Build your adventure story at home


Museum of Childhood
July 18, 2022

At Young V&A, we think that objects from the past can inspire us to use our imaginations. They can even help us make a whole story up. In the Adventure room in the new Imagine Gallery, you will be encouraged to do exactly that. By choosing objects, you can decide what will happen in your own adventure story. 

This summer, the Young V&A team will be popping up at Idea Stores across Tower Hamlets, as part of their Summer Reading Challenge activities. There, we want to learn from children how they come up with new stories from museum objects. Find out more about our events at Idea Store in our previous post

Introducing Arkem Mark Walton

© Arkem Mark Walton

Storyteller and performer Arkem Mark Walton has been developing workshops with Young V&A for events this Summer at Idea Store. Arkem has an array of fancy costumed characters who like to tell and make up stories with children and adults.  

We asked Arkem tips for coming up with new characters or stories from our imagination. Arkem said: 

I like to find a story through a character, and I often find a character through costume. Sometimes I might draw a character, then go looking for suitable things – wigs, clothes, make-up to create the costume, or I might just start with a heap of materials and see what kind of creature emerges if I play with trying things on. 

What can you find at home to dress up and become a character? 

Inspired by the V&A collection

(Activity recommended for ages 5+)

Like Arkem’s costumes, people have long used visual props or pictures to tell stories to an audience. 

This Story-Teller’s Box in the museum’s collection was made in India. It is a portable wooden box and may have been used by traditional story-tellers called bhat (meaning ‘teacher’ in Sanskrit). Different parts of the box show scenes from Hindu stories. Can you imagine what is going on in these stories by looking at these pictures? 

The pictures on the box tell stories about a Hindu god, Vishunu. Story-teller’s box, made about 1960 in Rajasthan, India. Museum no. IS.6-1983 © Victoria and Albert Museum 

Make your own adventure story

Now, let’s explore the V&A collection objects to look for visual inspirations for our own stories.  

Arkem also shared some tips for creating stories: 

Once you have your character, think about where they live, what they like doing, what other characters live with or near them. And then you can think about a “problem” to help direct your story, for instance has your character lost something?

You can start making your adventure story by thinking about these four questions: 

  • Where do you want to go?
  • How are you going to get there?
  • What will you take with you?
  • Who will you meet?

Use the Explore the Collection page on the V&A website and find an object you like for each of the four questions above. 

Here is our example of the museum’s objects we picked to make an adventure story. We want to travel to a mysterious snowy world, and we will be using our magical moon shoes that can make us jump and fly high to get there. We will take with us a very special key that can open any doors and locks. And behind one of the doors, we will discover a purple unicorn! 

From left: Snow, print, David Hockney, 1973, Los Angeles; Pair of Moon Shoes, unknown maker, 1950 – 60s, England; The ‘Strozzi’ key, unknown maker, 1550 – 1650, France; Figure of Qilin, unknown maker, mid 19th century, Jengdezhen. © Victoria and Albert Museum 

What will happen in your story? 

Create a story bag

If you enjoyed creating stories from pictures of museum objects, why not create a Story Bag from things you can find at home? 

Check this activity sheet from the Play in the Pandemic online exhibition to create a Story Bag. 

Share what you create with us on Instagram (@young.vam) or Twitter (@young_vam). 

And don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to follow the latest news on the development of the Young V&A

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