Families are welcome at The MERL

We have plenty for families to do at the MERL. Exciting galleries, fun hands-on learning experiences and a packed programme of events and activities inspired by the museum collections and garden. Whether you pop in for a quick visit or spend all day exploring, The MERL can entertain, engage and educate the whole family, from children of all ages to grandparents!

During the current lockdown the MERL’s galleries, cafe, shop and garden are closed, but if you’re missing your visits to the Museum or are looking for a new place to explore from home, perhaps you could try some of the online activities and events at home…

ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS FOR FAMILIES AT HOME

Home Learning Resources

Home-schooling? Missing out on school trips? You could try a virtual school trip!

Visit the MERL galleries online and use our new worksheets to explore the collections further.

Homes: Past and Present at The MERL

Wagons at The MERL  Answer sheet

Create your own Quiz at The MERL

Online Activities

Whilst you may not be able to visit us in person, we still have lots of fun activities that you can do at home!

LOSE YOURSELF IN THE SEASONS

If you have visited The MERL, you will be familiar with the beautiful animation of a forest scene through the seasons, whether you’ve watched it on loop with an enthralled child, or just be surprised by the sound of thunder while you enjoyed your tea in the cafe! You can now watch an immersive 360 version of the animation via the new MERL app. Find the download links on the ‘Shaping the Land’ gallery page.

BECOME A VIRTUAL SHEPHERD

We can’t travel to the countryside during lockdown, but this is one way of escaping to Dartmoor! Watch the 360 video of a modern-day shepherd riding a quad bike over Dartmoor, and find out how the film was made. The films are both in on our Virtual Reality Youtube playlist

Online events

As we are not able to deliver our usual programme of events at the museum, we have moved many of them online.  You can find details of our online events on our What’s On page.
For some fun family craft ideas and activities follow the links for our past online events Bee Happy and Thinking Rationally.

FRIDAY FLEDGLINGS

Friday Fledglings is an outdoor session for pre-schoolers which usually takes place in our fantastic urban garden. We miss welcoming our Friday Fledglings to the museum, but our session leaders are continuing to share activities and ideas for outdoor learning for under-5s every Friday morning via a new MERL Facebook group.

You can find activities from previous sessions here. We hope to welcome you back into the MERL garden soon!

FAMILY VISITS TO THE MERL

Galleries & Garden

When we open again come visit our galleries and explore life in the countryside past and present. Enjoy the fun hands-on activities and interactives throughout the galleries including puzzles, dressing up, games and trails.

The garden is a safe, enclosed environment for your children to play in and explore. There is a shepherd’s hut decorated by our volunteer knitting group, an outdoor woodland brass rubbing trail, and a wooden play-on tractor & wagon.

Trails

Our trails are designed to help families explore the galleries and garden. Follow the links to print out the trails in advance of your visit to the museum.

Rat and Rodent trail (suitable for ages 6+)  |  Find the Rodents! (suitable for all ages)

The MERL Little Mice Garden trail

The MERL Garden Tree trail

Family Events

FRIDAY FLEDGLINGS

Friday Fledglings is an outdoor session for pre-schoolers which takes advantage of the fantastic urban garden at The MERL promoting the benefits of outdoor learning. Sessions are run by Charlotte, a local teacher and Level 3 Forest Leader and focus on outdoor play and exploration of the natural environment involving story-telling, craft activities and singing.

  • Drop-in sessions run Fridays (during Reading Borough Council term time), 10.00 to 11.30am
  • £4 per child (includes a drink and snack)
  • Suitable for families with children under 5

We miss welcoming our Friday Fledglings to the museum, but session leaders are delivering activities and ideas for outdoor learning for under-5s every Friday morning via a new MERL Facebook group.  You can find activities from previous sessions here. We hope to welcome you back into the MERL garden soon!

Families love The MERL

We won the award for **Best Museum** for families in the 2019 Little Ankle Biters  Berkshire Awards! Thank you to all our visitors who voted for us!

We’re delighted to have be a finalist in the 2021 Awards. Please vote for us before the closing date on February 28th!

VOTE NOW

Little Ankle Biters Awards 2021 finalistLittle Ankle biters Berkshire 2019 awards logo with red winner banner