11 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from prehistoric sea creatures to free mini golf

Photo: Enchodus petrosus is one of the newly added specimens in Cretaceous Seaways. Photo by Calder Dudgeon, courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Wow! This is a big week with lots of new and exciting things to do with kids. You’ll find intriguing exhibits, awesome outdoor activities and fun maker challenges.

1. Dive into prehistoric seas (in person)

Kids who love the size of dinosaurs and the ferocity of sharks will be absolutely fascinated by the five new specimens on display at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Look up to view the prehistoric sea creatures who appear to be swimming above the Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibition. A newly restored Tylosaurus mosasaur fossil skull and four replica skeletons set the scene in the Cretaceous Seaway exhibit. “Jaws” has nothing on these predatory beasts that can be seen in a life-and-death struggle from 92 million years ago. Purchase your timed tickets here. Looking for a bargain? Admission is 50% off after 3 p.m. on weekdays.

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Innovation District.

2. Go golfing for free (in person)

This is cool! The Oakland Open miniature golf course opens March 11 for free putting fun. Hosted by the Pittsburgh Innovation District, the course is open Thursdays through Sundays until April 30, but might run longer depending on its popularity. To ensure social distancing and reserve a time slot, registration is suggested. Find the nine-hole, ADA-compliant course on Oakland Avenue between Forbes Avenue and Sennott Street. The scorecards offer $5 discounts at neighborhood shops and restaurants to contribute to a super family day out.

Photo courtesy of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

3. Go mad for maple (in person)

Kids will learn the science and history of making maple syrup at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve and Succop Nature Park on March 13. The Audubon Society of Western PA hosts the outdoor Maple Madness events. Tour the maple sugar demonstration trail and learn how to collect sap and make your own syrup. Dress for the weather and wear a mask. Choose from a variety of times at your choice of park. Registration is $10. The day includes the sale of maple syrup and maple candy in the Nature Store. Sweet!

Image courtesy of Snapology.

4. Drop off kids for a grownup date night (in person)

Need a break? The Snapology Discovery Center in Bridgeville scheduled a Parent’s Night Out from 5-9 p.m. on March 13, with more planned every other Saturday. Kids will forget all about you while they spend the evening building, socializing and playing. Don’t worry about dinner: Pizza is included. The drop-off session is geared to kids ages 5-14. Snapology’s safety protocols include masks, limited class sizes, individual materials for each child and contactless check-in. Register here.

Photo courtesy of the Heinz History Center.

5. Learn about democracy (in person)

With more attention being paid to teaching civics, the timing couldn’t be better. Heinz History Center opens a new exhibit, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, on March 13. Presented in partnership with the Smithsonian Museum of American History, the exhibit will delve into that outlandish experiment to create a new form of government. The 7,000-square-foot space includes interactive and immersive displays, along with artifacts like Thomas Jefferson’s writing desk, a March on Washington banner and campaign buttons. Pittsburgh has its place in shaping the democracy, too, from the Whiskey Rebellion and women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement. Buy your timed tickets here.

Photo courtesy of Sugar Plum Parties.

6. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (in person)

Little leprechauns can party St. Patrick-style at Sugar Plum Parties on March 13. Fingerprint shamrock crafts are on the agenda along with beverages and snacks. Arrive in your most glamorous green attire and be prepared for pampering with temporary tattoos and hair color spray or a sparkly manicure and fancy-schmancy hairdo. Registration is $25. Masks are required along with other Covid safety measures.

Photo courtesy of Variety the Children’s Charity.

7. Help kids with disabilities reach their full potential (at home)

Variety the Children’s Charity reached a milestone this month by providing 4,000 adaptive bikes, strollers and communication devices to kids with disabilities over the past nine years. Variety is looking for the next 1,000 kids to benefit from free equipment through the My Bike, My Stroller and My Voice programs. The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit helps kids in 71 counties in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Families can check their eligibility with Variety. Heroes willing to volunteer, fundraise and sponsor equipment are welcome to help these kids be kids.

Rosemary Mosco. Photo courtesy of the National Aviary.

8. Check out Cartoonists for Conservation (at home)

We anticipate a delightful evening with Rosemary Mosco, who delves into the funny side of birds in her virtual speaker spotlight with the National Aviary on March 11. A naturalist and kids’ book author, Mosco combines science and comics in her “Bird and Moon” cartoons. Kids might recognize her work from Ranger Rick magazine and “Birding is My Favorite Video Game,” a quasi-educational collection of comics. Registration is $15.

Image from the book cover of “Everything Comes Next.”

9. Learn about writing poetry from a poet (at home)

The final installment of this season’s Words & Pictures series brings the current Young People’s Poet Laureate, Naomi Shihab Nye. She’ll read and discuss her latest book, “Everything Comes Next,” a collection of new poems along with some of her most popular pieces. Writing tips are included, too, as a bonus for young, developing poets. Nye is a self-described “wandering poet,” who has traveled the world, inspiring kids in workshops along the way. Registration is free.

“Frida with Olmeca Figurine,” Coyoacán, 1939. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives. Photo courtesy of The Frick Pittsburgh.

10. Jump into Frida Family Fun Day (at home)

The Frick Pittsburgh invites kids to a morning of art education dedicated to artist Frida Kahlo on March 13. The online session, geared to kids ages 5 and older, is related to a new exhibit, “Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray.” Kids will explore how Kahlo expressed her Mexican heritage through the use of color and portraiture. Registration is free.

Photo by Jack Redgate.

11. Hike for s’mores (in person)

Kids can work up an appetite for a sweet treat at the family-focused Gimme S’More Walk on March 14. Venture Outdoors guides will lead the way along 2-3 miles of winding trails through Riverview Park on the North Side. The payoff at the end is building a melted marshmallow s’more. Registration is $5 for kids, $8 for their grownups or $20 for the whole family. Expect Covid safety precautions.