With the summer holidays stretching out in front of us, we thought we’d share a few ideas for budget friendly activities for under 5’s in London. Whether it’s a big day out, a walk in the park, or a staying in kind of day, there’s always something to do, learn, play, or explore.
5 Cultural Days Out
1. The Science Museum
This well-known hotspot for children and families is a great place to get your kids excited about learning, with exhibitions suitable for all ages. It’s also situated between the V&A and the Natural History Museum, for a trifecta of London’s most famous free museums.
Cost: Free for the whole family. Additional costs for special exhibitions.
Booking required: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
2. Horniman Museum and Gardens
Based in Forest Hill, this museum is filled with natural history and anthropology, with interactive and child friendly exhibits. Downstairs there’s a small but special aquarium with tickets for just £5 per adult/£2.50 per child. Outside you can explore the spacious gardens and nature walks.
Cost: Free entry. Additional cost for aquarium, butterfly house, and special exhibitions.
Booking recommended for exhibitions: www.horniman.ac.uk
3. The Old Operating Theatre: Museum & Herb Garrett
For something a bit different, this 19th century medical museum is hidden up a spiral staircase in the heart of London Bridge. Europe’s oldest operating theatre is fully restored for visitors, and the attic museum is filled with artefacts from medical history. Though it can be a bit spooky, the museum is family-friendly with activities like a museum trail, colouring pages, and puzzles.
Cost: £7.50 for adults, free for under 5’s. Other concessions and deals may apply.
Booking recommended: www.oldoperatingtheatre.com
4. The Foundling Museum
A creative space filled with historic artefacts in what was once the Foundling Hospital, this museum is especially concerned with children and young visitors. Free family workshops are run periodically throughout the holidays and their current exhibition on Superheroes runs until the end of August.
Cost: Free for under 21s, £9.50 for adults. Concession tickets available.
Booking recommended: www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk
5. The Design Museum
A great introduction to creative thinking and design, situated in Holland Park. Their website also features several fun design activities for little ones to try at home.
Cost: Free for all the family with some paid exhibitions.
Booking not necessary: www.designmuseum.org
5 Activities in Nature
1. Scavenger Hunt
Whether you’re off to the park, the seaside, or the woods, write a list of ‘special’ things to find (e.g. leaf, stick, daisy) and explore the space with task in hand.
2. Drawing Nature
Bring some drawing materials with you on a day out and get creative with the natural world. What do you see? Hear? Feel? You could even combine this activity with the one above and sketch what you can find.
3. Yoga in the Park
Might seem ambitious, but yoga can help little ones to develop their motor skills, strengthen them, and improve flexibility as they grow. It also offers a chance to bond with each other and the natural world. There are many freely available online resources for safe stretches and postures for children.
Not patient enough for birdwatching? Try making your own guide of puppies at the park and see how many different types of dogs you can spot.
5. Make a Fairy Garden
At the woods or the beach, fairies need a place to relax too! Use found objects like twigs, flowers, shells, or pebbles to design a magical, mini garden.
5 Things to do at Home
1. Tiny Gardening
However much space you have, there’s always room for a little gardening. Put a little potting soil into a spare pot, or even a tin or jar and sprinkle in some cress seeds, water a little every day and watch it grow fast! If you have some garden space (and a little more patience), try planting other simple herbs and flowers.
2. Make Potions
Collect petals and herbs from your walks or garden, smush them up, and infuse them in water to make some sweet-smelling potions.
3. Pavement Chalk
Invest in some pavement chalk and get creative. Make some art, play hopscotch, or even use it to invent a new game.
4. Treasure Hunt
Hide some household items around your home (or just one room) see if your little one can find them all. Give them clues to help them find each item.
5. Put on a Performance
Act out a favourite book, make puppets and tell a story with them, choreograph a dance, and put on a show (even if only teddy is watching)!