The Australian War Memorial is Canberra's most popular tourist attraction, with thousands of people from around Australia and the world visiting daily. As many visitors are travelling with children, they have a number of free and fun activities for kids to do while they're there - to get hands-on and learn about the museum in an age-appropriate way. For the people of Canberra, this museum is also a popular place to visit in the school holidays, with a wide range of activities to experience. We are fortunate that there are so many FREE things to do around Canberra each school holidays and this is one of the best!
To download the full summer program see here, however this is what the kids can look forward to these school holidays for December 2017/ January 2018...
STORY TIME Every Friday (excluding 29th December and 26th January) at 10:30am, in the Lower Galleries.
As some of the stories of war can be too old for little ones, this Story time for preschoolers focuses on exciting tales about brave animals, interesting people and faraway countries - using puppetry, uniforms and toys to tell the story.
DISCOVERY ZONE Open every day during the ACT school holidays between 10am - 5pm. In the event of a school booking during the holidays, the Discovery Zone may be unavailable for 30 minutes at 12pm and 4pm.
This is a fun and interactive area for kids of all ages, with a war-time helicopter to sit in, a Cold War submarine to walk through, a dress-up area to play in, a trench to explore and interactive games to play. Smaller children will enjoy the interactive component of this area, however if they have a sensitivity to noise, you may want to prepare them before sitting in the helicopter. See here for details. For a full article on the Discovery Zone, see here.
The Education team at the Australian War Memorial spend all year taking school students around their museum to teach them about the stories of war. During the school holidays they offer a Family Tour so that adults and kids can enjoy the different areas of the museum together. The tour lasts for 30 minutes.
HANDS ON HISTORY Monday to Thursday between 8th - 25th January, as well as Saturdays 20th and 27th January. Starts at 11am in the Lower Galleries.
Hands On History is run on the same days as the Family Tours, above, so you can take the half hour tour at 10:15am and then join Hands On History at 11am. This fun and interactive program allows children to try on uniforms, handle objects and learn more about the people of war-time.
MAKE AND CREATE Thursdays 11th, 18th and 25th January. Fridays 12th and 19th January. 11:30am - 1pm in the Education Space, Lower Galleries.
This free craft activity is run by the Education team and involves making creations to take home, or to display as a group project in the Education Space. In previous school holidays, craft activities have included making paper poppies, slouch hats and masks. This is a particularly popular activity, with a variety of craft stations to explore.
If you are looking for a place to stop for a snack or lunch with the kids, there is the Landing Place café inside the museum, or outside the museum there is Poppy's café, with plenty of room for prams.
Also, if you have older kids who are happy to go for a walk and explore, take a 2.5km stroll along Anzac Parade Memorial Walk in front of the museum and see memorials of wars that Australia and New Zealand have participated in, side by side. Each one is uniquely different and you can walk up to them, touch them and some you can even walk inside. See here for details. For a full article on the Anzac Parade Memorial Walk, see here.
The spacious Poppy's Cafe, outside the Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial is a fascinating museum for adults to explore, however it also has a lot to offer children of all ages. Although it may bring up questions that you may not want to answer for younger children, the Family Tours, Story time and Hands On History are ideal ways for kids to enjoy the museum experience, in a way that they can understand. For older primary school children, who often visit the Memorial on school excursions, it will help them understand it further when they learn about it in school.
Summer is the perfect time to visit the Australian War Memorial - as when the weather hots up in the Capital, the air-conditioned museum is a cool respite.
For kids, it will be the coolest place in Canberra - literally!
How cool is this? Pilot a helicopter in the Discovery Zone!