#LetsMakeWednesdays – Storytelling and performance

April 29, 2020

You might like to check out an updated version of this activity here.


Let’s make your own story and bring it to life!  

Everyone loves a story. From books to plays and programmes on television, storytelling is a chance to have an adventure in your own house. In the V&A’s galleries there are loads of wonderful (and sometimes weird!) objects that can tell us stories from all around the world. In this week’s challenge we want you to make up a story inspired by objects in your home. 


Letmake a treasure hunt story 

 Choose some (maybe 5?) everyday things from around your house, such as a small toy, a drawing or photo, something from your school bag, or you could ask a parent or carer to lend you something. Put all your found treasures into a big bag. This is your treasure bag.  

Now, let’s invent our story. You can write it down, draw some pictures or make it up in your imagination. First, let’s decide who should be the main character of your story – maybe a pirate, scientist, spy, astronaut or whomever you like. Who are they? What do they look like? Use your imagination to think about this character and how they act.  

Once you have your main character, think about when and where your story takes place. This is called the setting. Does it take place in the past? Today? In the future? Is it in a city? A jungle? On a ship? On another planet? The setting could be somewhere specific, like Ancient Egypt or in your house 100 years in the future. Or it could even in a completely new, imaginary place. 

Now you have your main character and your setting, let’s think about what happens in your story. We are going to send your character on a journey to find treasure. This can be an actual treasure, or a journey to find something that is important to the main character. Take your treasure bag you started to help you come up with different parts of the story. As you think about your story, reach into your treasure bag, and pull out an object without looking. How can you incorporate this into your story? You can turn the objects into different things, like a clock changing into a time machine or a book that now has magical powers. Keep pulling out things from your treasure bag until it is empty. How have these objects helped (or delayed) your main character on their journey? Think about what challenges your character faces, and how they overcome them. Is there a baddie in your story that is also looking for the treasure? Or maybe the treasure is very hard to find.  

How does your story end? Did your main character find their treasure? Who did they meet along the way? Where did they go on their journey? 

There over one millions objects in the V&A collections. Here are some examples to get you started, or you can search for your own objects on our collections site.

 This gold clock is from Germany and was made in 1564. Clocks were a symbol of wealth and education. What else could this clock be in your story? 

Clock made by Jeremias Metzger, 1564. Mus. no. 4273-1857 © Victoria and Albert Museum

This double-headed dragon from China was made of jade in the 1600s. Who do you think would carry something like this? Why do you think the dragon was special to them? Does your character carry something that is special to them?  

Dragon plaque, 17th century © Victoria and Albert Museum

This tiara is made up of over 1,000 diamonds. Could someone in your story wear a crown like this or another special hat? What would wearing something like this tell other people?  

Manchester Tiara made by Cartier, 1903. Mus. no. M.6:1-2007 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Let’s make your characters costume  

Think about your favourite character in the story. What kind of clothes do you imagine them wearing? What colours? What kind of materials? Do they wear a hat, gloves or jewellery? Did they have a special tool or object to help them? Draw a picture of your character and think about what costumes and tools they need on their adventure. 

The V&A has lots of costumes worn by characters in theatre, film and TV. Watch the video below to learn about costume design in Hollywood films:


This costume was designed to be worn by a fairy with magical powers in a play called ‘The Wooden Prince’.  This costume was designed to show a very powerful character. The headpiece and capes are bright colours, whereas the chest piece was made to look like armour.  

Costume by Philip Prowse for The Wooden Prince, 1981. Mus. no.
S.73 to C-1985 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Let’s make a set 

Where does your story take place? At sea? On the moon? In a castle? Let’s make the place that your story happens. Turn a box sideways to make a mini theatre stage. Use paper, pens, parts of magazines and newspapers to make your set. Top tip: is it day or night and winter or summer in your story? Show that in your design too. 

This model of a set for a play was made in 1785 for a play in London. It is supposed to look like Kensington Gardens, a park in central London. Can you see how the actors can come on the stage in front and in back of the trees on the sides?  

Set model by Philip James de Loutherbourg, 1785. Mus. no. E.158:1-1937 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Let’s perform your story! 

Now, let’s bring your story to life. You can read your story or act it out. Think about the voices that your characters have. Can you imitate them? Dress up as your character using your own clothes to make a costume. Be inventive! You could wear something inside out or upside down to make it look different. Use materials, like sheets or blankets to set the scene. Grab the objects in your story bag and get your family to join in, by making sound effects or being different characters in the adventure.  

Let the adventure begin! 

Costume by Julie Talyor for the musical The Lion King. Mus. no. S.3140:1-2010 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Need some inspiration?  

These costumes are from the Broadway production of ‘The Lion King’. Can you see how they are made to look like lions, while still showing the faces of the actors? Costumes don’t need to be exact copies of real life, you can use your imagination. You can see more examples of costumes for plays and films at the V&A here

Sets for plays and operas can be very big and intricate. Watch this video to see how people would make sets for plays and operas in the past:  


Don’t forget to show us what you made on social media using #LetsMakeWednesdays 

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