You’d like to visit the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre but you’re not sure whether it will be suitable for your pre-schooler. I say GO! I went with my 3-year-old and here’s what I found…
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre has been on my wish list for some time now, but I wanted to wait until my eldest had read a couple of the Dahl books before we made the trip.
A few of my friends had suggested I should wait even longer, until my youngest could really enjoy it, but I’m glad I ignored them, because he had a ball!
Want to know why?
Here are eight reasons I think your under-5s will enjoy it too…
1. You get a wristband to wear
You don’t just a get a ticket on arrival, oh no – you get a wristband. That’s pretty exciting in anyone’s book, but for a pre-schooler it’s something rather special!
2. Space to run around (indoors and out)
There really is lots of space at the museum which means your little ones can totter / run about without worry of bashing into people or things, or breaking stuff. As well as the indoor space, there’s a lovely (child-proof!) outdoor courtyard with benches for tired parents to sit on while your little people explore.
3. Buttons to press and things to hold
What pre-schooler doesn’t like a multitude of buttons to press? There are lots of interactive exhibits in the museum from the BFG’s Dream Jar (which my youngest was pretty impressed with) to the chance to create your own short stop-motion animation. My boys also liked the rhyming tree with magnets to move about, and the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with a replica chair and objects from Roald Dahl’s writing shed.
4. Things to watch and listen to
There’s a whole host of audio and visual delights at the museum, from film clips and audio of Roald Dahl himself, to snippets from other well-known authors. I caught my little man ensconced in a booth with his headphones on (it was a challenge to get him away!).
5. Costumes to try on
My boys love a bit of dressing-up, and the Story Centre didn’t disappoint with a good selection of funky – and outright bizarre – outfits to wear.
6. Arts and crafts
There’s a whole room dedicated to Dahl-inspired arts and crafts. There are fun activity sheets to colour-in, with plenty of pencils to use and shiny and fuzzy objects to stick. This room kept my three entertained for a good while! The young artists can even add their creations to the gallery wall.
7. Tasty treats in the café
I was really impressed with the range and affordability of the food on offer, and the staff were super friendly too (even with my lot pilfering from the fruit basket!).
If you want to take your own pack-up, there’s an indoor picnic area, and plenty of room to sit outside too.
8. Weekly pre-schooler story sessions
Every Friday during term-time, the museum runs its Chiddlers Hour for 0 to 3-year-olds (from 10.30-11.30am). The sessions feature 30 minutes of songs, storytelling and adventure, and 30 minutes of free play and crafts based on Roald Dahl’s books.
Sessions cost £3 per child, and you don’t need to purchase museum admission to attend. Tickets can be bought in advance online or by calling 01494 892192.
And now for the practical stuff…
The museum is housed in a group of lovely old buildings in the pretty market town of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. We went by car, but public transport information.
Parking is pay and display on the edge of town, just a few minutes’ walk from the museum.
What ages is it for?
The official website says the museum is aimed at children aged 6-12, but they do run activities for younger children, and as I’ve explained above pre-schoolers can get a lot from their visit too. There was a real mix of ages at the museum when we visited – included other younger children.
How long should you allow?
We managed to outstay pretty much every other visitor on the day we went. We spent just over three hours at the museum, including lunch in the café, and we probably could have stayed longer – especially in the summer.
No food is allowed in the museum itself, but there’s a handy courtyard area where you could sit in good weather, plus an indoor picnic area if you take your own food. The Museum has its own cafe too which is where we ate, and the staff were lovely. Children’s lunchboxes were £5.95, but my boys at sausage rolls and pasties, which started at £2. And fruit was a bargain 30p per piece. There were lots of tasty looking cakes, too, which I surprisingly managed to avoid!
How much is it?
Under-5s are free, and adults were £6.60 and children £4.40. A family ticket for up to two adults and three children was £21, but as I was there with my mum (concession), and only had to pay for two children’s tickets it was cheaper for us to buy individually.
If you enjoy finding ways of bringing books to life with your children, you should come and join my FREE Facebook group The Books & Pieces Early Years Book Group – a friendly community for families with 0-6 year olds to share book recommendations, tips and activities.