Below we share many of the events that are in our main family fun calendar with a focus on elementary-aged children.
- Best Twin Cities Baby Outings
- Find Toddler and Preschool Activities here
- Find Teen and Tween Activities for Middle School Students & High School Students here
Calendar of Twin Cities Grade School Activities and Events
Fun Activities for Elementary School Kids
Make the library a weekly stop
September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. If they don’t already have a card, this is a good opportunity to get library cards for new kindergarten students and start visiting weekly. Look for early literacy books to help them start recognizing sight words. Kindergarteners would still enjoy family story times, with literacy activities, letter recognition and other hands-on learning. They also may benefit from dropping in during tutor times for a little help meeting kindergarten standards outside the classroom setting.
STORYTIMES FOR KIDS: We include links to weekly library offerings on our list of TWIN CITIES STORYTIMES (also great for discovering independent bookstores & other shops) and on our GUIDE TO TWIN CITIES ACTIVITIES THIS WEEK.
We have several museums in the metro area that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Math. All of these museums offer affordable family membership options. Pay once (could make a good family Christmas gift?) and visit all year for free.
- THE BAKKEN
- BELL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
- PAVEK MUSEUM OF BROADCASTING
- SCIENCE MUSEUM OF MINNESOTA
- THE WORKS
For more ideas and annual STEM events: 6 Places for Hands-On Science with Kids in the Twin Cities
Tour a fire station
During October – Fire Prevention Month – many local fire stations offer open house events that include hands-on activities and fire safety lessons. You can also call up your local fire station and ask to visit. They will often say yes and give you a personal tour. We stopped to admire some fire trucks one day, and a firefighters came out and offered us an impromptu tour. You could also plan a Saturday visit to Firefighters Hall and Museum in Minneapolis. Make your visit educational with this Fire Safety unit from Bambini Travel.
Visit a farm
While younger and older siblings will also have a great time visiting local farms, kindergartners will be at the perfect age to witness and participate in science and engineering used on farms, compare and observe the various animals and plants and, in the case of historic farms, learn a little Minnesota history and historical vocabulary. Good opportunities to visit farms are:
- APPLE ORCHARDS – Most apple orchards in the Twin Cities operate out of working family farms.
- PUMPKIN PATCHES & FALL FESTIVALS – when you go to pick your Halloween pumpkin, there are usually a wide variety of down-on-the-farm activities to enjoy at local operations.
- MAPLE SYRUP PROGRAMS – most of these take place at parks and nature centers, but you can find a few on our list that are based out of a working farm. This is a spring activity that takes place in March.
- BABY ANIMALS IN THE SPRING – numerous farms offer the chance to visit and even hold baby farm animals while learning about life on a farm.
FIND OUT MORE: A Year-Round Guide to Family Fun on the Farm in Minnesota
Explore our local zoos
During the early literacy years, remember to read the zoo signs out loud to your emerging readers. Help them find the vocabulary to describe each animal that they see. Ask your child to observe the way each animal moves and try to copy the movement as you move on to the next exhibit. If it is not too crowded, have your kids run, jump, slither (maybe do this in a play area), crawl, pretend to fly or swim, creep, prance, gallop, etc. You can even sing the Sammy Song by Hap Palmer as you walk around the zoo, making up lyrics to match each animal you copy. For more ideas, you can print this Operation Curiosity & Wonder Journal from the Minnesota Zoo. The last few pages describe how a visit to the zoo supports learning standards for each grade.
This can be a splurge outing for families with kids so we recommend first scanning for any Minnesota Zoo discounts. Then, when you’ve committed, plan on spending the day so you can hit all the highlights for grade-school kids: two themed playgrounds, a splash pad (depending on when you visit), working farm (also seasonal), amazing animals and the new Treetop Trail.
Visit this awesome spot for kids and families any-and-oftentimes. It’s FREE so there’s so hard feelings if you can only spare an hour. Grade-school kids will also enjoy the mild thrills that come with COMO TOWN AMUSEMENT PARK, adjacent to the zoo.
Find a kid-friendly art studio or arts event
Several art studios around the Twin Cities offer open studio times when families can drop in to make crafts or express their creativity with art. Pictured is the high-quality experience you’ll find at HEARTFELT in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis. The seasonal menu of drop-in crafting is perfect for kids in the school-aged category. We also personally recommend checking out Minneapolis Institute of Art’s monthly Family Day and Free First Saturday at Walker Art Center.
FIND MORE ARTS OPPORTUNITIES FOR TWIN CITIES KIDS: Arts and Crafts for Kids Around Town
Active outings for kids
Kids at this age need to move! And they’re at a great stage where gross-motor coordination has improved and they’re ready for more independent physical challenges. We’re talking ninja playgrounds, trampoline parks, beginner climbing walls, mini-golf, drop-in events and more. Let’s hope we can keep up! Where to find these in the Twin Cities? Let’s do a dive here:
Ninja-style playgrounds or “challenge courses” we can personally recommend: Try SHAPER PARK & CHALLENGE COURSE (Golden Valley), GRASSMAN PARK (Jordan), NORTHWEST GREENWAY & CHALLENGE COURSE (Plymouth) and EAGAN CENTRAL PARK OBSTACLE COURSE. You know your kid best – exercise caution. Some of the setups at these parks have included timers and can encourage a “personal best” mentality.
Drop-in sports – Great for this age because your kids can dabble in their interests and burn energy without big financial and time commitments. We suggest checking out:
- BASE CAMP (Bloomington) – Open climb & archery one night/month for $10.
- DICK’S HOUSE OF SPORT (Minnetonka) – Student Climb Night, $5/15-minute climbs.
- INNER CITY TENNIS (Minneapolis) – Super Saturdays free drop-in tennis skills classes for kids.
- KIDS BOWL FREE (multiple locations) – 2 free games per day for kids all summer long.
- RICE & ARLINGTON BATTING CAGES (St Paul) – Indoor batting practice, $2/22 balls.
Trampoline parks are a perennial favorite in our household because they are indoors and can be accessed any season in Minnesota. We list all of the Twin Cities’ trampoline & adventure parks in our comprehensive list of INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS IN THE TWIN CITIES. Our quick list here suggests you look into the SKYZONE franchise (multiple Twin Cities locations), URBAN AIR ADVENTURE PARK (Coon Rapids & Plymouth) and ZERO GRAVITY TRAMPOLINE PARK (Mounds View).
Dance. For kids who want to move to the music, we have created a list of TWIN CITIES DANCE STUDIOS.
Family Sports & Fitness: FAMILY FRIENDLY WAYS TO GET MOVING.