Mini Museum Engineers at Home
While we are not able to play in the museum, we want to keep on playing. While you will be playing with things you have at home for now, we will make sure to be all set to have you back in the museum for our Mini Museum Engineers play days when we can.
Playful experiments with ramps and racers
One of our favourite play sessions involves building racers and making ramps with anything that is at hand. We love to see which racer goes the furthest, measuring the distances by either counting steps or using a measuring tape and read out the numbers.
Our mini engineers would be making all types of ramps to make their racers go as far as possible. At times, they would be so excited that they’d even race the racers down Coventry Champions Gallery which ends in lots of giggles and shouts.
Tips and tricks for your home-built ramps and types of racers
Making a ramp
Think about what a basic ramp looks like. Which shape is it? How can you make this shape? What can you use in your home that could make a ramp? Think about how strong the ramp needs to be to withstand your racers weight.
You could use:
As an upstand – indoors chair, armchair, sofa, bed, shelf, table, cardboard box, books, toy box, bottom steps of your stairs, cushions stacked | outdoors – rocks, tree trunks, bench
As a drive – cardboard, mat, lego or duplo board, folder, books, board game lid, chopping board, plank of wood, baking tray
Finding racers at home
Readymade racers tip: Not everyone has got toy cars at home. So, instead of toy cars you could think about what things go down a ramp easily. Which shape should it have to be able to roll and keep going?
You could use:
Toy cars, Balls, (Milk) bottle lids, Cans, Plastic cups, Oranges, Acorns, Conkers, coins, dice
The wonderful world of lights
We are fascinated by lights and how it can transform our surroundings. During Mini Museum Engineers play sessions we regularly end up playing with lights, shadows, reflections. Yes, this is probably due to us also playing in some of the darkest galleries now and again - like Future Technology. While entering these darker places in the museum is excitingly scary it is also a great opportunity to explore light and shadows. Just by providing torches as well as different playthings during our play sessions, our mini engineers start exploring the world.
Have a look around at home for different playthings, find a light source and get playing.
Tips and tricks for light and shadow play at home
Find different playthings, such as a duplo block sculpture, or a cardboard cut-out, your favourite crayons, or toy cars and animals. Go with what your favourite toys.
Then find a light source, shine the light onto your playthings and see how the shadows change when you move your light. We find children love torches and wind-up torches are an all-time favourite. Other light sources for light and shadow play are floor lamps, table lamps, sun.
Add reflective things or colourful fabrics and see what happens.
Light play works best in a darker space. You can always build a den to take your light play inside the den.
Crazy about runs and tracks
We are very proud to say that our record ball run built in the museum during a Mini Museum Engineers session currently stands at 13.9 metres long.
Okay, okay. So this record was set in our biggest gallery – Workdays and Holidays – where we display fire engines, double decker buses, tractors and even a horse and carriage. It has still been a feast watching the families building this ginormous run and seeing the children ecstatically running along it, cheering on the ball until it hit the ground.
Build a run at home
You could use a readymade marble run from a shop, or you could make your very own run at home.
You could use:
As runs: Anything that allows for your size marbles or balls to run towards the ground and not run off the track. Train tracks, blocks, guttering, cardboard folded lengthways to form a track, toilet paper tubes, kitchen paper tubes, paper rolled into tubes
As upstands: Think of different heights of upstands to rest your tracks on. Use chairs, sofas, books, blocks, plastic cups, shelves, cuddly toys, cardboard boxes.
Marble or ball
Experiment with shapes, weights, different materials and see what happens.
You could use:
Paper scrunched up to a ball (light weight), glass marble (solid, heavy, smooth), bouncy ball (solid rubber), juggling ball (soft), wooden marble (solid, heavy, smooth)
At our Mini Museum Engineers sessions, big play is what we do best and our building up sessions are always the best invitation to challenge us further. Dens, shelters and towers have been built bigger and taller in all galleries we play in. Depending on the gallery we are in, the builds differ yet always incredible.
How would a building up build look at home when you would use things from around your home?
Tips and tricks
Empty cardboard boxes are amazing for all sorts of big play – tall towers, houses, rockets...
Dens and shelters can be very easily set up with a table, armchairs, laundry racks, blankets, sheets, scarves, pegs, string.
When you want to build smaller which we also do during our Mini Museum Engineers play sessions, get out bricks, blocks, books and see where play takes you.