October 24, 2008 / 6:59 PM / 10 years ago

Darwin for kids at London's Nat History museum

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - An appearance by father of evolution Charles Darwin kicks off a week of fascinating activities for children at the Natural History Museum in London in time for the half-term school break.

The October break is often a source of much dread for British parents looking for something to keep their little monkeys entertained.

The Natural History Museum, located in the leafy west London neighborhood of Kensington is offering a wealth of activities for young visitors, including a number of insights into the working world of the man whose book “On the Origin of Species” caused a stir when it was published in 1859.

African storytelling to hands-on-nature specimen trolleys where you get to look at real scientific specimens will be on offer at the museum, said Family Program Learning Developer Loretta Windsor.

“It’s wonderful that so many families choose to visit the Natural History Museum in the half-term holidays and we have lots of fun activities happening in the week,” Windsor said.

On October 25-26, families will get the opportunity to meet the museum’s popular gallery character Charles Darwin, recounting his theories and offering children a glimpse at his collection of beetles as he wanders the vast Central Hall.

The museum is also introducing a new character, the puppet Annie Darwin, who is based on one of Darwin’s daughters.

“We’re expecting her to be a big hit with our younger visitors,” Windsor said.

The family friendly activities come as a something of a prelude to the museum’s upcoming Darwin exhibition, which opens on November 14 and runs until April 19, 2009.

The expansive exhibition will explore Darwin’s life and his revolutionary theory of evolution, which changed the way we understand the natural world and our place in it.

Keeping younger children entertained during the half-term can be particularly tricky, and a trek round a museum frequently proves to be too arduous for little legs to deal with.

The museum has taken care to offer a wide variety of activities for under-sevens, including assembling a soft puzzle replica of the affectionately nicknamed Dippy - the giant replica of a Diplodocus that dominates the Central Hall.

Entry to the museum is free, as are most of the exhibitions and workshops it offers. Visitors are encouraged to picnic in the sprawling grounds around the building, and hands-on exploration aids for children, such as the fabric-based dinosaur guide - Bookasaurus - are available for a returnable deposit.

Also offered are Explorer Backpacks, geared to aid youngsters getting around the museum. Free (for a returnable 25 deposit), the bright red packs include helmets, binoculars and a wealth of drawing materials and activities to help little ones get the most out of a visit to the museum.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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