A new year means lots of new activities for families. Up the fun quotient with a strong injection of anti-boredom pursuits that entertain and engage. Read on for our top things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh.
1. Discover another month of the re-invented Children’s Theater Festival (at home)
The EQT Children’s Theater Festival extended its @ Home edition for another month, now running through Jan. 31. Kids will love the hands-on projects and activities. Some free highlights:
“The Circus” video performance comes from Marionettes de Iaincon, the legendary puppet company in Mexico.
Disney On Stage showcases activities related to musicals like “Mary Poppins” and “Frozen” for a variety of ages. There are videos, too, to go behind the scenes at “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”
“The Incredible Book-Eating Boy,” read by author Oliver Jeffers, tells the tale of a boy who loves books in a very different way.
2. Make a time capsule (at home)
The gang of art educators at the Andy Warhol Museum came up with a great idea for January’s Virtual Workshop for Early Learners. Kids ages 3-6 will be absorbed in making a time capsule, just like Andy, who created more than 600 “Time Capsules” between the early 1970s and 1987. The virtual workshop includes storytelling, movement and hands-on making. Registration is $10 for the Jan 9th event. Once registered, grownups will receive a list of supplies, plus files of supplemental worksheets and templates. It will be interesting to see what items kids choose to preserve in their time capsule. And it will be even more fun when they open them in the future.
3. Take a walk on the wild side (in person)
The Junior Explorers series of Allegheny County Parks and Recreation offers kids a Winter Animals Walk with Park Ranger. The program is geared to kids ages 5-12, but older and younger siblings are welcome to join in the experience. Bundle up for the weather and learn how wild animals deal with the cold season. Register ahead of time to save your spot at your choice of Harrison Hills Park on Jan. 10 or North Park on Jan. 13. A grownup’s presence is required for this free activity.
4. Get crafty with Chloe (at home)
The Jan. 10th edition of Story Sundays at Carnegie Museum of Art features “Crafty Chloe,” written by Kelly Dipucchio and illustrated by Heather Ross. The hour-long program, geared to kids age 12 and younger, includes a storytime followed by a maker activity. Register here for the pay-what-you-wish virtual event and find a list of materials to build a silly sock puppet.
5. Hop into History (at home)
Start them young! Heinz History Center begins teaching early learners from ages 3-5 about Pittsburgh’s past with its Hop into History series, currently operating as a virtual experience. On Jan. 13, kids will hear about Pittsburgh’s Piano Girl, groundbreaking jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams. The session is free, but donations will be happily accepted. Registration is required.
6. Cheer on the Pens! (at home)
We’re all happy to see the Pittsburgh Penguins return to the ice at PPG Paints Arena. While awaiting next week’s season opener, young hockey fans can access printable activity sheets from the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. You’ll find Pens-themed word scrambles, connect-the-dots, matching games and coloring pages. The Pens Pals activities are a small part of the foundation’s mission to champion Pittsburgh kids on and off the ice.
7. Do a good deed (at home)
Although Global Links’ annual Family Volunteer Day can’t take place this year, the non-profit organization offers families another way to help their less fortunate Pittsburgh neighbors. You can guide your kids in assembling care kits of essential personal items, which are not covered by SNAP benefits. Think toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap and shampoo. The exercise is a fine conversation starter with kids about the effects of financial hardship. Register here for kit instructions. Kits can be dropped off at Global Links’ headquarters in Green Tree throughout January.
8. Beam into laser love (in person)
The Carnegie Science Center reopens with two dazzling laser shows in its newly renovated Buhl Planetarium. In Laser Galactic Odyssey, the full-dome laser show is choreographed to cosmic-themed music like John Williams’ “The Imperial March,” The Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic,” and Monty Python’s “Galaxy Song.” The Laser Queen show blares the sing-along rock hits like “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Check the daily calendar for times and dates. Tickets can be added to your general admission or can be purchased separately for a laser show-only visit.
9. Exercise your maker muscles (at home)
We reached into the Maker Monday archives for cool – and icy cold! – wintry activities. Here are a few of our favorites:
Table-Top Ice Hockey: This project combines crafting with sports in a miniature fashion.
Snowstorm Magic: With a few simple supplies, kids can create a DIY snowstorm in a jar — and learn a science lesson at the same time.
3-D Snow Paint: This puffy paint adds a cute, 3-D effect to art work that’s perfect for snow scenes.