It was my birthday earlier this week and I decided that I’d like to go to London for the day with my little family during the weekend before. I thought we’d let Little H choose what we did for the day and her choice was The Natural History Museum – a very good choice!
We went to The Natural History Museum last summer and it was so ridiculously busy and hot that we missed a lot of things, plus we had to queue for over an hour to get in, so we were all excited to go again.
It takes 2-3 hours to get to London, so we left the house bright and early to get the train. It was hammering down with rain but that didn’t dampen our spirits. We ate pain au chocolates on the train, drew some pictures, and Little H enjoyed looking out of the window asking at every stop “is this London?”.
When we got to the museum we were pleased to see that it wasn’t as busy as on our last visit and we only had to queue for about 10 minutes to get in. First stop, as decided by Little H, was past the stegosaurus and up the escalator into the Red Zone to find out about the beginning of the earth, volcanoes and earthquakes.
5-year-olds definitely don’t stand still long enough for you to actually teach them anything, but Little H loved looking at everything and pressing all of the buttons on the interactive displays.
There’s a lot of hands-on exhibits in this section, as well as lots of things for little hands to touch such as rocks, minerals and molten lava. After all, museums are no fun if you can’t touch anything.
Next up was the Blue Zone, to learn about human biology, dinosaurs, animals, fish, and of course the blue whale.
Little H was on her own little mission, leading the way and pointing out all of the things we passed.
“Mummy that’s a dinosaur skeleton it died a long time ago”, “Daddy that’s a duck-billed platypus, they don’t live in England”, “WOW that polar bear is enormous”.
I love how their little minds work so fast!
We stopped by to see ‘Dippy’ the iconic Diplodocus skeleton in the Hintze Hall – probably the last time we’ll see it as from next year it’s being replaced by a blue whale skeleton after 30 years.
One of my favourite bits is the Mammal Gallery – it never ceases to amaze me just how enormous the blue whale is up close.
“Wow that is ginormous – it would take up the whole sea!”
Like most kids, Little H loves animals and was fascinated by every single one. We spent quite a bit of time learning about dolphins, elephants, horses and lots more.
A very nice man from the museum was showing the children a sheep’s skull and teaching them lots of facts about it. Little H was so interested that in the end, we had to drag her away as it was obvious the poor bloke had run out of things to tell her!
Next, we stopped for cake, before heading to the dinosaurs. I remember coming to The Natural History Museum for my 10th birthday during my “I want to be a palaeontologist” phase and it’s quite funny bringing my own child to see the same exhibits.
We saw dinosaur skeletons, the moving, roaring T-Rex, dinosaur bones and teeth – Little H was amazed by their size – and we learnt about why dinosaurs died out. The walkway above the exhibits was closed which was a shame as Little H enjoyed that last time, but it looks like it meant they were adding some new bits to this section.
After the dinosaurs, I was dragged through the creepy crawlies section, where I avoided looking at the bugs but had to listen about all the disgusting things that could be living in our house.
Lastly, we went to the Human Biology section where we learnt about the human body, answered a few questions about how babies come out but thankfully none were asked about how the babies get in there in the first place!
I felt this section was the most dated out of them all, a lot of the interactive exhibits don’t work and the ones that do work don’t refer to anything later than the 1980s. Still, Little H was very interested and enjoyed looking at everything.
The giant cocoon in the Darwin Centre was closed, and you have to book for the Attenborough sessions so we had a quick wander around the Wildlife Garden before heading back to the tube.
With a few hours to kill before catching our train we stopped at Trafalgar Square for a bit of culture and by now it was a lovely, sunny afternoon. Little H enjoyed seeing the lions that we’ve read about in one of her books, throwing pennies in the fountain and meeting Yoda on the steps of the National Gallery.
After a bit of dinner on the South Bank, we headed home absolutely shattered, armed with a book about dinosaurs and a dinosaur egg, after a fab day out.
If you’ve got small children and haven’t been to The Natural History Museum before I highly recommend it. There’s so much to see and do there, plenty for inquisitive little minds, and of course, it’s free!