Do you live in the North West? Are you looking for something AWESOME to do during half term? If so, take your children to the Imperial War Museum in Manchester because it’s fab! We were lucky enough to get a sneaky peek at what’s on offer for children during February and we loved it.
When we arrived we were shown into a family room and met Martin. He encouraged the children – and parents – to sit on mats (although chairs were also available) and began to tell them stories of animals during war times, using puppets and stuffed toys. Everyone got involved (yes, my husband *may* have enjoyed it as much as any of the children!) with the stories and I was surprised at just how interested and excited our 4 year old was.
We then tried our hands at making and decorating binoculars before dressing up in disguises and looking at a real periscope.
We moved on to the main part of the museum. And WOW! I just loved it. There is a real jump jet suspended from the ceiling which is breath taking – something that our older son was really interested in. And a large tangled metal frame from one of the Twin Towers, which was really thought provoking.
The museum is cleverly broken up by ‘pods’ that are themed so that you don’t feel you’re being bombarded by information, yet you can linger on subjects that interest you. And outside the pods are child friendly activities linked to the subject.
Something we all enjoyed was the Horrible Histories film that was projected onto every dividing wall. If you aren’t familiar with Horrible Histories, they tackle all manner of subjects with toilet humour and age appropriate language.
We took a break and decided to eat – our opted for a children’s lunch bag, consisting of a sandwich, a carton of fruit juice and three other items (they chose cheese portions, cherry tomatoes and a mini pack of chocolate biscuits) – and my husband and I had delicious fresh baguettes and a hot drink. The restaurant is lovely, with large windows overlooking the quay and Media City.
We then went back to the museum and continued exploring. I was really drawn to the enormous arch made up of suitcases from refugees of the second world war and the quotes from people affected by war.
I was surprised that the museum covered not just the world wars but all conflicts. There are tanks and machines dotted around for inspection which certainly makes things feel real – and something that captures the imagination of children.
After exploring inside, we decided to go up the Air Shard – a 100ft high viewing platform that affords an unparalleled view! It’s probably worth mentioning that it’s not for the faint hearted, but we were blown away by it.