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Using objects

Every object that appears on the site has earned its place by being relevant to a particular theme and its associated content. In addition, each topic has its own object which we have singled out because we believe it has special relevance.

So long as you use our search tool on the objects page you should have no trouble finding the objects you need for your lessons. You can search using theme, time, place, people or a combination of these. The search tool also enables you to display the development of a particular object over time by using the specific object search, which will help to place it within a historical context.


Images have a Creative Commons Licence, which means that you are free to use them within your classroom and in the preparation of any non-commercial-profit-making educational resources. But you must credit the copyright owner.

Ideas for using objects

You can use objects in your classroom work and lesson activities to illustrate the topics you are teaching and enhance students’ understanding of historical contexts.

You may want to introduce a topic using the accompanying object that appears. These objects have been selected for their importance to the subject matter. Questions to your class about these objects could include:

  • How old do students think the object is?
  • Why has someone collected it and looked after it?
  • Can students see a link between this object and the theme?
  • These images can also be used to run an extended session that will enable students to look at the historical contexts surrounding the objects and their continuity and change through time. Below you will find three lesson ideas that can be adapted to suit a variety of topics: a ‘mystery objects’ session, an activity to place historical artefacts on a timeline and an odd-one-out session.

    Mystery objects

    This activity has been tried and tested on Science Museum teachers’ courses and events for pupils.

    1. Arrange the students in groups of 4-6.

    2. Show the students a picture of a mystery object from the objects section of the Brought to Life website.

    3. Start off with a whole-class activity - check at the start if anyone knows what the object is, and ask him/her not to tell anyone else!

    4. Talk about open questioning - anything that starts with who, what, where, when, how or why is a good start.

    5. Encourage close observation - do students think that there are moving parts? Encourage them to investigate.

    6. After a few minutes of questioning in the whole class, ask groups for their guesses about what the object is and for their explanation of how they reached this conclusion. Encourage students to build on each others’ ideas.

    7. Now break off into small groups, and give each group one or two pictures of objects - allow about five minutes per object.

    If an object is easily identifiable, you can use the technical help below to download and save images. Zoom in and move across small parts of the object, then gradually zoom out - you could award points for guessing the object at different zoom levels.

    Timeline activity

    (Science Museum, London)

    Select and download a set of images from Brought to Life by searching through the objects section of the website. Ideally choose objects that cover a fairly lengthy period of time. Challenge the class to place these images in chronological order on a timeline.

    Alternatively, the class could split up into groups and create their own timeline activity by selecting their own objects. They could challenge other groups to place their objects correctly on the timeline.

    Another approach might be to create a permanent timeline on your wall, so that whenever a theme or topic is studied, relevant key artefacts and objects can be added to the display.

    Odd one out

    Select and download a set of images from Brought to Life that are relevant to a particular theme your class is studying, plus a few that are not. Challenge the class to work out which are the genuine or relevant images and which are the impostors. Students should be able to work out which images do not belong in the set and offer explanations for their choices.

    Technical help

  • How to download and save images
  • How to print an image
  • How to manipulate an image
  • How to print a webpage