21 May 2021

Why visit the Science Museum with kids in 2021?

We visited Science Museum in London right before the second lockdown. It is a fantastic place to take your kids to, lots of interactive features and almost all of it free. Prior to going I did however wonder how is it currently, how do the current restrictions work and is it corona-safe, so wanted to share my 2020 and 2021 experience with you guys. 

kids at science museum exhibitions

brass steel and fire exhibition science museum

kids at brass steel and fire exhibition

two kids making a stethoscope craft

Why you should visit the Science Museum with kids

This is a huge museum, with several floors and massive exhibitions. Some of the highlights for me were
  • Exploring Space: space equipment on the ground floor, like the full-size replica of the lander Armstrong and Aldrin had in 1969, an actual descent module from another space mission, and many more space things;
  • Mathematics: Winton Gallery on the Level 2 - a really fantastic exhibition and a fantastic place to take photos with a funky pink background (bloggers' gotta do what bloggers' do I suppose...);
  • Free activities for kids! There was the Pattern Pod (kids under 8), a fun interactive exhibition for kids with lots of video and electronics interactivity and the Garden (best for ages 3-6) with water play and other equipment.
  • Wonderlab - this is a paid for activity, spread over several zones and where you can interact with scientific experiments. I'd say best for 4 years or older. 3 and under are free. 
  • Fun and free workshops and shows for kids - during weekends and half-term usually. For example we did a functional stethoscope the last time. 
And obviously - it is a great place to visit as an adult without kids, you'll probably just not have quite as much interactive fun and will be more enjoying learning aspect and awesome huge exhibitions. 

How to get tickets?

I've found that since the museum is massive, it is quite easy to get tickets even with the current restrictions, BUT, if you want to get tickets to the interactive bits for kids, you HAVE TO be organised. They go very quick, and you have to book them well in advance, possibly even a month if you are planning a weekend date. 

When you book your tickets to the museum, it will also ask you if you want to book a free 20 minute slot to Pattern Pod, and to the Garden - make sure you do if you are bringing kids. 

For Wonderlab, you need to book separately and if you book for a visit before the 16th July 2021 you get an annual pass for the price of a day pass. At the time of writing all weekend slots are fully booked a month in advance so be quick. You will also need to book general entry tickets to the museum in addition to Wonderlab. 

All slots are timed so don't be late!

pattern pod entrance at science museum

dad and child at pattern pod science museum

kid at pattern pod exhibition

kid at pattern pod video show

What we thought of the safety measures

The ground floor was very very busy, but if you went up a level or two it got really very empty, so I'd definitely recommend that for added social distancing. There were definite gems on upper levels too. 

The entrance was very handy, all touch free and you could easily scan your tickets on your own. Lots of spaces for hand sanitisers. Everything was very clean, and employees cleaned the children's interactive bits (Pattern Pod and Garden) thoroughly between the sessions. 

And a little tip...

Natural History Museum (fantastic for kids!) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (better for teens and adults) are literally next door, like literally. It is just a couple minutes a walk from exit of one museum to the entrance of another, so if you want to maximise your time, book an additional museum visit. Natural History Museum tickets are being booked like hotcakes though so again, you need to be pretty prepared well in advance in these strange social distancing corona-times where space is limited.  

My top tips:
  • Upper floors are emptier, less people and less hustle and bustle. 
  • Book tickets well ahead of time if you want to go to Pattern Pod, The Garden or Wonderlab! They sell out quick, Wonderlab weeks in advance for weekends.
  • If you book a visit to happen before 16th July 2021, you can get the annual pass to Wonderlab for the price of a day entry
  • Half term usually means extra activities - last time we made a functional stethoscope!
  • If you have time, consider getting tickets also to Natural History Museum or Victoria and Albert Museum - they are literally next door to the Science Museum
  • South Kensington Station (closest to the museums) is closed for Piccadilly line until March 2022 - but you can still reach it with Circle or District. 

Have you been to the Science Museum with kids?

You might also like: What is SEAlife London Aquarium like for kids?

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ticket entrance to science museum london

floating earth in science museum

challenger descent module at science museum

mathematics gallery at science museum

mathematics gallery at science museum london

kid posing at science museum

Why visit London Science Museum with kids - best tips on what to do and see from 2021 onwards

Best tips for visiting London Science Museum with kids in 2021 and onwards

How to make the most of your visit to the Science Museum in London and kids

How London Science Museum is like in 2021, and how safe is it to visit with corona restrictions

19 May 2021

What I've been up to in 2021 during my blogging break

Well hasn't it been a while!

While internet will never miss one woman, I've missed writing my blog. But alas, time (or rather, the lack of it) is the issue. So I took a somewhat unplanned five month blog break. I've been more active over on my Instagram, which is a bit quicker and easier to update. 

mum and daughters at kew gardens with pink blooms

During that blog break I have been, and we have been busy. In that time we have done lots of big house renovations - a roof replacement, two sky lights put in, windows replaced, house exterior painted, a total bathroom renovation with new pipes put in, oh, and a new boiler. There are still some small niggling issues to sort in the house and after they have been sorted the next renovation plan is to tackle the garage and garden. I am very much looking forward to all of this finishing as it is a major pain in the arse and disruptive in every way possible. While living in a period house has its moments, it is a lot of hard work. 

There was of course homeschooling too during the third lockdown. Less said about that the better ha ha! 

Now that places are again opening up I have been busy booking us all kinds of places. Our Saturdays are fully booked until July actually - and I've already booked a few August and Christmas things too! Museums, English Heritage places, weekend trips, art exhibitions - all kinds. Feeling like I may have gone a bit overboard after being limited to our Local Authority area too long, nice and green that it is, I have still missed going to the Big Smoke. 

Now that I am finally back here writing, which to be honest, I really have missed, I'm looking forward to writing about all the things we are starting to get up to, as well as finally finishing the dozens and dozens of drafts I have lingering in my folders... 

And if I do manage to get to the bottom of my draft bin you might find some very non-current content such as the monthly baby development pictures I took of my now three year old daughter that I was meant to publish and then, just never did. We shall see! On more current things there is our visit to the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Sky Garden, Wrest Park, Audley End and so on, so on - all lovely places and fun days out I'd love to share!

family photo at kew gardens

19 December 2020

24 great Christmas books for kids I recommend

Looking for things to read with the kids this Christmas? Here are some of my favourite Christmas books for kids. I love kids books - they are great little gifts, they are fantastic learning tools and they are fun, and in the best books, the stories and illustrations are a delight to adults too. I love children's Christmas books, they always get me in a Christmas mood and I love reading them to my kids over December. So if you are looking for some Christmas book ideas for kids - here is some inspiration for a book advent calendar, or a Christmas gift, or just a special Christmas-time bedtime story. 

I've started with picture books and books for slightly older kids, and at the bottom included my favourite baby and toddler Christmas books. I've added links to the book recommendations as well. These are affiliate links, which means if you buy through these links I get a few pennies at no extra cost to you. 

If you need a fast delivery... I've got Amazon Prime, and you can get a free 30-day trial through this link if you live in UK and this link if you live in US! I've had it two years now and love it for quick free deliveries, and the added benefit of streaming films, TV shows and music. 

kids christmas books on wrapping paper

1. How Winston delivered Christmas: A Christmas Story in Twenty-Four-and-a-Half Chapters. (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

This is a really sweet story of a mouse who finds a letter to Santa and sets out to deliver it. The book is meant to be read one chapter at a time, and there is on chapter until Christmas. Every chapter includes a Christmassy craft/bake/task, so gives you ideas for Christmas activities too. Cute illustrations. 

I'd recommend this to kids aged 5-9, especially craft-loving kids. Great book to include as the 1st book in a book advent due to the format. 

2. Peter Rabbit: Christmas is Coming: A Christmas Countdown Book (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

The stories are inspired by Beatrix Potter's original stories. Similar format as the Winston book - so 24 short stories to be read each day, and an activity to do, so perfect to have from the beginning of December. Adorable stories and illustrations, and the activities are simple to do with kids, so shouldn't take long to set up. 

3. Aliens love Panta Claus (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

This is such a funny book - it is about panty-obsessed aliens who foil Santa's delivery of gifts and insist on giving pants as gifts and decorating everything with kids. It is surreal and silly, definitely kiddy-type of humour. I think it appeals well to kids potty-training and upwards, up to the age of 7. 

4. The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Again, this is a type of book that appeal to kids because they are just so silly. And talk about poop which is even sillier. 

5. Mog's Christmas (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Mog is such a Christmas classic - the illustrations are beautiful and it has that old-fashioned feel many of us parents remember from our own childhoods. The book I have is the 2015 charity version made for Sainsburys, and difficult to find now, but you can buy the original Mog's Christmas (to which I've provided links to) in any major bookstore and it is just as charming a story. My kids love it, and it does have a great appeal to young kids who love animals. I'd recommend this for kids 2-6 years of age. 

6. Pick a Pine Tree (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

I like that this isn't about Santa or elves, but about picking a Christmas tree and decorating it. Perfect book to introduce before you are going to get a tree! Illustrations are gorgeous and very detailed. There is also a beautiful glittering pop-up of a decorated Christmas tree on the last page. It is American English so may grate some British readers - although I doubt kids would notice. The rhyming for the most part is snappy and well done, but a couple of rhymes are a bit odd - like bow with robes. Overall I would recommend this for ages 3-8. 

7. Santa's Sleigh is on its way to my house (Hometown / Eric James )

It is a cute story and illustrations. We have the London-specific book and Santa flies across London and all the major landmarks are shown - really nice when you love here. The story includes the Santa delivering the presents and then hiding in the house as the kid wakes up at night and goes downstairs - it is quite funny! You can get this book as a generic copy or specifying some cities - surprisingly many actually! Up to 120, in US, Canada, and UK. Well worth a short Google session or check the links I provided. 

8. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Such a classic. What more can I say? I love the illustrations and the story is such a great narrative about finding your Christmas spirit. 

children's christmas books

christmas books for kids

9. The Crayon's Christmas (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Oliver Jeffers' books are just delightful. If you have read his previous Crayon books, this one continues the same stories, which is a nice touch. This books stands alone, but if you are a fan of his work, this is a nice little connection between books. There are lots of activities, pop-up Christmas tree and it is a very fun and exciting book. 

10. Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Supersweet story about one of the reindeers. We all know about Rudolph, but how about the others? This is about Dasher and how he came to be with Santa. 

11. The Empty Stocking (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Richard Curtis's story, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb - love both. The story is about twins, one is naughty and the other nice, and what happens when Santa leaves one an empty stocking... Great story, and perfect for siblings!

12. Last Stop on the Reindeer Express (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

The illustrations are stunning and the story magical with pages with doors that open - and the story would be helpful for any child that doesn't get to spend the Christmas together with loved ones. 

13. The Polar Express (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Another classic story, of a boy whisked to Christmas magic on Christmas Eve. It has also been made into an animated film. 

14. One Snowy Night (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

I really like this book and my kids love it too. It is about a hedgehog who gets a Christmas gift, but it doesn't quite fit him so he tries to give it to his friends - a lovely story about friendship and kindness. Kids also love to feel the felted hat on each page. 

15. The Jolly Christmas Postman (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Fantastic and a classic activity book, with folder letters and games. You would probably have to supervise your kids with this so they don't lose the letters, as those are the ones that really make this. Adorable illustrations. 

16. One Christmas Wish (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

I love anything by Katherine Rundell, one of my favourite children's authors. This book has somewhat Nutcracker vibes, and gorgeous illustrations. More of a bigger book to read, so would work well for young readers starting with chapter books. 

17. Little Robin Red Vest (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Adorable illustrations, of a robin that gives his vests away. A great story about kindness and gift giving. 

18. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Another classic classic book of Christmas. There are so many versions of this book, I prefer the slightly old-fashioned illustrations as I think they add to the character of the book. Perfect one to read on Christmas Eve, as it is about Santa arriving to your house... 

kids books for christmas

Babies and toddlers

19. Spot's First Christmas (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

I find for toddlers and babies, they get really into some characters and love them more than others. Spot seems to be one of the ones that all kids love - it is a cute little puppy dog. This is a short flap book that toddlers will love. 

20. That's Not My Reindeer (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Who doesn't love these touchy feely books That's Not My... by Usborne for the little ones! We have the reindeer one but I know there are ones with a Santa, a snowman and a penguin too if you would prefer one of those. The final page reveals 'your' reindeer, after many others with touchy-feely fuzzy coats or shiny noses and so on. 

21. Peppa' Christmas Jumper Day (Amazon UK)

I am not sure if Christmas Jumper Day is a specifically English tradition - but this book is a great introduction to the idea for little ones, and how your jumper can be home-crafted as well. Peppa's old jumper fits George, but since she hasn't got one and they don't have time to go to the shop, Daddy Pig fashions Peppa a Christmas jumper himself. 

22. Peppa's Christmas (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

Cute story and great for little Peppa Pig fans! Peppa and George spot Santa on Christmas Night - great one to read on Christmas Eve to get kids excited!

23. Dear Santa (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

A traditional flap book from the creator of Dear Zoo - it is exactly the same format but with Santa! My toddler loves this one, just as much as she loves Dear Zoo. 

24. Peep Inside a Fairy Tale: The Nutcracker (Amazon UK / Amazon US)

I love Usborne books - they are always really well made with plenty of areas of interest for kids. This is a board book and includes plenty of peep holes showing the next page scenes, there is also one flap. The Nutcraker is such a great Christmas classic as well and great to see at ballet with kids. As it's a board book great for babies and toddlers, but the story and illustrations are suitable for pre-schoolers too. 

So plenty of books to choose from - I hope these gave you some ideas! Most of the links are for Amazon so if you need a fast delivery, Amazon Prime is great.  You can get a free 30-day trial through this link if you live in UK and this link if you live in US! 

I'd love to hear if you have any Christmas book recommendations for kids too! What is your favourite one?

You might also like: How to do a Christmas book advent calendar

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