10 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, including the Zoo reopening

Photo: Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

We found exciting options to connect with nature, cool ways to explore Black History in Pittsburgh and plenty of hands-on maker activities to keep kids engaged this week.

1. Head to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium (in person)

Happy day! The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium reopens on March 1, the perfect place for an outdoor adventure with points of interest around every corner. Admission can be purchased online or in-person at the ticket booth. Among the modified operations, you’ll find Plexiglass barriers, reminders of social distancing and mask requirements for those older than 2. The tram will not be running yet, but Jambo Grill will accept mobile orders for snacks and drinks.

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova.

2. Try Hiking for City Folks (in person)

This leisurely 2- to 4-mile hike on Feb. 27 is stroller friendly and perfect for a beginning family hiking experience. Venture Outdoors and Outdoor Afro host the event in lower Frick Park. Basic outdoor skills, like Leave No Trace and Get Unlost, are part of the lessons that guides will impart. The meeting spot is near a bus stop and a parking lot for easy access. Registration for Hiking for City Folks is $6 per participant. Masks are required, along with other safety protocols.

Images from the cover of ‘What Will These Hands Make?’

3. Get hands-on with Story Sunday (at home)

Story Sunday at Carnegie Museum of Art continues its maker theme with “What Will These Hands Make?” by Nikki McClure. The virtual storytime on Feb. 28 will be led by Alyssa Velazquez, curator of “Locally Sourced.” The tale follows a family and the many ways they use their hands to support their neighbors. Story Sunday is geared to kids ages 12 and younger with a maker activity following the story. Registration is set at pay-what-you-wish pricing, with a Zoom link and materials list to follow.

Suffragist Daisy Lampkin’s house at the Miniature Railroad & Village. Photo by Sally Quinn.

4. Continue Black History Month throughout the year (in person and at home)

These organizations offer terrific celebrations of Black History Month with exhibits that run year-round.

The Miniature Railroad & Village at Carnegie Science Center pinpoints buildings that rank high in Black History. New this year, the Hill District home of suffragist Daisy Lampkin joins the likes of the Pittsburgh Courier Building, the Crawford Grill, Ebenezer Baptist Church and the LeMoyne House, a major hub on the Underground Railroad. Prior to your visit, learn about these noteworthy sites here.

From Slavery to Freedom at Heinz History Center explores African American history, spanning more than 250 years. The exhibit begins in 18th-century Africa and continues through activism in the 21st century.

Mosaic “Hair Pride” Kit joins the lineup of Glass To Go Kits at Pittsburgh Glass Center. Proceeds benefit Brothers and Sisters Emerging.

The Teenie Harris Archive at Carnegie Museum of Art lets you browse through over 60,000 images from this prolific photographer, who documented life in the Black community. Or explore the current exhibit, “In Sharp Focus: Charlie ‘Teenie’ Harris,” which features many of his iconic photos, on display in the Scaife Galleries.

A product from the Metal Embossing workshop. Photo courtesy of Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

5. Check out a virtual workshop at the Children’s Museum (at home)

If your kids tried one of the virtual workshops at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, you know they’ll want to go back for more. These workshops, scheduled through April 21, are aimed at specific age groups but cater to a wide range of interests. Consider a class in Origami Microscope, Cardboard Weaving or Drawbots. Each date requires you to sign up in advance. The workshops are offered on a sliding scale so everyone can afford to participate. Learn more here.

Photo courtesy of The National Aviary.

6. Party with flamingoes (in person)

Count on a flamboyance of flamingoes at the National Aviary’s annual Flamingo Fest on Feb. 27 and 28. Included with daily admission, the two-day celebration of all things flamingo includes pre-packaged, make-and-take craft kits for kids. They’ll love the steamy Wetlands habitat, for a Flamingo Island Adventure feeding and talk. Or experience a Flamingo Mingle, a private nose-to-beak experience, for an additional price. Expect Covid safety precautions, including timed tickets.

Image courtesy of Prime Stage Theatre.

7. Tune in to Season 2 of the Mystery Theatre Podcast (at home)

Junior detectives who love following clues will get a kick out of Prime Stage Theatre’s second season of Mystery Theatre. “The Play’s the Things” follows the format of a classic radio show with the first episode launching Feb. 25. New 10-minute episodes will be released weekly through March 25. The eccentric characters were first featured in Season 1’s “A Knavish Piece of Work,” which remains available on the Prime Stage website. Mystery Theatre is free, but donations are always welcome.

Photo by Aaron J. Hill.

8. Follow the Groundhog Nature Trail (in person)

At this fresh-air outing designed for smaller kids, you can follow the Groundhog Nature Trail signs at Moraine State Park on a self-guided tour of the Sunken Garden Trail. Share nature lessons from the signposts along the 1-mile loop for a complete educational experience. Families can access the Groundhog Nature Trail daily through Feb. 28. It’s free and no registration is required. Dress for the weather and follow PA State Covid guidelines.

Photo courtesy of Rafi Nova.

9. Help kids with autism (in person and at home)

Sensory-Friendly Mask: Kids with autism and other sensory processing challenges can find masks difficult to wear. Masks introduce uncomfortable new stimuli including the fabric sensation, tight elastic bands, plus heat and moisture from breathing. To help alleviate those issues, Easterseals teamed with Rafi Nova to develop a sensory-friendly mask. Features include a Mulberry silk lining, jersey-knit straps that fasten behind the head, limited seaming and an antibacterial layer. The Sensory-Friendly Mask costs $14 for kid sizes, $16 for adults. Use the code ESSC to send a portion of the proceeds to Easterseals. Make your purchase here.

Virtual Social Skills Group: The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh launched a virtual social skills group for kids with autism, ADHD or anxiety. These sessions will help kids, from pre-K to high school, focus on how to interact with peers, plus a workshop on developing interview techniques for older teens. View the available courses and register here.

Photo by Laura Garcia.

10. Hey, new moms! Get matched with a Mama Mentor (at home)

It’s so easy to feel isolated these days. Expectant moms and mothers of newborns will find a friendly connection from Trying Together’s  Nurture Program that pairs them with a volunteer Mama Mentor. The mentors will answer general infant care and parenting questions, suggest activities based on your baby’s age and development and offer encouraging words for moms who need a boost of confidence. Mama Mentors will also share local resources to help with other needs. The Nurture Program is free and confidential through the text-based program. Find more details and sign up here.