I Spy Nature at Manchester Museum

During the summer holidays we were able to run an additional programme for under 5’s and their families (alongside our core family programme) with funding from The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust . This allowed us to offer FREE  drop–in activities and  small group bookable activities both inside the Museum and outside on The Museum Allotment.

We had already raised this funding for the development of a Nature Discovery garden, to sit alongside our Nature Discovery gallery. This will now be developed as part of our major capital redevelopment at the museum over the next few years, during which time we will have a new South Asia gallery and a new temporary exhibition gallery.


We worked in partnership with Hulme Community Garden Centre, RSPB, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Groundwork, Barrow-in-Furness Owl Sanctuary, 24/7 Theatre Company and De Capo Duo to pilot new practice which will inform future developments at the Museum. This included a series of 5 ‘Wildlife Wednesdays’ with a different nature theme each week: Birds, Minibeasts, Wildlife, Frogs and Growing. We also held a ‘Festival of Nature’ over the August Bank holiday weekend.

Activities included: object handling; hands-on activities for  making something to take away  to help nature thrive at home , for example a  bug hotel,  bird feeder, a bird box , instructions for making a hedgehog house and a pond for frogs.  We were also able to offer a series of natural play and craft activities on the Allotment which included urban den building, making bandanas using plant dyes, a messy kitchen using seeds and natural materials and   making animal prints and hedgehogs using clay.



Our programme also offered 2 extra weekly sessions of our under 5’s programme Magic Carpet, as well as performances of the Butterfly’s Adventure by 24/7 Theatre Company and Nature Music by De Capo Duo.
All key partners promoted the work they do for nature and wildlife conservation and theprogramme has helped to develop new partnerships We had great fun were able to reach 2840 and 36% of those taking part were very local families (within a 5km radius of the Museum).Visitor feedback reflected on positive outcomes in the following areas:

Learning about nature
“We loved the mini-beasts and butterflies! We learned about the butterfly that lives for a whole year. Thank you!”
“Today was the first time I stroked an owl”
Family engagement
“Our 3 year olds … were captivated. Really interactive and involved all children wonderfully!”
“Fantastic time had. Loads of fun making bird boxes. Kids loved it as well as adults.”

Inspiring an interest in nature and caring for nature
“We pledge to find a special place for our bird feeder in the garden and to encourage more birds to visit”
“My pledge to nature is to make a hedgehog house this weekend”


The project has enabled the Museum to develop, pilot and experiment with outdoors, nature-focused programming as well as stimulating new partnerships and collaboration with a range of nature organisations which we intend to build on in the future.


Magic Carpet for under 5s at Manchester Museum

North Lincs Learning


Last week I visited the Manchester Museum to check out one of their early years sessions for toddlers up to 5 years called Magic Carpet.

I had visited the museum last year to observe families in the museum and learn about the brilliant work they do, along with The Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery, with children under 5 and their families.

I had been looking forward to this session ever since and was eager to see how the museum collection was interpreted for this young age group.

The session took place in the Nature Discovery Gallery which is a space designed specifically for early years children where a wonderful variety of animals and birds from the collection are displayed in a meadow, den, treetop and forest. The display of the objects invites children to explore and hunt for animals as they would outdoors. For example birds displayed in…

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Nature Discovery at Manchester Museum

I just wanted to share with you….

Our New film featuring Nature Discovery gallery for under 5’s
and Magic Carpet our interactive story making and activity session for active toddlers (and younger siblings) parents, grandparents and carers.
It features some lovely vox pops from our visitors about what they enjoy about the sessions and visiting the museum.

For full details about our early years programmes and to check out our other early years films visit Manchester Museum website




What a great day!


Thank you to all who made it to Creating Captivating Spaces for Under 5s event at the Whitworth yesterday. It was a great day. We were totally overwhelmed by both your turn out and by your positive feedback.  Thank you!

We just wanted to share a few comments from the day…

Today has given me lots of ideas and the confidence to try new things. Great to talk to other attendees and share ideas too.

Thank you very much for an absolutely inspiring day. Will take away with me the importance of partnerships, openness and curiosity.

Informative, insightful… lots of ideas to take back to work and get cracking!

I am inspired to expand our early years offer – some fantastic work!

I thought the impact that a calming space can have on a child’s concentration and creativity is amazing. Definitely a place that our setting will be visiting more often.

And also share with you one of the challenges we were left to consider as a result of the day…

More glorious early years provision. The day celebrates the wealth of resource and provision for early years but also the refreshing child centred approach towards learning so sadly lacking in the rest of Primary education. The day has left me so frustrated at the direction KS1/2 are moving. Big challenge – how do we engage/ broker a new relationship with Early Years practice and the rest of the educational community to spread this upwards! We need cultural change…! Thank you-wonderful stuff.

It has been very inspiring to hear so much about curiosity, imagination, open space, child led. How can we carry this into primary/secondary schools?

We will be sharing more from the day over the next few days and weeks so keep following for updates.

Only 6 days to go…

…until our Captivating Spaces for Under 5s event here at the Whitworth.

We’re very excited and are just putting the finishing touches into what is set to be a brilliant day.

Here’s a sneaky peak at what we’ll be up to on the day.

Captivating spaces for under 5s Agenda FINAL[2]

There are still a few spaces so if you haven’t booked your place yet then book here now.



Creating captivating spaces for under 5s

Monday 25 January 2016, 11am-3pm, The Whitworth

Are you a EYFS teacher or nursery practitioner? Do you work with under 5s in a children’s centre, cultural venue or within the community?

If so then join us at the Whitworth for a day of show and tell exploring the role of culture and creativity in developing enabling environments for young children and their families.

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We believe museums and galleries are brilliant spaces for young children and their grown ups. They are packed full of amazing objects and artworks, have lots of space to explore and plenty to do to inspire curiosity, develop communication and build confidence.

Join artists, researchers, early years and museum professionals to explore why the learning environment is so important in the early years.

Special guests will include Wild Rumpus who will be doing what they do best; transforming our Grand Hall into a magical, immersive environment setting the scene for a day filled with ideas and inspiration.

We will also be joined by:
Iain Jackson, Research associate, Child Study Centre, University of Manchester
Rachel Holmes, Professor of cultural studies of childhood, MMU & Kerry Moakes, Principal Lecturer and Programme Leader, Early Years and Childhood Studies, MMU
Liz Hardy, Headteacher, Martenscroft Nursery School & Children’s Centre
Michiko Fujii, Atelierista, the Whitworth
Lucy Turner, Early Years Coordinator, the Whitworth
Elaine Bates, Early Years Coordinator, Manchester Museum
Sarah Marsh & Jess Wild, Family Learning Programme, Manchester Art Gallery

£25 per person includes lunch and refreshments.
Click here to book your place https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/creating-captivating-spaces-for-under-5s-tickets-19597642075