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  • Activities and Competitions

    Organizing activities and competitions is fun but there are times you need some fresh ideas. In the activity drop-down menu below, you can find heaps of ideas. What about a Paper Plane Competition?
  • Activities

  • TIP: Keep an action list

    I wasn't particularly good at it myself - I'm an ad hoc person - but it was one of my recommendations when I gave display workshops: Make a rough sketch of how the display will look like Write down what materials and tools you'll need Create a time-line / checklist: This week copying and laminating - Next week: buy or beg materials - Two weeks: covering display boxes with matching paper - Three weeks: collect books matching the display etc. till you reach D-day and start getting nervous....
  • TIP: Staple at an angle

    Removing old display items will be much easier when you hold the stapler at an angle when you tack items to the board. The staples will stick out at one side - perfect to get hold of and pull them out when you change displays.
  • TIP: Use a glue gun

    Glue guns are the most fantastic tools for creating displays. You can attach all sorts of materials like hard plastic, metal, fabric and everything else you can think off. Be careful with your fingers (blow - blow) the glue is very hot and you easily get blisters
  • TIP: Create a 3D effect!

    Create a 3D effect by hanging objects in front of the display board, like fish in a Sea Life display or lanterns in a Spring or Garden display.
  • TIP: Don’t overdue it!

    Too much text, images or books on display too close together distract the eye. It all becomes a blur. Each object needs its own space. Think of a shop window that is more than full with appliances, you can’t distinguish one object from the other, while carefully placed objects attract the attention.


I used the phrase: ‘Every suitcase tells a story’ as the theme for this display. Hands – holding up hands – spread out hands greeting us, asking for help or as protection from violence or disaster-  are the basis of this display. I staple lots of them around the V-shape I create in the middle of the display board to give the display movement.  Bars – borders – wires – fences are all ways to keep refugees out or in.

All refugees face obstacles and I use black netting to symbolize it. To represent all the refugees from all over the world in any kind of situation, I use the same image over and over because in spite of our differences we are all more or less the same in our wishes and dreams: a safe environment, a good place to live with healthy conditions. We all want a sturdy house, enough food, clean water, work, an income, freedom. We all want to be respected for what we are. We all want a safe and prosperous future.

Not only the people who escape war, drought, famine and disasters are refugees but also those who try to escape abuse and violence at home or in their environment can be considered as such. In front of the display board are  a couple of suitcases arranged to symbolize the journey refugees make to find safe shelter. Every suitcase tells a story. Knowing the story is understanding those who look for refuge.

Because the other side of the display board is about Astronomy and I kept the dolphins of the previous display  as the basis for the Milky Way (see: Sea life display) I thought it would be a good idea to create the same starry night for the display about refugees. We are all people under the same stars, when we look up at night we see the same sky and have similar dreams. The stars sparkle and give us hope. Spotting a falling star is even better. Do we not all believe that it makes our wish come true? Being a refugee makes it even more likely to look up at the sky: asking for help or wishing  for a safe place to live.

What you need:

  • Couple of old suitcases (Op shop – family – friends/colleagues)
  • Silver wrapping paper Illuminating wrapping paper(see: Display tips) Christmas lights
  • Garden or fishing netting
  • Lots of cut out images of different coloured people in different sizes and different colours of card
  • Lots of cut out images of hands in different sizes
  • REFUGEE heading  

What to do: Starry sky: Use the illuminating paper to cut out lots and lots of stars in different sizes. Have them laminated to give them more body. Wrap the silver wrapping paper around a frame attached to the display board and staple it in place. I I use the dolphins from the previous display as the base to create a starry sky. I just wrap silver wrapping paper around the board and staple it in place. Subsequently I attach the shiny stars all over the board and hang the Christmas lights in place.

Refugees: Cut lots and lots of images from a magazine or book that represents refugees. Copy them in different sizes. Paste them on different coloured card. Cut also lots and lots of hands from a magazine, book or Google images (be careful; copyright may apply) and paste them on the refugee images. Keep a dozen hands to staple directly on the display board.

Staple the silver coloured wrapping paper to the board. Create a line from the middle bottom part of the board to the middle left and right top part of the board. The V-shape overlaps the two iron beams in the middle and gives the display a dynamic feeling (see: Pirates display).

Staple the hands to the board but make sure not to use the space inside the V-shape. Staple the netting roughly over the hands to symbolize the fences, bars and borders that keep refugees from safety.  Use the lines of the V-shape as the border.

Staple the heading of the display in the middle. Make sure the lines are straight. Under the heading I staple the phrase: ‘Every suitcase tells a story.’ Beginning at the end of the board I staple the smaller images of people and work towards the middle, ending with the largest images of people on the lines of the V-shape to create movement heading towards you. This symbolises all kinds of people coming from different directions, carrying their belongings in a suitcase, heading for safety.

Place the suitcases in front of the display. Arrange the books on the display stand, on top of the suitcases and on the floor in front of the display. Connect the power to the Christmas lights.

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