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Educational days out that feel nothing like school

Get kids inspired in the school holidays with fun and educational summer days out in London

By Laura Lee Davies |
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Yves Salmon

School’s out, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop there. We’ve found a range of great summer days out in London that will get kids excited about natural history, art, science and more – all without a classroom in sight. Here’s to planning a fun (and eductional) summer holiday in the city. 

RECOMMENDED: Summer holidays in London

8 of the best educational days out for kids

Kids at Mission: Invertebrate
Chris O'Donovan

Get down with bugs

From nursery up, creepy crawlies and ecology are prime curriculum territory, so get along to the minibeasts roadshow hitting London’s Royal Parks this summer– it’s like Mother Nature’s Lollapalooza.

Drop in to ‘Mission: Invertebrate’ for storytelling and creative sessions that will help the whole family get down with bugs of all shapes and sizes, totally free of charge.

Various Royal Parks. Jul 25-Aug 29. Ages three-plus. Free.

Joshua Akin

Sail the seas

Nurture a fascination for far-flung lands at the National Maritime MuseumEven tinies can toddle across the Great Map on the mezzanine, and the Ahoy! gallery is full of hands-on play activities to inspire under-eights. For ages eight-plus, there’s an immersive game, too: ‘Raiders of the Lost Archive’. It promises swashbuckling and seafaring, without ever leaving the museum.

’Raiders of the Lost Archive’, Sundays until Aug 4. Ages eight-plus. £18-£23, booking essential.

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Cesare De Giglio

Wax poetical

Most children don’t meet Shakespeare until they have GCSEs racing towards them and they’re wondering how on earth you ‘murder sleep’. Get the verse flowing early, and all those plots and soliloquies make a lot more sense. Shakespeare’s Globe has summer workshops and storytelling sessions for aspiring Bards based on this season’s programme of productions, including ‘Henry V’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

Jul 26-28. Ages five-12. £7-£10.

Holborn Dining Room
Alex Anstey

Inspire tiny foodies

Get ‘rough puff ’ and ‘egg wash’ into your child’s vocabulary over the summer hols. Holborn Dining Room (famed for its Pie Room) is running kids’ masterclasses, where pint-sized patissiers can make their own sausage rolls and apple pies to take home. Too sophisticated for your little chefs? Book a Children’s Chocolate Workshop at Hotel Chocolat – and just hope they’re up for sharing the results of their labour.

Holborn Dining Room. Jul 20, Aug 3. Ages seven-11. £65 per child. Hotel Chocolat Covent Garden. Various dates Jul 20-Aug 31. Ages five-13. £20 per child.

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Get pedalling

Cycling is a great way to get out and get some exercise while exploring. For one Saturday in August, central London will go car-free for cyclists of all age and abilities, for RideLondon FreeCycle. The eight-mile route takes in some of London’s great landmarks, while Festival Zones along the way offer entertainment, food stalls and picnic areas. It’s a great way to introduce kids to London on two wheels.

Circular route via City, Embankment, Green Park and Strand. Aug 3. 9am-4pm. All ages. Free (register in advance).

Yves Salmon

Escape history

The Tower of London is always a good bet for Year 7s who want to ace a medieval castles project, but while you’re there, don’t miss this summer’s 30-minute live performance game, ‘Tower Escape’. This family trail challenges you to break out from London’s most notorious (and picturesque) prison. Meet real prisoners from the past, gather clues and equipment, and flee – if you can.

Until Aug 31, 11.30am, 1pm and 3.30pm. Ages six-13. Free with entry price.

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Oliver Cowling

Make a mark

Keeping every doodle since nursery for Picasso Jr’s retrospective at the Royal Academy sometime in the future? The 8-14’s Studio at Tate Modern encourages making mixed-media art from new angles, inspired by the galleries. These drop-in workshops focus on sculpture, animation and sound and are led by rising art stars, so you’ll definitely have something new (and possibly ground-breaking and critically acclaimed) to stick on the fridge at the end of the session.

Jul 20 and Aug 17,noon-2pm, 3pm-5pm. Ages 8-14. Free.

See into the future...

Inspire the geniuses of tomorrow with physics, engineering and philosophy all in one go. The Barbican’s ‘AI: More Than Human’ exhibition explores the present and future of artificial intelligence. In reality, you don’t need to be some kind of mega-boffin to enjoy petting Sony’s cyborg puppy or to have a go at designing an entire Lego city. Kids can also create a giant robot version of themselves and teach it how to move and do things (although this will almost certainly involve it picking its giant robot nose).

Until Aug 26. Ages seven-plus. £15, concs £11-12, under-17s £10, under-14s free.

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