There’s no getting away from the fact that the weather has turned particularly, erm, northern, and it’s only going to get worse. Which makes finding stuff to do with the kids harder: you can wrap up and head for the park, but at some point they’ll start complaining about being cold and/or rain and you’ll start hallucinating about hot chocolate and central heating. So it’s time to think about all the lovely things there are to do in and around York for families that are undercover. There’s plenty to choose from, and we’ll be bringing you some inspiration over the next few weeks.
First off it’s Dig, the archaeological adventure aimed firmly at children. We’ve been to DIG on and off during the last year for birthday parties, Little Diggers and, most recently, in the evening for Illuminating York. But it’s a while since we’ve been just for a normal visit, so we headed back last week. The biggest Viking (almost four) was very excited about it, having enjoyed Little Diggers and meeting ‘real’ Vikings at Illuminating York; the 18-month-old was just happy to be allowed out of the buggy.
We joined a tour (guided by a very friendly and knowledgeable archaeologist) and headed to the excavation pits. The kids grabbed, ahem, two trowels each and enthusiastically set about uncovering Roman, Viking, medieval and Victorian artefacts. Once they’d found them, the biggest Viking had to work out what he’d discovered (with a little help from the on-hand expert). I was surprised how much he engaged with the whole task and listened to what he was told. The 18-month-old gleefully dug about and was at her happiest trying to put handfuls of rubber ‘sand’ in her mouth (top tip: keep a close eye on mischievous toddlers and give them a snack before you arrive to stop them trying to eat the exhibits).
When we’d uncovered enough treasure, we headed upstairs to the pre-school play area. It’s a small but perfectly formed corner packed with things to do for little ones: a well-stocked puppet collection and stage so you can improvise your own show, a great selection of books and toys, a basket packed full of dressing up clothes and much more. The little Vikings were both delighted by it, playing with the puppets, drawing on the blackboard and demanding to be read book after book. I managed to drag them back downstairs eventually, at which point the biggest Viking insisted on checking out the exhibition of artefacts and doing a few more activities (colouring in pictures of people from ‘the olden days’ and looking at things through microscopes) before we finally headed home.
We had a great visit, and the biggest Viking was full of chatter about the treasure he’d uncovered all the way home. There’s no doubt that the littlest Viking had a lovely time too, but I don’t think she’s at the point of learning about archaeology just yet. The older the child, the more they’ll get out of their visit. This is a great rainy day option for families in York, and with tickets being valid for a year you can keep coming back. Under fives go free, too. See you there?
DIG, St Saviourgate, York YO1 8NN – 10am to 5pm (last admission 4pm)- From £5.50 for an adult and £5 for children (under fives are free)