9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from cookie decorating kits to a Winter Solstice party

Pennsylvania’s temporary shutdown doesn’t put a halt on family fun. We’ve uncovered loads of cool activities to keep kids entertained while staying safe at home.

1. Decorate cookies (and other treats) from a kit (at home)

These cookie-decorating kits offer a helping hand when moms and dads are pressed for time. And it’s a great way to support local businesses while keeping kids busy. All require advance notice before pick up.

Short and Sweet Cookie Company includes a dozen cookies, four colors of icing and sprinkles in its cookie kit for $30.

Oakmont Bakery’s Do It YoursELF (get it?) kit holds six cookies, icing and M&Ms for $7.99.

Le Cupcake Shoppe builds its Holiday DIY decorating kit ($20) with a dozen mini-cupcakes, buttercream icing, marshmallows, sprinkles and moldable cookie dough.

Sugar and Spice offers kits that include a simple cookie mix (just add water), plus cookie cutters, a tub of icing and a variety of sprinkles for $20. There are chocolate candy-molding kits ($15) and ice cream sundae kits ($20), too.

Eat’n Park bakeries jump into the trend with Christmas tree cookie kits, Smiley cookie kits and Black and Gold kits for Steelers fans. Each is $10.99 and holds six cookies, icing and sprinkles.

2. Discover another week of the re-invented Children’s Theater Festival (at home)

The EQT Children’s Theater Festival continues fun programming in its @ Home edition running through Dec. 31. Kids will love the cool hands-on projects and activities. Keep watching for new weekly content and lots more festival fun. This week’s highlights:

Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems: The children’s book illustrator invites kids into his studio to learn to draw Cat the Cat and explore new ways to tell stories through Dec. 31.

David Gonzalez: The award-winning performer presents “Cuentos: Tales from the Latinx World” with songs and vivid storytelling from Spanish-speaking cultures. The presentation runs from Dec. 18-20.

Free Sock Puppet Workshop: String Theory artist Dirk Joseph shows kids how to make a sock puppet via a live Zoom meeting on Dec.19. Register in advance for the link and list of materials.

3. Catch a sneak preview (at home)

Before its release in January, your family can screen an exclusive preview of “Radium Girls” through Carnegie Science Center. Tweens and teens will connect with the young sisters, Bessie and Jo, who dream of Hollywood and travel while working in a factory painting glow-in-the-dark watch dials. Then Jo becomes ill and a mystery gradually comes to light. Based on a true story, “Radium Girls” portrays the court case that advocated for worker safety. The $12 rental offers access for 48 hours. “Radium Girls” is unrated, but is PG in nature. Watch the trailer here.

4. Observe the Winter Solstice (at home)

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh hosts “I Love Winter: A Solstice Celebration!” on Dec. 19 for early learners from 3-6 years. The virtual event acknowledges the shortest, darkest day of the year. What better activity to observe the solstice than by making a glowing lantern from a plastic milk jug. Kids will stretch into winter yoga poses and enjoy a storytime, too. Register for the free event and click here for the supplies needed to make a lantern.

5. Listen to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ radio play (at home)

A favorite classic Christmas movie is presented in a new format,  actually a very old format, with Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.” The play is recorded live with voices, music and sound effects, then streamed into your home via Broadway on Demand. You can catch the story of George Bailey and his clumsy angel, Clarence, on Dec. 18 and 19. Register here for tickets priced at $12.95 per household.

6. Get ready for New Year’s (at home)

The Children’s Museum is prepping two craft kit pickups – 10 a.m. Dec. 21 and 4 p.m. Dec. 22 – stuffed with the makings of confetti poppers and other celebratory New Year accessories. Instructions for the Museum @ Home projects come via Instagram @pghkids on Dec. 28.

7. Watch ‘The Gift of the Ice Queen’ (at home)

Gemini Children’s Theatre continues its free holiday performances with “The Gift of the Ice Queen” on Dec.17 via Facebook Live. If you missed the earlier shows, head over to Gemini’s Facebook page to catch the recorded seasonal productions of “Elves!” and “Beauty and the Beast Holiday.”

8. Grab the last chance to go on a field trip (at home)

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust presents a virtual field trip that’s free to schools and people of all ages through Dec. 22. The Black Violin: Impossible Tour has performed for more than 100,000 kids in the U.S. and Europe. Classically trained musicians, Wil B on viola and Kev Marcus on violin, are joined by DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes. Together, they blend classical music with hip-hop. For the complete experience, download a study guide, a Q&A with the musicians and a 45-minute performance that your family can enjoy on your own schedule. No school bus is required for this field trip!

9. Vote for a Gingerbread House (at home)

Browse through the contenders in the 18th annual City of Pittsburgh Gingerbread House Display and Competition and cast your ballot for the new People’s Choice Award. The contest moved to a virtual format this year, but submissions remained as creative as ever in various age groups and categories. We love the ideas behind titles like “Learning the Elf-abet” and “Grammy’s Yumyum Hut.” We can practically smell the sugar from here! Voting is open through Dec. 31.