10 Educational Things To Do With Kids In Washington DC

September 23, 2018

When you’re a world schooling family like we are, you’re always on the lookout for activities that can be fun and educational for the kids. When we visitied Washington, DC in 2018, we were excited to fill our days with all the things to do with kids in Washington, DC. It was a fun way to learn about our nation’s capitol.

Even if you don't currently homeschool, you can always find ways to capitalize on the educational benefits of travel. And no other city in the United States is as educational as Washington, DC. There is so much to learn there!

This post was updated on June 16, 2021

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The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, a perfect spot for DC world schooling activities for families.
The National Air and Space Museum (September 2018)

Homeschooling on the road

The city of Washington, DC is overflowing with educational opportunities for a world schooling family like us. From museums to national parks, historical events to political processes, there were just too many DC world schooling activities for us to choose from!

As part of my home state’s homeschool requirements, we need to make sure we cover eleven subjects during the course of the year. Lessons can include a combination of these subjects:

WritingScienceOccupational Education
SpellingSocial StudiesArt and Music

As I was putting together our list of things to do with kids in Washington, DC for our trip, I wanted to make sure that our activities covered each of these eleven subjects.

Initially, I thought it would be difficult to find an activity for each subject, but surprisingly, it wasn't that hard. Washington, DC is full of so many learning opportunities!

Learn more about worldschooling life for families who love to learn and travel.

A street in Old Town Alexandria, VA (September 2018)

Ideas for things to do with kids in Washington, DC

The city of Washington, DC has an abundance of fun things to do in DC with kids that incorporate learning. Besides the many free museums from the Smithsonian Institution, there are also private museums that you can visit. Additionally, different neighborhoods, monuments, memorials, and parks can all serve as learning environments for your kids.

It was a bit of a challenge, but through a mix of focused lessons and field trips, we managed to cover every subject while we were in DC! The Kids' Travel Guide - Washington, DC is also a helpful resource to use if you're looking for tings to do with kids in Washington, DC.

If you’re a family that does homeschooling, or maybe just looking for ideas on how to build in some educational learning in your Washington, DC sight-seeing, here are my picks for the best educational things to do with kids in Washington, DC.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, where families can do DC world schooling activities
The Lincoln Memorial (September 2018)

1. Reading activities to do with your kids

Almost every museum you visit will have things for your kids to read. But for me, one of my favorite places to get the kids reading in Washington, DC is the restaurant and bookstore, Busboys and Poets.

Named after legendary African American writer, Langston Hughes, Busboys and Poets has some amazing books in its bookstore, not to mention some tasty dishes in its restaurants! When it comes to reading-focused DC world schooling activities, this is the spot.

Other places to get some good reading done is the Library of Congress and the Newseum.

Reading at Busboys and Poets (September 2018)

2. Writing-related things to do with kids in Washington, DC

Washington, DC has so many things to see and do, it can be hard to remember all the interesting activities that you did during your visit to the city! One way for your kids to remember the interesting bits is to have them write what they did that day.

Writing in a journal is a wonderful way to help kids express their feelings and emotions. When they first start, it will likely be  descriptions of things they saw and did, but as they get older and continue to journal, they will be able to start recording the emotions and feeling they felt about the things they saw and did.

If your kid is still on the younger side, like my son, you can have them practice writing letters, or short words related to Washington, DC.

Writing practice (September 2018)

3. Spelling exercises to supplement your Washington, DC activities

For spelling, I usually have my daughter practice words from a second grade spelling list. However, during our DC trip, I decided to try something a bit different.

As a spelling exercise, we practiced spelling the names of some of the United States presidents. Although it was somewhat challenging for my daughter, she gave it her best try.

Another spelling activity that kids can do is to practice spelling the states. Many of Washington, DC's roads are named after American states, so you can incorporate a bit of geography into the spelling activity too! Practicing spelling is a great way to supplement all the educational things to do with kids in Washington, DC.

Practicing spelling former presidents' names (September 2018)

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4. Opportunities for language learning

Finding things to do with kids in Washington, DC that are related to language was a bit of a challenge for us. But we ended up diving into some of the historical documents that shaped our country, including the Declaration of Independence and Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.

By reading excerpts of these documents out loud, we could hear how the language used by the Founding Fathers of the United States was different than the language used by Americans today.

The National Archives is a great place to find many of these historical documents in person.

Statue of Abraham Lincoln at Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, where families can do DC world schooling activities together
The Lincoln Memorial at the National Mall (September 2018)

5. Incorporating math into the things to do with kids in Washington, DC

We took the Metro a lot while we were in Washington, DC. It was a convenient way to get around the city, and an easy way to incorporate some math into our everyday learning.

DC's Metro system charges different fares, depending on the distance traveled, so as we were going from place to place throughout the city, we would count out how much cash we would need to cover the fare. For my son, we also had him practice counting how many stops we would need to go to get to the our destination.

Another fun math-related activity to do with younger kids is to visit the National Mall and identify the different shapes you see - the rectangular cube of the Lincoln Memorial, the dome of the Capitol Building, the circles at the Smithsonian castle, or the pyramid atop the Washington Monument.

Trying to budget for a trip to DC? Read my tips on saving money on US travel.

Counting cash for the DC Metro (September 2018)

6. Science activities that kids will enjoy

Building in science into all the things to do with kids in Washington, DC is really easy. The city has an abundance of science-related museums to choose from. Our favorite science museum to visit was the National Air and Space Museum.

The museum houses dozens of air and space exhibits, but our favorite one to explore was the "How Things Fly" exhibit, which is aimed specifically for children. It has interactive activities and demonstrations aimed at teach kids flying-related concepts like lift, weight, thrust, and drag.

Other places to explore science in and around the DC area is the National Zoo in the Woodley Park neighborhood, and the National Aquarium in nearby Baltimore, Maryland.

Learning about flight at the National Air and Space Museum (September 2018)

7. Social studies lessons focusing on America's diversity

An important part of traveling responsibly and understanding the United States is learning about the role that race plays in shaping the country. Even for kids. A visit to one of DC's newest museums, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, makes for a great social studies activity for world schooling kids.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture covers all aspects of the African American experience, from slavery to civil rights to the present day, as well as African Americans' contributions to American sports, music, theater, art, and communities.

For more things to do with kids in Washington, DC related to social studies, you can visit the National Museum of the American Indian. This museum has some fun interactive exhibits geared towards kids, where they can build a replica igloo or weave a giant basket!

The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, where families can do DC world schooling activities focusing on African American history and culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (September 2018)

8. Diving into living history for your DC world schooling activities

Since Washington, DC is such a historic city, there are so many history-related things to do with kids in Washington, DC! During our visit, we decided to visit Mount Vernon, George Washington's home in northern Virginia.

One interesting fact we learned about Mount Vernon was that the multi-story mansion that George Washington and his wife lived in until their death originally started as a humble one story home. Over the course of their lives, the Washingtons made additions to their home, until it because what it is today.

Another historical place to explore is Old Town Alexandria in Virginia. For a more broad look at American history, visit the National Museum of American History.

George Washington's home of Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia, where families can do DC world schooling activities
Mount Vernon, home of George Washington (September 2018)

9. Don't forget to do some health activities too!

A big part of our world schooling activities involves making sure we do physical activities where ever we go. Staying active and healthy during travel is so important!

After an afternoon inside museums, the kids can get a bit antsy. Although the National Mall has no playgrounds, it's actually a fun place to run around. The grassy fields are perfect for racing!

If you want more traditional playground play, you can always visit DC's many playgrounds.

A grassy field in front of the Washington Monument at the National Mall in Washington, DC, with two kids running on the grass towards the Washington Monument, doing DC world schooling activities
Racing across the National Mall (September 2018)

10. Learning about jobs through occupational education activities

Occupational education refers to learning about the jobs that people do for a living. During our visit to Washington, DC, we had a chance to take a tour of the Capitol Building and learn about how America's senators and representatives make laws. We even had a chance to visit the Senate gallery and watch members of the Senate in action!

For a different look at jobs that people in DC do, head over to the DC Wharf and check out the fishmongers in action. You can even get live blue crabs steamed for you, and you can eat them right there at the market!

The fish market at the DC Wharf (September 2018)

11. Appreciating art and music

Washington, DC has many places for experiencing art. In addition to art museums, there are theaters and music venues. During our Washington, DC stay, we decided to visit the National Portrait Gallery.

We enjoyed being able to see the historical figures portrayed in various art forms - realistic and abstract. The highlight was the Presidential Portraits, where we were able to see pictures of all the American presidents.

Another place to enjoy art is the National Gallery of Art. If your family enjoys abstract art, a visit to the Hirshorn Museum might be right up your alley.

Take time to explore all the wonderful destinations in the United States!

Drawing silhouette portraits at the National Portrait Gallery (September 2018)

Incorporating learning into all the things to do with kids in Washington, DC

Our time in DC was jam-packed with so many activities. It was fun incorporating learning into our exploration of the city, and I loved that our kids had a chance to learn experientially rather than just through books mud lectures.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg for DC! The next time we visit Washington, DC, we hope to take some day trips from DC. There are so many more worldschooling activities families can do in the DC area.

Even if your kids aren’t homeschooling, there are so many opportunities to incorporate world schooling into your travel activities. If you’re planning a trip to Washington, DC, be sure to incorporate some of these DC world schooling activities into your visit!

Are you visiting DC as part of a bigger family travel adventure? Use my ebook, Hey Kids, Let’s Go Travel! as a resource for tools, advice, and action steps for planning your trip.

Washington, DC World Schooling Activities For Families | The Wandering Daughter

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