Travel through time to a dinosaur throwback or visit ancient Egypt. Construct a playhouse or a pinata. Cruise through the zoo or hit a round of mini-golf. We’ve gathered the best things to do with kids in Pittsburgh this week. These options will entertain every kind of kid.
1. Build a deluxe cardboard playhouse
Let’s face it. Kids are perfectly capable of making a playhouse out of an empty box with minimal fuss. But why should they get all the fun? This project lets Mom and Dad join in, too. These instructions from Home Depot show how to take all those cardboard boxes that are filling up the garage and turn them into something magical. Finish with details like window boxes, skylights and colorful shingles for the coolest playhouse ever. Kids are likely to come up with design ideas, too, like a castle turret, dog door or mailbox.
2. Throwback to dinosaurs
The National Aviary in Pittsburgh reminds kids that birds are the only living descendants of dinosaurs like velociraptors and the T-Rex. Kids can learn all about that connection with the Ask the Expert duo of Delaney and Ty, the baby T-Rex. Print dinosaur coloring pages and a word search or enjoy a story reading of “I am a T-Rex.” The dinosaur programming includes a video webinar on “How Dinosaurs Learned to Fly.” Older kids who love dinosaurs will be fascinated.
3. Assemble art from everyday materials
Robert Rauschenberg’s 1977 “Goat Chow” is a terrific example of how everyday materials can be re-made into art. This Carnegie Museum of Art activity starts with a discussion on imagery and patterns, then moves on to assembling art. Kids can look through the house to find interesting and colorful packaging they might like to include. Empty cereal boxes, chips bags or candy boxes could work. Kids follow prompts to consider their composition and assemblage. Learning from and following the lead of a master artist provides a provocative lesson in fine art.
4. Make a potato stamp, like Andy Warhol
The Andy Warhol Museum learning department shares Andy’s potato stamping technique. It’s a pretty simple process in which you cut forms into a potato half to make a stamp. Once kids draw the shape they want, their grownup can make the cuts with a paring knife. But even a butter knife can work for older kids to make their cuts. Try basic forms or more elaborate flowers or moons and add details with a pencil. No ink pad? Use a paintbrush to apply paint or food coloring to your stamp. Potato stamping is just one of the Andy-inspired activities in the Museum’s Making It video series.
5. Go on safari at the zoo
The Pittsburgh Zoo is closed, but there’s a unique opportunity that has never been offered before. The Zoofari Drive-Thru fundraiser allows families to drive through the zoo guided by an audio tour. It’s a different way to visit and help contribute to the Emergency Operating Fund. Everyone must stay in the vehicle during the approximately 60-minute tour. Book a date and time online – some slots are already selling out. Admission is $60 per vehicle. Bring along binoculars to get the most from the experience.
6. Just hit print
Find the Mascots is the latest puzzle from the Pittsburgh Pirates. This crazy quilt drawing hides MLB mascots from across the country. Kids can see how many they can find amid the wild colors.
The Frick Pittsburgh’s collection of virtual activities includes Neighborhood Bingo. Kids can point out objects like a traffic light, bicycle or pinecone while out on a walk.
Allegheny County Parks at home gives kids downloadables like a Round Hill Farm Chicken Maze and Boyce Park Hide and Seek. Or check your nature knowledge by matching birds to their nests.
7. Make a pinata
Every day’s a party when you have a pinata! The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will show kids how to make a frilly and colorful pinata with materials found at home. Fill with treats and small trinkets for a smashing finish in your backyard.
8. Navigate the Nile
Virtual Week at Carnegie Museum of Natural History explores Life on the Nile with a two-part class for kids ages 5-13. Kids will learn about life in ancient Egypt, the role of animals and Egyptian lore. Choose a kick-off and wrap session on May 27, 28 or 29 that works for your kids. The sessions include live video and activities, plus an offline design challenge. Each session is $5, but there is no charge for additional kids in the family.
9. Hit a round of mini-golf
We were excited to hear that mini-golf re-opened at the RMU Island Sports Complex. Follow the special guidelines for a safe and competitive game in a great, fresh-air setting. At one of our favorite holes, you hit the ball into the water, where it floats downstream to a ramp and the putting green. Pretty neat! One upgrade allows players to replace the little pencils with a mini-golf scorecard app. Mini-golf is open from noon-8:30 p.m. daily. Check the website for pricing specials and other details.
10. Make personal crossword puzzles
This free crossword generator from Education.com will work for a wide range of ages. Start with a subject and make a list of words, then write clues for each word. Hit the create button and download the puzzle worksheet and answer key. Kids learn as much from making clues as they do from completing the puzzles. Make them for a friend challenge and share with pals via email. Or it might be fun to create some for crossword-loving grandparents, too!