Visiting museums with young kids is tough. Even when you do manage to engage them you still spend most of your time chasing after them to prevent them from destroying the exhibits and the other patrons days.
So why do we persevere with visiting museums with young kids? For me it’s about finding things that they find interesting and discovering their interests. Under fours have an amazing capacity for absorbing information to it’s our responsibility to feed that early. Plus there’s a chance we might get to enjoy it.
Most importantly it can be fun family time. Here’s out tips for making sure the whole family have a good time visiting museums with young kids:
1. Activities Provided by the Museum
Most museums we have visited in the UK recently have provided activities for children to do as they walk round. This is nothing new but activities that require a lot of reading and writing aren’t really suitable for young children. However, more seem to be providing age-appropriate activities for under fours. The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge recently provided us with a story bag for the one year old and at The Fitzwilliam they even have floor mats for very small babies.
2. Treasure Hunts
Another activity often provided by the museum is a treasure hunt. We’ve done a few of these recently. We’ve been given a laminated card with a picture of something in the museum to go off and find. This works well in a small museum but can be a bit tricky in a large museum, especially if you don’t know it well enough to guide your child to the item.
If you don’t know if the museum you intend to visit provides something like this and you are feeling industrious you could knock up a treasure hunt of your own. Simply visit the museum’s website and copy and paste a few pictures.
3. Take Advantage of Outside Space
There are lots of museums with outside space to enjoy. A couple that are local to us include the Museum of East Anglian Life and the Farmland Museum. I would also include Botanical Gardens in this list.
4. Taking Pictures
When our four year old gets bored of looking around we have a tactic to bring him back to the room. We give him a camera, usually an old phone or one of ours, and give him free reign. The result is usually a random selection of pictures that might include some of what you’ve come to see. There will also be many pictures of the floor, walls and ceiling.
We found this tip very useful when visiting the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
5. Seek Out Children’s Museums
There are many museums dedicated to making visiting museums with young children easy. They do this by making children the focus of their activities and exhibitions. Some examples that spring to mind are the Museum of Childhood in London and the Cambridge Science Centre.
Do you have any tip for visiting museums with young kids? I would love to hear them.