Everything in the Early Years toolkit

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    Early Years film

    Museum of London

    Be a fly on the wall and discover how children under three learn in museums. This will take you behind the scenes of the Museum of London Docklands' early years programme.

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    Museums as spaces for curiosity and conversation

    Article by Jo Graham

    Can you be too young to visit a museum? In this article Jo Graham explains how young children learn and the opportunities this presents for museums and their programmes.

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    Neuroscience and early childhood development

    Article by Ruth Churchill Dower

    Young brains need to be nurtured. Ruth Churchill Dower explains why it is important for us to understand neuroscience and the role our venues can play in early brain development.

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    The many lives of the Swatch

    Case study by Tate

    Thinking of developing a gallery resource for under 5s? Tate created Swatch, a self-directed resource to increase engagement with underrepresented families at their sites.

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    Family-friendly gallery interventions

    Case study by the Museum of London

    How can you make your galleries more family friendly? The Museum of London Docklands created pockets of playfulness within their existing spaces.

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    Early Years Atelier

    Case study by the Whitworth

    Less is more when working with under 5s! Explore the Whitworth's hands-on Early Years Atelier, inspired by the philosophy of Reggio Emilia.

  • A child uses a tablet computer at a British Museum family session.

    Digital learning at the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre

    Case study by the British Museum

    How can technology be used meaningfully with under 5s? Find out how the British Museum’s dedicated under 5s sessions use technology, including micro robots and tablets, to deepen visitors' engagement with their collection.

  • An under-5-year-old smiling in a soft play area.

    Evaluating the impact: How can we tell young children are learning?

    Article by Jan Dubiel

    Dive into the theory of how young children learn and how you can spot it happening, and hear how the Museum of London Docklands apply this understanding when planning activities.

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    Stories from the Torah: Noah and the Ark schools workshop

    Case study by the Jewish Museum

    Explore how the Jewish Museum tailored an offer for Foundation Stage schools using storytelling and object handling to engage young children with their collection.

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    Say it with Makaton

    Case study by Great North Museum: Hancock

    Discover how the Great North Museum: Hancock trialled the use of Makaton to provide a welcoming and accessible environment and engage a wider range of family visitors.

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    A recipe for muddy fun with under 5s

    Case study by the Horniman Museum and Gardens

    The Horniman Museum and Gardens experimented with drop-in and open-ended play opportunities for families by creating their very own Mud Kitchen in their gardens!

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    Singing and stories at London Transport Museum

    Case study by the London Transport Museum

    The London Transport Museum encouraged families to explore their permanent galleries, working with Artburst to develop singing and story sessions for under 5s.

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    Delivering Storytime with your Visitor Experience team

    Case study by the Museum of London

    The Museum of London Docklands have proven that working with your Visitor Experience department can enhance the breadth and quality of your under 5s progamme.

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    Toddler Takeover

    Case study by Great North Museum: Hancock

    Turn toddlers into curators and conservators! Explore the Great North Museum: Hancock's Toddler Takeover, part of Kids in Museums annual Takeover Day.

  • Fitzwilliam

    Nobody puts baby in a corner!

    Case study by the Fitzwilliam Museum

    Learn the importance of listening to your youngest visitors! The Fiztwilliam developed their Baby Magic sessions in response to a need for more options for babies.

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    #My Manchester Museum

    Case study by Manchester Museum

    Manchester Museum worked with their local library to deliver a series of events to better understand their local family audiences.

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    GoPro gallery patrol

    Case study by Great North Museum: Hancock

    What does a toddler see when they totter around the galleries? Here's what happened when the Great North Museum: Hancock gave toddlers GoPros!

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    Over the hills and far away - The Jolly Postman learning programme

    Case study by the Postal Museum

    Find out how the re-opening of the Postal Museum offered the opportunity to develop a brand new literary learning programme for schools.

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    Creative explorers: Facilitating family creativity and wellbeing

    Case study by Islington Museum

    How can you facilitate family wellbeing in a museum? Islington Museum delivered a collaborative research project for families experiencing mental health challenges.

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    Mini engineers: Science for under 5s

    Case study by National Museums Scotland

    Explore how National Museums Scotland developed a STEM session suitable for school and family groups, using stories and songs to make connections with their collection.

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    Developing Palace Explorers at Fulham Palace

    Case study by Fulham Palace

    Find out how Fulham Palace reviewed the quality of their under 5s offer and increased community awareness through their Palace Explorers programme.

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    Developing early years exhibitions through open-ended play

    Case study by the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

    Find out how the Herbert worked with their Visitor Experience department on their most recent annual exhibition for under 5s, A Very Viking Voyage.

  • A child's paint-covered hand at a messy play session.

    Messy play

    Museum of London

    A river Thames made out of apple sauce, shaving foam and food colouring? Hear how the Museum of London Docklands encourages families to get messy, and why it’s so important.

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    Evaluating provision for under 5s

    Museum of London

    Recommendations for evaluating provision for under 5s, including how evaluation has influenced the Museum of London's programming over the last 10 years.

  • A child enjoys a soft play session.

    Marketing to the parents and carers of under 5s

    Museum of London

    Looking for guidance on how to advertise your offer? This guide explains how to better understand your audiences and how best to reach them, whether you have little to no budget or if you have money to spend.

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    Sample Resources

    Museum of London

    A collection of handy sample resources for working with under 5s, from a messy play handout for first time attendees, to risk assessment and evaluation templates.

  • An under-5-year-old uses a self-directed resource at the Museum of London Docklands.

    Self-directed resources for families with children under 5

    Museum of London

    Self-directed resources offer a way for families with children under five to feel welcome, comfortable and supported while visiting a museum or gallery. Take inspiration from the Museum of London’s family resources – including a baby sensory mat!

  • A child touches a guitar at a session for under-5s.

    The early years programme at the Museum of London

    Museum of London

    From weekly baby and toddler sessions, to special pirate-themed summer shows and a two-day Toddler Takeover festival weekend, find out how the Museum of London run their programme.

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    Top tips

    Museum of London

    Explore the Museum of London's top tips for working with under 5s. Discover what resources are must-haves, how to make the most of gallery visits and more.

  • A father and son play together at an under-5s session.

    Lessons learnt

    Museum of London

    In this piece, the Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands reflect on over nine years of running an early years programme and share the key lessons we have learnt.

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    Useful links

    Museum of London

    A list of websites, publications and projects that have proven useful when working with under 5s at the Museum of London.