Home-Schooling? These London Museums Offer Free Learning Resources

Home-Schooling? These London Museums Offer Free Learning Resources
The Earth Hall at Natural History Museum. Image: Matt Brown

Almost a year after the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the UK — disrupting the education of millions of children and young people — families and teachers across the nation are once again getting to grips with remote education.

Whether you're a parent who's struggling to engage a reluctant home learner or a teacher on the hunt for fresh lesson plan inspiration, some of London's biggest cultural institutions may just be able to help. Read on to see what sort of learning resources are on offer from the likes of the British Library, the Science Museum and many more.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum, empty
Photo: Shutterstock

A homework club has just been launched by National History Museum, which sees expert educators share a new activity every weekday via a Twitter video (though if you're not a fan of the little blue bird, you can also access each activity here). This week's theme is dinosaurs, with tasks spanning art, poetry and — unsurprisingly — natural history. The museum has not provided a suggested age range but, looking at existing resources, the club seems suitable for primary school pupils.

Aside from the homework club, a variety of lesson plans, activity sheets and virtual talks on science and ecology can be found here.

Science Museum

The Winton Gallery. Image: Matt Brown

Struggling to get a student excited about STEM? Challenge them to create gravity-defying water or a fizzy fountain — just two of the experiments available on the Science Museum website. Here you'll also find fun mathematics games and videos from the museum's galleries that cater from Ks1 all the way up to KS5.

Horniman Museum and Gardens

The butterfly house at Horniman Museum and Gardens

The Horniman is frequently hailed as one of London's most child-friendly museums, so it's only fitting that it boasts a wealth of downloadable educational resources on global cultures, past and present (there are loads on Ancient Egypt, for example).  The museum website also claims to offer bespoke virtual sessions for KS1 and KS2, which students can connect to via Zoom.

British Library

Image: Matt Brown

British Library's learning resources are handily categorised by subject, so you can find materials related to English, history, religious studies, and citizenship with ease. Highlights include its Windrush Stories series, an audio poetry library, and Discover Children's Books, where you can find writing prompts, author interviews, and fairy tales from around the world.

Imperial War Museum

The stunning facade of the Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museums brings history to life via its Home Learning Hub. Here you'll find a new Family Mission each week — from learning Morse Code to making a binbag parachute. For older kids, there's tons of material on both world wars, including some tailored to GCSE students.

Museum of London

The Museum of London has won awards for the quality of its learning programmes and boasts a ton of educational resources spanning English, history, citizenship, PSHE, science, geography and archaeology. Filter by topic, historical era, or education level and discover a wealth of multimedia resources including games, 3D objects and films. We particularly like the look of this prehistoric explorer interactive map and, for older kids, this exploration of London's LGBT history.

Tech Yard at UAL Creative Computing Institute

Ok, so this one might not be a museum. But this after school club from south Londoners aged 11-14 sounds like an absolute dream for young gamers (not to mention a godsend for parents trying to pry them away from the Xbox). The club runs every Thursday, and topics include 3D modelling, coding, and game development.

The British Museum

Image: Matt Brown

The British Museum is currently offering free live interactive workshops for school children aged 7-11 that cover various aspects of the history curriculum — from myth-busting Ancient Egypt to Greek temples. Aside from these, you can find curriculum-based classroom resources for teachers of all ages up to KS5.

Last Updated 13 January 2021