Learning doesn’t have to stop at end of school week (although kids might want it to). Many places in the Joplin area offer weekend programs and activities that are so inventive and engaging that your kids will be having too much fun to realize that they’re actually learning something – on the weekend.
George Washington Carver National Monument, 646 Carver Road, Diamond, MO
Known as the “Peanut Man” and the “Plant Doctor,” George Washington Carver grew up exploring nature around his home in Diamond, Missouri, where a national monument was later built in honor of his scientific and agricultural contributions to society, which include the discovery of over 300 uses of the peanut. On weekend lab demo days, kids can recreate some of Carver’s experiments, such as making milk out of peanuts (read more here). At the Agricultural School on Wheels program, they can learn about Carver’s Jesup Wagon which carried agricultural tools to area farmers. Other weekend programs here include Raptors of Prey, where kids (and adults) can learn about and see live raptors. For upcoming programs, click here.
Making peanut milk at Carver National Monument
Joplin Greenhouse & Garden Center, 2820 East 32nd Street, Joplin
Kids can have hands-on learning experiences at this garden center. They can plant seeds and transplant flowers and veggies to take home at the Little Seedlings in the Garden program, and learn about one of the most intriguing plants (and take one home) at the Kids Venus Flytrap Workshop. For upcoming programs, click here.
Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th Street, Joplin
There’s something entertaining and educational for kids of all ages at the Joplin Public Library. Little ones, ages 1 to 5 years, are invited to the monthly Saturday Explore & Play program, where they will learn early literacy skills through play at exploration stations. Older kids and teens, in grades 6 to 12, are welcome to socialize and create at the Give it a Shot programs, where they can construct objects using different materials like Legos and littleBits electronic pieces (for building Droids). For upcoming programs, click here.
Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, 201 Riviera Drive, Joplin
Kids love to visit this center to explore the interactive nature discovery area, watch the turtles and fish swim in the huge aquarium, and walk the trails that surround the center. Formerly known as Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, it offers a variety of nature programming geared toward different age groups, like Little Acorns: Terrific Trees (ages 3 to 6), Monachs Rule! (ages 5 and up), and scavenger hunts (all ages). For upcoming programs, click here.
Southeast Kansas Nature Center, 3511 South Main Street, Galena, KS
Kansas! Why is something in Kansas on this list? Because this gem of a nature center is only 15 minutes from downtown Joplin. The center offers occasional weekend programs, like Bat Saturday, where kids can learn about these creatures through interactive displays, crafts, and activities. Afterward, take a walk on the trails outside and peek into Schermerhorn cave to see if you can spy any bats yourself. For upcoming programs, click here.
Learning about snakes at the Southeast Kansas Nature Center
Crackpot Pottery & Art Studio, 3820 East 20th Street, Joplin
Kids ages 10 and up are welcome to participate in a 2-hour drop-in session at this pottery studio where they will receive personalized instruction. The session fee includes materials, plus firing and glazing of the pottery. For more information, click here.
Firehouse Pottery, 112 South Main Street, Joplin
Little ones can listen to a story, then paint a piece of pottery based on that story at Firehouse’s monthly Storytime Pottery program. Other children’s programs at Firehouse include the Superhero Event, the Trolls Pajama Party, and Kid-Parent Date Day. For upcoming programs, click here.
Painting pottery at Firehouse
RSVPaint, 223 Third Street, Joplin
This paint-and-sip studio is known for offering evening painting classes (and cocktails) to adults, but on Saturday afternoons, it closes the bar and welcomes children of all ages at the Family Paint class (they must have an adult with them, though). Depending on the nature of the class, there may be a minimum age requirement; for instance, the minimum age for the Wooden Sign Painting class is 8 years old. All classes are taught step-by-step, so no experience is necessary. For upcoming sessions, click here.
Spiva Center for the Arts, 223 West Third Street, Joplin
There are a variety of classes for kids to choose from at this art hub of the Four States. Saturday classes include Mini Makers (ages 3 to 5), and the Tween Workshop (ages 12 to 14). (The class for ages 6 to 11, Creation Station, is offered during the week on Tuesday afternoons). Other programs include Wand Making (ages 7 and older), and photography classes (divided into three age groups). For upcoming programs, click here.
So, the next weekend that you hear your kids say, “I’m bored,” you can refer to this list and find something constructive, educational, and fun to keep their growing minds stimulated.
To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com