An absolute must on our list was a visit to the National Maritime Museum. Not only were both my Dad and James really keen to have a look around but I had heard it was great for children of all ages too so we were keen to put it to the test.
Our first stop, naturally had to be the Ahoy! Section for under 8's. This children's gallery is a fairly new addition to the Maritime Museum and has been specifically designed for children aged between 0-7 years with a separate area for under 5's. Everything about the gallery has been created to be interactive and encourage imaginative play, all based around a maritime theme of course.
Children can stoke a ship's engine or play captain and take the wheel, they can try their hand at catching a fish or fixing a hole in the side of a boat. Pretty much everywhere you turn there is something to engage and delight children of all ages and although it was quite busy when we arrived, there was so much going on that neither Meg nor Eli ever had to wait for something and could just get stuck right in.
The centrepiece of the gallery is the ship which sticks out into the hallway of the main museum and is very easy to spot when you come through the main doors of the museum entrance. Children can peer down at visitors exploring the first floor or play dress up in the cabin quarters, man the riggings and so on. I even saw some enthusiastic parents getting involved which is always great to watch.
The whole gallery has been well thought out to engage children and get them exploring and learning through play. There are problem solving tasks, imaginative play, sensory elements and lots of fun to be had. There is a member of staff standing on the doorway so that children can't get in or out without an accompanying adult (although Eli managed to slip past so it was a good job my parents were standing outside waiting!) and ensuring that only children of the right age go inside. I thought this was a brilliant idea as it can be quite frustrating when you head into an area designed for younger children only to have older ones tearing around and causing havoc. Especially when there is a similar interactive gallery on the second floor for children over the age of 8 although opening times for this are different to that of the main museum.
Both Meg and Eli absolutely loved Ahoy! and ran from place to place, pleased that here was a part of a museum that they could actually touch without getting into trouble! It certainly added to our experience and the best part was that it was only a short walk to the cafe (up the stairs directly across from the gallery) when we had all run out of energy.
If you watch our recent video of our London trip you can see firsthand our experience at the Ahoy! Children's Gallery.
There is also plenty of other things to do in Greenwich if you are making a special visit to the area. There is, of course, the rest of the Maritime Museum to explore, as well as Cutty Sark, The Royal Observatory and The Queen's House. We bypassed these in favour of catching a boat ride on the River Thames from Greenwich Pier which I would also recommend.