Focus on fun for kids at National Museum of Scotland

Fossil fuel for young minds at the National Museum of Scotland

Fossil fuel for young minds at the National Museum of Scotland

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SCHOOL’S out, and parents everywhere will be faced with the perennial dilemma of how to keep their children entertained and active during the half-term break.

Rather than switching on the TV or games console – a convenient solution as the bleaker weather looms – many will be keeping an eye out for fun-filled pursuits that might give youngsters a chance to try new things or discover a fresh 
passion. Summer schemes have been all the rage for 
some time, but what about 
autumnal activities?

The National Museum of Scotland has launched a week-long series of events aimed at inspiring and entertaining your brood.

Some of the activities at the Chambers Street venue include gallery safaris, an interactive time-travel experience – where kids make fossils and Ice Age mammal masks – and one of our 
national pastimes: golf.

To hone your swing or putting skils, professional golfers will be available at the museum offering technical advice to improve the game of budding Colin Montgomeries.

Alison Rae, learning officer for National Museums Scotland, said the museum was often overlooked as a child-friendly attraction.

She said: “The museum is a nice, free space to come and it’s very family friendly. All the programmes we put together are quite flexible and drop in, so that people don’t necessarily need to commit a whole day to come.

“They can drop in for an hour, even half an hour, and take part in an activity, which means they get something to take home to remind them of their visit.

“The activities that we offer always make some link to the collections, whether that’s our fossils or ancient Egypt.

“But because it’s experience-based learning in a hands-on way, they can get a lot out of it without feeling it’s too wordy.”

The museum’s half-term programme starts this afternoon, with the chance to explore ancient lands, people and animals through craft activities.

Themed safaris open on Monday, with small groups exploring the lives of the Vikings, Romans, Egyptians and other early civilisations.

Sixteen new galleries opened last year as part of a £47.5 million renovation project at the museum will be showcased.

Ms Rae said: “They’re short, family friendly, interactive treks. We take families through different galleries, pointing at different objects and interspersing it with stories.

“The safaris are quite short. It’s just little snapshots to get them into corners of the museum that they might not normally visit, but they would hopefully want to come back to.

“It’s just enough information to be able to take in without glazing over.”

For fans of the fairways, the museum’s event space will be transformed into a mini-golf course complete with putting challenge for the first time.

Leading professional Pamela Pretswell and Scotland Ladies’ golf team members Kelsey Macdonald, Jane Turner and Louise Kenny will be on hand to teach children the ins and outs of the game.

But holiday fun in the Capital is not limited to the buzzing National Museum for Scotland.

Lauriston Castle, which overlooks the Firth of Forth and Cramond Island, is using Halloween as a springboard for a catalogue of half-term activities starting Monday.

Children will be able to make their own witch or wizard’s hat, magic wand and trick-or-treat bag to get into the spirit of the festive holiday.

Visitors will also be able to collect objects from the property’s 30 acres of gardens to create a badge or brooch and build a temporary woodlands shelter.

Parents wishing to stick closer to the city centre have several options.

The Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile has also seized on the Halloween theme in running drop-in sessions from next Saturday introducing kids to ghouls and goblins.

The nearby Museum of Edinburgh is meanwhile inviting children to make a plaque, decoration or bookmark for the home out of embossed foil.

The concept has been spun off the museum’s extensive array of Edinburgh and Canongate silver.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival starts this Friday night at its award-winning facility on High Street and partner venues.

Highlights will include a day of storytelling about magical trees at Edinburgh’s Botanic Garden, and Irish fairy tales and Russian folklore at the festival’s hub.

Parents can also check out a novelty display at science centre Our Dynamic Earth on Holyrood Road.

A life-sized fibreglass cow will visit the facility this Thursday and Friday.

Children have the chance to name the animal and potentially win a replica version for their school, allotment or garden.

The unusual initiative is the brainchild of international development charity Send a Cow, which provides livestock, plant seeds and support to families in Africa in a bid to break the poverty cycle.

The charity will give the winning name to the first real cow it sends to an African family next year. often overlooked as a child-friendly attraction. She said: “All the programmes we put together are quite flexible and drop-in, so that people don’t necessarily need to commit a whole day to come.

“The activities that we offer always make some link to the collections, whether that’s our fossils or ancient Egypt.

“But because it’s experience-based learning in a hands-on way, they can get a lot out of it without feeling it’s too wordy.”

The museum’s half-term programme starts this afternoon, with the chance to explore ancient lands, people and animals through craft activities. Themed safaris open on Monday, with small groups exploring the lives of the Vikings, Romans, Egyptians and other early civilisations. Sixteen new galleries opened last year as part of a £47.5 million renovation project at the museum will be showcased.

Ms Rae said: “The safaris are quite short. It’s just little snapshots to get them into corners of the museum that they might not normally visit, but they would hopefully want to come back to.

“It’s just enough information to be able to take in without glazing over.”

For fans of the fairways, the museum’s event space will be transformed into a mini-golf course complete with putting challenge for the first time.

Leading professional Pamela Pretswell and Scotland Ladies’ golf team members Kelsey Macdonald, Jane Turner and Louise Kenny will be on hand to teach children the ins and outs of the game.

But holiday fun in the Capital is not limited to the buzzing National Museum for Scotland.

Lauriston Castle, which overlooks the Firth of Forth and Cramond Island, is using Hallowe’en as a springboard for a catalogue of half-term activities starting Monday.

Children will be able to make their own witch or wizard’s hat, magic wand and trick-or-treat bag to get into the spirit of the festivities.

Visitors will also be able to collect objects from the property’s 30 acres of gardens to create a badge or broach. They can even learn how to build a shelter in the woodlands.

Parents wishing to stay closer to the city can also visit The Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile which is running drop-in sessions for Hallowee’n introducing kids to ghouls and goblins.

The nearby Museum of Edinburgh is inviting children to make a plaque, decoration or bookmark from embossed foil.

Meanwhile, a life-sized fibreglass cow is looking for a name when it comes to Dynamic Earth on Holyrood Road on Thursday and Friday.

Youngsters can attempt to christen the plastic bovine and put themselves in with a chance of winning a replica version for their school, allotment or garden.

The unusual project is the brainchild of international development charity Send a Cow, which provides livestock, plant seeds and support to families in Africa in a bid to break the poverty cycle. The charity will give the winning name to the first real cow it sends to an African family next year.