Find out about history, toys and museum collections on Caboodle

By Mark Slawinski | 23 June 2010
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A photo of a child taking a photo of another child as he tries a hat on

Caboodle is still within its Beta phase but the site and project as a whole has been going from strength to strength as more young and museum-based users sign up and present their collections to the digital world.

Browsing Caboodle will reveal that each of its six sections are filled like galleries with varied, exciting and often esoteric content for your youngsters to explore and learn from, and because the process is so easy, its never been a better time to join and get Caboodling. Take a look at what we’ve been up to over the last few months and get in touch if there is something that you want to do.

Royal Armouries Project
The Royal Armouries Project was the first time that we took the Caboodle concept into a museum for a major piece of work.

Alongside the Leeds Gifted and Talented network and Gillian Waters, education manager at the Royal Armouries, we took several groups of children from Leeds schools to explore the collection and learn through interaction and by taking digital photos as part of their enquiries.

A photo of children working with objects at a table

The Royal Armouries project

The early part of the day started with the children working in groups with a set of items, that they could touch, try on and play with. They drew pictures, took photos and had a lot of fun investigating the artefacts on offer as they discussed what questions they would like to put to the museum’s curator.

They then spent the rest of the day exploring the entire museum and taking photographs of their favourite collection highlights for Caboodle. Digital cameras were the perfect tools to empower the children who were absorbed in their playful exploration. You can see some results here

The teachers and children enjoyed the day and were extremely enthusiastic about the project, and we received some great feedback from Jennifer Morton, Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator at Lawns Park Primary School in Leeds, who said: “It gives children the opportunity to question and to research for themselves, to think about how the past effects the present and the future.

“It gives them an insight into the purpose of preserving the past, instead of just hearing about things they are actually coming to view, interact with and catalogue the artefacts with photos. It’s going to be a real experience.”

The Museum’s curator Jonathon Ferguson took an equally positive view: “It’s a big part of what we should be doing. Children are the future museum visitors and the curators of tomorrow.’”

Storrington – Caboodling in a Museum
Here in the South-East, Caboodle has been firmly integrated into a local museum in Storrington. We set up a club at Storrington first school, where children regularly caboodle and visit the museum fortnightly.

They work with the curator to explore the collection, take photos and make drawings. All the while they are learning about the joy and value of collecting things, gaining a first hand insight form the curator and developing their own ideas.

A photo of children sitting in front of a computer

Children in Storrington have been learning with a local museum

When this work is transferred back to the classroom, children take inspiration from the collections they have seen in the museum to start thinking about their own collections for the site. We are planning to house a real-world composite collection of the kids items in the museum as well as on the website. It’s a great way to facilitate a sense of ownership, foster learning and prompt playful creativity.

If you are a museum and would like to inspire young collectors by setting up a Caboodle club in collaboration with us, contact us by emailing

Wisborough Green – Caboodling in a School
In Wisborough Green School, near Billingshurst in West Sussex, a group of young Caboodlers have been meeting regularly to play with the site and upload their own collections. They have been exploring the many many facets of the site and have been creating fantastic sets like these

They also enjoy finding new museum and newly created content and tagging it. Another popular activity is to create online Caboodle clubs, a facet of the site we are hoping to develop soon. The group have enjoyed taking part in this creative activity once a week as part of their school enrichment time.

A photo of children working at computers in a classroom

Wisborough Green School holds Caboodle sessions once a week

Caroline Newton our link teacher at the school, has supported the project fully, enjoying its curricular and creative benefits, and Yvonne Holmes, who views the site as “an excellent way for kids to engage with cultural content creatively”, is keen for the group to continue in the next academic year.

The kids think that the site is “cool” and love its bright and funky style, enjoying the independence it gives them. Other children have enjoyed learning new skills, such as the resizing of jpegs or the use of programmes like Photoshop to enhance their pictures. Some have even created entire collections of original digital art.

The club at Wisborough Green is still in session and we are hoping to use it as the cornerstone of a network of school clubs in West Sussex. If you would like to be involved, get in touch.

Southwater – exploring collections in a school
At Southwater Junior School, near Horsham in West Sussex, the emphasis has been on exploring the collections of the children and creating an opportunity for them to take digital photographs in a relaxed, fun setting.

We have been working with a ten-strong group to do this and we’ve learned from the kids about Gogos, Pokemon cards and various items of jewellery, toys and comics.

A photo of schoolchildren in red jumpers playing with cards

Toys and comics at Southwater Junior School

We’ve been able to harness this desire to collect and point the kids in the direction of the notable museum collections on Caboodle, like the excellent Victorian images from English Heritage.

The learning experience has been a fun one grounded in a context central to Caboodle: “We’re all collectors of something!”

The most recent Cabbodle event was a day with young people from Holborn at Sir John Soane’s Museum. The children explored the collection and took photos of their favourites to put on their profiles later on.

The day involved creative activities led by the museum’s education manager Beth Walker and we also planned for the kids to create a real world collection inspired by the trip at their youth club in Holborn. Keep an eye on these pages for a report about what went on.