Back in July, I had great intentions of creating an activity board listing all the summer holiday fun we had planned. I’m talking colour coded (rainy days VS sunny days, low effort VS high effort activities), and something that would make it accessible for four year old non-reading Arlo to select an activity of his choice for the day.
It was going to be Pinterest-worthy. It was going to be AMAZING.
Did I do that?
But, the notepad app on my phone seems to be working just as well and is infinitely more favourable for the lazy parent.
One ‘must do’ on our summer holiday list was the Science Museum. Having dinosaur fanatics in the family, we seem to end up at the Natural History Museum quite a bit. But, actually, its the interactive exhibits of next door neighbour, the Science Museum, that hold wider appeal for young children in general.
(Sidenote – attempt to get into the Natural History Museum mid-morning during a school holiday and you will likely find yourself queueing round the corner).
The secret winner of our visit to the Science Museum was the Flight gallery on the third floor. This exhibit is all about aviation, featuring aircraft that repeatedly made Arlo go “WOAH”. It’s great if your children are into transport, and even better, we found it to be significantly quieter than other areas of the museum.
I couldn’t take Arlo on, because Rory was too young, so one for our next visit is the Red Arrows flight simulator – suitable from 4+ providing they are 107cm or taller.
One of Arlo’s favourite sections of the Science Museum was the Space exhibit. It’s in the middle of the ground floor, so you end up walking through this a lot. Arlo proudly pointed out to me the difference between a space station, a space shuttle and a satellite. Once again, he surprised me with his ready knowledge on the subject, but then again, he does watch a lot of YouTube. Ahem.
When I first went to the Science Museum, The Garden was a real highlight. The website says it’s suited to 3 – 6 year olds, but I think it’s brilliant for toddlers too – when we took Arlo at 18 months old, he had a ball there.
This visit, it felt like there wasn’t so much to do (my four and two year old whizzed around it in 10 minutes flat, aside from the waterplay, which still remains a sure-fire hit. Not quite as much appeal this time round, but it still serves a purpose as somewhere for the kids to let of steam and have a play after visiting some of the more ‘grown up’ exhibits.
The Bubble Show was also something we’d tried when Arlo was 18 months old and had little patience. This time round, it was a different story. He absolutely LOVED it. He understood the jokes and the science facts, and two year old Rory was entertained for the duration of the show too. The show features bubbles big and small, and lots of fun audience participation. Arlo’s mind was blown by the finale of the show (spoiler: It’s a bubble big enough to fit a whole person inside).
Top tip – arrive early and sit near the front or right by the white lines that mark the seating area on the carpet for the most bubble action.
There are various eateries at the Science Museum. The main cafe is at the front on the ground floor. It’s a ‘grab a tray and find a table’ type situation, which is always tricky when on you are a lone adult with young children. I found the food expensive and underwhelming. We usually find it easiest and most cost effective to buy sandwiches from an M&S or similar before we go in, and eat in one of the designated picnic areas.
The niggly bits
If I were going to nitpick, it would be to mention that the lift situation in school holidays is BLOODY AWFUL. After waiting an average of five minutes for a lift to arrive, only for it to fill up time and time again with no chance of us fitting in, I mostly opted to bump our pushchair up and down the stairs instead. To me, it seemed like lots of people were joining the queue for the lifts because the staircases are not as apparent as the huge queue in front of the lifts. A staff member overseeing the crowds and pointing willing walkers to the stairs would probably make a significant difference to the lift congestion I experienced.
The Science Museum with young children
The Science Museum is a great day out for young children. If you have a young toddler, the fun, sensory exhibits in The Garden are well worth a visit. Preschoolers will better be able to appreciate some of the other exhibits, such as Space and the flight gallery. Between all the exhibits and shows mentioned above, we spent just under four hours at the museum during our visit.
Entrance to the Science Museum is free, although a small donation is encouraged. Opening hours are 10am – 7pm daily.