This activity is suitable for students aged 5-11, you can download a free, printable PDF version here.

Show children an object from our collection. Investigate it together using questions like:

  • What colour is it?
  • What do you think it’s made from?
  • Might it make a noise?
  • What would it feel like if you could touch it – light/heavy, rough/smooth, warm, cold?
  • What might it smell like?
  • What was it made to do?
  • Who was it made for?
  • Are there any moving parts?
  • Is it decorated?

What is it?

Spend some time talking about the object, what it is, how it was used and who used it. Use the object’s accompanying notes to help with this.

With this information in mind, work together to ‘personify’ the object, writing the children’s different ideas on the whiteboard:

  • If it could talk what would it say?
  • What might it see, hear, smell?
  • If it had feelings how might it feel – about the job it was made to do, about the people who use it?
  • Who might its friends be?
  • Who or what might it like or dislike?
  • What might it do in its spare time?
  • What might it get up to when no-one’s looking?
  • What might it like to eat or drink?
  • What might it wish..?

Children can turn their ideas into an individual or class story or ‘day in the life’ account in the first person, or a personification poem.


Try this activity with:

Locomotion I

The Penny Black stamp

The Velocipede

The Earl of Uxbridge’s prosthetic leg

The Davy miners lamp