Family Days Out: The Museum

How to not have a nightmare at the Museum

A trip to a museum can offer so many amazing learning experiences for everyone, but with little ones, they can be tricky places to navigate. Exhibits that are mega wordy, rooms with massive looming creatures that frighten and then probably the worst bits, the interactive exhibits that little hands just want to push to the absolute max. Here are our ideas to turn a nightmare at the museum into a magical family day out.

dinosaur at the museumPhoto by Chris Nguyen on Unsplash

Book in advance

Restricted numbers mean most museums are now using online booking systems.


Chat before you go

Talk to your child about the trip beforehand to find out the things they’re most excited to explore. If you can get a map of the museum to pinpoint the exhibits you don’t want to miss.


Pack an explorer kit

The kit doesn’t have to be too comprehensive just a pad of paper, pencils/crayons, maybe a magnifying glass. We like to take our little toy camera so our little ones can pretend to snap all the interesting things they see.   Having things to hand can be a great way for them to remember certain things they were interested in and if you’re stuck in a particularly boring exhibit it can save the day.

Explorer Kit


The last time we visited our local museum we took along a Braichosaurus toy to see if we could match it to one of the dinosaurs in the exhibits. Mini-quests like this don’t have to be complicated. Next time we’ll probably pack up a couple of small rocks to compare them to the rocks they have on display. Our eldest is really interested in volcanoes and rocks right now.

Mini-questsPhoto by Simon Infanger on Unsplash

Grab a map when you’re there

If you didn’t get one before be sure to grab a map at the museum and give it to your child so they can ‘lead the way’ and tick off the things you’ve seen. Giving your child ownership really boosts their confidence and can make it an extra special day out. You might end up darting all over the museum but who cares if it means they’ve enjoyed themselves.


Follow their lead

Notice what exhibits really interest them. Ask them open-ended questions like ‘What do you think of this?’, ‘Why do you think this happened?’. These types of questions really help language development and also let you know what level of understanding they have about something.


How to move it along

The interactive exhibits may prove impossible to move past with their ‘press me buttons that light up and make sounds, what child (or adult) can resist? Try to be patient and let them have fun with it. If it’s really getting too much try diverting to the map or their explorer kit ‘shall we tick this exhibit off the map?’ It’ll hopefully be enough to break the repetitive smashing of buttons. If all else fails the promise of snacks normally works.


Revisit at home

Either when you get home or in the next few days that follow, suggest looking through the map and any pictures/scribbles or notes they took. Talk about the things you saw and found out. It’s a great chance to get them excited about going back and finding out more and expanding their interests by watching videos online or doing activities based on a theme. It could also lead to some ideas for other days out, like a trip to an old coal mine or mill or the buttons and switches aisle in B&Q 😂

Exploring rocks at homePhoto by Sigmund on Unsplash

We hope you have fun and discover lots of interesting things on your next trip to the museum. If you’d like to share please give us a follow on Instagram and use the hashtag #ecotoyplay, we’d absolutely love to see the fun things you got up to and share with other parents.

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