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4 Free Family-Friendly Activity Ideas – As Featured on News4 Today! - Jessica McFadden is A Parent in America – One Funny Mother Blogger

UPDATED AGAIN:


Our amateur filming of our home LCD TV screen…


Friday night I was a guest on NBC Washington News4 at 5 with
Jim Handly and Wendy Rieger, talking about some fantastic and free local outings for families.

A Parent in Silver Spring with Jim Handly of News4 Washington
With Jim Handly, my co-host for the Free Family Fun segment on News4 this evening (he’s even more handsome & kind in real life)


What a whirlwind experience. When I arrived at the studio I was nervous, but the relaxed atmosphere in the studio was infectious. And Jim Handly, Wendy Rieger, producer Matt Glassman and the news room floor director, chyron operator and all of the staff were so gosh darn nice.
As I was leaving I also got to meet Liz Crenshaw, another of my favorites, who is as down to earth as her consumer reports. Oh, Liz’s on Twitter, follow her. And here’s NBC4’s Local News Tweets and their Around Town money-saving Tweets too.

Anyways, for all my obsessing online about this exciting gig, it was over in a flash. I loved every second of the experience, sure, but am hoping that interested families can really use the information. Especially in these tough economic times, free family-friendly fun is so important.

News4 Washington's own Wendy Rieger, with A Parent in Silver Spring
Chris and I with Wendy Rieger. Would you believe she’s even more beautiful up close? Seriously. And she’s accessible and really friendly too.

Well, enough about me and my five minutes (actually 2 minutes) of fame. Here’s further info about my suggestions for free family fun!

Visit a Local Nature Center
Nature Centers are free, educational and fun for a wide range of ages. The DC metro area is fortunate to have nature centers in nearly every county. All have free programs, events and on-going exhibits and playrooms for drop-in weekend fun.

View the Stars and Planets at a Nearby Planetarium

  • NASA Goddard Center – great play space for kids in Greenbelt
  • Montgomery County College Planetarium – free weekend shows and programs
  • Outdoor star-gazing programs – This piece I wrote for the The Washington Post details the University of Maryland Observatory weekend programs, stargazing with astronomers at Sky Meadows in Virginia and more.
  • Rock Creek Park’s Planetarium – Again, here’s my latest contribution to the Post’s weekend section on the awesome new digital projector and super kids’ programs at Rock Creek – the only planetarium in the National Parks system!

Take a Free Theater Class
Round House Theatre’s Free for All Fridays – An always-free weekly acting & imagination class for tiny kids – adults! Located in Silver Spring, at the Round House Theatre’s Education Center, right off the Beltway at 4pm every Friday.

Experience Cultural & African American History
Sure, February was officially Black History Month, but opportunities to learn about African American heritage and history abound in DC year-round.

  • Tour Frederick Douglass’s home, Cedar Hill in Historic Anacostia.
  • View the Emancipation Proclamation at the Library of Congress. While there, see exhibits and other important documents of freedom and power penned by African-American leaders.
  • Hike a portion of the Underground Railroad.
  • Visit the Oakley Cabin in Olney and learn about the life of an American slave and early American free black families that lived here. The cabin is fully furn
    ished to depict various periods of its history and development, and provides hands-on experiences for visitors and researchers in this living history museum.
  • Tour the inspiration for Uncle Tom’s Cabin and learn about Reverend Josiah Henson, a former slave that escaped with his family to freedom, helped over a hundred other individuals escape and became a minister that wrote his autobiography that inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe and the abolitionist movement.
  • Check out the Anacostia Community Museum that is dedicated to preserving and interpreting African American history with a local perspective.
  • Explore more local landmarks in African American history in the District using the African American Heritage Trail Database, an awesome resource.

What did I leave out? You KNOW I didn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg of these categories. Please share your own tips in the comments so our families can all benefit!

And zillions of thanks to the News4 Team for having me on the show.

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