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What you'll need...

  • Paper

  • Pencil

  • Coloured pens or paint

  • Ruler or straight edge

  • Tape measure (optional)

  • Cold tea bag and other decorations (optional)

Suitable for ages 5-11 Time guideline: 60 minutes

Many opera and ballet stories are set in magical or fantasy places that we can be transported to, thanks to the designers and makers that create the visual world we see on stage. But you don’t really need to go to a place to have an adventure – you can use your imagination to invent the most magical places and situations. All you will need for this exercise is some paper, pens and lots of ideas.


Take a large piece of paper – if you haven’t got any, see what you can find in your paper recycling. You could make one large sheet by sticking smaller pieces together. Four A4 pieces of paper stuck together will make a good size for this exercise – use sticky tape to join them at the back.


Start by using a pencil and ruler (or something with a straight edge) to cover your paper with a grid. Make marks every 4cm along the sides of your paper and then draw lines lightly in pencil to give you a grid that covers your map. This will help you when you plot out your locations. If you want to make your map look like a real map you can add grid references. To do this, lay the paper with its longest edge at the bottom. Starting with the bottom left square of your grid, give each square on the bottom row a number (1, 2, 3, etc.). Now, starting again with the bottom left square and working up the left hand side of the map, give each square a letter (A, B, C, etc.). This will give you a grid reference for your map.


Next, you are going to draw what is known as a ground plan. This means that you will just draw the basic shapes of rooms and features of your home as if you are seeing them from above. A theatre designer draws a ground plan so that everyone can see how much of the stage the set they have designed will take up. You can decide to draw your map freehand and not make it to scale, or you can make this a bit harder and measure your map and draw it to scale. We are using 1:25 scale; this means that everything is 25 times smaller than real life.In 1:25 scale, every 4cm on the map = 1m in real life. If you have created a grid on your paper, it makes this part easier to do. Use a ruler to ensure walls etc. are straight at this stage – you can change things later.If your home has more than one floor, you will need to draw the floors side by side. First, draw in rooms with corridors, stairs and doorways that separate them. Do this accurately to scale by measuring them with a tape measure. If you don’t have one, make your own meter measure with a piece of string or strip of paper. Once you have drawn on the shapes of rooms and added stairs and doorways, you can start to draw your furniture (trying all the time to just draw the basic shape – you can add detail later).


Once you have the basic outline of your house, take a walk around and think about what your new map could include. Use your imagination to transform parts of your home into magical and interesting locations. You could make your stairs into a water rapid. A corridor could become the edge of a ravine, behind your sofa could be a cave, or your bedroom could be a forest. Now comes the fun part, as you add the detail to you map. Draw in what these magical places look like and label them. Are there stepping stonesacross your kitchen? Does a fairy live in a drawer, or a dragon under your stairs? What do all the places look like? Now you can make your map as colourful and magical as you like. Use paint, glitter, coloured paper found in recycling, sweet wrappers, or whatever you have to hand to decorate it.


If you would like to make your map look very old, you could ask an adult to give you a tea bag that has been used and is still damp. If you use the tea bag like a sponge on the paper, it will stain it and make it look old – but remember to let your map dry before you use pen over it.


Once you have completed your map you can use it to go on an adventure around your magical land. You could takesomeone with you – someone in your family or a soft toy as a companion. How do you have to move around your land according to your map? What noises can you hear and what creatures live there? What encounters will you have and what mission might you have to complete? You might be looking for buried treasure or rescuing someone from the clutches of a dragon. You can also use the grid reference to create a treasure hunt with friends or family. Hide something somewhere in the house and set a series of clues relating to your grid references that they have to follow in order to find the treasure. You can also use the map to play hide and seek!


When you have finished your adventure, describe what happened by writing a story. Use lots of descriptive words to tell the reader all about what your magical land looks like, sounds like and smells like. Tell them who or what lives there, and what they look like, too. You can have lots of different adventures in your own house and write lots of stories!

What I have learned...

  • How to work in 1:25 scale MATHS

  • How to draw and use a basic grid plotting system GEOGRAPHY

  • Explored creative writing LITERACY

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