Tag Archives: Emily Moise

Little Kid-Friendly Places for Indoor Play with Precaution

A COVID-era visit to the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center

[Note: This round-up was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, local mom to two young children.]

 

“Winter is coming” brings a whole new shiver this year, as parents of little balls of energy are bracing themselves for the COVID Winter. Most will bundle up and tough it out, with fingers crossed for lots of sled-able snow. Many will enter a new phase of pandemic panic shopping for indoor play equipment. For those seeking respite at indoor spaces, some local businesses have taken extra measures to open with COVID precautions. Here are six little-kid-friendly indoor places to consider as the days get colder. (Please keep in mind CDC guidelines to limit activity indoors, and masks for ages 2+.)

 

Kids Play Gallery
When: 9:30am – 2:30pm daily
Where: Gaithersburg, MD
Admission: $15/ages 1+ (more details here)
COVID policies

An imaginative play space with a tiny town of play houses suited for ages 5 and under. The space is very clean and well-maintained, with a separate, closed-off area for eating. Business hours have been reduced and private play reservations are available. Call ahead to confirm drop-in play hours are as listed.

 

Launch Trampoline Park
When: Varies by location
Where: Rockville, MD | Columbia, MD | Herndon, VA
Admission: $22+ or $13+ on Groupon
COVID policies

Kids can run, jump, and literally bounce off the walls here, expending lots of energy. My active 18-month-old has held his own here, but it’s generally recommended for preschool ages and up. With timed-entry reservations, you should have plenty of space to yourself/your family. Professional-grade sanitizing is done between sessions. Reserve time online in advance; call to reserve time if tickets purchased through Groupon.

 

OmniFun
When: 12:30pm – 7:30pm daily; closed Tuesdays
Where: Gaithersburg, MD
Admission: Starts at $11.99/age 6 months+ (more details here)
COVID policies

Recently opened in 2019 and now reopened with COVID precautions, OmniFun features a soft climbing zone, giant building blocks, an arts and crafts space, a toddler play area, and more. Now, two hour sessions are reserved in advance for up to 9 kids at a time, and groups are rotated in 40 minute intervals. Recommended for ages 6 months – 12 years.  Reserve a time sot in advance.

 

BusyBees
When: 9am – 5pm weekdays; 11am – 5pm weekends
Where: Falls Church, VA
Admission: $15/child, free/parents and ages 1 & under
COVID policies

A chain of indoor playgrounds known for cleanliness, BusyBees features soft play climbing structures, slides, and spinning rides. Currently, only the Falls Church location is open, and it is unfortunately the smallest of the three locations. The space is closed for 30 minutes every hour-and-a-half for cleaning, so plan your visit accordingly. Be sure to check the website daily for modified hours.

 

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: 10am – 5:30pm daily
Where:  Chantilly, VA
Admission: Fre
e with timed-entry passes
COVID policies
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex has found itself to be a relatively low-risk space in COVID times with its spacious facility and timed-entry passes. Little kids should be well-attended here but have the flexibility to roam and, on a slow day, maybe even run circles around the massive aviation and space artifacts.

 

Shopping Malls
While their actual play spaces are closed, malls may make it into your weekly activities rotation. They are barren right now offering wide open lanes for kids to roam and browse. Plus, hand-sanitizing stations are set up throughout. Check your local mall for updated hours and safety precautions like these. (PS: A new LEGO Store is expected to open at Westfield Montgomery mall this fall!)

 

Tips for decreased risk:
* Go weekdays at opening times or midday when some places empty out for lunch and naps.
* Call ahead to see how crowded a place is prior to your planned arrival time.
* For a more controlled environment, look for places that allow reservations for private group play times like Kids Play Gallery, My Gym or Kids Ground.

 

For more indoor spaces, see this recent KFDC post for what’s currently open.

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Filed under 2020, 2021, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Educational, Gradeschoolers, Indoor Play, Maryland, Reopened, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

{Review!} Thumbelina at Imagination Stage

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

[Note: This review is by KFDC contributor Emily Moise.]

Young theater-goers can experience the art of storytelling like never before at Imagination Stage’s Thumbelina, playing now through April 5. The classic Hans Christian Andersen tale about a girl trying to find her place in the world is reimagined with artistry inspired by Kamishibai, a form of Japanese street theater. Along with traditional acting performances, this unique production utilizes live video projections of small-scale puppetry and dioramas to bring the story of a thumb-sized girl to life.

Thumbelina employs the same ensemble of actors as Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth, a musical currently playing in repertory, in this contrasting brand of theater. [You can read the KFDC review of Zomo here.] If you happen to see both shows, the versatility of these actors is awe-inducing — once rapping and hip-hop dancing in Zomo, now maneuvering mini puppets along mini video-projected sets on right and left stage, then moving center stage for their life-sized roles in Thumbelina.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina, like Zomo, offers lessons abound for young audience members just beginning to learn about the world and their place in it. Most importantly: you have the power to create your own story, and you will eventually find your people and place, just be kind to those that are different along the way.

The multi-media aspect of the production adds a whole other layer to the lessons, as Thumbelina certainly writes its own category of theater. And look at all of the different skill-sets needed to bring it to life!

Zomo is a tough act to follow with its high-energy and audience engagement. But Thumbelina captivates with its creative production methods, flawless lead performance, a climactic act with a villainous mole, and a touching ending that’s a reminder to kids and adults alike that the rest is still unwritten.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina is playing now through April 5 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $15 – $35. Recommended for ages 4+.


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Filed under 2020, DC, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, Preschoolers, Seasonal, Theatre, Weekend, Winter

{Review!} Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth at Imagination Stage

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

[Note: This review is by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, who saw a performance of Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth with her 3-year-old daughter.]

Come for the Adidas sweat suit-clad, hip-hopping rabbit, stay for the life lessons. I had no idea what to expect at Imagination Stage’s Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth; I had only skimmed the Nigerian folktale (which has an entirely different ending) and the brief show description online (which doesn’t do it justice!). But a special opening night showing, where many kids were likely out past their bedtimes, made me think my daughter and I were about to see something special. And indeed it was.

From the start, that aforementioned rabbit named Zomo captivates the audience with nothing but his Run DMC-inspired energy and ensemble. He engages children and adults alike in his locally-spun, ill-fated quest for power that takes him through Washington, DC — complete with Metro rides and a dash of political humor. You will find yourself compelled to immediately start clapping and foot stomping along with the beat of his rhymes, and that continues until the end as the audience participates eagerly, both solicited and unsolicited. My preschooler lit up when it was her (and every kid’s) turn to stand up and show off her hip-hop moves.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Zomo’s journey involves a series of suspenseful, young-child-relatable wrongdoings. Namely, taking things that aren’t his. We follow him to the DC Waterfront for a dance-off with a breakdancing fish, to the National Zoo for an encounter with a graffiti artist cow, and to Adams Morgan for a jam session with a DJ leopard. He does some soul searching along the way, contemplating whether or not he’ll have more with the power he’s seeking or the friendships he’s building (that now need repair). Find out what he decides — and what your children decide for him — and how cultural barrier-breaking hip-hop was born according to the legend of Zomo.

Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth is running now through March 22 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $15-$35. Recommended for ages 4+.

PS: Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth is playing in repertory with Thumbelina, opening next weekend. Stay tuned for a review!


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Filed under 2020, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Preschoolers, Theatre, Tweens, Weekend, Winter

Anchors Aweigh, Kids, at Baltimore’s Port Discovery

[Note: This post was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, who visited Port Discovery with her family, including her 3-year-old daughter and baby son. In all the years our family visited the children’s museum in Baltimore, I never did a proper write-up, and my kids have aged out of a lot of it. But as Port Discovery recently underwent a major renovation, the timing is great for one now.]

As we await the *almost open* children’s museum here in Washington, DC, a half-day trip up to Baltimore’s Port Discovery will certainly tide you over. The Inner Harbor, and its historic seaport, provides the perfect metaphorical backdrop for this children’s museum that has, without exaggeration, something for every child, with every interest, to embark on.

Open since 1998, the museum completed a $10.5 million renovation in 2019, notably with the floor-to-ceiling “SkyClimber” and twisting slide, as well as a life-size ship facade where kids can play captain and load “cargo” on the third-story overlook. The museum has the latest and greatest in hands-on, creative play — though, like all children’s museums, things become “well-loved” so some of the 10+ exhibit spaces aren’t as brand-sparkling new as others.

If you have a preschooler in tow, your first stop will likely be at the “Store & Fill’er Up Station” which is one of the most authentic fake food shopping set-ups I’ve experienced. It’s a convenience store modeled after sponsor Royal Farms, allowing kids to fill up a grocery tote, get a pretend fountain soda, put gas in the car, and “drive.” A few levels up, “Tiny’s Diner” offers even more for the play food lovers with a large space conducive to collaborative play and parent engagement.

Perhaps the most unique exhibit space is “Wonders of Water” where my daughter’s love of squeegeeing grew exponentially with the addition of spray bottles and free-range windows. Also found here are STEM-infused water tables, a giant bubble hoop, and a musical water play (and spray) area. The most thoughtful touches are the amenities: raincoats, crocs, and a drying station for all sizes.

For those with younger toddler-age children, you won’t want to miss “Tot Trails” which is limited to children three and under. This exhibit space is set up with simple yet stimulating activities for all levels—sitters, crawlers, climbers, and walkers. Like most of the museum, STEM and arts are intertwined in a rudimentary, unintimidating way. For example, here you’ll find a classic wind tube with leaves for little ones to insert and catch with a butterfly net.

Lastly, “The Oasis” provided a much-needed wind down from the stimulation. It’s a children’s library-esque space stocked with books, cozy nooks, and exploratory play stations. By chance, we walked in just as story time was about to start—on this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend day, themes of community and connection were shared throughout the three books read. This was the perfect ending to our visit, leading to an instantaneous car nap for both of my children.

From the archives: Tiny Sasha serves up big sandwiches at Tiny’s Diner



Port Discovery is located at 35 Market Place on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. General admission to the museum is $17.95 for visitors ages 1+. If you think your family will go at least couple of times in a year, consider a membership starting at $140.

KFDC Tips:
* There are lockers to store your items (for free) in “The Pier” eating area — use them! The museum is three levels of non-stop movement, particularly for a first-time visitor trying to see and do everything.
* The Pier is also where you can take a snack or lunch break. Bring your own food or carry out from one of the neighboring establishments.
* There are many, many exhibits — more than mentioned here, including a bunch for grade school ages — so be ready for a long day (or plan on more visits!)
* Port Discovery hosts lots of special events and themed weekends — check the calendar for any you might want to experience.
* You could make it a longer trip to Baltimore, overnight or even weekend, and also visit the Maryland Science Center, American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore Museum of Industry, or tour the historic ships docked at the Inner Harbor.


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Filed under All ages, Educational, Exhibit, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Ongoing, Play, Weekdays, Weekend