Here’s how we got on…
The museum gets off to a good start as entry is free (but you should be aware that there are collecting tins and lots of slots you can put money in e.g. Postman Pat Van ride, Brum ride at various points round the museum).
This week was half term so there was also a trail around the museum (£1.50 for the sheet for children 5+ and £1 for the sheet for children under 5) – if children completed this they got a sticker… We bought one sheet for the three of them to share and the staff were happy to give them all a sticker at the end which was good as whilst the trail was fantastic for keeping them interested I don’t think I’d have enjoyed getting them to complete it if I’d paid £4.50 for the privilege!
To fit with the theme of the temporary exhibition (Wheels & Waves – more about that later) the children had to find ten cut out surfboards around the museum and answer a question about the nearby exhibit – things like what year it was made, how much it cost, what is the top speed plus drawing car badges and mascots. The sheet was of interest to all three of the Littlesheeps (the surfboards were just at the right height for Littlest to spot and the bigger two filled in the sheet) and kept them interested in continuing round the museum.
The museum has lots of ‘hands on activities’ – for example tipping the bus to see just how far a double decker can lean without falling over, pressing buttons to make different lights come on and a demonstration of how an engine works – these all engaged the boys well. There were also various colouring / activity tables throughout the museum for children do complete with prompts of things to draw / rubbings to complete but at a quick glance these seemed lacking in paper (not that the Littlesheeps were interested as they were far to busy looking
for surfboards at cars).
There is a video display through the history of car making in Coventry but it was quite hard to focus on with all the people and other noises. We listened to bits of it but didn’t really manage to keep up because we spent different amounts of time with various bits of the exhibit. The Littlesheeps were very interested in the car factory clocking on machine, the conveyor belt and the blitz experience (which is very loud).
There is another video display around the Thrust 2 and Thrust SSC exhibition and you can go on a simulator for an additional charge (we decided that the Littlesheeps were a bit small). Then there is a room of model vehicles, an exhibition about the closure car factories in the city, a room with the history of the bicycle and another full of motorbikes.
Last of all there is the temporary exhibition area in the foyer – at the moment it is ‘Wheels and Waves’ with the history of surfing and a range of different camper vans, surf boards and other surfing paraphenalia. The boys found these really interesting exhibits – perhaps because a lot of these vehicles are ones that they had seen ‘on the road’ rather than just as museum exhibits.
We had a great low-cost afternoon and we all learnt something new whilst having fun – did you know that the first automatic traffic lights were installed in Wolverhampton in 1927 and the first roadside petrol pump was in Shrewsbury in 1913?