The Garden is an exciting hands-on gallery for children up to and including Year 1, inviting early investigation of science and technology. Our friendly Explainers are on-hand to support your children's experiences and offer practical help with the exhibits.
The gallery is divided into four zones:
- the welcoming zone where we welcome your group and give a short briefing about using the gallery. There's also a puppet theatre for children to use.
- the water zone - children can watch water rush down from a huge bucket into a series of pools. They can explore ripples, bubbles, scooping and pouring, try different ways of moving water, and investigate floating and sinking.
- the building zone - children can transport building blocks and build on a big scale. They can investigate materials and forces, try to find the right tools to tighten screws and bolts, experiment with balancing things and move materials using wheelbarrows, a bucket hoist and a snake chute.
- the eyes and ears zone - the light-related activities in this area introduce children to reflections, shadows and colour. The sound-related activities allow children to make sounds in different ways, change the sound of their own voices, predict rhythms and explore how sounds can travel through solid things.
Throughout the gallery information panels and short rhymes provide a starting point and key words to help adults and children approach the activities together.
After a visit to The Garden you could use some of the following activities to extend the experience:
- Talk about different type of water - streams rivers ponds, lakes canals etc. Which are natural, which are man-made? Which have salty water and which have fresh water?
- Compare still and moving water. Do they sound different? Do they feel different? How is moving water put to use?
- Look for gutter, pipes, drains and water hydrants and think about what they do. On rainy days where does the water go?
- Think about and conduct simple activities to investigate why some things float and some things sink.
Buildings and moving things
- Look at buildings in your area. Are they all the same shape? Are the materials they're made from the same?
- Investigate pushing and pulling. What and when do you need to push? What and when do you need to pull?
- Think about inventions that make moving things easier.
Light, colour and sound
- Make coloured water by adding food dye. What happens when you mix different dye colours?
- Make stained glass windows using tissue paper and cardboard frames. Can you find other coloured materials that let light through?
- Look at different types of mirror and think about all the different places and ways that mirrors are used. Are there other shiny surfaces that give reflections (e.g. spoons?)
- Think about ears. Can you tell when a person is listening. Can you tell when a dog hears something?
- Think about the direction sounds are coming from by making a sound and asking children with their eyes closed to say what direction it came from.