After having picked up the essential ‘Moomin Adventures’ brochure, Kids in Museums volunteer Melanie Robinson went exploring in Royal Botanic Gardens Kew for a sunny Saturday afternoon treat!
This is a great outing for children who have read the Moomins’ books, seen the film and bought the T-shirt, but also for those smaller children who have yet to discover the delightful world of Moominland.
The exhibition initially starts with a nature trail comprising six different points in the gardens where information such as history and customs of various plants is displayed in a fun and easy to understand format. Parents are engaged in the activity by reading aloud information on the display board to younger members of the family. The objective is for children to follow the trail learning a little local botany along the way and carefully take rubbings of all the plants into the page in their brochure until they have collected all six. There are helpful wooden posts with oversized rubbers attached which small fingers find easy to grip and use. A total of all six rubbings receive a Moomin stamp of approval later on in the adventure.
After passing beautiful cherry blossoms, giant redwood, pine and other delights and consumed facts about their origins the trail eventually leads to an educational highlight of the exhibition, the woodland house. Inside the house there is a helpful and friendly instructor with plentiful supplies of various materials such as crayons, card, glue, and elastic. Children are invited to go out foraging in the role of ‘plant hunters’. Families then go out and about to gather bits of foliage and trees in order to eventually make their own ‘tree’ to take home or leave there.
Onwards with the trail and the activity tents come into view, this area is busy with children and families having lots of fun with the projects on offer. First stop however is to step inside a wooden hut to get a special stamp of approval from a suited and bespectacled botanist who greets small botanists with much gusto.
Next door there was a tent filled with children trying to make their own version of the character ‘Stinky’ and many spider-like creatures were seen on the table in various stages of completion! Children appeared to enjoy this hands-on activity. The adjacent paper potter bell tent appeared to be the most popular where families were shown clearly by a couple of instructors how to make their own paper container and plant seeds inside it. Children were very keen to complete the instructions and received much encouragement from the adult ‘potters’.
‘Snufkins’ den building area was also popular as it was a simple building exercise for the whole family. At a nearby kiosk refreshments such as Moomin’s favourite food of pancakes with maple syrup could be purchased to provide sustenance for large and small den builders. A deckchair area a little way off enabled families to indulge in the typical Moomin activity of enjoying nature and scenery while letting the world go by.
The ‘ Hattifattenners Fungi trail’ set up close to the den building was also fun as at various points these mysterious creatures were planted into the soil creating some interest especially among younger children. The aim was to count the number of hattifatenners appearing as well as learning facts about various fungi along the way.
On leaving I glimpsed a large white moomin riding on a train around the gardens. In conclusion the Moomin adventure was an educational and fun day out for all the family.
Saturday 1 April – Monday 17 April, 10.30am to 4pm daily
Prices included with entry to the Gardens: see website for prices information.