Science from the Start UK and Channel Islands Under 5s informal science learning directory

Informal science learning opportunities for pre-schoolers

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.

Channel Islands

Durrell Wildlife Park

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Les Augrès Manor
La Profonde Rue
Trinity
Jersey, Channel Islands
JE3 5BP

www.durrell.org

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust offer activities for all ages both within their schools programme from nursery up to A-level and within their informal education programme. This includes Dodolings, their workshops for 3-6 year olds and their parents on Saturday mornings, and builds up with more activities for older ages. They are based in Jersey and also offer field programmes for visiting schools. Families who are visiting on holiday are welcome to sign up for the workshops.

See here for timing and pricing information.

 

East of England

Cambridge Science Centre

Cambridge Science Centre
18 Jesus Lane
Cambridge
CB5 8BQ
United Kingdom

01223 967965

www.cambridgesciencecentre.org

The What’s On page of Cambridge Science Centre can be filtered for events that are listed as suitable for under 5s.

 

Forest Schools

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

 

Forestry Commission England

www.forestry.gov.uk/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.

 

High Lodge Thetford Forest

IP27 0AF

01842 815434

www.forestry.gov.uk/highlodge

Learning activities at High Lodge include self-led trails, some of which are suitable for Foundation Stage age children. 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).

 

Scotsdales Garden Centre

Scotsdales Cambridge
120 Cambridge Road
Great Shelford
Cambridge
CB22 5JT
01223 842777

www.scotsdalegardencentre.co.uk

Little Seedlings

“The Little Seedling events are suited to 2 – 5 year olds. We have stories and activities, with some fantastic themes and activities planned. Spaces are limited so booking is advised to guarantee a place. These sessions usually happen on the last Wednesday of the month with a couple of extra sessions in the longer breaks, to tie in with the older children’s activities.”

 

Welney Wetland Centre

Welney
Nr. Wisbech
PE14 9TN

01352 860711

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/welney/

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).

 

Midlands

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Westbourne Road
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 3TR

www.birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk

Themed Gardens’ Explorer Family Backpacks and Children’s Trails suitable for all ages are available (younger children will need help). Birmingham Botanical Gardens also hold family events throughout the year – details can be found here. See here for visitor information.

 

Cannock Chase Forest

Birches Valley Forest Centre
Birches Valley
Rugeley
Staffordshire
WS15 2UQ

01889 586593

Cannock Chase 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

www.forestry.gov.uk/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.


National Space Centre

Exploration Drive
Leicester
LE4 5NS

www.spacecentre.co.uk

Small Space Days are the new toddler events at the National Space Centre. Information about the first event is here and more information will be added when available.

 

Rosliston Forestry Centre

Burton Road
Rosliston
Swadlincote
Derbyshire
DE12 8JX

01283 563483

www.roslistonforestrycentre.co.uk

Rosliston Forestry Centre runs Wildlife Watch family activities suitable for ages including under 5s.

 

Saffron Acres Project

432 Saffron Lane
Leicester
Leicestershire
LE2 6SB

0116 283 7212

Saffron Acres Project is Leicester’s largest food growing and environmental project. During the summer months the SAPlings project runs growing themed activities for parents and under 5s – contact saffronacresproject@yahoo.co.uk or visit http://srcentre.org.uk/saffron-acres/ for more information.

 

Sherwood Pines Forest Park

NG21 9JL

07825 055241

Sherwood Pines Forest Park 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).

 

Snibston and The Century Museum

Ashby Road
Coalville
LE67 3LN

01530 287444

www.snibston.com

Snibston has several exhibits suitable for under 5s. In the Light Fantastic and Science Showcase, in which visitors experiment with sustainable energy and discover the effects of a black hole, younger visitors can explore the wonders of Snibston close up with their interactive floor. In the Engineering and Extractive Industries Galleries – a celebration of the Midlands’ rich industrial past with a close-up look at some of the key technologies that have shaped our lives – children will enjoy crawling through the reconstructed mine tunnels. And in the specially designed Under 5’s Area, younger visitors will have great fun exploring books, toys and tunnels.

 

Trentham Garden Centre

The Trentham Estate
Stone Road
Trentham
Stoke-on-Trent
ST4 8JG / ST12 9HR

01782 646644

www.trentham.co.uk

Little Acorns Children’s Gardening Club at Trentham Garden Centre runs every Wednesday morning and afternoon, with a different gardening activity for children aged 0-4 every week at a cost of £5 per child. Booking in advance is recommended as space is limited.

 

Thinktank Birmingham Science Centre

Millennium Point
Curzon Street
Birmingham
B4 7XG
01223 842777

www.thinktank.ac

Thinktank has a range of activities and a purpose built gallery for younger children, details of which can be found here: Ticket information is available here.

 

Tiny Trowels

Bromsgrove

www.tinytrowels.co.uk

Contact Alison: alison@tinytrowels.co.uk

Pre-school Classes

These classes are for children aged 2-5 years. The classes last 45 minutes and run during term time within school hours. Parents are asked to stay and can sit inside in the warm where there is tea/coffee and homemade cake available.

See here for the current class timetable.

 

Woolsthorpe Manor

23 Newton Way
Woolsthorpe by Colsterworth
Grantham
Lincolnshire
NG33 5NR

01476 862823

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/woolsthorpe-manor

Woolsthorpe Manor contains the Science Discovery Centre, which includes hands-on activities suitable for pre-school age children. Admission fees apply to those who are not members of the National Trust; details can be found here.

 

Wyre Forest

DY14 9XQ

01299 266302

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/wyreforest

Wyre Community Discovery Centre runs the weekly Forest Friends group for under 5s and their families (and also another group, Forest Secrets, for nursery and pre-school groups), which offers fun, exploration and learning in a beautiful forest setting. Please check the website for details of upcoming sessions. 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).

 

North and Northeast England

 

North England

 

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.


Eureka! The National Children’s Museum

Discovery Road
Halifax
West Yorkshire
HX1 2NE

01422 330069

www.eureka.org.uk/

Eureka! has hundreds of interactive, hands-on exhibits designed to inspire children aged 0 to 11 to learn about themselves and the world around them through play and discovery.

They also have their own nursery and can be hired as a venue for meetings and conferences.

 

Forest Schools

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

 

Forestry Commission England

www.forestry.gov.uk/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.

 

National Railway Museum

www.nrm.org.uk

NRM York
Leeman Road
York
YO26 4XJ

08448 153139

As well as having plenty of space to take children to look at the many engines on display, the National Railway Museum also has Little Play Station, a space dedicated to visitors under 5 and including a zone specifically for children aged 0-2 years.

 

Tiny Outdoor Explorers

Hollybush Wildlife Garden
The Conservation Volunteers (TCV)
Broad Lane
Leeds
LS5 3BP

07887813061

http://www.tinyoutdoorexplorers.co.uk

Weekly nature activity sessions in the outdoors for 2 to 5 year olds in Kirkstall, Leeds.

 

York Museums Trust

St Mary’s Lodge
Marygate
York
YO30 7DR

01904 687687

http://www.yorkmuseumstrust.org.uk/

Museum Monkeys sessions include Early Year Explorers (for 2-5 years) and Museum Babies (for 0-2 years) to help young children explore the museums’ collections, which include archaeology and biology.

 

Northeast England

 

Centre for Life

Times Square
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 4EP
Tyne & Wear

0191 243 8210

www.life.org.uk

Centre for LIFE runs pre-school days once a month (except December, July and August) on Tuesdays where the whole centre is focused on activities for under-fives (search their What’s On page for ‘pre-school’). In addition, most of the mezzanine at the Centre for LIFE is devoted to the under-fives with the Young Explorers’ Zone open to their youngest visitors every day.

They also have EYFS workshops under the general title of Playful Science which are available to reception classes and consist of a 90 minute programme which includes a story, a science investigation, a creative activity, time in the Young Explorers’ Zone and sometimes a planetarium activity. Prices are available in their visitor information.

 

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

www.forestry.gov.uk/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.

 

Hamsterley Forest

County Durham, DL13

01388 488312

Hamsterley 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).

 

Sci Babies

Durham

Contact Jenny@DrResearch.co.uk or use this contact form

www.SciBabies.co.uk

www.DrResearch.co.uk

On-demand science workshops run by PhD level scientists in schools and nurseries for 3-5 year olds (pre-schoolers). Venues and audiences include:

  • private day nurseries,
  • pre-school nurseries,
  • playgroups and toddler groups,
  • groups of interested parents or children.

All workshops link to many sections of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework.

Prices start from £75 for one session (45-60 minutes) with discounts available for more than one session. Sci Babies is based in Durham, in North East England and they are willing to travel around the North East region and beyond.

 

University of Durham Botanic Garden

Botanic Garden
Hollingside Lane
South Road
Durham City
DH1 3TN

0191 334 5524

www.dur.ac.uk/botanic.garden/

University of Durham Botanic Garden has a ‘Nature’ Children’s Trail for younger children.

 

Washington Wetland Centre

Pattinson
Washington
Tyne and Wear
NE38 8LE

0191 4165454

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/washington/

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).

 

Northern Ireland

Armagh Planetarium

College Hill
Armagh
Co. Armagh
BT61 9DB

http://www.armaghplanet.com/

Some Planetarium shows are for children over six years old only, but others are aimed at pre-schoolers – see here for current events.

 

Castle Espie Wetland Centre

78 Ballydrain Road,
Co Down, N Ireland,
BT23 6EA

028 9187 4146

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/castle-espie/

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).

 

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.

 

Northwest England

Catalyst Discovery Centre

Mersey Road
Widnes
Cheshire
WA8 0DF

0151 420 1121

www.catalyst.org.uk

Catalyst is an interactive science centre and museum devoted to chemistry and how the products of chemistry are used in everyday life. Their backpacks are free to borrow and suitable for children aged 3-7 years.

 

Delamere Forest

CW8 2JD

01606 882167

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/delamere

Delamere Forest hosts a Forest School for 2-5 year olds and accompanying parents/carers – please see the website and links within it for further details such as current times and costs.

 

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

www.forestry.gov.uk/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.

 

Grizedale Forest

LA22 0QJ

www.forestry.gov.uk/grizedale

Grizedale Forest has events throughout the year, some of which are suitable for under 5s, including Forest Felt & Stories in the summer holidays which has sessions for 3-5 year olds. 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).

 

Grosvenor Garden Centre

Wrexham Road
Belgrave
Chester
CH4 9EB

01244 625200

www.grosvenorgardencentre.co.uk

Little Acorns Children’s Gardening Club runs every Tuesday morning and afternoon for children aged 0-4 (and up to age 8 in school holidays). Gardening and nature are introduced with a different theme each week. Cost is £5 per child which includes and drink and cookie for children, a hot drink for adults and something to take home. Call 01244 625200 to book.

 

Hulme Community Garden Centre

28 Old Birley Street
Manchester
M15 5RG

0161 227 8198

http://www.hulmegardencentre.org.uk/

The Garden Centre Parent and Toddler Club runs on Thursdays between 11:00 and 12:00 and offer a chance to explore nature with your children in a fun, stimulating and beautiful environment. See the page for further details including cost.

Martin Mere Wetland Centre

Fish Lane
Burscough
Lancashire
L40 0TA

01704 895181

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/martin-mere/

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).

 

MOSI

Museum of Science & Industry
Liverpool Road
Castlefield
Manchester
M3 4FP

www.mosi.org.uk/

MOSI’s mission is to explore where science met industry and the modern world began, and to understand the impact that Manchester science, technology and innovation continues to have on all our lives.

Experitots creative activity sessions for under 6s use puppets and storytelling to help toddlers get the most out of the hands on science gallery, Experiment! In My Den, little ones can immerse themselves in fabrics and cushions connected to the gallery space and create their very own den.

 

Science from the Start

Morecambe

www.sciencefromthestart.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/SciencefromtheStart

Science-based play learning activities using free and low cost materials, aimed at children aged 0-5 and their parents/carers and also available to older children. All activities are accompanied by accessible scientific background information to support adults in facilitating their children’s science learning. Most public events are free of charge; hosting venues may charge a small entry fee to cover their costs. Private sessions (e.g. in pre-schools, at home and for parties) and workshops for adults are also available.

 

Whinlatter Forest

CA12 5TW

Whinlatter 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).

 

World Museum Liverpool

William Brown Street
Liverpool
L3 8EN

0151 478 4393

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/

The Planetarium has shows that are suitable for under fives, such as the Sunshine show which shows how night happens, what stars are and includes basic counting and colour naming along with singing. Entry to the museum is free, as are tickets to shows which can be picked up on the day.

 

Scotland

Caerlaverock Wetland Centre

Eastpark Farm
Caerlaverock
Dumfriesshire
DG1 4RS

01387 770200

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/caerlaverock/

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).

 

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.

 

Dundee Science Centre

Greenmarket
Dundee
DD1 4QB

01382 228800

www.dundeesciencecentre.org.uk/

Dundee Science Centre has a range of activities to support even their youngest visitors, including Baby Sensory, Toddler Sense, and their Early Years programme.

Baby Sensory and Toddler Sense are hosted by Dundee Science Centre, and run by their delivery partner Claire Puzey.  To book a place, contact Claire directly on 0780 300 5970 or email clairepuzey@hotmail.com, and see the Baby Sensory Facebook page for more information.

 

Edinburgh Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

549 Castlehill
Edinburgh
EH1 2ND

0131 226 3709

www.camera-obscura.co.uk

Alyce@camera-obscura.co.uk

Edinburgh Camera Obscura and World of Illusions offers experiences and hands-on exhibits that are suitable for all ages. Additionally, 12th-18th January 2015 sees their first Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest, especially for under 5s:

This winter Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is thinking small. While older children return to school after the Christmas break we will be transforming the centre into the perfect place for a visit with under 5s.

On a normal day your visit includes a Camera Obscura show, six floors of interactive exhibits, a gift shop and an all-day ticket. During Teeny Tiny Toddlerfest we are adding even more. Exclusive Camera Obscura shows for familes will leave the lights up, just in case you don’t like the dark, have lots of toys to keep little hands occupied, and mean that you don’t need to worry about the noise your toddler makes during the show.

Extra exhibits will focus on play at a toddler’s level; both developmentally and by physically lowering some exhibits. We will also have more seating for parents so that you can relax a bit while the toddlers are entertained (we guarantee they will be).

We also know that toddlers are unlikely to wait for a meal, so while you are welcome to head out to a café and come back later, we are also opening up a quiet room; for feeding, relaxing and sharing a cuppa with friends.

If you have any other ideas for us on how to make Camera Obscura an even better venue for young children, please let us know. We have a survey here:

www.bit.ly/1m2c5TR

 

Forest Schools

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

 

Glasgow Science Centre

 

50 Pacific Quay
Glasgow
G51 1EA

www.glasgowsciencecentre.org

Glasgow Science Centre has a range of activities suitable for Nursery level, including Planetarium shows, workshops, exploring the mall and a Nina and the Neurons trail.

Visitor information is available here.

 

National Museum of Scotland

Chambers Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1JF

0300 123 6789

http://www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland/

Explore the diversity of the natural world, world cultures, art and design, science and technology and Scottish history, all in one amazing building.

Upcoming events suitable for pre-school age children are listed here.

 

Satrosphere Science Centre

The Tramsheds
179 Constitution Street
Aberdeen
AB24 5TU

www.satrosphere.net

Little Scientists Days offer fun, hands-on science based activities that encourage learning through play and are suited for little scientists aged 3-5 years. Each Little Scientist Day workshop lasts approximately 30 minutes and is supported by related activity tables on the Exhibition Floor.

These days are open to both the public and groups however if you are wishing to attend with a group then they recommend you book in advance on 01224 640 340.

 

South and Southeast England

Alice Holt Forest

Bucks Horn Oak
Farnham
Surrey
GU10 4LS

01420 520212

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/aliceholt

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
Arundel
West Sussex
BN18 9PB

01903 883355

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/arundel/

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

www.forestry.gov.uk/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
Barnes
London
SW13 9WT

020 8409 4400

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/london/

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
London
EC2Y 5HN

www.museumoflondon.org.uk

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
London
E14 4AL

And family events at the Museum of London Archaeological Archive:

Mortimer Wheeler House
46 Eagle Wharf Road
London
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

www.rmg.co.uk

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

Oxfordshire

Dr Sarah Bearchell: sarah@bearchell.co.uk

www.bearchell.co.uk

www.facebook.com/sarahbearchellscience

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
Bracknell
Berkshire
RG12 7QW

01344 354400

www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/thelookoutdiscoverycentre

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
London
SW7 5BD

www.nhm.ac.uk

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
Tring
Hertfordshire
HP23 6AP

www.nhm.ac.uk/tring

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
SW7 2DD

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
Oxford
OX1 4AZ

01865 286690

www.botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk

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
Winchester
Hampshire
SO21 1HZ

www.winchestersciencecentre.org

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

Dunstable
Bedfordshire
LU6 2LF

http://www.zsl.org/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.

 

 

Southwest England

At-Bristol

Anchor Road
Bristol
BS1 5DB

0845 345 1235

www.at-bristol.org.uk

At-Bristol run regular Toddler Takeover days (whole days full of activities for under 5s), plus other events such as Planetarium shows for under 5s. See their under 5s page for upcoming events

As well as reduced entry on Toddler Takeover days, there are also lots of toddler-friendly facilities, including:

  • High chairs
  • Indoor picnic area
  • Buggy parks
  • Nappy changing facilities
  • Bottle warming facilities

 

Bath City Farm

Kelston View
Bath
BA2 1NW

01225 481269

www.bathcityfarm.org.uk

The Roots and Shoots toddler group for under 5s and parents/guardians runs every Tuesday morning. Children can feed the animals and explore the farm, nature and gardening. The cost is £3 per child, with discounts and concessions available – see the website for details.

 

Discover Wistlandpound

c/o Calvert Trust Exmoor
Wistlandpound
Kentisbury
North Devon
EX31 4SJ

01598 763719

www.discoverwistlandpound.org.uk

Wistlandpound Reservoir is listed as one of Forestry Commission England’s Top Ten Natural Play Areas, and has easy-access trails.

 

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.

 

Eden Project

Bodelva
St Austell
Cornwall
PL24 2SG

www.edenproject.com

The Eden Project has the following facilities for young children:

  • imaginative children’s play areas
  • impromptu storytelling
  • free worksheets to keep them busy
  • interactive exhibits
  • giant garden sculptures
  • children’s menu in our cafés
  • trails around site featuring shortcuts and hideaways, stepping stones and sandpits
  • unique events programme for children throughout the school holidays

as well as online play resources.

 

Forest Schools

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

 

Forestry Commission England

www.forestry.gov.uk/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.

 

Haldon Forest Park

EX6 7XR

01392 834251

Haldon Forest Park 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).

 

Hidden Woods

Near Norton St Philip
BA2 7NH

http://www.hiddenwoods.co.uk/

The Saplings outdoor toddler group is for parents and children aged 1-5 years. Each week the group take a short walk to one of their camps, where they take part in natural crafts, games, swinging in hammocks and on rope swings, camp fire cooking, singing, free-range play, relaxing by the fire or playing a mud kitchen. Please note that pre-booking is essential.

Mini Professors East Bristol

http://www.babysensory.com/en/miniprofessorsclassdetails/bristoleast

Classes for preschoolers with experiments, singing, stories and loads of fun.

Mini Professors East Bristol is run by Emily Hellewell – please see the website for more information.

Moors Valley Country Park

BH24 2ET

023 8028 3141

Moors Valley Country Park 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).

 

National Marine Aquarium

Rope Walk
Coxside
Plymouth
PL4 0LF

www.national-aquarium.co.uk

The National Marine Aquarium is a charity dedicated to driving marine conservation through engagement. They encourage everyone to play a part in the conservation of our ocean, and the Aquarium’s wide range of activities are focused on enabling as many of our visitors as possible to get involved and help protect our seas.

The following opportunities are available for pre-school children within the National Marine Aquarium:

Daily: throughout the aquarium they have a team of “Host” staff who will talk to visitors, answer questions and are on hand with interactive exhibits and fun activities. There is also a daily programme of talk, shows and feeds.

Weekly: Toddlers Mornings”.  Every Tuesday from 10.30 -12.30. With themed activities every week pre-schoolers can learn more about their oceans through games, activities and crafts. These drop-in sessions are free to Aquarium Members and for adults with Day Plus passes or general entrance to the Aquarium the sessions are £1 per child.

Term-time:  “Mermaid Challenge”  For visiting groups from nurseries and pre-schools: Prior to the visit children receive a letter from the resident Mermaid, Marina, inviting them to visit her. On the day of the visit the children are met by one of the Host team. The children then go off in groups led by their own staff, but at pre-arranged times for each group they “find” Marina and have a 20 minute interactive session with her where they have a  story, can ask her questions and can write/ draw some postcards. Based on pre-booked groups of 12 or more children, the cost is £5.75 per child.

School holidays: during all major school holidays and during half terms they run a series of themed activities for children, suitable for all ages. These include treasure hunts, crafts, themed activities/shows and competitions.

The building is fully accessible and has a café with soft play area.


Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Gloucestershire
GL2 7BT

01453 891900

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/

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).

 

Woodland Adventurers (including Westonbirt National Arboretum)

Wiltshire

http://www.woodlandadventurers.org/toddler-groups.html

“These sessions are deliberately flexible and child-led, aiming to enable your child to explore and use their imaginations through free play in a positive, safe and natural environment without high levels of structure.

The sessions are about building your child’s self confidence, self-esteem and self-belief, as well as social skills, in a relaxed environment.  The sessions aim to encourage, nurture and motivate children to explore their own learning through sensory experiences that are at one with nature.”

Box Address:  Woodland Adventurers®, Quarry Hill, Box, Wiltshire, SN13 0NS.

Westonbirt Arboretum Address:  Woodland Adventurers®, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Westonbirt, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8QS.

Marlborough Address:  Woodland Adventurers®, West Woods, near Clatford, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8

 

Westonbirt National Arboretum

Westonbirt
Tetbury
Gloucestershire
GL8 8QS

01666 880220

As well as hosting a Woodland Adventurer’s toddler group, Westonbirt National Arboretum 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).

 

Wild Things Bath

Alice Park
Larkhall
Bath
BA1 7BL

www.wildthingsbath.wordpress.com

Wild Things Bath run parent and toddler group for 2-5 year olds where they see fruits, vegetables and flowers being sown, growing and being harvested. They can be contacted at wildthingsbath@gmail.com.

 

Windmill Hill City Farm

Philip Street
Bedminster
Bristol
BS3 4EA

Farm Adventurers Stay and Play

Mondays 9.30am to 11.30am

For families with children under 5 years.

Drop in with space to accommodate 10 families at any one time – places are allocated on a first come first serve basis.

Cost: £5.00 per family (up to two children), £1.00 for any additional children (max 3 children per family).

These sessions are a fantastic introduction to Farm Adventurers.

Farm Adventurers

Tuesday to Friday mornings 9.15am to 12.15pm
Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons 1 pm to 4pm

A unique, all-year-round opportunity for children aged 2-5 years to experience nature play, including forest school, farming and growing and for parents to access courses and workshops at the City Farm.

More information is available in the Farm Adventurers flyer.

 

Wales

Forest Schools

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

 

Llanelli Wetland Centre

Llwynhendy
Llanelli
Carmarthenshire
SA14 9SH

01554 741087

www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/llanelli/

The WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre Learning department runs “Monday Munchkins” sessions for pre-school children every Monday during school term-time, 11am – 12pm. This is included in the admission price (free for WWT members). Each week follows a different theme, e.g. “dragonflies”, “baby birds”, “water”, “sounds and music”, and includes a series of guided learning activities around that theme, including games, stories, crafts, pond dipping, minibeast hunting and feeding birds. The activities are designed to get toddlers outdoors as much as possible – exploring, investigating, observing and gaining confidence interacting with nature and each other.

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).

 

National Botanic Garden of Wales

Llanarthe
Carmarthenshire
SA32 8HN

www.gardenofwales.org.uk/

For families with young children, the National Botanic Garden of Wales offers family visits, the Root and Shoots Adventure Zone and a Magical Mystery Tour of the most fun aspects of the Garden. Visitor information is available here.

 

Techniquest (Cardiff)

Stuart Street
Cardiff
CF10 5BW

029 2047 5476

www.techniquest.org

Techniquest run monthly Toddler Days during term-time, with a cost of £4.80 for accompanying adults and under 4s being admitted for free. There are additional activities, including storytime, colouring and craft tables, all aimed at encouraging young children to take their first steps in science.The bright colours on the exhibition floor appeal to young children, who are encouraged to explore. Techniquest is buggy-friendly, with nappy-changing facilities and lockers available.

 

Techniquest Glyndŵr

Glyndŵr University Campus
Mold Road
Wrexham
LL11 2AW

01978 293400

http://www.tqg.org.uk

TQG Discovery Centre offers monthly Toddler Days, each with their own theme and ‘make and take’ activities. Entry is £4 per child (or £3 for groups of 10+), with accompanying adults entering for free.

 

Online resources

CBeebies have a Grown-Up’s page with articles about many learning topics, including science-based activities such as gardening and learning about seasons.

 

Education.com has a list of pre-school science activity ideas (please note that these articles usually contain instructions for the activity and questions to ask children, but may not explain the science behind the activity for adults).

 

ExpeRimental from the Royal Institution includes activities that are suitable for 4 and 5 year olds.

 

Forestry Commission England has a family learning page, which links to online learning resources, while the days out with the kids page includes links to further downloadable resources.

 

Inspiration Laboratories have a science section with instructions and some basic background information for a variety of experiments.

 

Into the Woods Outdoor Nursery has a page of information about the benefits of outdoor play.

 

The National Trust’s list of 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ is designed to encourage kids to get mucky, discover their wild side and get closer to nature and contains some activities that are suitable for babies and toddlers.

 

Nature Detectives membership from the Woodland Trust is aimed at 5-11 year olds, but many of the online resources can be easily adapted for or used with younger children.

 

The Explore with Goodies page from Organix has ideas for activities, accompanied by interesting facts, which including exploring nature and growing herbs.

 

Science activities for babies and toddlers in different situations from PBS Parents.

 

The Science Museum have some education resources for 3-5 year olds.

 

Science from the Start activities posted on the project Facebook page are accompanied by scientific background information or links to further information.

 

Pre-school science experiments, with science information, from Science Sparks.

 

Sellafield provides online learning resources which start at age 4.

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