It can be difficult to find ways to entertain children during the seemingly endless months of rain and cold that is winter. Spring is just around the (rather distant) corner but there are still a number of weekends that need to be filled with activities to prevent those ‘I’m borrrrrrred’ moans that we all know and hate so much.
Visiting a museum can be a perfect choice on rainy days for keeping little ones entertained without having to dig out the waterproofs. And museums are fun! They’re hands-on, playful investigative… but sometimes, just sometimes, they get a bit of a bad rep for being dull and not exciting enough for kids. To ensure that your museum trip is a runaway success, follow our top five tips to get your little ones interested in the exhibitions.
Lots of museums have interactive areas that are perfect for getting children engaged and excited about the exhibitions. If you’re local to London, the Science Museum has numerous interactive areas for children (seven floors of them on our last count!), which are a perfect way for kids to discover science through play. Don’t worry if you’re not a Londoner, as there are interactive museums all over the country that can easily be found on Google (other search engines are readily available. Just Google it.). Historic UK has a fantastic map of all major and local museums across the UK.
Is your little one learning about the Romans? If you can, make a trip to some Roman Baths in, well, Bath, the Fishbourne Roman Palace in Chichester, or the Ipswich Museum, to name just a few. Encourage them to show off with all of the facts they’ve been learning in class - maybe they could create some art, or present a little retelling in front of their class. If your little one is obsessed with bugs and creepy crawlies, take them to a museum with lots of preserved insects so they can learn about new species. Planning your museum visit around your child’s interests will keep them engaged for longer and makes learning that little bit more exciting.
Children will quickly get tired and impatient with walking around museums, even if you follow all of our tips. With this in mind, plan your route around the museum in advance starting with the exhibitions you and your little ones want to see the most first, in case of any early-onset exhaustion. If you still find that they’re dragging their feet, a sweet-tasting bribe will never go amiss!
If you’re at an exhibition about outer space, ask them to imagine what life on other planets might be like. As it’s very hot on Venus what would creatures who live there have to be like to survive? If you’re at a local history museum, get your little one to imagine what life would have been like for children in your area in the past. Would they have gone to the same school and worn the same uniforms? What kind of thing would they have eaten for school dinners? What would they have done in their free time?
Download and print the ‘My Museum Journal’ here for your little one to complete as they’re making their way around the exhibitions. Not only will this keep them engaged whilst walking around the museum, it will also keep them entertained during your well-deserved lunch break as it also doubles as a picture to colour in. Don’t forget your colouring pencils!
If we were made to wait for the crowning moment of all museum trips, then we’ll sure pass that feeling of frustrating impatience down to the next generation. It’s a rite of passage. Never tackle the gift shop first.