In a nutshell: Museums in London are quite literally to die for… They are free, friendly and full of stuff to see and explore. They expect you to fiddle and ask questions. They are not overawed by a bunch of kidlets – we found an over-riding attitude of “Welcome. Come in. Let’s have fun.” You will not have enough time to see everything. Just face that you have been conquered and either plan beforehand where you are going in them or give in and explore at random trying not to kick yourself for missing something.
Their websites are fantastic for planning: costs, maps, plans, hours etc.
Their websites are fantastic for seeing what’s on and what’s to do there, especially with kids.
Their websites are fantastic for printables for school projects and learning before you get there.
There is a lesson here!!! – go to the websites when you are preparing. Also, if you are a mad homeschool mother who absolutely loves finding printable pages and curriculum related projects for your kids then each of these museums has some great links for you, full of more stuff to learn. Having said that our kids didn’t need any extra information they learnt so much just by exploring and we were far too busy learning stuff ourselves to really be too involved in the “Now you will observe…” mentality!!!
The first museum we visited was The British Museum WOW!!! We saw mummies and totem poles and all sorts of Ancient History – even the Rosetta Stone – Our kids were engrossed having just finished two years of World History for school. If you are doing ancient history for school they have heaps of printable resources for kids here. Not to mention pictures of real live ancient treasures.
Okay – HOLD YOUR BREATHE… we thought we would pop into The Natural History Museum on our way to the Science Museum, which is around the corner – hahhahhahhahha!!!! Se7en (and I am not just saying that – hours later we emerged without a single stop for a snack, grumble or complaint – just a host of little scientists very busy discovering in a very active and hands on way, the displays are meant to be touched and man-handled – Oh I could rapture on about the bug room, the earthquake or whatever… but quite honestly just get yourself there and know you will need plenty of time. They also have heaps of great printable activities to think about for the frantic homeschooler in you.
Brace yourself here is another one: The Science Museum has countless levels of science stuff to oggle at. We loved the timeline and the hands on areas, “The Welcome Centre” has miles and miles of things to fiddle with and discover… but for us the highlight was the store – oh the gadgets! And of course the science museum being the science museum there are heaps ofclassroom resources.
When we ambled through Covent Garden we came across The Transport Museum, this is not a museum in the museum sense of the word is is a wonderful place to learn and explore. Each child got a huge cardboard “transport ticket”, to stamp or print or mark in some special way at each of the “venues within”. I had to leave my husband with the kids while I went to change a nappy (diaper) – no problem he just stopped at the coloring and crafting room – how brilliant is that! And guess what – they also have plenty of printables.
Now The Imperial War Museum was Hood#1’s hearts desire and I kind of felt – ummm this really could be dull, but I did say pick somewhere you want to go, – a whole lot of weapons and dead guys – NOT – he was right and not for the first time! It was great, totally hands on, you can walk through a submarine and see the bunks, there is a fabulous spy section and their “Children of the War exhibition” is stunning – full of things that I recognized from my parents childhood. Not to mention those printables, which are a great reference for studying the World Wars.
Now we did the most preparation for this one: The National Gallery, it is not hands on and it is not child orientated – it is full of awesome paintings and there is a hushed ambiance throughout. But we read:
These books were well worth the read, since they include the artists and stories of paintings in the gallery. Meanwhile the paintings have protective guards in each room, who audibly gasped as we entered with a bundle of short people, but they soon calmed down as our kids dashed from one painting to the next: telling their stories. So this is how we did it… had a wild play on Trafalger Square, headed into the Gallery, marched our way straight through (there is a proposed route, and straight out again for a snack on the Square. It was lovely and when it comes to great paintings nothing compares to the real thing. And of course they have a bundle of teacher resources.
Finally, and this is only last on the list because it was part of our last day out to Greenwich,
The National Maritime Musuem is a lovely break after all the fresh air and mad running around in Greenwich. We were there on a Bank Holiday and it was really full of people, but there was still plenty of space to amble around and look at things – yet another hands on history adventure… with places to fiddle with and lots of things to seek out and find: ships, explorers, uniforms and yet more treasures. Naturally they have worksheets as well. Our kids were pretty tired after all the stomping around London but a promise of an ice-cream kept them going to the bitter end!
So that’s London: How to prepare, the parks, the sites and the museums… Well done to you if you have read through this four day diatribe… the rest is up to you! Happy Travels…