How do you entertain an active child when it’s raining? That’s an age-old question whole books have been written about, but I still ask it whenever rain is forecast. Next rainy day, however, you might like to check out Melbourne Museum’s Children’s Gallery. Designed for kids up to grade 2, this special place allows kids to explore and investigate at their own pace.
The exhibit focuses on the natural world, and helps kids get a sense of their own place within it, with life-size replicas of a sea turtle, seals, kangaroos and wombats, native animal dioramas with sound effects, a replica cave with stalactites and stalacmites, and one enormous butterfly. The gallery has been open for quite a few years now, and the space felt a bit ‘ho hum’ to us adults; but, it was clear that our toddlers were immediately engaged, making this exhibit a great go-to activity when you’re stuck for ideas.
My one-year-old was fascinated by the ‘impression’ wall, which took the imprint of her hands, and loved crawling through the tunnels and peering ‘underground’ at the stuffed native animals in their burrows. There is plenty of surfaces to touch and explore (including a wombat pelt), as well as a communal play area featuring lots of lego and a soft-blocks building area. The in-floor glass display cases featuring insects caused a certain amount of excitement, too, as these are perfectly placed for discovery by my crawling kid.
The large adjacent softfall outdoor play area is a good option for burning off extra steam, as there is heaps of room to run around, as well as a coits station, giant soft lego blocks, hoola hoops, and some wooden echidnas to clamber over. If they still have energy to burn after all that, take your kids to the fantastic playground next to the cafeteria. And, if all else fails, there’re always the dinosaurs!
Cost: Melbourne Museum entry fees apply (General: $12, concession and child under 16: Free)
Address: 11 Nicholson St, Carlton
Hours: Monday – Friday, 10am–5pm