Under 5s informal science learning directory, South and Southeast England

 Please note that this list is not exhaustive and details are subject to change. Science from the Start is not responsible for the content of external websites.

South and Southeast England

Alice Holt Forest

Bucks Horn Oak
GU10 4LS

01420 520212


Alice Holt have two programmes for 0-4 year olds:

‘Tree Tots is for toddlers aged between 14 months and 2 years 6 months with their carers. Children need to be able to walk to get real benefit from the sessions. Tree Tots sessions run for an hour and a half and are an introduction to the learning resources of the forest for both adults and children. There’s fun to be had both indoors and out! 

Mini Rangers is very like Tree Tots but the activities are suitable for slightly older children. 21/2 to 4 year olds with their accompanying adults explore the woods and take part in a range of activities indoors and out’. 


Arundel Wetland Centre

Mill Road
West Sussex
BN18 9PB

01903 883355


Wetland Centres have a range of activities suitable for children – check their events pages for daily and one-off events (please be aware that some activities are listed as not suitable for children or for under 2s – they should be checked individually).


Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest

TN17 2SJ

01580 879820

Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is listed as one of Forestry Commission England’s Top Ten Natural Play Areas. At various times, other activities, such as themed trails, which are suitable for under 5s may be available (check the Forestry Commission website for details).


Dobbies Garden Centres

Dobbies Garden Centres run free-to-join Little Seedlings gardening clubs on the first Sunday of each month, which can be attended from the age of 4. Local centres can be found here.


Forest Schools

Some Forest Schools run parent and toddler groups – Forest Schools can be found by region here.


Forestry Commission England


At various times family activities, such as themed trails, which are suitable for under 5s may be available in forests – please check the website for details.



Kew Gardens


Kew Gardens has a list of activities to do there with children, some of which are suitable for under fives (please check each one as some are only suitable for older children).


London Wetland Centre

Queen Elizabeth’s Walk
SW13 9WT

020 8409 4400


Wetland Centres have a range of activities suitable for children – check their events pages for daily and one-off events (please be aware that some activities are listed as not suitable for children or for under 2s – they should be checked individually).


Museum of London

150 London Wall


The Museum of London hosts weekly sessions and holiday events for under 5s. There are also under 5s sessions at the Museum of London Docklands:

West India Quay
Canary Wharf
E14 4AL

And family events at the Museum of London Archaeological Archive:

Mortimer Wheeler House
46 Eagle Wharf Road
N1 7ED

All activities are free of charge


Royal Museums Greenwich

Including the National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory and The Queen’s House

National Maritime Museum, Romney Rd, Greenwich SE10 9NF
Royal Observatory, Blackheath Ave, SE10 8XJ
Cutty Sark, King William Walk, Greenwich SE10 9HT

020 8858 4422



Under-5s get free entry to Cutty Sark, Flamsteed House and the Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory, and to special exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum. Events suitable for this age group are listed here.


Sarah’s Adventures in Science


Dr Sarah Bearchell: sarah@bearchell.co.uk



Dr Sarah Bearchell shares her enthusiasm for science with everyone, especially children in Oxfordshire. The following special sessions are available for EYFS children. They tie to concepts covered in the new National Curriculum for Science for primary aged children:

– Gruffalo’s Child Shadow Puppet Show: Exploring shadows with the help of some familiar faces
– Cloud Factory: Making lots of clouds using dry ice
– BIG Bubbles: Exploring colour and shape while having lots of fun – brave children can even go inside a bubble!
– What is that tree called? A nature walk in your grounds
– Fabulous Flyers 1 & 2: Make & Take sessions where we explore forces by making paper aircraft or rockets

Sarah won the 2014 Josh Award for her work with SEN children and helps children explore the natural world through short workshops and longer projects. For further details please contact her.

The Look Out Discovery Centre

Nine Mile Ride
RG12 7QW

01344 354400


The Look Out Discovery Centre offers a wide range of activities, areas and special days for toddlers.

‘The Look Out Discovery Centre has over 90 hands-on science and nature activities, many of which are suitable for under 5’s. Children under 4 are not charged admission, and we have thousands of under 4’s visit us each year. Even if the science principles are not grasped, the children really enjoy the interactive nature of the exhibition, particularly enjoying rolling balls, building with bricks, damming the stream, or playing shops in the Toddler Supermarket. It’s a place where you will never hear “don’t touch!” The Toddler Days offer additional activities for under 5’s with art and craft, story- telling and face or hand painting’.


The Natural History Museum

Cromwell Road


The Natural History Museum has a programme of learning activities for children aged 5 years and under. All learning activities are free, but should be booked in advance by phoning the Museum booking team on +44 (0)20 7942 5555. Activities include Explorers: Ourselves and Other Animals (engaging with specimens through role-play in a self-guided Explorer challenge through the Museum, Wildlife Garden Explorers (investigating the Wildlife Garden in the role of explorers) and Storytelling with Puppets (interactive storytelling that explores natural history and curriculum science in a fun and engaging way).


The Natural History Museum at Tring

The Walter Rothschild Building
Akeman Street
HP23 6AP


The Natural History Museum at Tring has special activities for children, and on Toddler Tuesdays (from 14:00 in term time) children can borrow animal costumes and toys to make exploring the galleries more fun. See the Visiting with Children page for more information.


The Science Museum

Exhibition Road
South Kensington

The Science Museum offers a range of activities for under 5s, including the Garden gallery, which is ideal for 3-6 year olds. All are free of charge.

In addition, the Splash! app, based on the Garden gallery, teaches pre-schoolers about floating and sinking.

The University of Oxford Botanic Garden

Rose Lane

01865 286690


The University of Oxford Botanic Garden runs family friendly events, including some specifically for under 5s and the Look and Find trail for families with children aged 2-7 years. Visitor information is available here.


Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium

Winchester Science Centre
Telegraph Way
SO21 1HZ


Winchester Science Centre has a range of Chatterbox shows (talking allowed) that are suitable for under 5s and a long list of family-friendly features. Opening hours and admission prices are available here.


ZSL Whipsnade Zoo



Hullabazoo, at the centre of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, is made up of Hullabazoo Farm, Hullabazoo Indoor Play and Hullabazoo Adventure Play:

Hullabazoo Farm

Hullabazoo Farm is an interactive, up-close adventure, where little ones will be able to meet and greet a whole host of farmyard friends.

Hullabazoo Indoor Play

Each element of Hullabazoo Indoor Play is designed around different habitats enabling your children to have fun and mimic their favourite animals. You’ll be able to watch your little ones crawl through the garden, climb like an insect or journey through the Antarctic to become a penguin sliding down the ice.

Hullabazoo Adventure Play

Little ones will be climbing new heights at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo with the launch of Hullabazoo Adventure Play – a brand new, outdoor play area.


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