I do not have my own children. But I do have friends who have children, which means I am able to enjoy those half-term activities usually catering for parents and their offspring.
One such activity is visiting Dinostar, a dinosaur museum situated at the end of Humber Street, in the marina area of Hull.
It’s the kind of place you walk past, contemplating what could possibly be inside. Dinosaurs, yes, but real or not? Is it suitable for me? Will it really be worth it? Well, I’m not sure I aim to answer these questions for you. You may read this and continue your contemplations when walking past to other venues in the area. You may just decide to give it a go.
We went as a large group – three mothers, one father, their children of various ages under 10, one grandmother and, well, me. A collection of personalities and requirements. Two of the children are autistic and can be difficult to handle if the social environment isn’t accommodating. The youngest is a toddler. The oldest is, well, me.
So, we arrived at about 2pm, and our group quickly took over the quiet building. Clearly too many people were still contemplating. It cost £3 per adult and £1.50 for the children, and free for the baby. Initially, this seemed rather steep. The museum is rather small, with three main rooms – one downstairs and two upstairs. There was a stamp collecting activity for the children; while identifying the different dinosaurs around the museum they had to stamp an A5 piece of paper with each. A good activity for ensuring they look around the entire venue and also read some of the information pieces. But, as children don’t tend to read everything, we were worried that less than an hour of our school holiday would be costing us these three coins.
But, we were fooled by the small space.
Alongside the written information (clearly more for the adults to read) there were ‘Did You Know?’ fact trivia, sound buttons and smell boxes. A child may not remember that T.Rex lived near swamps because they read it from the wall, but they may remember that this particular artefact was near the box which smelt like boggy earth. A 3D experience without the glasses!
Upstairs, there were a range of activities for the children (and adults feeling a bit childish) to have a go at. The best were certainly the archaeological dig sites – one unveiling a dinosaur skeleton and one a footprint. Baby slept for much of the time there, and when she woke we had been concerned she wouldn’t have much to do. This proved more than sufficient! She loves playing with sand anyway, and did a good job at uncovering the claws of the dinosaur hidden beneath. With some help from the taller children, we were able to reveal it all. And one of the younger boys was quite happy just to let the sand flow between his fingers.
Add to this the drawing table, which also had stencils of different dinosaurs and their footprints and a section where you could use crayons to rub and reveal a dinosaur, and you had hours of entertainment. We adults gave up far too quickly, forgetting how simple activities can entertain and educate children. Plus, with multi-sensory activities, all of the requirements we went with were met.
We were there for just under two hours, and the children would probably have been happy to stay for longer. Our £3 were well spent, and that left change from a fiver for the gift shop (a Dinostar hat was on £1.50, so all-round good value).
We’d expected too little of this end-of-terrace converted house on the marina. It calls itself “a Dinosaur Experience” and this is exactly what we got. For very little cost considering – I’ve certainly paid a lot more for a lot less when it comes to keeping kids happy.
So, next time you wander past and think it might be an idea, step inside.
They do only open Sundays outside of the school holidays. We were pleased to have arrived when it was quiet, especially with the specific needs of the children in our group, but it would not be an issue were it busier. I’d certainly advise it as part of a dinosaur-themes birthday party, as we could have spent hours in there with the children entertaining themselves and each other. In fact, the kids needed us so little that we were able to be a bit silly ourselves.
Details can be found on the website – http://www.dinostar.co.uk/
And you can always pop down to Thieving Harry’s for a pot of tea and a slice of cake afterwards. Well. We did anyway.