Open accessibilty tools

Museum of Old Things Toolkit

Follow these five simple steps in this toolkit  to create your own museum in an EYFS setting.

This toolkit introduces children in the early years to museums. It supports understanding around the past and the present.  It gives opportunities to look at objects that form a collection and discover how to look after them carefully. A visit to a real museum will embed new knowledge which can be used back in an early years setting to create their own role-play museum.

Whilst children are busy taking on different roles, the museum of old things allows children to develop their own understanding of the world. It encourages open ended learning and play opportunities through a whole variety of EYFS themes linked to any Early Learning Goals.


Introduce the concept to the students that they are going to be making their own museum. Have a group conversation around who has been to a museum before, what did they see and do? Who did they go with? Was there something special that they saw?

Follow this up with some small group activities including:

  • Sharing a story book around a visit to a museum

Suggested books include:

    • Harry and the Dinosaurs at the museum (Ian Whybrow, Adrian Reynolds)
    • Maisy Goes to the museum (Lucy Cousins)
    • The Museum of Me (Emma Lewis)

Sharing a short video looking at what to expect from a museum visit and the people they might meet there should initiate more conversations.

Introduce museums as places that are full of important objects that can help tell a story. Many objects are really old. Some are very delicate and will break easily.  Museum objects are very precious, even if they look very old and broken.

  • Have a look at some of the objects in a museum in a short video
  • This toys resource is a great starting place to look at the kind of toys children would have played with in the past.
  • Can you think about the oldest object in your house and draw a picture of it with labels?
  • Borrow a loan box and talk abut some of the old objects in there. Toys and seaside loans boxes, for example, are available and would be a good hook for EYFS
  • Have children make mini museums, collecting or drawing objects around a theme, for example toys, dinosaurs or even hats.
  • Discuss the importance of caring for objects. Handling them with care and being careful not to drop them.
  • Story books again can embed the importance of objects through a chosen EYFS theme.

Suggested story books include:

    • Too many Toys (Heidi Deedman)
    • A house that once was (Julie Fogliano)
    • Lost in he toy museum (David Lucas)

Now it’s time to visit a museum. Tees Valley Museums can support you with booking a visit. There are a variety of workshops available across the Tees Valley. Many museums offer EYFS and takeover events, giving children opportunities to meet the different people who work in museums and see some of the old objects that the museums have collected from the past.

Takeover events enable children to engage with the  museum staff as well as the collections. More information about what an EYFS visit might look like can be found here.

It might be a good idea to take photos of your visit which can be used back in the classroom to spark ideas about how to make a museum back in the classroom.

If you are unable to visit, opportunities to visit museums online are available and this includes local museums that children may have visited with their families. Visit Kirkleatham Museum online here.

Back in the classroom it’s time to create a museum of old things with your class.

In the play corner you could provide

  • A display board for artwork in a gallery area
  • Some shelves to display the objects and to write the labels
  • A counter for admissions tickets and museum shop
  • Objects linked to your class topic for display

To support you with creating a museum, Tees Valley Museums can provide:

  • A variety of loans boxes that will link to a range of EYFS themes
  • Localised images from the collections that can support artwork for a gallery
  • Museum “infrastructure” including display boards, label holders and sign boards

Creating the museum for a purpose, for example parents and carers to visit could offer opportunities to create posters and leaflets. Children could create objects for a museum shop. They could identify roles that they could undertake in a museum setting including tour guide, curator, cleaner, shop worker and more!

Making up their own stories –encourage children to make up their own scenarios in a museum. What if an object goes missing or gets broken? What if an important person comes to visit? Encourage children to take on different roles, including as a museum visitor.