Teacher planning materials


Use pretend play to fire up children’s imagination and create a story setting for your object.

Create a role-play area in your classroom based on one of the themes linked to your object:

  • A railway ticket office and train carriage from the 1800s going to different local places.
  • A tea shop with loose tea, teapots, strainers and cups and saucers. You could include a world map showing where different teas have come from.
  • A ship exploring the other side of the world.

Encourage the children to come up with ideas and people to dress up as. Draw on local places, features or people to name the station, ship or spaceship and link the past to children’s lives today. Ask children to record or write stories from their new meeting place.

Help children think more deeply about their choice of words as they suggest imperative mottos.

Take a look at Captain Cook’s coat of arms here. Challenge children to design their own coat of arms for your class:

Explain the idea of some simple mottos: Stay strong, Be brave, Always be kind etc. Talk about what your object makes children think of. What kind of motto might fit with it? Children can draw the object in the middle of a shield shape and add their own or a class motto round it.

Develop children’s historical vocabulary by thinking about the life and times of your object.

Use our web resources and images from other museums online to give children lots of pictures of people and things from the same era as your object. Talk about them as a class and identify all the differences between then and children’s experiences today.

Give groups of children a set of images and a set of blank cards. Children think of a word to match to each picture, write one word per card and can then play a matching pairs game.

Develop children’s planning skills as they generate descriptive words for a recording.

Audio labels can bring objects to life for someone who is visually impaired. Challenge children to make a soundscape in response to your object.

Think about the sounds and words associated with the object. Can the sounds be re-created using simple classroom objects (musical instruments, voices, different materials etc…) Can you add voices to the sound effects? Can children make the way they say the words reflect their meaning? Ensure children plan their words and sounds and note them down before finally recording them.

You can record a soundtrack, simply through an app (garageband or FL studio or walkstudio for android are examples), or onto recordable buttons, from educational suppliers like TTS.

Use person profiles to help children to develop story characters.

As a class, make ‘person profiles’ for two people you imagine might have owned your object at different times. Use the same headings for each owner and compare the two people. Headings could include: name, when they were born, place of birth, special skills/interests, how they came to own the object, how they lost it or gave it to someone else.

Challenge older children to imagine the most recent owner of the object. Ask them to write a person profile using the same headings. This would work well in pairs.

Use your object to reinforce initial sounds.

What letter does your object begin with? How many alliterative describing words can children come up with for your object? This could be a quick funny exercise or you could ask children to pick the word, or words, they think work best with your object and make them into a poster or a book cover.

Use your object to extend children’s vocabulary.

In pairs or small groups ask children to write down in secret 5 or 10 words that describe your object. As children share their words with the class, write them on the whiteboard and tally how many times each word is suggested. Create a word cloud where words suggested the most are bigger. Why not display the word cloud with the object? You could do the same activity but ask children to write words that the object reminds them of, rather than describing words.

Developing children’s recording skills.

Provide children with a variety of questions to ask an older person about what your object means to them. Design a worksheet that will encourage using words, pictures or both which can be written up into a sentence later on. (Thought bubbles and speech bubbles can be included)

Resources to use with students

Make little books

Use this video by local poet and writer Lisette Auton about making little books. Below are some ideas for using the little books creatively with your object.

Developing historical enquiry skills and writing

Find something really old at home or use your museum object to record information and questions about your object in a variety of ways. There are some suggestions on the  PDF here

Here’s an example of how one Year 1 from Redcar investigated his Grandma’s Teddy.

Help children learn to spell the days of the week.

Make a Little book into a weekly diary for your object. Create a front cover, leaving 7 more pages: one for each day of the week. Ask children to write the name of the day and then something the object saw, did, thought or felt that day in your classroom, as if they were the object keeping a diary. Children could read aloud some of the entries each day to build up a picture of how your object is enjoying being in your class.

Teacher planning materials

Planning and writing interesting object labels can help children think about how formal language is different from speech.

Create imaginative labels for your class object. Offer open ended opportunities for children to be creative in their thinking. The information has to be interesting for visitors, but not necessarily factually correct. Think about what information people like to know about an object.

• What is it?
• Where is it from?
• What material is it made from?
• What it’s called?
• What it was used for?
• What’s special about it?

Older children might like to imagine that their labels are in a museum in 100 year’s time. The curator of the future has just found your object and is writing a label for their display. Challenge them to include some statements of fact and some of opinion.

Encourage children to consider their audience, develop their persuasive writing and even to use a thesaurus.

Challenge children to design a poster about your object

  • Imagine it’s the very first of its kind. Discuss with children what’s new and unique about it from its materials to how it works. Create a poster advertising the amazing things it can do, how it can help people or the difference it will make.
  • Imagine your object needs to be sold. Create a persuasive advert. Try making an historical advert and then a modern one, selling the object as a historical ‘collectable’.
  • Imagine your object is the star object in an exhibition. Create an exhibition poster featuring your object. What will the exhibition be called? When and where will it be? Look at exhibition posters in our inspiration gallery to get good ideas.

Support children’s skills in creating characters and then use the 5 ‘W’s to structure their formal speaking

As a class pool your knowledge of what life was like at the time of your object. Use our web resources and images from other museums online to give children lots of pictures of people and things from the same era as your object. Create a class ‘mood board’ to give the historical context to your object.

Now, working in pairs or small groups students write a description of two people who might have owned the object when it was first made and how they came to own and use it. As a class discuss and agree 5 interview questions. Back in their pairs or groups children then role play interviewing each of the owners, taking it in turns to be the interviewer and the interviewee.

You can do this as role play, as written script, as a newspaper interview or even as a film using an app like iMovie to edit out any fluffs and bloopers.

Developing note taking skills. Chronological report writing skills.

Think of a significant event linked to your object. Discuss why the story is newsworthy, the key facts, words to capture the excitement or ‘drama’. Who could they interview to comment? What questions could you ask, what answers would you report? Think about powerful adverbs when discussing what the headline might be. Tell the story either by writing a newspaper report or filming a TV news reporter. Introduce words that will support children putting events into chronological order. Local events could be:

• Pease and Stephenson’s revolutionary railway.
• Ironstone discovered in the Cleveland hills.
• Local boy Captain Cook explores the other side of the world.
• Alice Coates becomes Middlesbrough’s first woman councillor.
• Land speed record broken at Saltburn

Resources to use with students

These videos were originally created to support creative writing at home but can just as easily be used with your object in the classroom.

In this first video local author Gabrielle Kent interviews objects at home.

Interviewing your object will help children with talk for writing and could be used to highlight questioning skills and punctuation. Challenge children to come up with a whole list of questions to ask your object. They can then swap questions with a partner and share answers with the class. Class or group conversations could lead to some interesting thoughts and ideas. Questions could include:

• How did you get to the museum?
• What’s the most interesting place you’ve been to?
• What’s the most difficult situation you’ve been in?
• Who was your owner?

Help children to get to grips with the conventions of different types of writing.

In this video, local author Gabrielle Kent talks about writing a letter from one object to another. Challenge children to write a letter from the class object to another object or person. Suggest they describe where they are, what they’re doing, interesting events and that they ask questions to the recipient. Children can perform and record reading their letter, thinking about different voices and expressions using informal language.

Help children develop plot ideas, with reference to reading.

In this video, local author Gabrielle Kent talks about how she uses objects that malfunction in some way as a key part of her plots. Ask children to imagine your object has malfunctioned and now has superpowers. What superpowers does it have?
You could signpost children to stories in which objects work differently, e.g. Gabrielle Kent’s Knights and bikes series, the gadgets in the Stormbreaker books, the clock striking 13 in Tom’s Midnight Garden etc.

Use simple poetic phrases to create a class poem, drawing on Saxon traditions.

In this video, local storyteller Elizabeth Baker explains all about Anglo Saxon kennings – a form of simple poem. Challenge children to make a spider diagram of different words and phrases to describe the class object and to use this to create some two-word kennings. Can they come up with a kenning that is an alliteration? Work in groups to combine kennings to make poems about your object.

Help children develop their poetry writing and performance skills.

In these videos Gabrielle Kent explains how to create acrostic poems and haiku about objects. Children can create a poem and then read their work aloud either in pairs, groups or to the class. Why not record these as voiceovers to a digital image of your object downloaded from our website? Children can create different voices to create the “personality” of the object.

Spark children’s creative thinking and prompt descriptive writing.

This PowerPoint was produced by teachers and museum staff responding to a Japanese Teabrick. Share the images and descriptions with children. Can they identify what words and imagery the writers have chosen to make their tea reflect its name? To help children create their own tea ask them to decide: where does your tea come from, what is it like there, what is special about that place, who or what could harvest the tea, what will it taste like and what if anything will its effect be on whoever drinks it?

Download the CreativiTea PowerPoint here.



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