9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from ‘Sleep Squad’ rockets to MLK celebrations

Looking for creative, educational and cultural events? We’ve got you covered with activities for kids, from early learners to tweens and teens. Stay in, get out or mix it up with these family-friendly things to do in Pittsburgh this week.

1. Experience an out-of-this-world sleep routine (at home)

“Sleep Squad” operates as an interactive, virtual theater experience aimed at kids ages 4-12. The world-premiere, on-demand production turns your home into a rocket ship that launches kids into their dreams with comedy and music. The $35 registration per household allows 14 days of unlimited viewings. For an additional $15, you can order a Dreamtime Kit that includes a dream journal, sleep mask and a star globe night light. “Sleep Squad,” available from Jan. 14-31, is part of the EQT Children’s Theater Festival @ Home. Click here for the complete lineup of festival activities.

2. Identify emotional colors (at home)

This Jan. 17 episode of The Children’s Museum’s Family Art Studio jumps into puppet making and explores the way colors can characterize emotions. The virtual program is intended for ages 3-6. The artful exploration works as a social bonding exercise that connects family members in the same room or from far away. Materials include simple found objects available in most households. Registration is $10.

3. Introduce your Munchkins to science (in person)

Munchkin Mondays return to Carnegie Science Center through Feb. 22. Each week, early learners from ages 2-6 take part in themed interactive play that introduces basic scientific concepts. Munchkin Mondays are free with general admission.

4. Honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy (at home)

KST’s MLK Day Celebration: Kelly Strayhorn Theater goes virtual for its annual Martin Luther King tribute on Jan. 18. The pre-recorded “Living the Legacy” highlights Pittsburgh activists, such as Black Young and Educated, Lost Culture Dance Crew and the Funky Fly Project. The program streams on a pay-what-makes-you-happy basis. Get your tickets here.

Afrofuturism: Hair Pride Day Camp: Kids in grades 3-5 are invited to participate in Assemble Pittsburgh’s Afrofuturism: Hair Pride Day Camp to celebrate curls, kinks and coils on Jan. 18. Part of the Black culture programming examines the Crown Act legislation that will make it illegal to discriminate because of hairstyle. Registration is $20, with some $10 scholarships available, including a material kit pickup on Jan.15. The session is free for Garfield residents.

Celebrate with Service: The United Way and Pittsburgh YMCA partnered for a Book Drive for Diversity and the Family Forum on Equality and Kindness on Jan. 18. “How to Talk to Your Children About Race” is scheduled for 9 a.m. for parents of little kids. Social Media as a Tool for Social Change at 11 a.m. is geared to parents of teens.

Roberto Clemente Museum Tour: Doors Open Pittsburgh Celebrates Martin Luther King Day with a virtual tour of the Roberto Clemente Museum on Jan. 18. Beyond his baseball stardom, Clemente is known for his philanthropy and activism to the African American community. Registration is pay-as-you-can, beginning at $5.

MLK 360: A Children’s Booklist About Dr. King’s Legacy: This Carnegie Library booklist helps kids understand King’s activism and philosophy of love. Titles include “My Daddy, Martin Luther King Jr.,” “My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart” and “Be A King.”

Poetry Unplugged: The August Wilson African American Cultural Center’s fifth-annual Poetry Unplugged: An MLK Celebration takes a virtual turn on Jan. 15. The night of spoken word and music features artists from around the country using the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. as inspiration. Mahogany Browne hosts an evening featuring poets Nikki Giovanni, Jessica Care Moore, CJ Parker and many others. Tickets are $10. Best for high school ages and up.

5. Walk and talk with the birds (in person)

Looking for a fresh air outing with your kiddos? Join a naturalist on the trails at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve. The Birds and More Nature Walk takes place every Wednesday morning. Return often and watch the reserve transform through the seasons. The guided walk is free, but registration is required.

6. Be STEMtacular (at home)

United Way’s Be STEMtacular Summit launches Jan. 19 with programming that runs through April 27. The hands-on STEM activities will excite all those kids, from grade 5 through high school, who love gizmos, gadgetry and design. The opening program, “Stimulating Simulating,” explores the role of DNA in animal survival. Other sessions include robotics, building fantasy worlds and creative coding. Register here to save your choice of programming and receive the Zoom link.

7. Investigate careers as scientists (at home)

In each Teen SciTALK session, high school kids meet a pair of scientists in different fields. Kids interested in pursuing studies in science will learn how these professionals approached their fields, their education and career paths. While the speakers explain what it’s like to be a scientist, kids can envision themselves in similar roles. Registration for the three-week virtual program, planned for Jan. 13, 20 and 27, is $65.

8. Catch the last chance at these exhibits (in person)

It’s so easy to lose track of time within these Blursday schedules. Add in the museum closings and your family might have completely missed out on these popular exhibits. Each has been extended but they are closing soon. All require timed tickets.

“Mummies of the World” at Carnegie Science Center finishes its run on Monday, Jan. 18. The collection of human and animal mummies fascinates with cutting-edge 3-D animation and state-of-the-art multimedia.

“A Very Merry Pittsburgh” exhibit at Heinz History Center closes on Jan. 18. Kids will enjoy the nostalgic look at holidays past that puts them in touch with their grandparents’ memories.

“Winter Flower Show: Home for the Holidays,” with its festive twinkling lights, paper stars and riot of poinsettias, ends Jan. 17 at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden.

9. Take a healthy cooking class (at home)

These skills will benefit kids for a lifetime of healthy cooking. Phipps Conservatory’s Plant Power cooking series for ages 10-14 will introduce young chefs to basic knife skills and culinary dexterity with a dash of nutrition. Chef Emily Larsen’s three Zoom classes, running Jan. 18, 26 and Feb. 2, cover plant-based Protein Basics with creative tofu prep; a Local Roots session starring root vegetables and dipping sauce; and a Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs entree. The three-week series costs $65 per household, which allows siblings to learn and cook together. Register here.