Explore the V&A Museum of Childhood with your 2-4 at a Movement Play session

What?: If you were lucky enough to attend one of artist/choreographer Aya Kobayashi’s Under-5s Explore the Gallery sessions at Tate Britain then you’re in for a treat with Movement Play, a brand new Saturday workshop devised by Kobayashi and possessing all the magic of the Tate sessions in a more toddler-friendly setting, on a shorter timescale and minus Kobayashi (they’re led by museum staff instead).

Our session began at the entrance to MoC’s temporary A Pirate’s Life for Me exhibition, where our tiny pirates were given neckerchiefs and a giant fabric crocodile with handles was rolled out to lead us through the gallery. We sang as we all held onto his scales, weaving through the Saturday hordes and marvelling at his glow-in-the-dark stripes as we passed through the UV-lit corridor peppered with pirate ghosts.

Once we were out the other side the crocodile was taken for a nap we were all given percussion instruments to bang as we made our way down the stairs, through the lower galleries and into a studio in the bowels of the museum. MoC is busy at the best of times, but on a Saturday it’s heaving and giving toddlers something to hold onto or make a loud noise with feels like a pretty crucial measure in making sure they don’t end up disappearing forever into the museum’s infinite loop of galleries and becoming a permanent display.

Inside the studio each carer-toddler pair was asked to sit on one of the squishy mats, which in turn became boats and hammocks on which the little pirates were dragged around the floor or swung in the air by their adults (thankfully since I’m expecting I was given some help with the second bit). Incidentally duvet travel around the gallery was one of the key elements of Kobayashi’s Tate workshops, but given the impossibility of swinging a cat, let alone a 30lb toddler, around the MoC, this activity was understandably confined to the lower decks.

Once we’d put the duvets to bed we were directed to the radiators, where sets of ingeniously inventive glove-fish hung by the magnets sewn into their fingertips. Everyone chose a pair, complete with goggly eyes, and began making their way around the room making their fish lock lips with others’ (thankfully this didn’t become an adult-on-adult thing, or it would have been really weird), and then attaching them to magnetised scarves and making them dance around the room.

Our final activity, which admittedly didn’t have a lot to do with pirates, involved dancing around the space on special felt clogs consisting of an adult pair with a kids’ pair stuck to their upper. This bit, though fun, was particularly knackering and I found myself handing over to the class lead again so Babu could have a dance and I could actually breathe. Overall a really lovely, fun-filled session offering something a bit different to the usual museum offerings and something pleasingly similar to the perpetually sold-out Tate sessions.

Where and When?: Workshops take place from 10.30-11.30am and 1-2pm on the first Saturday of every month. The V&A Museum of Childhood is on Cambridge Heath Road and is a two-minute walk from Bethnal Green Underground station.

Best Bits: I loved the inventiveness of this workshop. Kobayashi is so good at tapping into toddlers’ imaginations.

Worst Bits: You’re only allowed one adult per child and vice-versa, presumably due to space and logistical constraints. Also if you have the kind of kid who runs off a lot you might struggle with the first bit of this session.

Facilities: Baby changing, step-free access, on-site cafe, buggy parking.

Cost: £3 per child.

Would We Come Back?: Yes, particularly if the sessions vary from month to month.


Babu gets her groove on at Movement Play, V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green.