When I grow up I want to be...
London is full of places where you can indulge your child’s great passions and inspire that dream job
Tue Feb 11 2014
Photo: Rob Greig
Their dreams are as big as yours are. Bigger, in fact, because only grown-ups are cursed with self-doubt. Take the opportunity to feed your kids' aspirations at one of these (mostly) eductional activities.
...a train driver
Essential skills A love of locomotives, a trainspotter mentality, good concentration skills and a yen to travel.
Role model Thomas the Tank Engine. He’s the train and driver in one: the whole package!
First stop The London Transport Museum. Discover the inspiring history of London’s transport system, with trackfuls of train memorabilia. Sit in one of the oldest carriages from the Metropolitan Line, take the controls in the simulator of a virtual tube train, or try your hand at directing traffic and regulating congestion in a miniature London scene. Save time to browse the eye-popping parade of transport-related souvenirs in the shop, too.
Half-term highlights The London Transport Museum’s Family Station has plenty of activities for all, including London history-inspired crafts.
Also… Take a trip on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), nab the best seat at the front of these driverless trains and pretend you’ve taken the controls, as you whizz along, high above London.
...a pop star
Essential skills A love of music, singing, performing and generally making some noise.
Role models Lennon, Dylan, Lady Gaga…
First stop The British Music Experience. There’s over 6,000 images and artist videos and tons of music memorabilia here. Older children can do a spot of singin’ and jammin’ in the Interactive Studio, learn dance moves or perfect their DJing skills. Drop a beat!
Half-term highlights Very Important Popstars – children can glam up and design their own award! Noon-3pm. Tuesday February 18 to February 22. Free with museum entry (£13.50 adults, £6.50 children, free under-5s).
Also… For the classically-inclined there’s the London Symphony Discovery Family Concert: Arabian Nights (ages 7-12), on Sunday February 16 at 2.30pm. Workshop 10.30am-1pm, £5 per person for concert ticketholders. Plus free foyer activities for all 1.15-2.15pm. (Barbican)
Essential skills The ‘right stuff’, including quick reactions and a relish for action and speed.
Role models Neil Armstrong, Major Tom.
First stop The Science Museum has brilliant interactive activities for young pilots, including a Red Arrows simulator and Legend of Apollo 4D ride, which even exudes an aroma of space life (gunpowdery, FYI). (Entrance fees apply. Explorer ticket includes an IMAX film and guidebook for £22.50 adults, £17.50 children.)
Essential skills An intrepid spirit, a quick mind and a curiosity about the world.
Role model Sir David Attenborough.
First stop The Natural History Museum is the place to see amazing discoveries made by explorers past and present. Wannabes can test their mettle at the Specimen Handling Workshop: Attack and Defence, the Deadly Side of the Natural World, on February 17, 19 and 21. These hands-on 45-minute workshops teach kids about predators and prey, and reveal cunning survival tricks from the natural world. All ages, £1.50.
Half-term highlights The new Extremes exhibition at the Horniman examines how animals and plants survive in extreme heat, cold, dryness, constant darkness or with little oxygen. Join the expedition to discover the wildest of wildlife.
Also… Kew Gardens, for its exhilarating Xstrata Treetop Walkway.
...an undercover agent
Essential skills Cunning, intelligence, resourcefulness and stealth – nerves of steel.
Role model James Bond, aka 007.
First stop Head to the Science Museum shop for state-of-the-art gadgetry: a spy watch that records in sound and vision and Spyz Night stealth goggles. And in the museum, check out the Enigma Machine used during World War II.
Half-term highlights The elite Secret Agents Spy Academy opens at Discover Children’s Story Centre on Saturday February 15 (until August 31). Activities include surveillance techniques, unlocking codes, dodging laser beams and how to make yourself invisible. Younger rookies (ages 4-6) can follow hidden clues on the Story Trail.
Also… Emil and the Detectives at the National Theatre follows the adventures of a young lad using his skills to track down a thief.
...a fashion designer
Essential skills A creative spirit with style and flair and an appreciation for avant-garde design.
Role models Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood.
First stop Fashionistas will relish Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at Somerset House until March 2. A celebration of the extraordinary life and wardrobe of the eccentric fashion patron. Somerset House is also the buzzy main location for London Fashion Week.
Half-term highlights The Design Museum’s activities include Accessorize on Friday February 21 (1-3.30pm, ages 6+) and Hooray for Hats on Sunday February 23 (2-5pm).
Also… The V&A’s fashion collections.