You are here

Suitcase Full of Stories

This project aimed to engage early years children from North Liverpool with the museums and galleries that were on their doorstep. It was a collaboration between National Museums Liverpool (the Walker Art Galleryl), Small Stories (group of freelance early years practitioners), Liverpool Children’s Services and five early years settings in North Liverpool.

1st September 2009 - 31st August 2010
  • The project’s main aims were to:

    • explore how cultural venues can support a cultural offer for early years through a combination of arranged visits, outreach work and resource development;
    • identify how cultural venues such as National Museums Liverpool can support delivery of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework particularly to assess impact in terms of speaking and listening skills and emotional well being;
    • increase numbers of families with very young children visiting cultural venues in Liverpool city centre;
    • explore the potential of parental engagement in very young children’s learning and accessing the cultural offer.

    The eight-week project involved 75 children aged 3-5, 30 educational professionals, 8 creative practitioners and 60 members of the wider community including parents. A suitcase of objects inspired by the collections of the Walker Art Gallery was created. These objects were used as a starting point for the children to tell their own stories. The children worked with professional storytellers to develop their own storytelling skills through drama, group work and imaginative play. Each story was recorded word for word and transcribed to appear in a book. These were published and gifted to the nursery or setting as part of a celebration event.


  • The feather landed on the beach and then it flew away to a fairy landing. It went to somebody’s house and the dog started biting and licking it. It was all soggy and wet. The wind came and dried it all off. The sun came out and it landed to the birds landing… it went home where the birds could use it to warm the babies. The lived forever and ever.

    By Tia, St Nicholas Catholic Primary School.

  • Throughout the project, practitioners closely followed the interests of the very young children involved which was designed to be flexible and as open ended as possible The children increased their awareness and understanding of museums and art galleries as a result of the project which culminated in a visit to the venue.

    The mechanism of using the children’s stories as the starting point for all future activities created improved awareness of their own talent and the children’s confidence grew. This was consolidated by publishing children’s stories in a book. The project also highlighted the level of collaboration and support that young children can show towards each other. This was demonstrated by the willingness to perform and act out each other’s stories and valuing each others’ contribution to the sessions. There was a development of key early years skills such as speaking and listening and becoming familiar with narrative constructions as a result of the project. Extremely high levels of enjoyment were observed throughout the activities.

    As a result of the project National Museums Liverpool learnt a great deal about mechanisms that we could be used to engage this age group. The process of working with a group of the same children over a period of six weeks and delivery by the same freelancer had a positive effect. It meant that the children really understood what the project was and how it linked to about museums and galleries. The preparation work in the learning setting meant that they were prepared for their visit to the museum or gallery and gave a focus to their visit.