Hampshire Cultural Trust

Exploring Toys

This session supports QCA Unit 1


During the session you will need to divide into groups to move, in any order, around 7 activities. We recommend the groups do not contain more than 7 pupils. Each group will be led by an adult helper and our Interpreter-Demonstrator will facilitate the session. It’s helpful for the Interpreter-Demonstrator if pupils are wearing name stickers

Session objectives

By means of specially designed activities, pupils are encouraged to discover the museum’s toy collections, using linked replica objects, by handling, observing and asking questions.


Introduction Welcome to the Curtis Museum, introduction to the museum and the session, followed by a quick walk around the building. After explaining the handling rules*, the class divides into groups and moves in any order around the 7 activities


Puzzle it Out - this activity combines a hunt for clues, a puzzle and a closer look at The Curtis Museum’s toy displays. There are 10 large puzzle pieces, each with a riddle attached to its base. Pupils are encouraged to solve the riddle - the answer is a toy in the gallery which they need to find. N.B. Remember there are cases through the door at the bottom of the stairs. Once each clue has been solved, the puzzle mat can be assembled in the shape of a well-known playground game.

Links - this activity encourages the development of observation skills, and in doing so a closer look at The Curtis Museum’s toy displays. There are a number of name cards with the names of toys on them and several different pairs of sorting cards to help you sort the name cards e.g. the names of toys you know and names of toys you don’t.

Looking After - we look after our museum collections for present and future generations to enjoy and learn from. We have several items in our handling collection which are delicate and fragile; some are too fragile to be taken out of their packaging. This activity is designed to prompt questions about collecting and looking after collections.

The Toy Box - the box has all kinds of toys - some old, some broken, some cuddly - which pupils will pretend to have found in their attic. Pupils are encouraged to sort the toys on the Value activity mat - something to give to the museum; something to give to the car boot sale; something to throw away; and something precious to keep because it reminds you of happy times. Clearly there are no right and wrong decisions - but much valuable conversation and discussion.

Old & New - the ideas for the most popular toys and games have been copied many times during the last hundred years. Using the Pairs activity mat pupils are encouraged to match old and new toys - e.g. a 1930 skipping rope with a modern one. Once all the toys are matched, further questions can be asked to prompt thinking about the changes in toys.

What's inside - we have placed some replica and new toys in feely bags to prompt sensory exploration. By feeling them through the bag, can pupils work out what they are?

Picture Puzzle - this simple and fun memory game shows pictures of some of the other toys in Hampshire’s collections. Like the game Pairs, but 4 pieces make up each whole picture.

Class comes back together to discuss what they have discovered

We would be very grateful if you could complete and return the evaluation form you are given on arrival at your earliest convenience.


You will shortly be visiting The Curtis Museum in Alton for one and a half hours to support the delivery of a programme called Exploring Toys. This programme has been devised and developed especially for year 1 and 2 pupils. You will be leading a small group of pupils as they try a range of activities in the museum; an Interpreter-Demonstrator will oversee the programme by moving from group to group to support you.

On arrival the Interpreter-Demonstrator will meet you and introduce you to the museum and give you a brief introduction to the activities you will be involved in. They will also take the whole class on a brief walk around the whole building – there are two floors - and you will be able to see the activities you will be leading.

The activities all have a brief instruction sheet with them. There is no set order to visit them in.

Puzzle it Out: there are 10 clues each attached to a big piece of puzzle. The toys that are the answers to the clues are in the display cases nearby and just beyond. Once you have solved a puzzle, you can put that big piece of puzzle on the floor. When you have solved them all, you should have a hopscotch game

Toys We Can’t See: we often use nursery rhymes and songs as a way of playing even though they are something we can’t really see. This activity will help you link pictures to some rhymes and songs.

Looking After: we have some really special toys for you to look at. They are the most fragile toys we have here today so they are really very precious. You can try matching our sound effects to them, deciding which pictures go with which toys, and comparing Rupert the Bear today with how he has looked in the past.

The Toy Box: this box has lots of different toys in it. It’s on a mat with 4 pictures to help you sort them. We want you to pretend you’ve found this box in your attic and you have to sort through it – what are you going to do with these toys? You might decide to give some to a museum, you might put some in the bin, you might keep some, you might give some to a car boot sale. There are no right and wrong answers!

Old & New: this box has lots of old toys in it and they each have a new partner. It’s on a mat with lots of matching shapes. We’d like you to find a toy, decide if it’s old or new, place it on a shape and then find it’s partner. Then you can see if there are differences or things the same between the old and new toys.

What’s Inside: we have some black bags which each have one toy inside. Without putting your hand inside or peeking, we want you to try to work out what is inside each bag.

Picture Puzzle: this is very like the game Pairs, but instead of needing 2 pieces to make up each picture, you need 4. They are all pictures of toys from our museums.

You should aim to spend around ten minutes on each activity with your group. You can then move onto another activity; if another group reaches the next activity before you, simply move on to the next and come back to that one later.

Before you begin any activities, the Interpreter-Demonstrator will explain the handling rules to everyone. They are that you only pick up one toy at a time, and that you use two hands with each toy. These rules are for pupils and adults alike; you will be handing a range of toys of various ages from Hampshire Cultural Trust's collections and we politely request that you remember our handling rules and respect our collections at all times.

As you are moving through the museum, the Interpreter-Demonstrator will spend a little time with each group to ensure they are all well-supported.

Around 15 minutes before the end of the programme, you will be asked to make your way to the foyer for the last ten minutes of the programme. The Interpreter-Demonstrator will go over what pupils have learned during their visit.

Please note: there are no public toilets at The Curtis Museum. However, the staff are happy for visiting pupils to use their toilet facilities during their visit. The Interpreter-Demonstrator will explain where they are during their introduction.



Discuss what toys the class play with at the moment. You could create a class chart to see what are the most popular toys owned by the class. You could discuss why we play with toys – group activities, fun, helps us to learn skills, stops us from being bored. Do we think these are the same reasons why people in the past would have played with toys?

Post visit

Do we play with the same kinds of toys today that children played with in the past? Who remembers the old skipping rope at the Museum? Stand up if you’ve played with a skipping rope. Who remembers the old cup and ball at the Museum? Stand up if you’ve played with a cup and ball. And so on.

Which toys do you think children in the future will always have? Will children always want a toy to hug and hold close to them?

Do we have toys for boys and different toys for girls? Can we name some? Do boys and girls ever play with other toys, e.g. boys play with dolls (action men? Toy soldiers?) and girls with toys for boys?



Important information

A 1 ½ hour session for one class of KS1, led by an Interpreter-Demonstrator

We request 7 adults or a ratio of 1:7