Chocolate making at the Chocolate Museum

chocolate museumHow have I never heard of the Chocolate Museum, I mean chocolate and museum, errrr, two of the best things in life all rolled into one.  I was so excited when I found it on the family app Hoop I just knew we had to check it out.  First off it’s in Brixton which is a fun place to visit in itself, so much creativity in the streets and a place that’s always buzzing, it was really nice to get to this neck of the woods after such a long time.  The museum is on a really nice road with a load of cool restaurants, shops and hangouts so we didn’t need to go much further.  We had such a friendly welcome to the Chocolate museum, the staff are so enthusiastic and great with kids.  We first ventured down stairs to check out the museum, its super small but ideal as an introduction to chocolate before you start your chocolate making.  We were then asked to order our ingredients, we chose ganache, fudge, chocolate sprinkles and 100s and 1000s.  It was then time to make the filling, I was amazed my 4 year old didn’t tuck straight in, and really got involved in the task at hand.  We had such fun and got totally messy in the process.  We then had to cool the chocolate to the right temperature and dip all our fillings into it, loads more mess, loads more laughs.  I think my daughter at this point just repeatedly kept saying ‘when it’s cool we can eat it’ she was pretty excited and getting pretty impatient, fair enough though, I was feeling the same.  Lastly we used the remaining chocolate to fill our heart and teddy bear moulds which would be put on sticks.  We got to take home so many chocolates, with cute packaging provided they make ideal gifts so think we will be sharing these out with the grandparents, without the kids knowing of course, ha.

Our verdict

We had the best time, getting totally covered in chocolate and just having a whole heap of fun and the chocolates are absolutely delish.

Tips if you visit

You absolutely must order yourself a Hot Chocolate, possibly one of the best I have ever tasted, and definitely take a load of wipes, which most parents usually have on hand anyhow but me however….massive parent fail!!

The dropping in sessions run from 12-5 on a Saturday and tickets cost £15 for one adult and child.  For that you get all the ingredients and a whole heap of chocolates in packaging to take home.  Book your tickets easily through the Hoop app  https://hoop.co.uk/the-chocolate-museum/

 

Snow Baby at the Half Moon Theatre

snow baby 2We were very excited, in collaboration with Hoop, to check out this performance aimed at 3+ year olds. My 4 year old Ivy has only recently been introduced to the theatre so this felt like the perfect show to keep the theatre buzz alive. The theatre, located in Limehouse East London, is quite a beauty and their family friendly offerings are really good. Snow Baby is a show which explores family and love and loss.  It was magical!  A one woman show, which I found mighty impressive, that managed to hold Ivy’s attention for the whole 50 minutes (perfect timing for a fidgety 4 year old by the way). Happy Days! The story is of Doris and Bear Man, a couple in love, who live on a hill alone but happy and when Bear Man disappears Doris has to survive by herself surrounded by forest, bad weathers and crows. A moving story told through the use of beautiful music, puppetry and plenty of interaction. The props included confetti, party hats and flowers, all of which the kids could get their hands on. The snow, crows and glitter dust thrown about the stage by fans was particularly mesmerizing and yes I had a little tear in my eye throughout but there was a whole lot of laughter too with funny bits also thrown in.

Our verdict

We absolutely loved it!! Ivy’s favourite bit was the dancing in the snow, mine was the goose bump music and the wedding. A really lovely experience and with tickets costing only £7 each we will absolutely be going back to see other performances.

This was a one off performance but there are future shows aimed at ages 3+ which you can book via Hoop now.  Rise and Fall, where you will meet all manner of balloons from small floating moons to vast bouncing orbs, is showing on 19th January and Susannah and the Sunflower, a tale about Susannah who sets out on a fantastical shadow adventure, following in the footsteps of Jack and the Beanstalk, is on 26th January.

The Incurably Curious Afternoon Tea at the Wellcome Collection

wellcome collectionOk so I love an afternoon tea but once you’ve been to two or three you’ve kind of been to them all right. Well apparently not, last week we got invited to the Incurably Curious Afternoon Tea at the Wellcome Collection and boy was I curious. I absolutely love it when museums add to their experience and this was just a fabulous addition to this great free museum that explores medicine, life and art. Located in a beautiful green room with various artworks on the wall, we were treated to the most eccentric, fun experience. It started off with their very own lemonade, inspired by the man himself Henry Wellcome, which was totally unique and refreshing, followed by my personal fave, brain cake, yes a brain on a plate, sounds hideous, tastes like you would not believe. The brightest looking cocktails and a panna cotta served in an egg personally picked out of an egg box were additional highlights, all served by the very helpful staff. On top of that there were scrumptious savouries including fish, egg and coronation chicken, tasty sweets in the form of chocolate and carrot cake and this was all before we had even hit the scones. Oh my they were good! Oh and tea, how could I forget the tea. With a selection of 11 teas to choose from that’ll be your hardest decision of the day. That and how you’re going to roll yourself home. A brilliant experience which is now totally on my gift list for someone I think would enjoy something a little different from the norm.

Would I take kids?

To be totally honest probably not, although they were very welcoming to my two I think this is one for the adults to enjoy, plus there’s a load of crockery about!

The Incurably Curious Afternoon Tea costs £30 per person. There is an additional cost of £8 for the cocktails or £5 for Prosecco.

What’s on Christmas…

Christmas

Step aboard for Festive Family Fun at the LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM.  Families can enter a magical forest, with twinkling lights and trees and visit Santa’s Secret Christmas Cabin.  Or track him down in one of the Museums heritage vehicles for a Super Santa Selfie, and enjoy storytelling sessions and create special bunting to take home.  Get nostalgic with the Museums Festive Fun display of fabulous vintage London transport posters celebrating Christmas activities such as ice skating, walking and shopping. An absolute delight. Running up to 6th January.

The POSTAL MUSEUM will be featuring a festive twist on the Mail Rail Ride. From wartime wives wishing husbands Merry Christmas from afar, to the broadcast of the first King’s Speech on the BBC, the new projection is set to get you into the Christmas spirit in a very unique way. There will also be Christmas Craft and Making. Whether its seasonal stationary, personalized present sacks or socks, you will have the chance to get crafty in artist-led workshops and more across the Christmas season. And to top it all off, there will be storytelling. Step back in time with storyteller Olivia Armstrong, and discover the story behind the invention of the Christmas card in this enchanting, interactive storytelling session. Events running throughout December.

Join the NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM for a special chocolate decoration workshop in collaboration with The Chocolate Museum, family-friendly performances telling the stories behind Christmas postcards sent by soldiers and their loved ones during the First World War, make your own festive greetings cards inspired by the First World War Christmas cards in their collection and learn how to create your own drawing of the 1914 Christmas Truce, inspired by First World War cartoons in their collection. Varied dates throughout December.

Take a trip back in time at MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS to the London of Dicken’s day for Christmas this year. Walk through their amazing Sailortown gallery, a vivid recreation of a Victoria Street bedecked with frost, holly, mistletoe and the sound of Christmas carols being sung in the distance to match white Christmas of yesteryear as imagined by author Charles Dickens. Then meet Santa himself in his grotto, and receive a traditional toy from him (as long as you have been nice this year!) This is running to 23rd December, advanced booking essential.

Santa is also ready to meet you at MUSEUM OF LONDON too. Take a stroll through a twinkling Victorian Walk, transformed with festive decorations and the sound of carols in the distance, and discover Santa in his secret grotto. Once you’ve found him, tell Santa your Christmas wishes and receive a special gift.

Its Festive Play Session time at the V&A for under 5’s. Take part in a free multi-sensory play session inspired by The 12 Days of Christmas. These sessions are running Wednesdays to Fridays throughout December from 5th.  They are also running festive themed family friendly pop-up performances on Saturdays and festive design workshops on Sunday.

Head over to the GEFFRYE MUSEUM for their Christmas Makers Market on 8th December. Enjoy the twinkling of the Christmas tree and live music with some hot street food in hand. There will be workshops and activities for families under cover at this family friendly event in their beautiful garden.

Join SIR JOHN SOANES MUSEUM for their free Christmas Crafts on 8th December. Using marble techniques make beautiful cards and gift tags ready for Christmas. Go along for a mince pie and get in the festive spirit whilst creating something to make your friends and family smile.

Step into a world of festive delights at TATE BRITAIN’S free Winter Fair on 15th December. Discover unique gifts, drop into a talk or tour and don’t miss the English National Opera perform. With delicious festive food and mulled wine this is the great seasonal treat for all.

Get cracking at the WALLACE COLLECTION on 15th December and make your own Christmas crackers inspired by the Wallace Collection. This is a free event.

Have yourself a horrible little Christmas at DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY on 15-16th December. Join Horrible Histories for an interactive workshop brought to you by the Birmingham Stage Company, exploring how Christmas was celebrated in the time of the Tudors, Victorian era, and the Dark Ages. Be prepared to act out different scenes, sing silly songs, and have a horrible time! Before or afterwards you can also join in the Horrible Christmas Crafting drop-in. Tickets available online.

Meet Father Christmas at the RAF MUSEUM on 15-16th December. Father Christmas is camping out in their Nissen Hut, surrounded by their First World War aircraft. Every child will have the chance to meet the big man in this special First World War era grotto. Tickets available online. There will also be Christmas storytelling. A brave robin battles through storms and other dangers in a quiet English garden. After quite an adventure he arrives just in time for Christmas to find the family who live there who have been looking for him. Expect some crafty Christmas participation – making paper chains and homemade snow flakes, decorating the tree, join in dancing the ‘Hokey Cokey’ and ‘Knees up Mother Brown’ and sing along to festive Christmas carols.

Get all festive at the WILLIAM MORRIS GALLERY on 16th December. Inspired by Polish Wycinanki paper craft, decorate your own lantern to take home. This is a free event.

The FOUNDLING MUSEUM are hosting a special family concert on 16th December. Follow the journey of a little elf from European folklore. Join accordian and piano duo Duoende for a magical melodic adventure. Then pop along to a free workshop and get ready for Christmas by creating your own festive elf ears inspired by the concert.

Discover a new take on the twelve days of Christmas at the MUSEUM OF BRANDS over the holidays, with their family trail. Hunt around the Time Tunnel for Christmas themed clues amongst 150 years of packaging on display. Available all day during the festive period.

Share stories, dream and play at TATE MODERN from 19th December. Take a moment to sit back, relax and read together in their storytelling oasis for families of all ages, and discover lots of new books and exciting stories celebrating voices of colour. Drop in anytime between 12-5pm to read books together, listen to readings by their fab storytellers at story time at 1pm or read aloud at 3pm. This is a free event running until 30th December.

 

MAMA’s Museum Christmas Gift Guide

Ho Ho Ho!!!! Just 5 little weeks people, wahhhh and if you’re like me and totally disorganised I have created the perfect little gift guide for all your needs, look no further, museums have it covered…

GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS…

Girls

Tatty Devine Gin necklace £40 Museum of London

Chatty Feet Yayoi Toesama socks £8.50 Tate

William Morris notebook £10.99 British Museum

And Mary Porcelain Leopard earrings £45 V&A

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOYS…

Boys

Space Invader socks £6 V&A

Field Notes Shenandoah Notebooks £8.99 National Army Museum

Simon Carter Way In Way Out cufflinks £49.99 London Transport Museum

NASA Hoodie £40 Royal Museums Greenwich

DOWN WITH THE KIDS…

Kids.JPG

The Jungle Book £9.99 Museum of Childhood

Children’s Colour in Space T-shirt £12.95 Science Museum

Dinosaur Tail £20.00 Natural History Museum

Colour Changing wellies £18 National Maritime Museum

HOME SWEET HOME…

Home

Oxo Measuring Jug £16 National Army Museum

London Underground Lightbox £40 London Transport Museum

Dali & Picasso Salt & Pepper Pots £20 Tate

Skull mug £6.99 British Museum

AND FOR EVERYONE ELSE…

Everyone

X Hype Astronaut Backpack £40 Science Museum

Low Battery Enamel Pin Badge £7.50 V&A

Shadow Brush No.1 Daily Planner A5 £33 Design Museum

David Shrigley Opening Hours Mug £10 Tate

And that just leaves me to say HAPPY CHRISTMAS ya lovely lot!!!!

 

What’s on Half Term

Postal Museum picThe POSTAL MUSEUM invites you to discover surprising characters and wonderful words through writing this half term.  Join them for a fun filled programme of activities for kids of all ages spanning arts, crafts and illustrator led workshops.  Drawing inspiration from The Postal Museums stories, kids can experiment with calligraphy and papermaking, or create their very own character with help from a storybook illustrator.  In the galleries, brilliant pop up performances will bring exhibits to life recounting some of the most remarkable tales from their postal past.  Also while you’re there hop on the Mail Ride and go checked out Sorted! their brilliant play area. Activities take place daily from 20-28th October.

 

Get down the CUTTY SARK for their She Tells Sea Tales – Adventure is Out There storytelling.  Brace yourself for tales of adventure, mermaids and storms in a teacup.  If you are feeling inspired by their stories join them in the Sammy Ofer Gallery to make your own adventure kid suitcase or create your own animated sea story with Chocolate Films.  These events are running from 22-27th October.

 

At the IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM this half term, families have a very special opportunity to meet war veterans and eyewitnesses, including those who lived through the Second World War and the Cold War, to hear their personal stories of conflict.  On selected days over the school summer holidays, veterans will recount tales of their wartime life, giving families first-hand insights into the causes of war and its impact on peoples lives.  This is a free, drop in event running on Tuesday 23rd October and Thursday 25th October.

 

Head to the NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM where you can get creative and construct your own signalling device, learn how soldiers send and decipher secret signals with telescopes and heliographs, make a paper poppy to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, and take your toddlers to a session of stories and song all about communicating with telescopes and signals. Events are free and running from 21st – 28th October.

 

This half term bring your family and friends to the NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY for an art extravaganza.  Celebrate the worlds biggest drawing festival from The Campaign for Drawing with their team of artists and take part in activities across the gallery which include Tracing a face, Drawing with Thread, making your own optical illusion and creating a portrait with objects in a cyanotype workshop. This is a free drop in workshop on the 25th October from 11am.

 

It’s Storytime and Make and Take at the LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM this half term.  Join them for a story time session to commemorate the end of WW1 and meet an important bus driver, Joe Clough, who went from driving the Route 11 in East London to driving an ambulance in France, and, create your own changing picture and celebrate the arrival of the Battle Bus to the museum.  This is running from 20-28th October. 

 

Roll up! Roll up! Celebrate 250 years of the circus at the MUSEUM OF LONDON in a surprising and engaging 20 minute science show.  Be prepared for tricks, pops and daring acts of courage and they’ll need your help as they make their spring-loaded cannon work, perfect the pressure for our bed of nails and much more!  This is a free event, advanced booking recommended and there are three sessions per day running from 20-28th October. 

 

Join the HORNIMAN MUSEUM for family art fun craft activities.  Make a fox or rabbit puppet on strings or  make a headdress complete with bouncing bats.  These events are free and are running Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday through half term.   

 

Party like a Pirate this half term at the V&A MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD.  See a pirate adventure on the high seas pop up performance or join fun, pirate-themed workshops such as creating your own pirate character, costume and bandana and decorate a pirates ship.  These events are running 20-28th October.

 

Join the SCIENCE MUSEUM for a free family festival celebrating the exciting and diverse ways in which engineers change the world.  Activities include getting hands on with fun activities run by engineers, trying your hand at welding edible chocolate creations, control your friends muscles using electric currents and sending signals around the world and putting people up into space in their brand new interactive show, Problem Solved!  This is a free event running from 20-28th October.

 

Check out the NATIONAL GALLERY for some hands on art workshops.  Work together as a family of artists in the Renaissance workshop to seek out and sample traditional techniques.  This is a free drop in event running from 22nd-26th October.

 

Get down to TATE MODERN on 25th October from their Drawing Workshop with award-winning author and illustrator Marion Deuchars.  Bob the bird loves to paint pictures with his best friend Bat.  But one day Bat goes away and Bob is sad.  He tried to paint but everything he paints is blue.  Can his friends help him to find his bright colours again?  Activities will include collage and drawing.  This is a free event running from 2.30-3.30pm.

 

Head over to the GEFFRYE MUSEUM for their Sound Sketch Express for The Big Draw.  Explore and draw with a special ‘play at home’ trail in the Geffrye’s beautiful leafy gardens.  Discover how to create cool audio drawings with your mobile phone.  Send in your drawings and artwork to become part of the big audio drawing game, a fun interactive drawing game to create a giant artwork with the museums Young Producers and artists Zoe Byatt and Leon Gower. This is a free, drop in event suitable for ages 5-16 running at various dates throughout October. 

 

Parrot Street Book Club

Parrot Street

Guest Blog Post – Parrot Street Book Club

Go on a literary adventure this summer

Emily Bright and Sarah Campbell run Parrot Street Book Club, an exciting monthly book subscription for primary school-aged kids. They send fantastic chapter books that their subscribers might not otherwise have discovered and which can be enjoyed equally by boys and girls, along with a fun-filled activity pack they’ve produced to accompany each book.

Below they’ve selected 6 fabulous books to enjoy over the holidays that can be followed up with a trip to one of the capital’s brilliant museums. Enjoy!

We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to share our recommendations with you. Pairing a book with a day out is a great way to build the excitement and anticipation for your trip but we also know that encouraging children to think a bit more deeply about what they’ve read, and connect it to their own experiences, is hugely beneficial.

We’ve selected three books that younger children (roughly 5-8 years old) will enjoy, whether you read aloud to them or they go it alone, and three that would be more suitable for older readers (roughly 8-11). We’re specialists in chapter books but having taken a glance at our own picture book collection we’re certain you’d also be able to find numerous books to tie-in with these museum trips if your little ones are still at that stage!

All about Ice Cream

Mint Choc Chip at the Market Cafe (Barrington Stoke) by Jonathan Meres is a beautifully written and illustrated early chapter book for younger readers. Priya’s family run a pet supplies stall in the local market but trouble ensues when a rival stall opens. The relationship between Priya and her grandmother is particularly endearing and they love to eat ice cream together, hence the title.

Why not pair this with a visit to Scoop: A Wonderful Ice Cream World at The British Museum of Food? This summer’s craziest exhibition is billed as a multi-sensory experience and features glow-in-the-dark ice cream, a vanilla flavoured fog and a sub-zero tasting chamber – all very Willy Wonka! A visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Conehenge, their ice cream café.

The British Museum of Food, Gasholder 11, 1 Lewis Cubitt Square, London, N1C 4BY

Until 30th September. Tickets and more information: www.bmof.org

 

Alien adventures

The Day That Aliens (Nearly) Ate Our Brains (Walker Books) by Tom McLaughlin is a laugh-out-loud comedy that sees Freddy and Sal (plus two policemen and the leaders of the free world) face the threat of alien invasion … one that they inadvertently started.

Why not follow this up with a visit to the Science Museum’s Exploring Space gallery? Find out all about the spacecraft that have explored our solar system, what it’s like to travel in space and the amazing feats of engineering that have made it possible.

Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD

Free entry. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

 

Take to the seas!

Horace and Harriet: Take on the Town (OUP) by Clare Elsom is a fun-filled adventure for younger readers featuring Lord Commander Horatio Frederick Wallington Nincompoop Maximus Pimpleberry the Third (or Horace, for short), a statue that comes to life and, dissatisfied with his plinth, sets out to find a new home.

From invading the duck pond, to adding cannon and a crow’s nest to a garden shed, it’s clear that Horace is a sea-faring fellow, so why not follow in his footsteps with a trip to the National Maritime Museum? The AHOY! Gallery for under 7s and All Hands Gallery for 6-12-year olds offer hours of interactive fun and adventure for kids of all ages.

National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF

Free entry. www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum

 

Look into space!

For slightly older readers The Matilda Effect (Corgi) by Ellie Irving is a rip-roaring adventure featuring a mad dash across Europe to put right an historic wrong. Matilda is a gutsy young inventor and when she discovers that her grandmother was an astrophysicist who discovered a planet but who’s boss claimed her discovery as his own, she sets out to stop him collecting the Nobel Prize he doesn’t deserve.

The Astronomy Centre and Planetarium at the Royal Observatory offer a chance to marvel at the wonders of the universe, just like Matilda and her grandmother do in the book. Not only can you see one of the biggest telescopes in the world, but you can touch a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite. If you visit on a weekend before the end of September there’s also the chance to drop into space science and exploration-themed family workshops run by Observatory Explainers.

Royal Observatory, Blackheath Avenue, Greenwich, London SE10 8XJ
Tickets and information: http://www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory

 

Amazing Aztecs!

The Jewelled Jaguar (Firefly Press) by Sharon Tregenza is a gripping adventure for slightly older readers set on the wild Welsh coast. When a sinkhole opens up and almost swallows Griffin, his mother and their house his life is turned upside down. Could the Jewelled Jaguar, an Aztec sacrificial knife discovered in an underwater shipwreck by Griffin’s mother, be the cause of these strange goings on?

What better place to go to find out more about the amazing Aztecs than the British Museum? Discover exquisite sculptures and mosaics in the Mexico room on the ground floor. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not follow the Museum Explorer: Creatures trail which goes all around the museum and includes a stop at the famous Aztec double-headed serpent.

The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
Free entry.
www.britishmuseum.org

 

Curious about colours?

And finally, a book that we think adults will enjoy just as much as older primary school readers. The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare (Piccadilly Press) by Zillah Bethel is set in a war-torn future where water is scarce and robots are commonplace. Auden has a unique perspective on the world: he only sees the world in black and white. As this mystery adventure unfolds, Auden learns the truth about an extraordinary family secret and the real meaning of friendship.

Colour: The Rainbow Revealed, an interactive, family-friendly exhibition at the Horniman Museum, is all about how colours shape our world. If you visit on a Tuesday or Thursday during the summer holidays you can also try your hand at some free arts and crafts fun, all inspired by the exhibition.

The Horniman Museum, 100 London Rd, London, SE23 3PQ
Until 28th October. Tickets and information:
www.horniman.ac.uk