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Young naturalists, Smith Memorial play jam, Fringe for kids: How to entertain the children while you work

You can also watch the National Liberty Museum honor 14 kids ages 18 and under who’ve done some fantastic things in the past year.

Mista Cookie Jar will perform in Smith Memorial Playground's first-ever virtual Play Jam.

Virtual programming is back. Again. School is happening, or sort of. Sports are happening, sort of. But, here we are, sending kids onto the screens our families have become so dependent on for just about everything. At least what they’re doing there is educational. Sort of.

Kids can participate in a live nature-based storytime with author and photographer Doug Wechsler, enjoy hours of music made just for them, courtesy of Smith Memorial Playground and Philly’s own Ants on a Log, workshop a Fringe Festival play starring a 6-year-old, and get inspired by the volunteer work of their peers who live in and beyond Philly.

Young Naturalist Lunch & Learn

Noon–12:45 p.m. Wednesday, free, registration required for live event, (ages 4–10; all ages welcome)

Doug Wechsler, wildlife photographer, author and former boss of the world’s largest collection of bird photographs reads and explains The Hidden Life of a Toad for a midday Zoom interactive. The stay-at-home story time is part of the virtual learning pivot of the Darby Creek Valley Association, an organization that protects, cleans up, restores and expands the waters, lands, wildlife, and historic sites in and along 123 miles of streams that run into the Delaware River near Tinicum. Past books and authors have included Creek Critters by Jennifer Keats Curtis and Creekfinding by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. The goal: Teach a bit of biology, introduce a real-life naturalist, and inspire environmental exploration — all in the time it takes them to eat a crustless PB&J.

Smith Memorial Playground Play Jam

4–5 p.m. Thursday, free, on Facebook, (ages 0–5)

The post-nap, pre-dinner hour gets a musical boost from a pair of kid-famous performers, Grammy-winning Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats and trippy kindie rocker Mista Cookie Jar. The hour-long virtual concert is no Kidchella, Smith Memorial’s big-deal outdoor affair, but it’s as fun as a Facebook video can get, with Philly’s own Mad Beatz Methods doing a rhythm-based call-and-response between acts.

Baby Whale and the Plastic Ocean

Saturday–Oct. 4, pay what you wish,, (ages 2–8)

Six-year-old Kai Flowers performs a 13.5-minute story about a young whale who swims out of range of his mother and needs the audience’s help to reunite with her. The one-child (plus a cuttlefish cameo from Danielle Dilks, Flowers’ grandmother) comes from the actor’s imagination, helped along by his human mom, director and choreographer Rebecca May Flowers. Originally intended as a live, staged reading, the YouTube version is instead a theatrical script workshop, allowing viewers to offer feedback in the comments section.

Ants on a Log

10:30 a.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3; free, live on Facebook, (ages 4–11)

Anya Rose and Julie Be, singer-songwriters known as Ants on a Log, are offering three free, live-streamed, interactive concerts as part of this year’s mostly virtual Fringe Festival. The fun-loving, folksy, Philly duo — Rose teaches elementary school science; Be is a music therapist – makes a great match for music-loving kids who like their social and environmental consciousness with a side of silly. Songs deal with friendship, dogs, the environment, gender, political activism, mansplaining, and trying to have fun while waiting in a long line. We relate.

Young Heroes Awards

1:30–2:30 p.m. Saturday, free, registration required, (ages 6 and up)

The National Liberty Museum hosts a Zoom ceremony to honor 14 kids ages 18 and under who’ve done some fantastic things in the past year. Local awardees include 17-year-old Brianna Davis, creator of sensory-friendly STEAM activities for kids with autism; Bianca Salerna, volunteer baker for Temple’s first responders; Matthew Genatempo, engineer-producer of PPE, including 3,000 face shields for educational service agency Bucks County Intermediate; Zahyr Thomas, volunteer for Mural Arts and Hip Hop Heritage; Trinity Pryor, YouTube playwright who draws attention to women veterans; Amy Liu, founder of an organization to support people with visual impairments; and Jace Wilson, a tutor, dog walker and friend to seniors in his neighborhood.