Early Years update

We are particularly pleased to be welcoming more nursery and reception groups visiting the museum for self led visits this term. Even with our reduced capacity at the museum during our capital redevelopment project we are trying to accommodate as many visits as possible . For a self led visit you still need to book through our system and hopefully you are finding this process straightforward.


Explorer bags

You can book our Explorer Bags to use on the Fossils gallery or the natural history galleries.

Handling tables

At certain times you will also be able to get up close to and handle objects from our collection on our handling tables ( which are volunteer led),  including in our Under 5’s gallery Nature Discovery.

Extension activities and sharing experiences back in the classroom

To support your visit you may wish to bring your own resources, which may include:

Cameras / Ipads

Photographs can be used to document your visit and to use as an aid for children to talk about their visit or document it in other ways They can also be used to share memories of the visit with other children/ staff in school and with parents.

Drawing materials

Enjoy opportunities for observation, drawing and mark making inspired by our objects.

Story time on the galleries

Bring a book linked to your topic and enjoy a break and some quiet time on our galleries to share a story. We also have a collection of  books in Nature Discovery gallery linked.

Parental Engagement

The Museum is FREE and open at weekends and in the holidays but we know that all parents do not realise this. Are you able to bring parents on your visits and introduce them to the Museum? Can you share information and memories about your visit so that they will feel confident to visit themselves with their children?

Need a hand?

Don’t forget that  our Early Years Coordinator is available to support your planning. Drop Elaine an email or call on 0161 306 1777 with any questions. We are also happy to meet you at the museum to plan your visit.

Can you help?

We are also looking for schools who want to pilot new activities as part of the development of the new early years learning programme from September 2019 onwards so let us know if you are interested in being contacted when opportunities arise.

I Spy Nature at Manchester Museum


During the summer holidays we were able to run an additional programme for under 5’s and their families (alongside our core family programme) with funding from The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust . This allowed us to offer FREE  drop–in activities and  small group bookable activities both inside the Museum and outside on The Museum Allotment.

We had already raised this funding for the development of a Nature Discovery garden, to sit alongside our Nature Discovery gallery. This will now be developed as part of our major capital redevelopment at the museum over the next few years, during which time we will have a new South Asia gallery and a new temporary exhibition gallery.


We worked in partnership with Hulme Community Garden Centre, RSPB, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Groundwork, Barrow-in-Furness Owl Sanctuary, 24/7 Theatre Company and De Capo Duo to pilot new practice which will inform future developments at the Museum. This…

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Creating captivating spaces for under 5s



Monday 25 January 2016, 11am-3pm, The Whitworth

Are you a EYFS teacher or nursery practitioner? Do you work with under 5s in a children’s centre, cultural venue or within the community?

If so then join us at the Whitworth for a day of show and tell exploring the role of culture and creativity in developing enabling environments for young children and their families.

We believe museums and galleries are brilliant spaces for young children and their grown ups. They are packed full of amazing objects and artworks, have lots of space to explore and plenty to do to inspire curiosity, develop communication and build confidence.

Join artists, researchers, early years and museum professionals to explore why the learning environment is so important in the early years.

Special guests will include Wild Rumpus who will be doing what they do best; transforming our Grand Hall into a magical, immersive environment setting…

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Early Years teacher social event at Manchester Museum 23 March 4.30-6pm FREE!

Calling all early years teachers ……..

I would like to invite you to an informal teacher twilight event here at Manchester Museum on Monday 23rd March 4.30pm – 6pm (wine and nibbles included!)

There will be an opportunity to explore the museum, to find out what is on offer for young children and to plan a visit that links to the EYFS curriculum.
Have a look at our short film clip to see some young children exploring our natural history collections!


There is an opportunity to visit our newly opened Nature Discovery gallery which has been redeveloped especially for young children and their adults, using our natural history collections to introduce young children to the variety of nature and to develop an interest in nature.


If you would you like to attend this free event could you please RSVP to let me know of your attendance (and if you would like bring any of your colleagues)

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions and I look forward to meeting you at the museum.

I would also like to make you aware of a training day on Monday 16th March ( 9.30-12.30) I am running jointly with Martenscroft Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Hulme which is about enriching the early years curriculum through visits to creative environments like the museum.
Please see link below for booking details

Elaine Bates

Early Years Coordinator
Manchester Museum
E Mail: elaine.bates Tel: 0161 306 1777

Now booking! Early Years curriculum enrichment session: EYFS Knowledge and understanding of the World

Manchester Museum in partnership with Martenscroft nursery schooland children’s centre, will be running a curriculum enrichment session, exploring practical ideas to creatively deliver the knowledge and understanding of the world area of learning. The session will also include an opportunity to visit Manchester museum and explore our new Nature Discovery gallery for under 5’s (and their parents, carers and teachers)

Please join us on Friday 6th February 9.30-12.30 at

Martenscroft nursery school and children’s centre

Cost: £35 per person

Contact Dee to book your place – 0161 226 1266 or email

To find out more about the early years offer at the museum, please visit our learning page at


Elaine Bates
Early Years Coordinator
E Mail: elaine.bates Tel: 0161 306 1777

Nature Discovery gallery for Under 5’s is now open!

At Manchester Museum, we have been redeveloping our Nature Discovery gallery as an imaginative space that encourages young children to lead their adults through an object rich exploration of the natural world. Young children will be able to search for creatures, create fantastical stories based on the natural world and immerse themselves in a series of habitats.

‘The Den’ provides a cosy reading area, with animals playfully hiding around the tree trunks.

‘The Meadow’ is full of light and colour, with plants, butterflies, insects and underground animals for children to find.

‘The Treetops’ showcases a variety of birds from our collection for children to spot.

‘The Forest’ is a beautiful and enchanting 3D paper ‘story book’ art installation, developed in collaboration with artist Helen Musselwhite. Between the paper cut trees, children and their adults can glimpse a variety of animals, from small insects to large creatures, highlighting the beauty and diversity of the natural world.

In 2015 we will be using the gallery to continue to develop our programmes for young children and their families, including Baby Explorers, Magic carpet and our Big Saturday family programmes. There will also be an opportunity to develop new programmes for Nursery, Reception and Y1 classes visiting the museum and to offer professional development sessions for teachers to explore the new space in order to plan their own visits.
Please check our Early Years page for updates in January.


Elaine Bates

Early Years coordinator

Early years Explorer sessions at Manchester Museum

SBA MUSEUM (29)[1]Explorer sessions are Interactive and multisensory museum led sessions for Foundation stage groups which support the delivery of a creative EYFS curriculum;
Communication and Language
Personal Social and emotional development
Understanding the world: The world

Nature Explorers

Discover wildlife, minibeasts and things that live under the sea on our Natures Library gallery, lizards frogs and snakes in our vivarium and continue on a self-led visit (with resources) on our Living Worlds gallery

Available to book from May 1 2014

We know from your feedback that more early years practitioners would prefer to bring bigger groups of nursery and reception children (30) to our facilitated sessions, but we also know that young children have a better quality experience if they are taught in groups of up to 15. So we are piloting a new session, Nature Explorers, which is designed to give your children a 45 minutes taught session on Natures library gallery with museum staff (group size 15) and to have a 45 minute self-led visit on the Living Worlds gallery (group size 15)  supported by resources and activities.
Cost;£2 per child/ £60 minimum charge

Other early years sessions available;

Dinosaur Explorers

Say hello to Stan the T.rex and become dinosaur hunters whilst following the footprints around the Fossils gallery. What will you uncover on our dinosaur dig?
1 hour and 30 minutes

Please note that we are adapting this session to accommodate groups of 30 children; 45 minutes taught session (Dinosaur dig) in the discovery centre and 45 minutes self-led visit on the fossils gallery with resources

Animal Explorers – Polar Bear Polar Bear

Polar Bear has a problem, some of his animal and bird friends have gone missing! Can you help him find them? Come and explore our Vivarium, Living Worlds and Nature’s Library galleries, as you embark on this exciting mission to find his missing friends. At the end of the session there is an opportunity to meet one of our live animals from the Vivarium.

Please note; this is a fully taught session lasting 1 hour 30 minutes for groups of 15 children (max), as it includes opportunities for close observation and handling of some of the live animals from the vivarium.

To find out more about the museum and our programmes, please visit our website


To make a booking for a facilitated or self-led visit

Call us on 0161 275 2630

Or email School.bookings@manchester.ac.uk

Have a look at our early years film to get a taste of what we can offer young children  on our galleries …..

Explorer sessions at Manchester Museum for Early Years settings from Wild Bees on Vimeo.

Babies explore the Coral exhibition at Manchester museum

Our first Baby Explorer sessions of   2014 (Tuesday 7 Jan) took place in our beautiful temporary exhibition Coral  – something rich and strange designed by Ben Kelly ( Hacienda) and featuring a diverse range of exhibits, including,  18th c sea anemones , a Rossetti painting and new works by artists Mark Dion and Karen Kasper.

The space wasn’t designed for under 5’s but our baby Explorer ‘Under the Sea’ story was perfectly themed for the space and we took advantage of the nooks and crannies around the central exhibition space to build islands of sensory play for babies and parents to explore.

We shared the gallery space with our general visitors, informing them of what was taking place  as they entered the space (16 babies and ‘strange’ looking resources on the floor!) and assuring them that the space was still open and that they were welcome to join us. We have found that on the whole our general visitors are delighted to see young children in the museum.

We have used our Nature Discovery gallery as a base to develop our Baby Explorer programme, but as we have grown in confidence as practitioners our aim is to support parents into the main spaces of the museum and to encourage them to visit at other times outside of the sessions, especially if our babies have siblings.

During the summer we held some of our sessions in our temporary exhibition, ‘Trees’ and we have developed a set of Baby Explorer sacks linked to our Ancient Worlds themed session which we use  to support parents  to explore the gallery spaces. Being out and about in different museum spaces is also a great way to raise the profile of the early years work within the museum itself.

We asked parents and carers for feedback from the session in the Coral exhibition, which was really positive and here are some of their comments;

‘Had a brilliant time at first session today. Really enjoyed being in the gallery – something for adults to see as well’.

‘The raised exhibition provided an interesting space to explore. Lots of interesting corners.’

Babies  will be exploring  the Coral exhibition again on Tuesday 21 January.


Early years Frog Explorer sessions – Free!

We are offering 4 interactive Frog Explorer sessions to nursery and reception classes ( Max 15 children )to celebrate the reopening of our Vivarium.
They will include story telling, a visit to our new vivarium and an opportunity to meet some of our live frogs!
Have a look at our Frog blog for all the latest news as we count down to the Vivarium opening.

Dates and times are:

Fri 15 Nov, Fri 22 Nov, Fri 29 Nov, Fri 6 Dec 2013

We look forward to welcoming you to the museum.

Please contact Elaine Bates (Early Years Coordinator) to book your session
E Mail: elaine.bates @manchester.ac.uk
Tel: 0161 306 1777

Baby Explorers Ancient Worlds

Baby Explorers is an interactive story telling and sensory play session for babies (not walking) and their carers linked to the themes of our collections. We recently developed a session to help babies and parents explore our Ancient world’s galleries and collections, through songs, movement, stories and resources which mirror our collections in colour and texture. Real objects from our collections are also a feature of our sessions and in this one we use some lovely Egyptian masks.

We regularly ask our parents for feedback for ongoing development of our sessions. During our sessions on 3rd October, we asked parents:

How has today’s session introduced the ‘Ancient Worlds’ collection to both you and your baby?

Ancient colours and textures to explore – inspired!

Always fantastic! Lots of great shiny artefacts to inspire us to go and visit more!

Yes- Tales of the river Nile and golden coins were lovely to hear

Told us about animals, geography and ancient traditions (mummify song!), Played with artefacts and saw the Nile in action. Superb!

Inspired me to come with my older son

My boy definitely enjoyed it and got involved.

Elaine Bates
Early Years coordinator