Having been to the Science Museum several times in the past few years (I used to especially enjoy the Lates at the end of the month), I thought I knew it pretty well. I was wrong. Now that I have Mushroom, I’ve discovered a whole new world of fun things to do across London. All aimed at the kids of course but sometimes I think us grown-ups have been missing out!
The Garden isn’t really a secret but it may as well have been as I had no idea it existed until last week. The three of us rocked up to the Science Museum at around 11am on a Sunday morning and walked straight through – no queues. Mushroom seemed to be a little overawed by the enormity of the place so we walked in and let him just stand and take it all in for a while. He shouted excitedly at the steam train and didn’t even try to touch anything. This is a first. Once we had walked through the main entrance and past this, he cried to go back but I promised him we would go somewhere even more exciting and he decided to take my word for it and calmed down a little.
We headed down to the basement where I first had to change Mushroom – and I’d just like to say here that the family facilities here are outstanding. We had a big family room , with chairs, a nappy changing table and a toilet in which to change him (really handy if you’re out by yourself with more than one child!) and the main toilets were also family friendly (they were labelled ‘girls’ and ‘boys’) – then we headed to the Garden. You have to leave any buggies in the buggy park just opposite and there are no locks but we left ours there for over two hours with coats, food and spare clothes on it and it was quite safe.
The Garden is a sensory explosion for little ones. Aimed at the under 5s (I think it says 3 – 6 years outside but Mushroom is only 18 months and he loved it), it’s basically a big science themed, interactive playground. There’s a sensory room with different lights and sounds and lots of different textures to touch and things to look at – Mushroom especially liked the mirrors. There’s a kind of pod with soft toys in it, which Mushroom nearly fell asleep in until Daddy appeared with a ‘talking’ frog in the window. There’s a kind of baby building site complete with giant rubber bricks, wheelbarrows and little hard hats and finally… There’s the water. Mushroom always makes a beeline for water play at ‘messy play’ playgroups and this was no exception. He was straight in there, hardly giving us time to get him into the (provided) apron in a completely pointless attempt to keep him dry. He loved pushing and pulling levers, pouring water from boats into swirling plug holes and splashing the other children. He spent a long time figuring out what the levers did and why, and trying to understand how it all worked. That’s science, right? A toddler thinks ‘How does this work?’ and then conducts ‘experiments’ to figure it out. Mushroom loved the water feature so much that when we were at the bubble show and he started to play up (he was frustrated at having to sit still and not touch the bubbles), I asked him ‘do you want to go back to the water?’ and he practically ran out of the room!
After all that fun we headed to the café/picnic area for lunch. The café provided highchairs and the picnic area consists of wide steps on which you can sit and eat your sandwiches, or whatever you have brought with you. Mushroom had food with him and he also enjoyed sharing an ice cream from the café with Daddy before we went home.
If you have slightly older kids – i.e. Can sit still for five minutes and understand that trying not to pop bubbles can be as much fun as popping them all – then I highly recommend the free bubble show, which takes place just down the corridor from The Garden. Kids over the age of 5 might prefer the more ‘grown-up’ activities at the Pattern Pod. Whatever age your children are, I strongly recommend the Science Museum as a great family fun day out!
Disclosure: The Science Museum is free to visit (although a £5 donation is recommended) and we were not invited or paid to write this review. We just had a great time and wanted to share! Read my full PR and disclosure policy here.