Today’s post is written by our Learning Content Developer, Rozy Macaulay.
At the National Railway Museum we have been busy developing a new and exciting space for our youngest visitors to discover the world of railways and our collection through play. We are visited by lots of families with young children, many of whom come back time and time again.
Several years ago we started running play sessions for children under 5. Every afternoon an area in the museum was taken over by toy trains, railways, building blocks, stories, dressing up and shouts of ‘Choo Choo’. It was wonderful to see so many young children enjoying playing surrounded by our locomotives. It seemed only right that we built on the popularity of these sessions and provided a dedicated space for families with young children.
The play area in Great Hall before the redesign.
The new ‘Little Play Station’ contains four zones; Explore, Build, Move and Pretend.
Explore is especially for our very youngest visitors; 0-2 years old. It contains a soft pod where little ones can look, touch, move, push, pull, turn, and explore with toys and an interactive wall panel in the shape of a train.
In the Build zone children can dress up in hard hats and hi-visibility jackets and build their own version of Stephenson’s Rocket.
Children can play with and create their own wooden railway layouts in the Move area. This includes a new low table layout and a wall-mounted track.
The track table and ‘build a rocket’ feature
The play pod in use. Little Play Station sits very near some of our Great Hall locos
Children can Pretend to be drivers or passengers in our final zone; our very own Railway Station for children to dress up, sell tickets, make announcements and imagine journeys.
Not only is all of this lots of fun but the activities have been carefully chosen and designed encourage children’s development. They provide opportunities for children to play in different ways encouraging social, physical and language development in particular. We also hope that the area will inspire families to explore the rest of the museum and our collection.
The Little Play Station is now open every day so please drop in and play!