Days out hack, the National Army Museum and a great rainy-day activity for kids

The other day I was on Daddy duty and couldn’t face another trip to the park.

Little Miss suggested we go to a museum.

Now, normally, I’d search for some websites on days out and the like, trying to find an apt museum, or I’d just buckle and head to the ol’ favourite triangle of Science, Natural History or Victoria & Albert Museums in Albertropolis.

But I had a new idea, that I wanted to share; a little Google Hack if you will.

Instead of searching for websites I went to Google Maps and simply typed in “Museum”.

And BOSH! Lo! there were more museums than one could shake an academic research stick at.

The joy of museums – free play stuff for the kids!

Better yet, I could see at a glance how close they were and with a mere Directions click, how long they’d take to get to.

So that was my first revelation for the day, one I’d heartily recommend to all

(and one that can be repeated with terms such as “National Trust”, “Historic Country House” and other similar terms from the “Family Days Out” canon of to-dos; the world is your search-term oyster).

The second joyous moment was when said search reminded me that our closest museum was one as-yet-un-visited; the National Army Museum and a mere 20 mins walk away.

Double BOSH!

So I packed up the little people, headed to the bus stop (Little Miss was “too tired” to walk – plus I knew she’d be on her feet most of the day anyways – and Little Mr is enamoured with bus travel, so I relented) and off we went.

A half-hour later we were there. And it was lunchtime = bad timing.

We had a quick look around and found there was an indoor soft play area for kids called the Play Base = good fortune!

Then we found it was pre-booked time-slots and the next one was 40 mins away = bad timing.

Then I realised there was a McDonalds (or McDonaldson, as Little Miss calls it – I think perhaps because we’ve drilled Julia Donaldson books into her since she could stand) and it was only an 8 mins walk = round trip!

So, 40 mins and McBelliesFull afterwards there we were tickets in hand, ready for the soft playroom.

It was a nice contained size and, due to being rather concealed and with a strict ticketing capacity, it lacked the usual ear-damaging sounds of other, larger soft play places I’ve been to.

It was almost relaxing.

Definitely good to know it’s there for a future rainy day, and thus my second revelation of the day.

Little Mr made a beeline for the 3-metre tall pyramid, mounted the top with assistance and then proceeded to Leming-launch himself off the other side.

Thankfully, I foresaw his callous disregard for his own safety and already had an iron grip on his back, preventing his 3-metre nosediving face plant. Eventually, he relented and agreed to learn how to slide down on his belly, feet-first, then rapidly repeated the exercise again. And again. And again.

(I think, by the end, he could have done it without my support, but I wasn’t quite ready to risk his 19-month frame on a hunch).

Little Miss, meanwhile, was happily running circuits around the place, especially when I suggested I time her, to see how fast she could do it in, and if she could beat her previous personal best…

An hour later we left, lest we overstay our carefully-timed-and-overseen welcome and went to explore the museum galleries.

I understand they’ve recently had a complete refurbishment and each gallery certainly seemed packed with interactive exhibits and information stations, but it was just a little bit too adult for a 5-year-old Little Miss (though she did enjoy assembling a rifle!); I think children need to be fluent in reading as a bare minimum before they’ll fully enjoy the place.

“Sir, yes sir!” Little Miss assembles her rifle

An age-appropriate activity they did have was my third revelation of the day; parachute making and launching!

The great thing is, this can be done anywhere at any time and Little Miss thoroughly loved it.

Here’s the recipe:

  1. Cut out a circle or round-cornered rectangle from tissue paper
  2. Decorate the paper to your liking
  3. Punch four holes in the corners
  4. Pull some string through the four corners and tie knots in them (Pro tip; use four pieces of string of equal length, one for each hole)
  5. Hang a plastic toy “parachutist” to the string
  6. Create a “landing zone” around 1 to 2 metres across and place it under the highest point you can access (they had one already made, but you could simply cross two sticks on the ground)
  7. Go up to said highest point and ceremoniously lob your parachutist and parachute into the air and try to land them in the landing zone

Physics lesson; which shape parachute will work best?

For the museum, we went up to the third-floor balcony and launched them down to the lower ground floor landing zone mat.

Aim for the middle!

It was great fun for all participants (and not just those still of school age… 😉 ) and resulted in a second round, even more eagerly done than the first.

So we got to cover PE, history, arts and crafts and physics all in the same day, and all by doing something nice and easy; having fun 🙂

Rainbow camouflage, all the rage in modern military circles!

What do YOU think?! Please do share your thoughts: