The 24th January is International Day of Education– who knew?
Education is key. Education is a key. It opens doors, creates opportunities, promotes social mobility.
But, sometimes, learning needs to be like the vegetables in a bolognaise sauce: hidden!
With a little bit of planning and a few resources, fun, family days out can be filled with awesome learning opportunities. Check out some of our recommended things to do in and around London and suggestions for learning activities.
How to hide ‘learning’ in your day trips.
All of the London museums and galleries welcome families and children. They have trails, backpacks, workshops and (increasingly) apps, online resources and interactive challenges to engage little learners. There’s no harm in squeezing in an additional activity to help the littluns practise their skills; these are ten of our tried and tested tasks:
- Write a diary entry
- Write words or sentences to describe a painting/object/exhibit. Older children could write a poem or short story
- Draw a comic strip or storyboard
- Take photos and make a collage
- Sketch what you see
- Test the Adults! Encourage children to write or ask you questions about you’ve seen/done.
- Scavenger hunt – find 5 things and take a picture of them
- Buy a postcard and trace/colour in the picture
- Write a review of your visit. Older children could write a blog post
- Use your phone to make a vlog about your visit
- Lastly, check the website to see if there are any worksheets or printables that you can take with you. We always take a notebook, sketchbook and pens and pencils.
Like I said in the summer blog, we are so lucky that the big museums and galleries in London are free. The downside is that they’re usually packed! Go early or go late. Be prepared for crowds. Take a picnic and eat earlier or later to avoid the lunchtime rush. Plan your visit before you go and prioritise what you want to see and do.
Lots of the big museums are in walking distance of a park or some outdoor space. When the museum or gallery gets a bit too much, retreat to an outdoor spot and find your calm!
Greenwich Park and the Maritime Museum, Greenwich – FREE
https://www.rmg.co.uk/National-maritime-museum. There is so much to do in Greenwich. Pack your lunch and make a day of it. Lots of outdoor space for scooting and cycling, parkland to play in and trees to climb. The Maritime Museum is really exciting for kids – interactive and interesting, there are lots of play opportunities.
The Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington – FREE
https://www.vam.ac.uk/info/families. Check out the link for the range of free family activities on offer.
For older children, V&A Secret Seekers is a great mobile game that brings the museum to life. Play it on your phone as your find you way around the museum- https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/secret-seekers
If your littluns are interested in cars – check out Cars: Accelerating the Modern World is on until April – https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/cars
Science Museum, South Kensington – FREE
The Wonderlab at the Science Museum is brilliant – full on edutainment but it does cost. If you’re looking for full-on fun for free there is still plenty to be had! Download the INFOAGE+ app and complete the activities as you find your way around the museum.
Tip: The V&A and the Science Museum are a ten-minute walk away from Hyde Park. https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park
The British Museum, Holborn- FREE
Kids love feeling like important explorers with their activity backpacks and activity trails as they find their way around the museum. Older children might enjoy solving the challenges in the family audio guide and can interact with the exhibits and the museum through apps and games in the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre. Visit the Families Desk in Great Court for all the help you need! (weekends and holidays only)
Tip: The British Museum is a ten-minute walk away from Coram’s Fields- https://www.coramsfields.org Not the prettiest, but a big space with play equipment, animals, sports, picnic areas. Totally kid-friendly- adults are only allowed in with accompanying kids!
Tip: More fab museums to be explored in walking distance of Coram’s Fields (under 10-minute walk)
The Foundling Museum– https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/whats-on/family/
Charles Dickens Museum –https://dickensmuseum.com/pages/admissions
The National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square – FREE https://www.npg.org.uk/learning/families/calendar.php. The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery are neighbours so you can visit both easily. Excellent activities for aspiring artists and kids who like to draw, colour, make a mess…
National Army Museum, Chelsea – FREE
Lots of edutainment to be had at NAM, including activity backpacks and family friendly events. Play Base is a bookable soft play session for under 8s- £4.75 for an hour session – https://www.nam.ac.uk/families/play-base
Royal Academy of Art– FREE.
Horniman Museum and Gardens – FREE
Discover Children’s Story Centre, Stratford – From £6.50 (2+)
Tip: DCSC is a 10-minute walk from Westfield Stratford City and a 20-minute walk from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sky Garden, Monument – Free
Why pay for the Shard’s viewing platform when you can take in the London skyline for free from the Sky Garden. Booking is required.
Tip: The Monument to the Great Fire of London of 1666 is minutes away from the Sky Garden. Climb the 311 steps to the viewing platform for £4.50 (cash only) https://www.themonument.info/visitor-information.html
A few minutes’ walk away is St Dunstan in the East Garden – a very peaceful spot away from the hustle and bustle. The garden is a ruined church – if nothing else, St Dunstan is a fabulous spot for sandwiches and Instagram pics! https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/city-gardens/visitor-information/Pages/St-Dunstan-in-the-East.aspx
Less than a 10-minute walk from the Sky Garden is the Tower of London- https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/#gs.u283ix
Enjoy! Amy x