The Waterways Storymaking Festival and the National Museum NI & TwinkI Educational Publishing

‘Take part without going out. Exercise your creativity’

All our years competitions are themed both by creative art-forms, see below and age groups. They link with early years learning to Key Stage 4.

  • 11 and under – you can explore the topic of waterways – rivers, canals, lakes, loughs, shorelines and marine environments at school or home. Write down, talk about or make a short film about what you hear, see or touch and tell us about it. Build a Lego model of a boat, a harbour, photograph it and enter the competition.
  • 12 to 17 – plan a journey on a waterway, sea crossing, boat trip and make a map to show where you want to go, This can be a fictitious place or real. What creatures did you see – draw them, describe the smell, what did you touch which felt different, who was with you? what did you chat about? Create a working model of a canal lock, build a jetty with boats.. Make a castle on a shoreline using cardboard packaging photograph these and send it to us.
  • and over 18. The various competitions invite you to share a story, paint a picture, create a needlework/tapestry, make a recording of an interview with relative, family friend who remembers waterways of any kind being part of their lives. Create a 3D piece in glass, ceramics, metal or wood which depicts waterways, photograph and send to us.

In previous years photographs have been about, landscapes, buildings, sea-scapes, the interiors of linen mills, aerial views, flora and fauna. We would like to see close ups of characters on the waterways, Island life now and in the past. be creative!

Some creative ideas for the competition categories from the National Museum NI ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’ archive. Access the introduction to sound clips and video for creative inspiration from previously unheard and unseen sound archives and recordings.

Think about a theme you could apply to the ideas below:


Ghost stories



Water/Sea creatures

Creative writing

  • Create a piece of poetry based on a recording you hear
  • Write a story based on one of the clips
  • Imagine living on a barge – sometimes families of two adults and three or more children lived on board. Where did they go to school, how did they live generally? See the images for inspiration
  • You may want to ask a relative or friend what life was like when they were your age
  • You could write about now – going fishing, paddling in the sea on holiday, going on a ferry or boat trip

Photography and video or short film

  • Why not create a short film or video to accompany a sound recording bringing it to life in the 21st century?
  • Using what you hear and see write a script for a performance piece and video it
  • Interview someone who may remember what life used to be like around waterways


  • Draw, paint or photograph a waterway using one of the sound clips or images as inspiration
  • What nature references can be heard in the recordings or seen in the clips – flowers/birds and trees – write a piece about these
  • Create your own waterways character based on the sound clips and tell his or her story or their family. Illustrate this
  • Create a tapestry of life in your village coastal town
  • Get together in you class/at home/ and build a Lego creation. See the competition rules and registration form.

twinklWe have now linked up with the lovely people at Twinkl Educational Publishing- ‘the trusted home of unique teacher created planning materials and teacher resources’ Visit and get access to lesson planning and creative ideas. Download free resources to support the Waterways Storymaking Festival themes.

SEND – stands for special educational needs and disabilities. Twinkl produces a variety of different types of SEND resources to support the education of children with special educational needs and disabilities, which can be used within mainstream classrooms or specialist settings. They provide a range of engaging and well-researched resources to support a variety of specialist needs, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, ADHD and hearing impairments. We have also created resources to aid SENCos in their role and resources to help in understanding EHCPs (education, health and care plans).