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Toy Museum at Home Day

Meet Ellen from Kirkleatham Museum in Redcar. Ellen will introduce you to today’s activities.  All the people you will meet today work in museums in the Tees Valley, which is in the North East of England between Whitby and Newcastle. Our museum partnership is called ‘Making a Mark’. We know that museums are great places for young children to explore and learn. Whilst it’s difficult to visit museums at the moment, children can learn some of those same things through playing at home.  We’ve been working hard with EYFS teachers in our museums, to create programmes and exhibitions that young children can enjoy. We’d love to see you in our museums, when it’s safe for you to visit. Look us up on a map of the UK!

What Shall We Put in our Museum?

Meet Sue from the Dorman Museum in Middlesbrough. Sue’s going to help you make a start on your museum display. You’ll need a range of toys and some boxes, stools or chairs to sit them on.  By choosing which toys to include in their museum and how to group them, children will be developing their skills in observation and sorting/classifying. They will spot similarities and differences and make connections. Discussing their toys will help them develop their reflective thinking and self awareness, as well as their communication skills. Making these decisions themselves is good for children’s confidence.

Are There Any Old Toys in Your House?

Meet Caitlin from Preston Park Museum in Stockton-on-Tees. Caitlin’s going to show you some of the old-fashioned toys she’s using in her display and help you compare them to your toys. Then she’s going to send you on a hunt around your house to find something to add to your museum.  Handling collections of objects is a great way to encourage children to notice, and describe, materials and their uses. It’s another chance for children to make connections to, and be more curious about, the world around them. Whilst very young children don’t need to understand about periods in history, looking at familiar objects and their equivalents in ‘the olden days’ is a really good way of introducing the idea of change over time. Comparing their toys with your toys, and with granny’s toys, can prompt a lovely sharing of family stories and help develop a sense of the past lives of people they know well.

Make a Fun Game of Quoits

Meet Jenny from the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Middlesbrough. Jenny will show you a game called quoits that sailors played and help you make your own. You’ll need small plastic bottles, thin card, paper plates (or more card), scissors, pens and sticky tape.  Quoits is a great game for hand-eye coordination. If your little one is good at it, why not make it harder by pretending there’s a storm at sea

Everyone is Welcome - Come on in!

Meet Sarah from the Head of Steam Museum in Darlington. Sarah will help you make all the signs your museum needs - from an open and closed sign to a label explaining your toys on display.  Making signs is a clever way to encourage children to mark make or write. It’s a good opportunity to make them aware of print in the world around them and the usefulness of signs generally – another thing to chat about on neighbourhood walks.


Here’s an activity to make a simple version of the Victorian favourite: a cup and ball. The idea of the game is to catch the ‘ball’ in the ‘cup’. It does require good hand-eye coordination, but this version provides a good-sized cup to maximise your chances! Older children may be able to follow the simple ‘how to’ guidance by themselves.

Naughty Bus

Ellen’s back with a lovely story about a naughty toy bus. If it was in a toy museum, it would need a very long label to tell everyone about its amazing adventures!

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