Expanding Young Minds: Weekend Programs for Kids

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.

 

EXPLORE

George Washington Carver National Monument646 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.

 

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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 Library1901 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 Center201 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), Monarchs Rule! (ages 5 and up), and scavenger hunts (all ages). For upcoming programs, click here.

 

Southeast Kansas Nature Center3511 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.

 

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Learning about snakes at the Southeast Kansas Nature Center

 

 

CREATE

 

Create N Sip Studios, 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 (ages 6 and up) at the Family Open Paint class (they must have an adult with them, though). All classes are taught step-by-step, so no experience is necessary. For upcoming sessions, click here.

 

Firehouse Pottery112 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.

 

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Painting pottery at Firehouse

 

 

Spiva Center for the Arts223 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

 

*This post was updated on 1/17/20.

What to Do in Joplin After 5 p.m.

Did you know that the population of Joplin swells to 250,000 during the day? Our city streets hum with cars carrying people from all over the region to their jobs, to our restaurants, and to our stores. Joplin is the hub of the Four States during the day, but what happens after 5 p.m.?

 

A lot.

 

There are happy hours, live music, comedy, open mics, karaoke, painting, and even a hookah lounge to tempt residents, visitors, and commuters to linger in Joplin long after the sun goes down.

 

Get Happy

Known for its happy hour and casual fine dining, Club 609 is the place where professionals flock to after work. A staple in downtown since 1990, Club 609 has established itself as an urban gathering place. Unwind with a Key Lime Martini (or two – during happy hour) and try the flavorful Chicken Bijan for dinner. 609 S. Main Street

 

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Key Lime Martinis at Club 609

 

Appreciate the art of the cocktail at Infuxn Kitchen + Cocktails. New concoctions are featured each week at this upscale lounge. With its ultra-cool, Vegas-like vibe, you’ll want to stay past happy hour, so order a few small plates to share, or choose an entree from the dinner menu. My favorites here include the Last Summer cocktail and the Crab Stuffed Mushrooms. 530 S. Main Street

 

infuxn-lounge

 

Hear it Live

 

Sure, you can hear music anytime you want thanks to the magic of cell phones, but there’s something special about listening to it live. Here are some places in Joplin where you can do just that, plus venues where you can sing your own songs along with a karaoke machine.

 

There’s nothing like listening to music while sitting outside on a patio on a warm summer night. Add some juicy burgers and beer on tap, and you’ve got the ultimate setup at Tropicana Bar & Grill. Try the Buddha Gouda burger here: it’s life-changing. 2402 S. Main Street

 

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Two stories of outdoor dining await you at Tropicana

 

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The Buddha Gouda at Tropicana

 

More live music can be heard downtown at Blackthorn Pizza & Pub. In addition to live music performances, there are comedy and trivia nights at this Irish pub. Grab a beer on tap, sit back, and be entertained. 510 S. Joplin Avenue

 

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Me Like Bees performs at Blackthorn

 

Where do you go when the live music has ended but you still want to have fun? Whiskey Dick’s, of course. The friendly, relaxed atmosphere here welcomes a mix of age groups, with everyone being united by one thing: karaoke. Whether you’re belting out your favorite songs next to your buddies on stage, or sitting in the audience and watching others channel their inner Beyonce or Jay Z, you’re bound to have a good time at this easygoing bar. 516 S. Joplin Avenue

 

For a different kind of live performance, check out the schedule for Siblings Improv, Joplin’s own improv and sketch comedy company that performs at various venues throughout the city.

 

 

Get Creative

Maybe you’ve had your share of live music and bars and are seeking a recreational outlet where you can express your creativity. Well, Joplin’s got something for you, too.

 

Gather a group of friends, or just your special someone, and go paint. You can even sip your favorite adult beverage while you color your canvas at Create N Sip Studios. Bring your own refreshments or purchase some at the studio’s bar. Loosen up and let Create N Sip Studios’ teachers guide you through the process. You’ll leave feeling relaxed and proud of your new artwork. Click here for the stusios’ schedule. 223 Third Street

 

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Ladies, do you want a night out with your friends? Firehouse Pottery welcomes you every Tuesday night for Ladies’ Night. Here, you can choose a piece of pottery to decorate – a mug, plate, figurine – and add your own flair to it. You don’t have to be crafty to make something artistic here; the staff at Firehouse will demonstrate different painting techniques for you. 112 S. Main Street, Suite A

 

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Do Something Different

How about spending the evening at a hipster hangout? The back room at Joplin Avenue Coffee Company is a dedicated gathering place for open mic nights, poetry readings, and live music performances. Click here to see JACC’s upcoming schedule. 506 S. Joplin Avenue

 

coffee-bar

Bites & Pipes, Joplin’s only hookah lounge, offers a bit of everything: tasty American and Middle Eastern food (fried mac and cheese, falafel, kofta), alcoholic beverages, board games, a pool table, and hookahs. A hookah is a small water pipe used to smoke flavored tobacco. Bites & Pipes’ air filtration system is top notch, so even if you’re not a hookah smoker, you can still have fun hanging out with your friends – and making new ones – at this unique recreational spot. 110 N. Range Line Road

 

There’s another one-of-a-kind night spot in Joplin: El Guapo’s Cigar & Pipe Lounge. Choose from a variety of cigars and tobacco flavors, then settle into the lounge area, or gather here with friends on Poker Night or Comedy Night.

 

el guapo cigars

Looking for even more action?

 

el guapo axe overhead

Visit El Guapo’s second floor for Joplin’s only axe-throwing experience. 532 S. Joplin Avenue

 

Now that you know what happens in Joplin after the sun goes down, stick around and be a part of it.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.