Island has been a fave for years

Roosevelt Island has been a fave for years



Monday – Get a dose of nature and history in one fell swoop at Roosevelt Island. Hike the easy trails, look out for wildlife, and explore the Memorial Plaza to learn about the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt. The entrance to the park is located right off the GW Parkway, just past the Roosevelt Bridge. It’s accessible only from the northbound lanes. Hours are 6am – 10pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Enjoy storytime at the National Building Museum’s Book of the Month program. Readings of If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen will begin at 10:30am & 11:30am. Get there early for play time in the Building Zone, as entry is on the hour ($3/person). After, stay to romp in the Great Hall or check out the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit upstairs ($5/person).

Wednesday – Take the kids to play amid the lovely wooded setting of Cabin John Regional Park. They can climb, swing, jump, slide, and run on the sprawling Adventure Playland. Unfortunately, the Miniature Train is only open on weekends right now, but the playground alone has plenty to keep little ones thoroughly entertained for a good while. Bring along food for a picnic — there are several tables to eat on, or you can spread out a blanket in a nearby grassy area.

Thursday – Visit a perennial DC kids’ fave: The National Air & Space Museum. Discover the history of aviation and aerospace exploration through the many fascinating exhibits, IMAX movies, and engaging interactives. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

Friday – Bounce on over to Joyful Jumps in Bowie, Md. The indoor play center offers Open Play everyday, just drop in anytime for a two-hour session of amusement on their bouncing inflatables, slides, and obstacle courses. Admission is $8.50/ages 17 mos. – 16 years, $6.50/12-16 mos. Hours are 10am – 8pm on Fridays (10am-7pm Monday – Thursday).


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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Play, Virginia

The Weekend Round-Up: June 15-16

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There are plenty of great ways to celebrate the weekend’s honorees — summer activities, fun on the farm, trucks, cars, and much more. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, then check out the list of outdoor ideas — you can plan a great day for Dad and enjoy the superb weather on the way. Happy Weekend! And a very Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

Truck Touch
Where: RFK Lot 7
When: Saturday, 9am – 2pm
Admission: Free

The Truck Touch event that easily takes the title as Mac Daddy of them all is happening this Saturday. The DC Department of Public Works welcomes guests to climb aboard and explore all kinds of cool vehicles. There will also be opportunities to test ride Segways, test drive hybrids and electric cars, and sit on mounted police horses. Even more, over in adjacent Lot 6, Mayor Gray’s official Summer Kick Off will offer fun activities for the whole family. Read more about it and see images from last year in this post from earlier this week.

Be a Pilot Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Join the Air & Space Museum for the ninth annual Become a Pilot Day! You’ll see nearly 50 visiting vintage, recreational, and home-built aircraft — plus special attraction Solar Impulse — at an outdoor display for one day only, and enjoy indoor presentations and activities for all ages.

Astronomy Festival
Where: National Mall
When: Friday, 5-11pm
Admission: Free

Go stargazing on the Mall as Hofstra University presents an astronomical extravaganza featuring optical and radio telescope observations, exhibits, hands-on activities, a multimedia presentation, and a chance to mingle with real astronomers. Starting at 5pm., visitors will be able to view sunspots with the help of specially filtered telescopes and the Moon. After dusk and until 11pm, telescopes will provide close-up views of the first-quarter Moon, Saturn with its beautiful rings, Venus, Mercury, colorful double stars, and star clusters that sparkle like diamonds on black velvet. This will all take place by the Washington Monument at 15th Street and Constitution Ave.

Summer Time
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity

Seize the season with a host of activities that only occur this time of year. Enjoy an open air concert at one of several series in the area. Go berry picking. Stay cool under the sun at an outdoor pool, sprayground, or water park. Ride mini-trains and carousels at local parks. And much, much more. Find details on all these summer pursuits here.

Father’s Day at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
When: Saturday & Sunday, 8am – 5pm
Admission: $15/adult, $7/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under

Spend the day with the Father of our Country! This weekend, guests can enjoy a meet-and-greet and photo ops with “General Washington” as well as a special “Father to the First Family” program. After, head to George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, located three miles from the estate on Route 235 South – entrance is included in admission to Mount Vernon.

Best in Shows
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Here’s where the shows are this weekend: Be among the first audiences to see Bathtub Pirates at The Puppet Co. Or head there early for Tiny Tots, puppets show performances especially for little ones. Encore Stage & Studio presents Sleeping Beauty for the second and final weekend. Talented actors from the Maryland Historical Society will tell the brave story of Sgt. Maj. Christian Fleetwood, the first African American awarded the Medal of Honor at this week’s Saturday Morning at the National. Elska is playing the 10:30am show on Saturday at Jammin’ Java.

Juneteenth
Where: Watkins Regional Park
When: Saturday,11:30am – 5pm
Admission: Free, but some activities require a small fee

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. The celebration at Watkins offers a great lineup of culturally inspired  dance and musical performances , plus family activities. Face painting, the interactive playground, the animals at the Old Maryland Farm, miniature train and Carousel rides, and mini-golf will all be available, those requiring a fee at discounted prices. There will also be several vendors selling a variety of food.

Father’s Day Fish-n-Putt
Where: Great Country Farms
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $8/child, $10/adult

The farms’ annual Father’s Day Putt Putt and Fish-a-Rama Competition provides just the right amount of fun and challenge for Dad’s big day. Competitors for Saturday’s Putt Putt Golf Championship are welcome to arrive early to warm up for the 11am Tee Time. Sunday features the catch and release fishing contests. The pond is stocked with catfish, bass, and blue gill and no licenses are required. Prizes are on the line for the largest fish hooked and the most fish caught during the power hour. Bring your own pole and gear to fish (no drag hooks). GCF has worms for purchase in the country store. The amusement continues on the five-acre farm-style playground featuring the Giant Jumping Pillow, Triple Threat slide, corn bin, animal barnyard and more.

Crystal Car
Where: Crystal City
When: Sunday, 2-6pm
Admission: Free

Tune up your ride and bring the family to the starting line in Crystal City for the first annual Fathers Day Auto Festival. The Crystal City BID in partnership with Vornado/Charles E. Smith, the 23rd Street Business Association, and the Washington Wine Academy, is launching Crystal Car on Sunday. The festival plans to showcase a variety of automobile categories, including innovative electric vehicles, area sports car auto clubs, classic muscle cars, and more. One of the many attractions of Crystal Car will be the electrical vehicle collection, which also features Vornado/Charles E. Smith’s new charging stations and Vornado’s Chevrolet Volt fleet. The Washington Wine Academy will host a cash beer garden to further enhance the experience and celebrate Father’s Day in style. The festival will be located within the Courtyard at 2121 Crystal Drive in Arlington; the parking lot at 220 20th Street S., and the parking lot behind Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant at 555 23rd Street S.

Food for Thought Celebration
Where: U.S. Botanic Garden
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Where does our food come from? Why are we drawn to certain flavors and seasonings? Contemplate these and other food questions during the USBG’s festival Food for Thought: A Celebration! Offered in conjunction with their annual terrace show, this year’s festival will feature food-related activities for all ages: Explore the flavors of Africa with Chef Tania Mercer, learn about food pollinators and the BIG BUGS created by artist David Rogers, discover the secrets of salad gardening with Master Gardener Jon Traunfeld, assist USBG Plant Health Care Specialist Jim Willmott in protecting the plants from pesky pests with an insect release, and much more.

Community Forklift Half-birthday
Where: Community Forklift Warehouse
When: Saturday, 9:30am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Community Forklift, the DC area’s thrift store for home improvement supplies, is turning 7½ years old, and they’re celebrating with a half-birthday party halfway through June. Help them blow out the candles on their cake, and celebrate Father’s Day a day early. Festivities will include reuse crafts and activities for kids, live music from local bands, half-price discounts on modern and vintage building materials throughout the store, and yummy food and free lemonade. Guests can also participate in free do-it-yourself workshops to inspire you to complete the half-finished projects around your house. The Community Forklift warehouse is located at 4671 Tanglewood Drive in Edmonston, Md.

Wheat Harvest
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: $3/adult, $2/child

Experience life in colonial times at Claude Moore’s annual event: Help the Farm family harvest their wheat and rye crops, important staples of colonial living. Watch as they carefully cut the grains and join in to help bind and stack the crops. Then help make bread on an open hearth, made from those very same grains. Before you go, get a little more background about the farm in this post about our first experience there.

International Delivery: Postcard Making Workshop
Where: Transformer
When: Saturday, 10:30am
Admission: Free

Transformer invites DC children ages 5-10 to participate in International Delivery – Capital Sister Cities Children’s Postcard Exchange, a fun & creative workshop for children in Washington, DC to work with DC artists in making handmade postcards for children in Beijing. All materials will be provided, and the workshops are free-of-charge.

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