9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from ‘Hair Love’ to an eco-river weekend

This week’s family events range from outdoors to indoors with enough fun to fill the entire seven days. Head out to extreme amusement rides or put on your walking shoes for a hike in the woods. Stay in for lessons on Pittsburgh’s bison herd or a virtual community day filled with activities. And we have outdoor stuff to do at home in the backyard, too! Here are our top picks for things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh:

1. Experience ‘Hair Love’

Get closer to the popular “Hair Love” book by Matthew A. Cherry with this video episode from Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Creative Connections. Kids ages 3-7 are treated to a book reading along with an interactive singalong. In the story, Mom’s away, so dad has to take over little Zuri’s haircare. The sweet narrative celebrates the father-daughter bond, along with learning to love your natural hair.

2. Dive into our three rivers

Kids will learn more about our three rivers at H2Oh! River Weekend, hosted by Carnegie Science Center and Alcosan on July 18 and 19. Expect water-themed demonstrations, live local fish and amphibians, plus a stroll through a rain garden. Lessons on the water cycle and how dirty water can be cleaned remotely will be of interest to young eco-warriors. And don’t miss the chance to challenge the family in a game of River Bingo.

3. Tour a blast furnace

Reopened for tours, Carrie Blast Furnaces will wow kids with the might and power of this industrial site, a National Historic Landmark. There is nowhere else in the country where visitors can get this close to a blast furnace. Rivers of Steel leads the tours with former steelworkers as guides who relay engaging insider details. It’s a terrific in-depth window to Pittsburgh’s industrial heritage.

4. Get to know the South Park bison

American bison have roamed South Park since the 1920s. Kids have an opportunity to get to know these majestic creatures, one of North American’s largest mammals, through a virtual event hosted by Allegheny County Parks and Baldwin Borough Public Library at 11 a.m. Monday, July 20. The Facebook Live viewing will offer a tour of South Park Game Preserve and insight on the bison’s cultural and ecological importance. No registration required for this free program.

5. Groove to the music

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh created a Spotify playlist of staff picks that offers selections according to mood and energy level. There are soothing songs like “The Planets Bend Between Us” by Snow Patrol and Mean Lady’s “Bop Bop.” Need to get kids invigorated? Click on “I Like to Move It” from the “Madagascar 5” soundtrack or “I’m Still Standing” from the “Sing” soundtrack. It’s part of the Museum at Home package of activities.

6. Take an eco-tour

Join the Rachel Carson EcoVillage for a free guided eco-tour at Chatham’s Eden Hall campus. Families will walk along wooded trails and meadows at a social distance while learning the answers to questions like “What is a forest?” The eco-tour takes place from 10:30 a.m.-noon Sunday, July 19. Park in the lot at the water tower. For more info, click here.

7. Catch up with Kenny Kangaroo

After a long delay, Kennywood Park opened Monday with several safety precautions, including masks, reservations and temperature checks. But early reports from the weekend preview found the excitement level at Pittsburgh’s historic amusement park as high as ever. Little kids can head to Kiddieland and Thomas Town for miniaturized thrills, while older kids will test their mettle against wooden roller coasters and more extreme rides.

8. Celebrate community

There’s a lot happening at the August Wilson Center virtual Community Day scheduled for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, July 18. The fun includes DIY arts and crafts with Assemble, a live cooking segment with Casa Brasil, a PearlArts Studio dance session and a performance by Kulu Mele. Grownups will appreciate topical and informative discussions with community advocates like Julius Boatwright, founder and CEO of Steel Smiling. Find the complete schedule and registration form here.

9. Get inventive with pool noodles

Rain or shine, this Backyard Noodle Fishing STEAM project will offer hours of fun in hands-on Maker Monday creation, as well as the follow-up playtime. Kids can use their creativity in crafting fish from pool noodles before heading to the backyard pool for an afternoon of sport fishing. Best of all, there are no sharp hooks!

This outdoor activity — Ice Boat Racers — helps cool off energetic kids with an icy splash. The bits and pieces for this fun activity can be found at the Dollar Store and in your recycle bin.