9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from space adventures to glassmaking kits

Summer 2020 might have its restrictions, but the fun factor remains off the charts. Pittsburgh organizations defy limitations with creative programming for at-home and in-person entertainment for kids. Head to a farm, watch a ballet or take a guided bike tour around the city. Your kids will get a charge out of these 9 things to do this week:

1. Get lost in space (at home)

Parents who are weary of the same old DVD and Netflix viewings can venture to Carnegie Science Center’s stay-at-home movies. The title character of “SamSam” has his own flying saucer, good friends and a loving family. But he’s still hoping to develop a superpower that will make his life complete. A mysterious new student at school might help SamSam learn what it takes to be a hero. Families can rent “SamSam” online for $12 for a two-day rental through Rangos at Home.

2. Watch a ballet (at home)

All of us wanna-be ballerinas love Allegheny County Park’s annual evening under the stars with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. This year’s free performance takes on a more complicated direction in filming “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” to be aired this weekend. The dancers learned the choreography via Zoom and performed throughout Hartwood Acres’ woods and meadows, following strict safety protocols. Social distancing (except for dancers who live together) was maintained throughout the project. Ballet fans can view the finished product at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, through Sept. 6 on the CW network.  The performance will be posted on the Allegheny County Parks Facebook page and YouTube channel after the initial broadcast.

3. Get fired up (at home)

Pittsburgh Glass Center sells Glass-to-Go Kits designed for ages 5 and up with adult supervision. The kits include everything needed to create brilliant glass suncatchers. Kids assemble the pieces at home, and then the works are dropped off at the glass center to be fired. Current kits cost $20 and come in a choice of Summer Explosion, with a glowing rainbow heart, and Pittsburgh-themed Black and Gold. More kits are promised soon.

4. Bike the Burgh (in person)

Your family will appreciate fresh air, physical exercise and an entertaining guided tour on two wheels. Bike the Burgh offers a variety of tours, including Bridges of the Burgh, Glass and Steel City on the South Side, and a new Insider North Side Tour. Bikes and helmets are sanitized between tours and other safety precautions are followed. The three-hour tours begin and end Downtown near the Convention Center with a maximum of six people. Bring your own bike and save $5.

5. Hunt through history (in person)

Head to Point Park for an inside/outside day of local history. Stop first in Fort Pitt Museum for two stories of immersive Pittsburgh history. Pick up a scavenger hunt sheet at the front desk to keep kids interested in spying out implements, symbols and weapons. Once completed, turn it in for a prize. Then, stroll outdoors to check out the Block House and walk the perimeter of the old fort. Kids won’t want to miss catching spray from the massive fountain at the Point where Pittsburgh history began.

6. Explore the outdoors (at home)

Try a few online activity bundles from Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy for innovative ways to learn about outdoor subjects from anywhere. Choose from 10 bundles with subjects like spiders, camouflage and birds of prey. Each free bundle includes links to video, hands-on projects and games that are perfect for inside learning. The knowledge acquired in your living room will give kids new ways to look at the outdoors on their next hike.

7. Illustrate motion in art (at home)

This art appreciation activity from the Carnegie Museum of Art teaches kids to observe the way artists depict motion in their paintings. Using Carlo Carrà’s “Swimmers” as an example, kids are prompted to see how he used directional lines and loose brushstrokes to convey a sense of movement and speed. Points of discussion continue the lesson, and then kids are challenged to create drawings that put those ideas to the test. It’s one of many free Art Activities offered by the museum.

8. Head to the farm

An outing to Round Hill Park and Farm will encourage a rousing chorus of “Old MacDonald” from the backseat. Part of the Allegheny County Park system, Round Hill welcomes families to view the cows, sheep and pigs on its working farm for free. Be sure to stop by the duck pond and offer some friendly quacks. And you might as well pack a picnic lunch to make a day of it. The 1,120-acre park includes a good number of picnic shelters and shady tables.

9. Borrow a nature-stuffed backpack (in person)

Let Allegheny County Library Association’s interactive Nature Backpack Program be your family’s personal guide to local parks, green spaces and wooded trails. The backpacks, free to borrow from county libraries, are themed by five areas of interest and multiple subjects, such as wetlands, birds, wildflowers and conservation. Each backpack holds a treasure trove of activities and information. Depending on the subject, kids will find guidebooks, laminated trail maps, crayons and a magnifying glass or binoculars. Exploration tips will prep junior naturalists before heading out into the wild. Request the backpacks online for curbside pickup at your neighborhood library.