I volunteer at my boys school and was asked to go along a trip with the reception class, that my son Joseph is in, to visit the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green in London.
Because it was a school trip I can not disclose any information on the children but I can talk about how I enjoyed the museum.
I have visited the museum a number of times before with my own children and as a child myself with my mum and it never stops amazing me.
The museum is as it name says is about childhood, it’s part of the Victoria and Albert and it has two floors of childhood related objects, which is basically ‘toys’. The toy collection includes dolls, teddy bears, trains and cars, dolls houses and furniture that range from the 1600’s to current time.
The Museum aims to develop an appreciation of creative design through their inspirational collections.
When I was a fashion student, back in the days lol, I used to visit the museum and draw certain toys that would inspire me to design outfits from. It’s funny how you can look at a ‘Buzz Lightyear’ and come up with a design for a dress.
The museum hosts four galleries;
This consists of 4 sections, Explore, Imagine, Be Inspired and Make it Happen. This is where you can use your imagination and be creative in the dressing up area. There is also a Sensory Pod where children can touch and feel different materials and explore the light section that change colours at the touch of a button.
In the creative category you will find toys such as Lego, dolls, puppets and toys based on tv programme’s ie; Thunderbirds.
There are educational objects on display like chemistry kits and musical instruments that are designed to develop mental and physical skills.
Moving Toys Gallery
This section also consists of 4 sections,
Look See, Circuits and Motors, Springs and Cogs and the last one Pushes and Pulls.
Here you can learn about science, design and technology from moving toys – the mechanisms include everything from cams and levers to the computer chips, how cogs work and magnetic force.
This section is quite hands on for the children, there are rocking horses for them to ride, robots to light up by connecting the cogs and winding it up by a handle and magnet faces to make by using a magnet to drag the metal shards that are inside a plastic box to the stencilled face.
This is great for their hand and eye coordination and the children and myself loved creating wacky faces.
Up stairs you will find the Childhood Galleries, this area cover 6 sections, Who will I be?, What we wear, How we learn, Home, Families and Babies.
This was my favourite gallery and really made me smile looking at all the huge dolls houses, it’s what every little girls wants and it’s certainly what I dreamt of having when I was young.
A baby’s life is a constant experience of developing and learning they can absorb and memorise many things, like the words to a song but play is one of the most important ways a baby will learn and explore.
There is an under 3’s play area where childen can role play with the dolls, cots and pull along animals.
I really enjoyed seeing the old fashion prams and seeing how they have changed from the years ago to now and also how teething aid was used for babies. Teethers were made of coral that was said to have ward away the evil. My little Oliver is teething at the moment and I’m not sure I would give him one of them as they look like they would cause more harm than good.
Temporary Exhibition Space
Now this one was the kids favourite, they had Punch and Judy puppet kiosk’s that the children could use to put on their own show, while the adults sit down and relax on the deckchairs and enjoy being entertained by the little ones.
You will also find a play pretend section with dressing up items, my little one particularly liked it in here as he could dress up as a wizard and stir the cauldron.
Play helps children to explore, experiment, it helps them to improve there emotional being. It’s an important part of a child’s life of where they learn.
Play helps with children’s curiosity which leads to discovery and creativity.
It helps them interact with other children and makes it fresh and exciting.
Children don’t need these new and expensive electronic devices that are out now, give a child a box and a cape and watch them create a whole new world of play for themselves.
My mum always said that she spent hours of fun playing marbles in the street.
We all need to play, it makes us happy and joyous maybe this is why I exited the museum like many others with a big smile on my face and head full of fond memories of my childhood and all the lovely toys I had and of the friends I played with when i was young and the games we played.
PLAY we all need it young and old!