Tuesday 5 November 2013

Learning at the London Aquarium

(Goblin is 4 years old)
I recently read that children learn 95% of things through direct experience. Now the quote wasn't sourced so I don't know if its true, but I liked it anyway. It appealed to me because I like hands on learning. It's one of the reasons we like taking Goblin to visit things. One of our most successful trips recently was to the London Aquarium. 

Warning: The London Aquarium is EXPENSIVE!

Its also dark and noisy. We took Goblin's ear defenders and he wore them the whole time because the loud music/noise being piped in was freaking him out. But it is totally worth the money and the uncomfortable noise.
The London Aquarium has a shark tank that is three stories high. There are windows onto it at different levels, including in the floor as you enter the aquarium, so you walk over the sharks. Also in the shark tank are two giant sea turtles that Goblin was extremely taken with.
Goblin and I have watched episodes of David Attenborough's 'Blue Planet. In one episode a whale dies and some sharks eat the carcass. In the giant tank at the aquarium there is a giant whale skeleton (I'm not sure if its real or a model). Goblin saw the skeleton and turned to me saying "when we get home can we watch that programme where the sharks eat the whale again?", I was so excited that he'd made the connection.
Goblin was also excited by these garden eels. He wanted to know why they were buried in the sand. After I explained, some other children came over to look at the eels, and he explained to them what they were doing - hanging out waiting for food to pass by.
But probably the best bit of our day was seeing the star fish. In the teaching area they have a rock pool that the children can look into. It has starfish and anemones in it. You are invited (under supervision) to touch the star fish. Goblin didn't want to touch the star fish, but I had such a proud mummy moment when he started asking the aquarium guy a series of questions
"Where is its mouth?"
"How is it moving?"
"Can it see?"
"Where are its eyes?"
"Does it have ears?"

A lot of the other children around were older school kids and none of them were taking advantage of this opportunity to find out more about what they were seeing. It made me wonder whether they would have asked when they were younger but somehow lost their curiosity, or whether it was never there to begin with? Maybe they were embarrassed to ask in front of their class mates.
We bought a book on star fish, anemones and other echinoderms (yeah I didn't know that's what their collective name is either), and we read about them on the train going home (and several times since then).
Since our first trip there last month Goblin has asked to return several times. I'm thinking we may need some kind of season ticket so it doesn't bankrupt me. 


  1. I just went with my wee man recently and we only just survived the London Sea Aquarium. I agree very cool but not sure how much it works as a learning environment. very over priced, no way to take a break and relax and enjoy it have to keep on moving and can't comfortably stay in a place for long enough. My wee man loved touching the star fish but unfortunately a bit young to understand why he could only do it once! Maybe for older kids it works better. Not going back in a hurry anyway.

    1. Sabrina I think you are right, I should have said that in my post. Goblin is 4 and that seems to be about the perfect age. We have taken him before and he was a bit young to appreciate it, and you are right, the design means there is no where to stop and take a break.
      Goblin certainly learnt a lot and came away asking some great questions, and I did find the Aquarium staff very informative and willing to answer questions. So I think it maybe depends on the age and temperament of the child.

  2. It looks like you and the Goblin had a great time - your pictures are great! I'd love to take my kids there but I've always been put off because of the fact you can't get a handstamp or something and get out for a break. But a shark tank three stories high...perhaps I should reconsider!

  3. It looks and sounds brilliant! Love the first photo! x

  4. Wow, that looks great. I think my three would love it! I love Goblins questions. x

  5. Those eels look so bizarre, reminds me of the desert scene from Beetlejuice. And as I said on Instagram that the starfish have the wierdest little hands around their mouths! Great to see Goblin enjoying it so much.


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