Armchair Gallery

How to run a creative workshop based on Ration Book

Artwork by , created in

About this activity

Workshop themes

  • Balance
  • Fruit
  • Kinetics
  • Kitchen


  • Suitable for groups
  • Suitable for one to one

Difficulty level




  • Name badges (for all participants and staff).


  • Go around the room and make eye contact with everyone, shake their hand and say hello.
  • This task works well to connect the group and to promote positive touch.
  • Sit in a circle and ask people to hold hands. Going clockwise, you in turn, gently squeeze the person’s hand next to you. They then squeeze the person’s hand next to them and so on until it makes it all around the circle.
  • As an extension of this task, try this with your eyes closed or in the dark.




  • Look at the artwork using the Armchair Gallery app.
  • Welcome and invite the person or group to create with you and write their answers on the flip chart. Ask open-ended questions (like in the list to the right).
  • Affirm/echo all their answers - together we build a story that can have sound, movement, words - even drawings.
  • Retell the story, then invite them to add another creative element like sound, or movement.

Suggested Questions

  • What can you see in the picture?
  • What do you think it was used for?
  • Have you seen anything like this before?
  • Who do you think this belongs to?
  • When do you think this was used and why?

Play this video

Workshop members can watch this on their own tablet, or you can play it to the group by connecting your tablet to a TV or projector. It can also be downloaded from the Armchair Gallery website.

Interact with the artwork

At this point in the workshop participants should have a go at using the app to interact with the artwork. From the main menu, enter Mr Straws House, select Ration Book and tap Interact and play.

Multi-Sensory Exploration, Part 1


  • A variety of fruit for people to taste.
  • Iron objects, scales etc.
  • Ration books.
  • Exercise elastics (or rope).
  • Different varieties of tea.
  • Herbs and spices e.g. nutmeg, star anise, rosemary etc.
  • Kitchen utensils such as rolling pins, flour shakers, wooden spoons and other baking related items.


  • Present rolling pins, flour shakers, wooden spoons and other baking items found in the kitchen to your group. Explore them and think about their qualities and what their purpose is.
  • Do these kitchen utensils make sounds? The different kitchen implements could be used as instruments. Think about the various sounds that they could make.

Multi-Sensory Exploration, Part 2


  • Taste an assortment of different fruits that are shown in Interact and Play in the Ration Book section of the app – weighing fruit on the scales.
  •  Use Interact and Play to weigh out the fruit and then pass the fruit that weighed the heaviest around for people to taste when the group guesses the right answer! 


  • Pass around an assortment of iron objects and chains to depict their weight and texture.
  • If you have any objects that are attached to chains that move, these could be passed around and explored through movement (objects such as hanging basket mechanisms, hanging planter mechanisms and old scales etc.)
  • Old or imitation ration books could help stimulation conversation on the theme of rationing and the items that were rationed during WWII.

Multi-Sensory Exploration, Part 3


  • Sit in a circle.
  • Using exercise elastics and pass these around the group, giving each end to different members of the group. This activity is a gentle warm-up of muscles and gentle exercise movements. Ask the group to pull tight and then to let go…and so on. This will explore the notion of weight and movement.
  • You could organise a gentle tug of war game. Ask members of staff, family members (and/or participants) if they feel comfortable to play tug of war using a rope and count them in to participate on each end of the rope.
  • If participants just want to observe this, ask them to guess which team will win!


  • The Straw’s were a well-to-do grocer family and they imported tea from across the world.
  • Pass around various loose teas or teabags for people to smell or make tea for people to taste.
  • You could link this into an afternoon tea event where people choose which tea’s they would like to drink during the event.
  • Pass around a selection of different herbs and spices that you would find in the kitchen. This could include nutmeg, star anise, rosemary, cinnamon, paprika and oregano. Spend time smelling and rubbing the fresh herbs in your hand to release the smells.

Making: Bath Bomb


Thank everyone for attending and share a round of applause to finish.

If people wish they can share the bath bombs with friends and family as presents.


Getting Materials

You should be able to get most of the materials mentioned in this guide at your local arts supplier.

They are also avaiable on Amazon. If you shop via Amazon Smile (using the button below - UK only), then we will recieve a donation that we can put towards our work with older people.

Other Apps

You could use these other apps to further explore digital technology in your workshop.