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Here are some only-in-Philly ways to warm up kids’ brains for school (or whatever it’s called now)

Thirsty Dice hosts family trivia outdoors. It's Shark Week at Adventure Aquarium. And Germantown's free Awbury Arboretum has weekend activities at its rustic playground and friendly farm. With goats.

It’s Shark Week at Adventure Aquarium, and on TV, too.
It’s Shark Week at Adventure Aquarium, and on TV, too.Read moreAP

I don’t know about you, but there’s no way my kid is getting any smarter this year. With two working parents and virtual school, my third grader will be lucky to remember the Eagles cheer.

At least we can climb back up that summer slide with some last-minute, smarts-imparting activities before school starts. On Monday, Thirsty Dice hosts its first outdoor family trivia night. On Wednesdays, the National Liberty Museum is giving free virtual classes on freedom of expression. This week is Shark Week at Adventure Aquarium (and on TV). It’s also the last week to learn to fold paper cranes for a Philly cause. And, it’s always a good time to discover some natural wonder at Germantown’s Awbury Arboretum.

» READ MORE: How to summer in Philly: Our 2020 summer guide

1,000 Cranes for Philly

Free participation all week at (ages 5 and up)

It’s the last week to make (and mail) paper cranes for an art exhibit at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. Origami might be an ancient and precise art, but, according to the project organizers at the Wilma Theatre, there’s no wrong way to do it. Plus, once you get into the groove, folding construction paper into birds that symbolize peace can feel downright peaceful itself.

Shark Week at Adventure Aquarium

9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, $22–$32 (under age 2 free), reservations required at, (all ages)

It’s the time of year Jaws fans look forward to all summer — and the time ocean swimmers dare not tune into the Discovery Channel. Adventure Aquarium is always the best place to enter a glass tunnel to ogle Anchor, the U.S.‘s only great hammerhead in captivity, or travel a rope bridge across a 550,000-gallon tank swimming with Atlantic blacktip, sandbar, sand tiger, and nurse sharks. And this week, the Camden venue is also ramping up shark content on their going-strong Facebook and Instagram pages. So, be aware, or, beware.

Games in the Gardens

6–8 p.m. Monday at the Spring Gardens, 620 N 18th St., $15 per household (4 people), reservations required at (best for ages 8 & up, but younger kids welcome)

Fairmount board game hangout Thirsty Dice hosts a family trivia pop-up at the neighborhood’s community gardens. Gametender George Harrison poses questions for kids and adults to tables of four. (Masks required when you’re not at your family table.) There will be popcorn and water. There will be prizes. And, should the event become a thing, there will be more of them. BTW: Thirsty Dice is now selling coffee, Bassetts ice cream, and all of the board games you and the fam still need to play.

Liberty Learning Live

10–10:45 a.m. Wednesday, register at for Zoom or watch on Facebook @NationalLibertyMuseum (ages 5–12)

In the run-up to its fall exhibit, “Philly’s Freedom,” Old City’s National Liberty Museum is inviting elementary schoolers in to the freedom-of-expression conversation, with an art focus. Each week a Philadelphia landmark becomes a jumping-off point for both a talk and an at-home art project. This week they’ll riff on Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture, next week on the museum’s Jellybean People, and after that the Liberty Bell.

AdventureWoods & Sunday Fun Days at Awbury Arboretum

AdventureWoods, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat. & Sun. through Oct. 31. Sunday Fun Days, 2–5 p.m. Sun. through Oct. 10, details at (AdventureWoods, ages 3–12; Fun Days, all ages)

Germantown’s free, 55-acre arboretum is more than its lovely trails and meadows. It also has AdventureWoods, a spacious rustic playground built from logs and other natural materials with spots to craft, build, climb, and even weave — basically, to play like it’s your own backyard. On Sundays, Awbury’s farm opens to let visitors meet the chickens, tour the garden, view the honeybees, perhaps listen to a live DJ, and, most importantly, hang out with friendly goats. On the first Sunday of every month, the two paradises become one, when the goats walk over to visit the woods — weather permitting, since goats dislike rain.