9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from humpback whales to a little mermaid

July continues to roll with plenty of activities for inquisitive kids. Nature takes a starring role with local urban wildlife and whales that splash and crash into the sea. Theater, dance and acting performances and interactions give kids a cultural edge. And a new training platform for families keeps kids physically fit. Here are our picks for the best things to do with kids in Pittsburgh this week.

1. See humpback whales bigger than you ever imagined

“Humpback Whales” opens Monday, July 27, at Rangos Giant Cinema in Carnegie Science Center. Kids will be blown away when they see these 50-ton, 50-foot aquatic mammals on the huge 70-foot-by-38-foot state-of-the-art screen. Ewan McGregor narrates the ocean adventure that travels from Alaska to Hawaii to the islands of Tonga. Expect an up-close look at how humpback whales take care of their young, communicate, play and sing their haunting songs. With safety precautions in place, just 24 tickets will be sold for each screening. Plan ahead and buy your tickets up to two weeks in advance.

2. Cruise to a drive-in movie

Allegheny County’s Family Drive-in Movies series opens with “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Head to the Boyce Park Airfield Parking Lot on Tuesday, July 28; South Park VIP Parking Lot on Thursday, July 30; and Hartwood Acres Amphitheater on Saturday, Aug. 1. The free weekly films run through Oct. 3. Other favorite films on the schedule include “Moana,” “The Secret Life of Pets 2” and “The Goonies.”

Citiparks’ free Dollar Bank Drive-in Movie Night returns Saturday, July 25, with “Men in Black: International.” Click here beginning Thursday to make a reservation. Next up is “The Mighty Ducks” on Aug. 8.

Rivers of Steel hosts Pittsburgh-filmed flicks at Carrie Carpool Cinema this weekend at Carrie Blast Furnaces. Friday’s double feature of “Flashdance” and “Out of This Furnace” is already sold out. But look for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Kingpin” on Saturday. Additional movie weekends are planned monthly through November. Make reservations here. Tickets are $10, $7 for kids.

3. Watch an opera

Pittsburgh Festival Opera entertained loads of school kids this past year with “Rusalka: A Mermaid’s Tale.” The children’s mini-opera has moved from the assembly hall stage to the small screen for all to enjoy at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 25. The 45-minute opera, recommended for kids in grades K-5, is part of Unstaged: Pittsburgh Festival Opera Pandemic Edition. Watch “A Mermaid’s Tale” on the company’s Facebook page or YouTube channel.

4. Discover the urban wild

Kids don’t necessarily have to venture into deep woods to find wild creatures. There’s plenty to discover from your front stoop or backyard. Let a Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy naturalist be your guide with a reading of “Wild Ones: Observing City Critters” by Carol Malnor. The story will ignite curiosity about your neighborhood. Join the Zoom virtual event and be prepared with paper and markers or crayons. Register here for the pay-what-you-want event (even $0 works!) set for 4-5 p.m. Tuesday, July 28.

5. Move it and make it

In this virtual workshop, kids in grades K-5 will follow the guidance of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in a movement and making session. Kids will learn how dance and music help create a character and tell a story onstage. Show up with a lively imagination and enough space to move. Pets, family members and stuffed animals are welcome to join in the fun of this free activity planned for 10-10:45 a.m. Saturday, July 25. Register here to receive the Zoom link.

6. Start talking about college

Rising juniors and seniors – and their parents – will want to take part in this TeenBloc workshop hosted by A+ Schools. “It’s a Different World: Let’s Talk College” will discuss college finances, the application process and how to sign up for scholarships. Learn the difference between HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and PWIs (predominantly white universities). The Zoom session runs from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, July 29. Registration is required. Email cdrew@aplusschools.org by July 25 to save a spot.

7. Act out your emotions

This acting lesson will help kids in grades 1-3 practice how to express their emotions in more positive ways. Pittsburgh Cultural Trust teaching artist Liz Foster-Shaner leads the session that has kids explore different emotions. They will track those feelings by drawing an emotion chart and consider how many different ways a particular emotion can be portrayed. The free class is part of the Trust’s Creative Connections collection.

8. Train with Workouts of STEEL

P3R, better known as Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, just launched a free fitness platform for kids. Workouts of STEEL are guaranteed to keep kids energized with fitness games like Sharks & Minnows, Blob Tag and the Pizza Game. Activities range from those appropriate for little kids on up to more athletic teens, who will be challenged by the workout and running videos. A dropdown menu helps find the best exercises for your kids.

9. Call for answers about school and personal needs

So many questions. Where do you turn?  Beginning Monday, July 27, Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative will launch a family hotline to help caregivers as they work their way through the changing landscape of academic issues and personal needs. The effort comes from a partnership between A+ Schools, ARYSE, Circles of Greater Pittsburgh, the Heinz Fellows, Latino Community Center and Lawrenceville United. The hotline will accept calls in at least 10 languages for comprehensive outreach in our communities. Leave a message with your question, and you will receive a callback within 48 hours. The hotline will operate between July 27 and Sept. 30. Call 412-256-8536 for English or 412-335-7446 for Spanish.