May half term events at Tyneside museums including free or low cost activities for children

This May half-term families will be able to enjoy a string of activities with their children at museums – including events that are free or low cost.

Tyneside’s museums and galleries are hosting events at sites across South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Newcastle and Gateshead. All of the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums venues are near a Metro station, so people can take advantage of free travel for children under 11, with a fare paying adult.

The Ways to Play campaign activities, organised in partnership with Tyne and Wear Metro, are inspired by the range of ways a child can play and encourage children to be active, creative and imaginative. Highlights of the programme include a family arts festival at Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead, heritage train rides at Stephenson Steam Railway in North Shields and a whole host of family-friendly activities at Discovery Museum in Newcastle.

Full list of events

Discovery Museum, Newcastle

Family Challenge: Build A Bridge – On Tuesday, May 28. Get your engineering thinking caps on. Experiment with different bridge shapes to see which is the strongest, then build a bridge on a budget. £4 per family. More details here.

Train Master – Thursday, May 30. If you have a child who loves trains this event is not to be missed. Train Master are toy-train party experts who will lay a giant toy train track in the Great Hall for little visitors to explore. Bring your budding conductors, Thomas and Chuggington enthusiasts to get their hands on this huge toy, try out the ride-on train and play with the train roller coaster. This event is most suitable for those aged 3-7 years. £3.75 per child. More details here.

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Discover, Listen & Try – May 28, 29 and 30. Join the museum team for an enchanting exploration into the hidden realms of nature. Craft your own butterflies, move mindfully to melodic flute music, and listen to the secret sounds of underwater worlds. Meet experts along the way who will reveal the mysteries of fluttering creatures and engage in a hands-on bio blitz. All events free. More details here.

Mythquest AR Adventure – Download the Mythquest app before or during your visit and experience an interactive journey as you explore the museum and learn about myths from around the world. More details here.

Space Investigators North East – This immersive exhibition will take you on a multi-sensory journey into the hidden worlds of the Universe. There’s so much to learn about how advances in technology are constantly unveiling new areas of the Universe for us to investigate. More details here.

Stephenson Steam Railway, North Shields

Heritage Train Rides – Take a four-mile return trip following the route of the coal trains from the collieries to the River Tyne behind a vintage locomotive in 1950s passenger carriages. It’s the perfect experience for train-lovers and families. More details here, including dates of rides.

Teddy Bear’s Picnic – Monday, May 27. Invite along your favourite bear to enjoy a heritage train ride. Collect a train ticket for your furry friend and create a teddy bear passport at the activity table in the museum. There will be entertainment from the Moss Troopers, with puppet shows featuring Reynard the Fox, Isengrim the Wolf and other critters. Join them for animal tales throughout the day. More details here for ticket prices and timings.

Bio Blitz – Thursday, May 30. Stephenson Steam Railway has been awarded National Heritage Lottery Funding to develop a Woodland Walk at the site. As part of this, the team is working alongside the Natural History Society of Northumbria and Environment Records Information Centre to hold a bio-blitz event. At this event, you will be able to get involved in finding and recording as many species of plants, animals and fungi that live on the site. There will also be nature-based craft activities for families to get involved in. More details here.

Stephenson Railway Museum in North Shields(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery

Tremendous Tuesday: Free Family Craft Activities – Tuesday, May 28. Explore the paintings in the art gallery, before heading into the Learning Room to create a moving fish using different coloured papers. More details here.

Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend

Marvellous Monday: Free Family Craft Activities – Monday, May 27. The Romans sometimes used mosaic tiles to decorate their floors and walls. Design and make your own decorative mosaic on a coaster. More details here.

Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort

Crafty Romans: Free Family Craft Activities – Wednesday, May 29. Make your own wildflower seed bomb to plant at home using recycled paper. More details here.

Hatton Gallery, Newcastle

Children’s Workshop: Print & Collage Fun – Wednesday, May 29. Drop into the Hatton Gallery to create your own piece of artwork, whilst learning some new art techniques. Event is free. More details here.

Children’s Workshop: Monotprinting Fun – Thursday, May 30. Come along and learn some different printmaking techniques. Add to your art knowledge and create pieces to add to your portfolio for school or art courses. Event is free. More details here.

Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead

Family Arts Festival – Tuesday, May 28, and Thursday, May 30. £3 per participant. More details here. Come and get creative at the following fun holiday sessions for all ages.

  • Underwater Ceramics – This session is inspired by the ceramics on display. Here you’ll find ceramics decorated with fish designs and learn about artists who’ve been inspired by aquatic nature. You can then create your own crafts inspired by underwater creatures – choose to make an octopus with wavy legs, or a paper fish that really moves. If you have time, you might even be able to make both.
  • Create a Keepsake Box – Use airdrying clay to shape small decorations to add to your box and a variety of tools to make marks such as patterns or your name. At home, let you box dry for 24hr, then paint it yourself if you’d like to add colour.

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