The new year breaks open with lots of cool things to do with kids. Once again, Pittsburgh organizations rise to the challenge to create exciting encounters, intellectual diversions and the kind of entertainment that will knock your socks off. While many events remain virtual in nature, fun in-person activities come back into play. Make plans for these top 11 January events for kids in Pittsburgh.
1. Early Bird Feels: Wishes, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: Jan. 3
The Children’s Museum continues its Early Bird Feels series in 2021, focusing on New Year Wishes. In the virtual workshop designed for ages 3-6, kids will make wishing wands, then wave those wishes out to the world. The wands are made from a variety of basic supplies likely to be in your house. The session is a lovely way to promote bonding and socialization between little ones and their grownups. Registration is $10. Wishes are free!
2. Virtual January Community Day, Westmoreland Museum of American Art: Jan. 3
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art’s virtual January Community Day gives families lots of ideas for creative fun. Paint a watercolor portrait, remake a greeting card by upcycling household materials and build a DIY stuffed animal. Access the video instructions and activities, like the BOOM Jam Puppet Slam, at 10 a.m. Jan. 3. You’ll also find lists of supplies needed to follow along with the hands-on happenings. Registration is free.
3. Laser Galactic Odyssey and Laser Queen, Carnegie Science Center: Jan. 4-31
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 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.
4. Teen SciTALK Series, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: Jan. 13, 20 and 27
In each Phipps’ 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 is $65.
5. Afrofuturism: Hair Pride Day Camp, Assemble Pittsburgh: Jan. 18
Kids in grades 3-5 are invited to participate in Assemble’s Afrofuturism: Hair Pride Day Camp to celebrate curls, kinks and coils. 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.
6. Young Chef Thrive Cooking Academy series, Phipps Conservatory: Jan. 19, 26 and Feb 2
These skills will benefit kids for a lifetime of healthy cooking. Phipps’ 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 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. Grownups will receive a grocery list before each class. The three-week series costs $65 per household, which allows siblings to learn and cook together. Register here.
7. Hot Cocoa Hike, Schenley Park: Jan. 23
Pull on mittens and wrap mufflers over masks for an easy 2- to 3-mile hike through Schenley Park. Venture Outdoors hosts the Hot Cocoa Hike, where families can spot deer, birds and natural winter beauty. The invigorating outing ends with warm mugs of cocoa topped with marshmallows. Registration is $8 for grownups, $5 for kids, $20 for the whole family.
8. Reading into History Virtual Family Book Club, Heinz History Center: Jan. 24
Dive into Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” in the January installment of Heinz History Center’s virtual book club, which connects fiction to real-life history. The adventures of Phileas Fogg motivated journalist Nellie Bly on a whirlwind adventure of her own in 1889. The book club discussion will look at how the story connects with Nellie Bly’s journey and how the world has changed since then. You can access a copy of “Around the World in 80 Days” via Hoopla and your library membership. Register your family here for the free Zoom session.
9. Behind the scenes at the veterinary hospital, National Aviary: Jan. 26
Kids love learning about animals. This virtual behind-the-scenes tour of the National Aviary’s Teaching Hospital adds another dimension to animal care. Dr. Pilar Fish, senior director of zoological advancement and avian medicine, leads the tour. Kids will see how Aviary vets take X-rays, apply bandages and give treatments to resident birds. Specialized care includes designing natural habitats where birds will thrive. Registration for the Zoom tour is $15.
10. Laurie Halse Anderson, Words & Pictures: Jan. 28
Best-selling YA writer Laurie Halse Anderson is the latest entry in the Words & Pictures series presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. Her novel “Chains” tells the tale of a 13-year-old slave during the Revolutionary War, while “Speak” is about a high school freshman who becomes isolated after a sexual assault. Halse Anderson’s latest work is a memoir in verse based on her own assault as a young teen and a call to action to the #MeToo movement. Heavy stuff, indeed, but beautifully written with a readily accessible lesson about using your voice to reclaim your power. Registration is free for this virtual speaking engagement.
11. Super Science Saturday: Taking Flight, Carnegie Museum of Natural History: Jan 30
January’s Super Science Saturday at Carnegie Museum of Natural History spotlights the history of flight in nature. Kids will learn how creatures great and small utilize the wind and air for transportation. Kids will explore flight in birds, bugs and even prehistoric beasts like pterosaurs. Super Science Saturday is free with general admission timed tickets.