Sometimes letting children decide where to go on a day out works really well. I mostly give a couple of ideas, but I knew N would choose the Yorkshire Museum of Farming as the place to visit before heading home from our mini break in York. The museum is just outside York, off the ring road, and I was expecting it to be busy on a really sunny April school holiday day. But I was pleasantly surprised and it turned out to be a really nice morning out.
The Yorkshire Museum of Farming has displays showing farming through the ages. It’s on the Murton Park site which also has the Derwent Valley light railway alongside. Trains weren’t running when we were there, so check in advance for those days if your children love trains. The Danelaw Centre for Living History who do educational sessions for schools, and was open while we were there too.
Entry is cheap, and they’re very chatty at reception. We grabbed a map and were soon off exploring in any direction we fancied. We started off in one of the sheds to see the old tractors and machinery. That was also where the toddler ride on tractors were – children can ride these around the museum to save on little legs, they just need to be returned afterwards.
N was in equipment spotting mode, but we also spent a lot of time in the Land Girls exhibit.
We were happy just to wander where we wanted, heading across the main square past the tractors in the barns, and into another shed which is more about the education side of farming. You can see lots of schools and children’s groups visiting, and they’re set up for it. There are learning areas made fun and interactive. N did some colouring in, although was disappointed that the tractors had obviously been taken from the farm model toy play setting.
There’s a dressing up and small soft play area for tots, amongst information about milking, horses and various other farming activities. We were interested to see how agricultural field sizes have changed over the years (ever the geographer, me).
Once we’d had our fill of indoors, we decided the animals were next on the list. There’s not many, but enough to laugh at the funny ultra-feathered silkie chickens, and point out the ones that looked like my sister in law’s hens. N decided the rabbits were cute, and the baby ones were. N was confused about the baby ducks in with the hen, but we saw chicks as well. So sweet.
I’m a goat fan so we spent a bit of time watching them, and the sheep who were nearly falling down their ditch. Then we headed off towards the nature trail end where we’d been pointed towards for the Vikings in residence, and some cowboys who were going to be doing a gunfight. We didn’t see any cowboys, so I’m not sure if there was some confusion over that.
The village sites are great. We were able to see Tudor farmhouses and other dwellings as well as speak to Tudor people who were cooking, then move through to the Viking village. There were also Vikings walking around and shop owners are artisan craftsman making Viking decorative jewellery and accessories. N pointed out the significance of the types of jewellery because he’d seen similar on Horrible Histories. You can look and go into the houses and they’re all decorated historically.
We did a final wander down to the Roman village. This was empty (I presume they rotate the people around the different villages on different days) of people but again we could look into each of the different types of building, from latrines, to houses, to sentry posts, to workshops. I really think these are great for teaching bringing history to life for children, although it would have been nice to have a few placards or signs to read which explained a bit more in depth about the village. There were a few small signs explaining the names in Latin and English.
We didn’t do the nature trail or head across the other side of the playground to see the prehistoric dwellings, but there would have been more to see if we’d had time. A quick play on the playground before some lunch in the café. There’s limited choices on the menu, but it was fairly quick service when we were there.
What we liked
- It’s not a massive commercial operation. It’s a bit rustic which works with the farming theme.
- Plenty to interest different ages
- Indoor and outdoor options
- Great for more immersive learning experiences for children
- Good value for a day out
We had a lovely morning at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming, and I’m sure if we lived closer, we’d be going back there a second time.
Have you ever been or to somewhere similar?