Tag Archives: National Museum of Natural History

Where to Play on the Weekdays: October 24-28

Talk about a crappy photo... a lesson in animal poop at Nat Geo's latest exhibit for kids

 

Another weekend has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop.  Here’s where kiddos (and parents!) can stay entertained all week long.

Monday – If you still haven’t made it to a fall festival, weekdays are a great time to go, when crowds thin out and admission prices are often lower. Take a hayride, pick out a pumpkin, jump and slide, visit farm animals, and more.  This KFDC post has details on where you can find the seasonal fun.

Tuesday – Journey “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with the National Children’s Museum as they host Toddler Tuesday, a free weekly drop-in program for children ages  2-4.  Guests can take a make-believe jaunt to the land of Oz and discover real and imaginary parts of The Wizard of Oz through stories, games, art, and movement. Drop in anytime from 10:30am – 2:30pm.

Wednesday – Take the kids to one of DC’s most tried and true for family fun: The National Museum of Natural History (or Dinosaur Museum, as my kids like to call it).  Tour roomfuls of skeletons of prehistoric beasts, visit the Hall of Mammals, and head upstairs to the Insect Zoo, where guests often have the opportunity to hold giant caterpillars, cockroaches, beetles, and other creepy crawlies.  Later in the day, enjoy Halloween Happy Hour with the Boogie Babes as they host BB2 Boo!, a costume and dance party at the Atlas Performing Arts Center ($10/family).

Thursday – The forecast isn’t looking too hot for this part of the week, so explore nature indoors at a nature center. Most have live animals to visit, interactive exhibits, and hands-on activities for kids. And if weather does permit, there are miles of outdoor areas to roam, too. The Natural Capital blog has a list of area nature centers along with a map depicting their locations.

Friday – Have fun learning about some of the ickiest parts of the animal world at the National Geographic Museum’s latest exhibit for kids, “Animal Grossology.”  Through several creative, interactive installments, the exhibit explains all you’ll ever need to now about animal poop and their other, um, natural processes.  It’s presented along with “Weird But True,” a collection of odd facts about the wild world.  Admission to both exhibits is $8/adults, $6/ages 5-12, free for children 4 and under.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Educational, Fall, Farm, Festival, Free, Halloween, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Weekdays

Eye on the Weekend

Keeping an eye out for fun at the Spark!Lab

What a week.  As if a surprise earthquake wasn’t enough to shake things up around here, Hurricane Irene is charging up the east coast ensuring a very wet weekend.  And while I never welcome a natural disaster of any sort, I’ve learned a few things thanks to the two affecting DC this week: 1) I have no control over my potty mouth around my two-year-old daughter when I think my house is about to collapse around me  2) Facebook is a better source for information than the local news sites immediately following an earthquake  3) Far too many folks think Dexy’s Midnight Runners sing, “Come on, Irene” (it’s Eileen!).

And now for this weekend’s activities.  The storm is going to have an impact — MLK Memorial Dedication events have already been postponed due to the weather — hence, indoor activities are listed first, with outdoor ideas left in the mix,  just in case the crazy happens, and Irene passes us by.  But I have a feeling I’ll be posting more cancellations (look for them on Facebook) than rejoicing in a surprise sunny day. Happy Weekend!

Rainy Day Recreation – This weekend may be the best time ever to refer to this list of indoor fun.

Greenberg Train & Toy ShowTrain enthusiasts young and old will have plenty to be excited about at the largest traveling expo showcasing model trains in the northeast. There will be intricately crafted model train displays, hundreds of tables with model train paraphernalia, a mini train for kids to ride, and a variety of workshops and demos, and more.  For complete details, see this post from earlier this week.

Free Fun at the NewseumThere’s just one week left to take advantage of the Newseum’s Kids Free Summer Fun Deal.  There is no admission fee for guests ages 18 and under with one paid adult admission. See this post for more info and to find out which exhibits kids might enjoy best.

The Puppet Co. The Wizard of Oz will be performed on the main stage for just two more weeks; showtimes are 11:30am and 1pm on Saturday and Sunday, and tickets are $10.  There will also be a Tiny Tots performance of Panda-Monium on Saturday at 10am.  Tickets are $5.

Kite WorkshopSpend the afternoon at the College Park Aviation Museum building and decorating your own kite. An $8 workshop fee covers museum admission and the price of one kite kit. Pre-registration is required, so call 301.864.6029 to sign up.

Day at the MuseumsAs obvious as it may be, the museums will be great places to take shelter from the storm and have a great time with the kids.  The dinos are always a big hit at the Natural History Museum, but don’t miss the Insect Zoo upstairs where you might catch a live tarantula feeding or get a chance to hold giant caterpillars, cockroaches, and beetles. At the American History Museum, see old trains and trolley cars, and many more relics from the past, and be sure to visit the Invention at Play area and Spark!Lab, where kids can enjoy a bunch of cool hands-on activities. For museums off the Mall, explore the history of mail at the National Postal Museum or head to the National Building Museum for a romp in the Building Zone, some Lego fun, and more activities available in the Great Hall.

Portrait Story Days: Jackson PollackDrop in at the National Portrait Gallery on Saturday from 1-4pm or Sunday from 2-5pm to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art. This weekend, learn about abstract artist Jackson Pollock.

Ren FestIf Irene should miraculously pass us by, I highly recommend taking a day trip back to medieval times at the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, MD. 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). The faire runs every weekend through October 23, admission is $19/adult, $9/kids ages 7-15, free for children 6 and under. But this weekend only kids are FREE, and adults can get a discount on tickets.  See this post from a couple of days ago for details.

Make a Final SplashThe outdoor pool season is officially ending soon.  Many pools within the DC Department of Parks & Recreation have already closed, and the rest will follow over the next week. Take a swim under the sky while you still can – if Irene lets you, that is.  For a list of outdoor pool still open, see the DCDPR website.

Kids Fest & Rock-n-RompHead to downtown Silver Spring for some extra kid and adult fun at the Saturday Fenton Street Market. Along with specialty vendors selling kids toys, games, and clothes, there will be hands-on activities for little ones and live music for parents that kids can hear, too.  It all takes place 9am – 3pm rain or shine.

Columbia Heights Day FestivalWhether or not you live in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of DC, you are invited to help celebrate the community on Saturday.  Columbia Heights Day is bringing together residents and businesses for a day of fun festivities–live music, a Kid’s Zone and petting zoo, food trucks, contests and raffles, a dog parade, and more.  The event runs from 10am – 6pm at the Harriet Tubman Elementary field located at 11th & Kenyon Street NW.

 

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Summer, Theatre, Weekend

This Weekend: Fairs, Museums, and the Great Outdoors

Friday evenings at The Yards Park are fun for all ages

While I hate to sum up this weekend’s recommendations for family activities with just three general ideas, county fairs, museum programs, and outdoor fun really are the main special events happening over the next few days.  If those sound good to you, read on for specifics on all of them.  If not, then scroll down for links to some always-useful ideas.  Happy Weekend!

All’s FairCarnival rides and games, farm animals, live entertainment, pony rides, the junk food gamut, pig races.  Yes, it’s county fair season.  Four of them are happening right now; two have already started, two more kick off today.  This post from a couple of days ago has the scoop on all of the county fun.

Music Al Fresco – Get the weekend started with free music in the fresh air at one of many outdoor concerts. Jazz vibraphonist Chuck Redd will entertain at Jazz in the Garden at 5:30pm, the soul band Quiet Fire will take the boardwalk stage at The Yards Park at 6pm, and the United States Air Force Band will perform Disney and Pixar favorites at the Air Force Memorial at 8pm.  (My personal pick would be for The Yards, where there’s plenty of room to spread out, you can buy or bring food for a picnic dinner, and the kids can enjoy fountain play on a beautiful summer evening.)

Take Me to the RiverCelebrate the Shenandoah at Riverfest, a family event designed to connect the community with the river.  The festival will feature canoe rides along the South Fork off the Shenandoah River; live bluegrass music; fly fishing demos, environmental displays, and more.  A kids’ area will have wild animals displays, gem/arrowheads, and face painting. Admission and activities are free.  There will also be a silent auction and food for sale. The event runs from 10am – 3pm on Saturday.

Art-Stronomy Family DayReach for the stars at the American Art Musuem! See how American inventiveness, as depicted in The Great American Hall of Wonders exhibition, led to the great leaps of science and technology behind space travel and flight. Guests can try their hand at experiments and art activities, join a scavenger hunt through the galleries, and meet an astronaut from NASA. The free event runs from 11:30am – 3pm.

Bonsai! – It’s been awhile since I’ve suggested a visit to the U.S. National Arboretum (one of my favorite places to hang with the kids), mainly because it’s been so hot.  But this weekend is supposed to see a dip in temps, so it should be a nice time to tour the collections, play among the old Capitol columns, and see the “Becoming a Bonsai” exhibit, which is only on display for a couple more weeks.

Oceanic ArtHead to the National Museum of Natural History for its Second Saturday Arts & Sciences program. Ocean animals and their environments will be this months’ theme. Guests can learn about the underwater world, while decorating a reusable cloth lunch bag with stamps and drawings of sea creatures. Just in time for back-to-school.  The free event runs from 1-3pm.

Super Science Saturday: EnergyThe Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Dulles annex of the Air & Space Museum, hosts its own special program on the second Saturday of every month. This weekend it’ll be all about energy. Visitos can enjoy hands-on demos and activities related to the subject. The permanent exhibits – the hangar full of air and space craft – are worth a trip out there themselves.  The event runs from 10am – 3pm.  Admission is free, but parking is $15.

Ahhh….SHARKS!Today and tomorrow, the National Children’s Museum is celebrating all things sharks.  Head to the Launch Zone at the National Harbor to join in all kinds of fun activities: Hunt for shark teeth at their “beach,” see and touch real shark jaws and other artifacts, and make a shark craft.  The free event runs from 11am – 4pm on Friday, and 11am – 6pm on Saturday.

Facing History: Alexander CalderThis regular series at the National Portrait Gallery is designed for children with their families to explore portraiture in depth. Participants take a brief guided tour of the exhibition, this week focusing on Alexander Calder’s wire self-portrait; listen to a children’s story or short gallery talk; and create a piece of art using some of the same materials or concepts. The event is free, but space is limited , so registration is required. The class run from 2-4pm on Saturday.

Portrait Story Days: Wilma RudolphDrop in at the National Portrait Gallery on Sunday from 2-5pm to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art. This weekend, learn about American athlete Wilma Rudolph.

For even more ideas for fun with the kids, check out these popular KFDC posts:

Joys of Summer

The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Rainy Day Recreation (ie, Indoor Fun)

Stay Entertained Through Summer


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: July 18-22

The weather factors greatly into this week’s suggested recreation.  With temps in the mid-90’s and 100+ by the end of the week, most of these activities take place indoors. But if you want to savor the sunshine, this list will give you ideas on what to do.  Just be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen when you get out there.

Here’s what’s happening this week, July 18-22:

Monday –  Check out the new Playseum on Capitol Hill.  Open for less than a week, the play space includes two floors of cute, themed rooms for pretend play, opportunities for arts & crafts and cupcake decorating, and lots of books for sale.  Admission is $6/person. For evening fun, it’s Washington Kastles Family Night, which will include extra kids activities along with the matches against Sacramento Capitals.  Get a discount on tickets with the code KIDDC – more details here.

Tuesday – Join a play date at Rockville Town Square.  Their Mommy & Me and Daddies Too series takes place the third Tuesday of every month from 10am – 12pm.  Register here for the free program.

Wednesday – See Imagination Stage’s latest production, The Wind in the Willows.  Tickets ($10-22) are available for both the 10:30am and 1:30pm shows, and you can get a 25% discount by using the code “Willows25”.  Read DC Theater Scene’s review of the play.

Thursday – Boogie down at Eastern Market! John Henry, the Guitar Playing Man is on the line-up for this week’s Boogie Babes show.  The fun starts at 10:30am.  Admission is $5/child, free for siblings 6 months and under.

Friday – The National Museum of Natural History is always a great place to stay cool.  The dinos, insects, butterflies, and mammals are popular permanent exhibits, and I also recommend the Nature’s Best Photography exhibit, which captures some incredible moments from the natural world. You can also watch an IMAX movie at the museum’s Johnson Theater.  Born to Be Wild 3D and Grand Canyon Adventure are two of several films currently playing.

 

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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Summer, Theatre, Weekdays

Celebrate this Weekend

There is a lot of celebrating happening this weekend.  Many area farms and organizations are kicking off Easter festivities with egg hunts and more spring fun.  An Emancipation Day commemoration is taking place with a big event downtown.  National Parks are kicking off a special week.  William Shakespeare is turning 395 years old.  The earth will also be an honoree.  Even coral reefs have a family festival dedicated to them.

And you’re invited to be part of it all.  Here are details on all of the above-mentioned, plus a few more recommendations for family fun.  Happy Weekend!

Its a scramble for Easter eggs at a local Eggstravaganza last year

Thank You Easter Bunny – Local festivals celebrating the spring holiday have begun, and several will be on this weekend.  Already underway through April 24 is Ticonderoga Farms’ annual festival. Saturday marks the start of Bunnyland at Butler’s Orchard, and the National Community Church is launching their seasonal Eggstravanganzas on Saturday  at Top Golf in Alexandria from 10:30am -1pm and Grace Church in Georgetown (1041 Wisconsin Avenue NW) from 9:30-11am.  See the website for more details.  For something with a little extra sparkle, the annual Adeler Jewelers Children’s Spring Festival and Egg Hunt is on Sunday in Great Falls.  For more area Easter celebrations, Go Out & Play has a lengthy list of local egg hunts.

Park ItNational Park Week begins on Saturday and runs through April 24.  To celebrate, entrance to over 100 parks that usually charge admission will be free.  Log some time on the trails at a local park or even one a bit further away. For suggestions on good hikes with kids, see this post about hiking with little ones.

Get OutFor more outdoor pursuits, see my new list of the area’s best places to spend a beautiful day outdoors.  As this weekend round-up goes up, the weather forecast for the weekend isn’t looking fabulous, but there’s always a chance that will change.  Fingers crossed.

DC I AM: An Emanicpation Day CelebrationCommemorate the signing of the DC Compensated Emancipation Act 149 years ago with National Geographic.  The museum is hosting a special event on Saturday from 10am – 4pm that will include readings, performances, art and writing activities, family workshops, opportunities to tour the American I Am exhibit, and more.  Admission to the event is free.

Explore the Universe On Saturday, the National Air & Space Museum invites guests of all ages to a special Family Day that explores the skies and beyond.  Observe the sky through a telescope, experience how different cultures see the sky, hear stories about astronomy, and participate in hands-on astro-activities.  The free event runs from 10am – 3pm.

Coral Reef Family FestivalCelebrate the National Museum of Natural History’s exhibition of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef on Saturday from 11am – 3pm.  There will be Discover Stations in the Sant Ocean Hall, a chance to learn about different corals with scientist Stephen Cairns, and other special activities throughout the day.

Nature’s Best PhotographyTake the kids to see some amazing moments in nature captured in pictures.  A new exhibit is opening at the National Museum of Natural History on Saturday that features the winning photos from the Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards. The images of wildlife, the plant world, sea creatures, and more will be fascinating and fun for the whole family.  Admission to both the exhibit and museum are free.

On the Really Big Screen – If you’re planning on a visit to the museums (or even if not), how about catching an IMAX as well?  Most are less than an hour long and can easily be combined with a trip to see the exhibits or one of the special festivals happening at the Natural History and Air & Space Museums, which just happened to be where both Smithsonian IMAX theaters are located.  Read reviews of a few films currently playing:  Born to Be Wild 3D, Arabia 3D, and Grand Canyon Adventure 3D.  All tickets are $9.

Happy Birthday to the BardCelebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Sunday from 12 – 4pm. Enjoy jugglers and jesters, music, song and dance, stage combat workshops, and more. It’s the one day of the year when the Folger reading rooms are open to all.  Plus, there will be birthday cake for everyone!  Admission is free, but there will be a charge for some food and drink.

Jammin’ Musical ExperiencesTwo kids’ music performers will be at Jammin’ Java this weekend entertaining with their unique shows and super fun sounds.  The Diggity Dudes will take the stage in Vienna on Saturday at 10:30am, and Gustafer Yellowgold will take the audience on a musical journey on Sunday at 2pm.  Tickets for both shows are $10 and available for purchase online.

Celebrate the EarthJoin Brookside Gardens on Sunday for a daylong Earth Day celebration. Festivities will kick off at 9am with an Earth Day Garden Project – volunteers are welcome to help Brookside get ready for the gardening season. Enjoy nature, wildlife, and plant walks starting at 10am. Participate in interactive family-friendly activities throughout the afternoon and visit the “green” vendor and craft fair.

Show TimeSeveral productions are happening in local theatres this weekend.  Find out what you can see where in this post about spring shows.

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