People learn best by doing, not just watching, and of course kids love activities they really can get their hands on! Below are some local places where families can make something, work together on a project, or play and learn at the same time. Also see our Science and Technology Fun and Parks, Farms, and Outdoor Fun pages for more ideas.
– Kids in the Kitchen: Reston Community Center’s classes to introduce kids 3-6 to healthy cooking; junior chefs work with their parents. Class schedules vary. – “And I Helped” Parent and Kids Cooking: Classes by Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton to help little ones and their adult companions learn about nutrition along with time-management and organizational skills.
– Tiny Chefs: Tiny Chefs provides cooking themed parties, classes, camp, and specialty events for children in the area; students work in peer groups to discover the joy of cooking and baking.
– Culinaria Cooking School: This school in Vienna offers various one-day classes for kids, teens, or children and parents cooking together.
– Wegmans Cooking with Kids: The supermaket chain hosts special sessions (dates and locations vary) for kids and parents to cook together; a nominal fee applies.
– Color Me Mine: Paint-your-own pottery studio in Fairfax Corner that also offers classes and special events.
– Clay Cafe Chantilly: Award-winning paint-your-own pottery and glass fusion art studio with a nice selection of items, including many perfect for kids. The studio offers classes, camps, and scout programs also.
– Clay Café Studios Falls Church: Another award-winning family-friendly paint-your-own pottery studio.
– Paint Your Own Pottery: Pottery studio in Old Town Fairfax where families can create works of art.
– Jimmy Potters Workshop: Pottery studio in Fairfax offering individual or group sessions, parties, workshops, and after-school programs.
– Scrapbooks Plus: Parents of older kids and teens will enjoy preserving family memories at this Chantilly store’s crop sessions. Since it’s a local business, you can even find scrapbook papers with local school’s logos.
– Brixalot at Little Lords and Ladies: Little Lords and Ladies, a kids’ consignment store in Chantilly, offer Brixalot events when visitors can enjoy free play time with thousands of Lego® bricks for both little kids and big kids.
– Crafts at Michaels: This national chain with several stores in our area offers several free demos, make-and-take projects, and special events each month. Activities include scrapbooking, jewelry-making, floral arranging, and more.
– A.C. Moore crafts: Another large national store offering regular free demos and make-and-take sessions.
– Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: This huge air and space museum in Chantilly is great for kids and adults. In addition to regular events, its monthly Super Science Saturdays provide hands-on science and technology activities for visitors of all ages.
– Mount Vernon Estate: George Washington’s home features a state-of-the-art museum with a special room just for kids to explore and play in. Admission for kids 5 and under is free!
– Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE): The Explore More! Learning Center is designed for preschool and elementary school kids; the center also has special events for kids on select Fridays.
– USGS Visitor Center: Visitors to the U.S. Geological Survey National Center in Reston can learn about natural science through guided tours, hands-on experiences, and natural science products.
– Claude Moore Colonial Farm: Seasonal living history farm and museum that recreates the life and times of a family living in northern Virginia in 1771 and offers special events and festivals.
– Fairfax Station Railroad Museum: Train enthusiasts will love this rebuilt Fairfax Station railroad depot and learning about the role it played during the Civil War. Open during select Sunday afternoons, the museum features permanent and changing train displays and an annual holiday train show.
– Heritage Farm Museum: This museum in nearby Sterling brings the outdoors indoors with a focus on agricultural heritage and life. Fun kids’ activities include a cow “milking” station, play chicken coop, and big play country “store.”
– Lowe’s Build and Grow clinics: These free hand-on workshops for kids (warning: they book up weeks or months in advance!) occur on select Saturdays at 10 am. Kids build a wooden project (such as a science lab, monster truck, or bird house) with real tools and get a free apron, goggles, patch, and more.
– Home Depot Kids Workshops: These free hands-on workshops for kids ages 5-12, offered the first Saturday of each month at all stores at 9 am, are also very popular. Workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills, tool safety and instill a sense of pride and accomplishment. Kids keep their craft and receive a FREE Kids Workshop Apron, commemorative pin and certificate of achievement.
– Sears Saturday Family Fun: Each month Sears stores offer a hands-on workshop for kids (recommended for ages 4-10). Kids work from a kit sold for a small fee ($5); kits include goggles and an apron.
– Ace Kids Club: Ace Hardware Stores do not offer in-store kid workshops, but their website each month offers a seasonal activity you can do at home and provides a shopping list and detailed instructions. Note: projects yield multiple quantities, so these might be better for a party or group activity.
– Green Spring Gardens: This Faifax County park’s program offer adults and children practical lessons on gardening and stewardship of our environmental and cultural resources. One-day Family Fun Workshops cover diverse topics, such as how to build a compost bin, grow a vegetable garden, or make a birdhouse.
– Fairfax County Nature Centers: The county’s nature centers (Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Hidden Pond Nature Center, Huntley Meadows Park, Riverbend Park, Walney Visitors Center, and Cub Run RECenter) offer several hands-on gardening programs throughout the year.
– Merrifield Garden Center seminars: This gardening center with two locations in Fairfax (and one more in Gainesville) offers occasional free seminars for kids on gardening, landscaping, and cooking.Photos: Microsoft free images