10 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, including magical trolls

Image courtesy of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Keep your kids active this week with these fun things to do in Pittsburgh.

1. Explore the Hidden Life of Trolls (in person)

The whimsical nature of the Hidden Life of Trolls promises to entertain kids with magical touches at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ summer show, opening May 1. The fantasy adventure includes passing under a stone bridge where a troll will test guests with riddles before they can pass. Follow giant footprints to a pond where a 12-foot troll bathes in the water, scrubbing his back with a branch. Look closely into the depths of another pond where you’ll spot an underwater troll. Throughout the exhibit, kids can keep watch for tiny doors where itsy-bitsy trolls make their home. At home, kids ages 12 and younger can draw trolls, give them names and personalities and then upload their art to be included on the Troll Crossing website. And to prep for your visit, go behind the scenes to witness how The Hidden Life of Trolls was created. Timed tickets are $11.95 for kids and $19.95 for their grownups.

Photo courtesy of The Alloy School.

2. Dance, dance, dance (at home)

Kelly-Strayhorn Theater presents the second round of The Alloy School for kids who love to move in joyful and creative ways. Registration is open for ages 3-18 in virtual classes like Hip Hop, Vogue Styles, Capoeira and West African Dance. All youth classes take place on Saturdays and are priced at “pay what makes you happy.” Explore the offerings and register here for your weekly dance party.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

3. Tour two continents of wildlife dioramas (at home)

Take a virtual tour of the wildlife dioramas with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History on April 29. Museum experts will guide families through fascinating specimens and artistic settings found in the Halls of North American and African Wildlife. It’s a terrific way to learn about the animals and dioramas before an in-person visit.  Registration is $10 per device.

Photo by Nick Sloff courtesy of the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.

4. Investigate invasive species (in person)

Kids can train to be nature detectives during this free educational hike at Point State Park on May 1 and 2. Families will learn about the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive insect species, as well as other invasive bugs. Hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, kids will learn how to identify these troublesome pests and what to do when they find them. The outings are planned for multiple times on both days. Choose your session and register here.

Photo courtesy of Meadowcroft Rockshelter.

5. Picnic on opening day (in person)

Meadowcroft Rockshelter, the oldest site of human habitation in North America, comes out of hibernation for the season’s opening day on May 1. Pack a picnic lunch and plan to spend the day exploring 19,000 years of history. Visit three recreated historic settings, where you can step inside a 16th-century wigwam in the Monongahela Indian Village, throw a tomahawk in the 18th-century frontier village and visit a 19th-century country village where a blacksmith forges red-hot iron. Advance ticket purchases are suggested, but tickets will also be sold at the gate. Tickets are $7 for kids, $15 for their grownups.

Images courtesy of City Nature Challenge.

6. Join the worldwide bio blitz (in person)

Families throughout the Pittsburgh region can take part in the global City Nature Challenge from April 30-May 3. The mission is to document biodiversity where we live. It’s easy to participate: First, download the iNaturalist app. Shoot photos of plants, animals or insects and upload your pictures and observations to the app. You can give your kids a deeper experience by downloading the education toolkit, which offers tips and activities for interacting with and appreciating nature.

Image courtesy of Disney.

7. Free drive-in movie (in person)

“Tangled” (PG) will be screened on April 30 at Boyce Park and on May 1 at Settlers Cabin Park. Parking spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with movies beginning at dusk. Ekernally Yours will be on hand at both locations with popcorn, candy and other movie treats. Place your order online and receive a text when your munchies are ready to be picked up.

Photo courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum.

8. Make art at the Warhol studio (in person)

The Youth Open Studio has reopened at the Andy Warhol Museum. The free art studio sessions run from 4-8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Limited spaces are available by appointment. Kids will work in a range of media, using silkscreens, Photoshop, ink, transparencies and printers. Get the details here and reserve a spot for your favorite young artist.

Photo courtesy of Jennings Environmental Education Center.

9. Discover bird engineering (in person or at home)

Jennings Environmental Education Center hosts another chapter of its Family Science Outside series with an examination of bird engineering. By exploring the outdoor living lab, kids will earn how birds design and build their nests. The engineering of birds’ feathers, beaks and egg shapes will be discovered, too. Family pods can sign up for an in-person or virtual introduction that includes an activity guide and a loaner kit of materials. The bird engineering program is designed for ages 2-6, but older siblings are welcome. Register for a free session on May 2 or May 4-6.

Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

10. Start celebrating Mother’s Day early (at home)

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium begins its Virtual Mother’s Day on May 3 for a weeklong celebration of moms each day on Facebook Live. The sessions will feature animal moms at the zoo, along with their adorable youngsters.

Bonus events: Check out all that’s happening during the EQT Children’s Theater Festival and Remake Learning Days.