9 things to do in with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from Meowfest to an elephant birthday party

Having a great week with kids all comes down to attitude – and having a list of fun activities doesn’t hurt either. Animal-loving kids will revel in Elephant Day or the intrigue of cat mystery. The rumbling roar of motorcycle racing will spark a thrill in those kids who travel on two wheels. Families can get active with the Steelers in their annual 5K, plus find new ways to immerse themselves in local parks.

Here are our picks for 9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh.

1. Investigate cats (virtually and in-person)

This week’s episodes of Super Science Days at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History focus on cats. Meowfest offers opportunities for on-site and at-home diversions. A new activity is posted daily through Aug. 8. Kids will learn why a cat’s eyes glow in the dark and simulate the science in a cool hands-on experiment. If visiting the museum in person, accept the Cat Scavenger Hunt challenge. Or check out how cats figure in archeological sites in Egypt. Hungry for more? Previous Super Science Days remain online for kids to explore.

2. Feel the thunder (in person)

If your kids are born to be wild, they will thrill to the excitement of the 2020 MotoAmerica Championship Series at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. The fastest form of motorcycle racing takes place this weekend from Aug. 7-9. Racing takes the headline, but there’s plenty more family-friendly fun with stunt shows, motorcycle displays, go-karting and an open paddock. Kids age 16 and younger receive free admission with a paying grownup. Expect adherence to safety protocols and social distancing.

3. Party with elephants (in person)

Sunday is an extra fun day when you add in elephants. Celebrate World Elephant Day at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9. Kids will sing “Happy Birthday” to the elephants, snack on birthday cake and meet the zoo mascot. Elephant Day activities are included with zoo admission. Remember to buy your timed tickets in advance.

4. Come Alive with Rhythm (virtually)

Kids can Come Alive with Rhythm through this Cultural Trust Creative Connection. The free video lesson is designed for kids ages 4-8 years old. They’ll learn about tempo, emotion, dynamics and the role instruments play in a band. Drummer James Johnson III explains the different parts of a drum set and the variety of sounds each one makes, from the snare drum to the hi-hat. Lorenze Jefferson takes over with his bass guitar to continue the music appreciation class that involves participation from kids. It’s a jumping jam session they’re sure to love.

5. Take a guided hike (in person)

Families can discover many hidden wonders in Allegheny County Parks through a guided hike with a ranger. The rangers teach all sorts of nature lessons along the way, like the science behind decomposition, beaver habitats and underground wildlife. You’ll find some hikes planned for Junior Rangers, as well as after-dark outings to discover the night sky. Sign up online early before spaces book up.

6. Build your favorite Pittsburgh things (at home)

Create a Pickle Pin, make a custom Terrible Towel or engineer a new bridge. The Heinz History Center designed an activity kit with all the supplies needed to build five different Pittsburgh objects. Shrink film, canvas, tempera paint sticks and special markers are included. You’ll also receive an Inspiration Journal and coloring pages for each activity. The DIY History at Home kits are designed for elementary school kids and cost $35.

7. Run and Walk (virtually) with the Steelers

This year, the Steelers Run and Walk takes a virtual route, allowing runners to complete the 5K anywhere in the world, including your Pittsburgh neighborhood. Kids can get involved, too, and wear their black and gold race shirts and medals with pride. Registration for the Kids Fun Run is $15, half the price of adult runners. Participants can complete their run now through Sept. 15. And you’ll be doing a good deed. Proceeds benefit the Art Rooney Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury.

8. Dance, dance, dance! (at home)

It’s time for another Let’s Move! Virtual Family Dance Party from Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Register for the Zoom link with a pay-what-you-like admission. Join the 20-minute dance class at noon on Saturday, Aug. 8, then stay for the dance jam session. This low-impact workout will get hearts pumping as the whole family jumps and sways to the beat. Download the KST coloring book, too, which highlights past performances.

9. Reach into the Pittsburgh Parks Prescriber Toolkit

Here’s a prescription for your family’s health that includes fun physical activities, fresh air and mental challenges: Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC teamed up to create the Pittsburgh Rx Service and Toolkits to get kids exploring Pittsburgh parks in new ways. Head to the website to begin the adventure. Click on a neighborhood park to find a printable activity sheet that’s specifically designed for that individual park. The website includes suggestions for exercise and ways to play in all the parks. Seasonal activity sheets guide families to things to do throughout the year. You’ll find some excellent links to the park events calendar and tips to get the most from a hiking experience.