Jewels, Dinosaurs and Earthquakes
A great day out for the family
Want to know what to do with the kids when the weather isn’t great? Have a fun train ride and get to see the best of the world around us all under one very beautiful roof, with something for everyone! Take a daytrip to The Natural History Museum.
Hints and tips to help you:
- Get there without a meltdown
- Have fun seeing and experiencing the museum
- End the day with the kids wanting to come back another time
WANDERING WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR TODDLER WHEN IT’S RAINING?
Well there’s a few things that you can do but one that always gets Bash super excited is to take a train up to London. Everyday Mama and Daddy take the train to London. Some days just going on a train ride is an exciting adventure. But some days are special and then we take the train into town, a tube train, and even a bus! With the extending and increasing congestion zone and the cost of parking in London we gave up driving into town pretty much as soon as we moved out.
The most efficient way to travel is either buying a travel card as part of your train ticket, using pay as you go contactless (Apple pay, Android pay on your phone or just your contactless card will do) or travel on your gold card (some let kids travel free) and remember kids under 11 travel free on London Transport!
So any day we take the kids up to town we have planned our day beforehand, got the food for the packed lunch, snacks and drinks along the way and packed our bag.
- A handy pack of tissues (for snotty noses, drying hands but also incase you use a toilet that doesn’t have any loo paper in it!)
- Hand sanitiser – you never know when you might need it
- An umbrella – this is the UK so you never know when you might need one!)
- A small first aid kit – with plasters, alcohol wipes, a sachet of Calpol and another of Piriton
- A full charged phone and back up battery
There are loads of free places to go to in London with kids – we do guides for many of them but after the kids watching Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures we headed straight for The Natural History Museum. Take the District Line or Piccadilly Line tube train to South Kensington tube. Once you get there you will see that parking is a nightmare unless you are a coach load of tourist students with matching back packs!
The first thing you will notice when you step of the tube is the start of lots of steps! This is not the place to come to if you are taking the kids on your own and have a buggy! You would be better off taking the bus and not coming near the tube. If you have taken the tube then as you are struggling with buggy a passing parent will offer to lend a hand but if everyone has a gaggle of kids that they are trying to keep hold of, not lose and stop from falling over then you may have to wait a while, or try and bump up or down those steps on your own.
Once you have made it out of the tube station and down the tunnel, past the brilliant buskers and wandering just how many people are going to the same place as you, you will turn right, go up some more steps and walk right into the grounds of the Natural History Museum.
I love architecture so this is always a delight for me. Unless you come off peak, in the middle of the week, when everyone else is at work or school then you have to expect lots of queuing. We went early, go there at 10am and still had a 30minute wait to get in. The queues were building so they have people going in the main entrance and the one at the back – over by the new Darwin Centre, which means you walk past the Wildlife Garden – a great spot for a picnic or a runaround if you are there April to September
Top tips for the queues:
- Have some easy snacks and drinks on hand – you can top up water bottles when you get inside
- Wear layers and comfortable shoes – it may be raining, it maybe cold in the shade, or it maybe sunny but when yo get inside there are sone many people you will want to peel off and pack the layers away
- Keep the kids on a leash – some people I saw literally had the children on a leash, bendy stretchy ones, ones that are part of a back pac. What ever works for you use it. You need your kids to stay close otherwise they will get lost in the rush and this can cause tears and a heart stopping panic.
- Play games to spend the time – you can plan what you are going to make sure you see – the top thing for each person; eye spy; people bingo so you scan the crowds for twins, someone wearing a rainbow top, or how many unicorns you can see; or count the planes flying overhead and guess where they are going or where they have come from.
When you get in
There is cloakroom if you want to store bags etc right next to the main entrance. Only take with you what you really need. It is no fun lugging bags or suitcases around in the crowded museum and means you have to keep your eye on them rather than having fun and interacting with all the exhibits
There are loos/restrooms by the main entrance and baby changing rooms by most of the the ladies and gents, that are big enough for the whole family to go at the same time. But to avoid the queues and to guarantee a clean and well stocked toilet we always go down to the basement of the Earth section – where they have loads of picnic tables, and a lovely lady keeps the toilets spick and span. They even have small child height sinks for the little ones!
What to see
Grab a guide and plan your time in the Museum. Map out those things that each person really wants to see, and work out the best route. My top tip is don’t leave the dinosaurs until after lunch – the exhibit gets packed and little ones can get more spooked by the number of people than the moving dinosaurs! Identify places where you would be happy to eat/rest – do you need to go one of the Cafes or just need somewhere to eat your picnic? Many people have picnic with Hope, the whale skeleton in the main Hintze Hall camping out at the sides and at the back, others use the benches dotted around the corridors or you can use the dinosaur tables and benches in the downstairs canteen.
Take lots of pictures. There is so much to see that the photo’s will build your story of your day, and you may even spot things that you missed or capture the joy and wonder on the faces of those with you – young and old. This museum really does has something for everyone. Even the moodiest of teenagers will find something to make them laugh or capture their imagination
The designers of the exhibits have made sure you can interact with everything – even little ones can learn here as it so hands on. Bash wanted to see the volcano’s in the Earth section but had no idea what an earthquake was. The moving exhibits showed how the plates of earth moved and the earthquake shop made it come to life in the mind of a very excited 4 year old who will now tell anyone exactly what and earthquake is and what it does to buildings and roads.
The number one attraction is the Dinosaur room. The animatronics are brilliant and the kids are mesmerised. I remember taking Boo as a baby and seeing his attention grabbed by the T Rex. He was scared of the dark more than the dinosaur! And the terrible claw twins made him laugh!
Touching the dinosaur skin, stroking their teeth and seeing the babies hatching from eggs brought these amazing monsters to life and no longer just a character in a story book – these were real and walked on the same planet that we do – WOW!!
As well as the Dinosaurs there are the other mammals to go and see, as well s the Dodo’s and the birds.The Human Biology section will having them running around trying lots of things out and being amazed as they learn more about themselves and how they work.
There is the Dino shop, the Museum shop and a few other places where you can pick up souvenirs and toys
Make a donation – the museums are all free but a £20 donation helps keep everything going along really nicely. This is a cheap day out for half the price if you think about how much it is to get into a fun fair or an attraction like Shrek or Madame Tussauds!
TOP 10 SURVIVAL TIPS FOR THE SCIENCE MUSEUM
- Start early
- Use public transport
- Take food and drink
- Take lots of photo’s
- Plan your journey
- Everyone should wear comfortable shoes
- Everyone should have a back pack
- Go see the Dinosaurs first
- Engage and participate – you can all have fun and it will make the day even more memorable
- Leave before the crowds become too much – if the queues get too long they will shut the tunnel from the tube to the museums.
and one extra; If the queue is too long then why not try the Science museum or the V&A?
Have a fun day out and have sweet dreams and happy memories!