10 things to do with kids (at home) this week in Pittsburgh, from exploring bugs to the re-imagined Children’s Festival

Kids can get physical, exercise their intellect, or be downright silly this week. They’ll love going on a bug adventure, revisiting the Children’s Festival and accepting the challenge of drawing with scissors. Here are 10 ways to keep kids entertained this week in Pittsburgh:

1. Say thank you to essential workers

PBS Kids follows Fred Rogers’ advice to look for the helpers during a crisis. With Thank You, Neighbors!, kids receive guidance on ways to offer their gratitude to essential workers, teachers and helpful friends. Kids can design a hero in a sort of digital paper doll activity, print a coloring page that can be posted in a window, or find instructions to create personalized greeting cards. Thanking others is an excellent way for kids to feel a sense of control over stressful situations.

2. Head to the (re-imagined) Children’s Festival

Our favorite annual event for kids goes virtual this year with a newly re-imagined EQT Children’s Theater Festival @ Home from May 14-17. Get your laughs in a live Penny Arcade comedy show, let your voice be heard in an Open Mic Zoom session or take an interactive origami class. These and other activities are free, but you need to register. Find the complete lineup here.

3. Take the 15-day family fitness challenge

Let’s Move Pittsburgh and Phipps Conservatory collaborated on a 15-day Family Fitness Challenge that will energize kids to keep moving and eat healthy. Every day offers challenges in one of four categories: Get moving, get together, get creative and take a moment. Links to instructional videos within the challenges show new moves, recipes and games. Download the Bingo Card so kids can track their progress.

4. Write a poem

Kids are welcome to participate in City of Asylum’s call for original poems from Allegheny County writers. Through the new project, “All Pittsburghers are Poets,” a poem of the week will be chosen and published online at Sampsonia Way Magazine. To get kids started, City of Asylum created 25 poetry writing prompts. The team recommends other resources like Poets.org Poetry for Teens and Poetry Printables from Scholastic for grades K-12.

Young poets might find more inspiration from this year’s National Youth Poet Laureate Performance at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 16, via Facebook. Later this month, City of Asylum will announce the first-ever Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County.

5. Take a ceramics class – without clay

MCG Youth Arts moved its courses for high school kids online via Zoom. Check out the course descriptions and ways teachers adapted to working with kids at home. Without a studio for ceramics, for example, kids will make 3-D constructions from papier-mache, cardboard or homemade modeling dough. The photojournalism class helps kids document their family and environment while learning the fundamentals of photography. The weekly classes are free for Allegheny County teens, although registration is required.

6. Join the big Bug Bonanza

This week’s Super Science Days from Carnegie Museum of Natural History focuses on bugs. The Bug Bonanza offers six days of activities through Saturday. Go for a bug hunt in your backyard and learn about coverboards and bug hotels. Create bugs in amber slime. Print out an insect identification sheet and buggy coloring pages (like a cockroach on a cupcake!). Less icky bugs get their chance to shine, too. Butterflies star in the “Pollinators & Us” session.

7. Just hit print

Frick Pittsburgh guides kids through the meaning of symbols, imagery and colors used by families as far back as the Middle Ages. With that knowledge, kids are challenged to Design a Coat of Arms for themselves.

Giant Eagle offers a bunch of activity sheets that teach kids about food. The Farm to Store maze follows a pineapple from Hawaii through its journey to the supermarket. Other puzzles and quizzes test math and nutrition skills for smart shopping and food choices.

Pittsburgh Irish Festival promotes Irish culture with printable pages, including a Celtic design coloring page, a family tree to fill out and a leprechaun in search of a pot of gold.

8. Draw with scissors like Matisse

This Carnegie Museum of Art activity combines an art history lesson with creativity. When Henri Matisse was housebound (sound familiar?) toward the end of his life, he began experimenting with paper and found a new source of inspiration. He used paper cutouts to create collages that exploded with color and energy. Drawing with Scissors Like Matisse includes discussion prompts along with instructions for kids to build vibrant art of their own.

9. Earn a Youth Explorer Button

Kids ages 5-11 can work toward earning a Youth Explorer Button via Venture Outdoors. These tasks will help kids feel more comfortable in the outdoors. Each of the eight activities contains components that include a hands-on activity, a discussion and handouts. First aid, composting and animal camouflage are a few of the subjects that kids will explore in the series.

10. Shoot a frame within a frame

This digital photography and videography course is one of Westinghouse Arts Academy’s new virtual learning classes. The free sessions are intended for high school teens, but anyone can try them out. Choose from jazz dance combinations, photo composition, and developing an atmospheric perspective with paint. Classes will continue to be added as the site develops.

Looking for more fun for kids? Check out these recent guides:

20 hands-on activities to keep kids busy

15 more hands-on activities for kids in Pittsburgh