Also in this section…?

Little Smugglebusters

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1
  • Subjects: English
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Class size (maximum): 30 (Best with half class size)
  • Venue: Seized! gallery at Merseyside Maritime Museum
  • Free


This session introduces the children to the idea of the rules governing the UK border, and looks at the issues around smuggling in a sensitive and child-friendly manner. 

Further details

Boy explores a suitcase

Pupils are encouraged to use role play to become an officer searching the luggage with the help of our friendly sniffer dog Smudge. Using genuine tools of the trade and some seized objects the children will search the suitcase looking for smuggled goods and will then learn where they have come from and why we shouldn’t bring them back from holiday into the UK.

The session includes time for free play, a suitcase search, make your own passport, role play and a song.  Pupils are encouraged to ask questions and think about how our actions could have an impact on our world as some of our objects are endangered animal pieces such as an ivory statue, a tusk, a snake skin bag. Some objects are fake, such as our Nintendo DS.  Each child will start their own passport that can be completed back at school if time and planning allows.

We have a close working relationship with UK Border Force, who directly fund the Seized! gallery. This gives us unique access to genuine contraband which has been confiscated at the UK Border for our handling collection.

Curriculum links

Early years

  • Prime area of learning: personal, social and emotional development
  • Specific area of learning: understanding the world

Key Stage 1 - English/Spoken language

The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum- cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Teachers should therefore ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills.
They must be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others and teachers should ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions. Pupils should also be taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates

Learning outcomes 

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • Use observation skills and critical thinking to discover the use for smuggled objects.
  • Work in role to re create a suitcase search of smuggled goods.
  • Talk about the negative and positive impacts of smuggling.
  • Learn about the work of the Border Force and how they help to keep us safe.
  • Learn about the role Liverpool and the docks plays in the world of smuggling and its detection.    


Pupils will:

  • Improve their speaking and listening skills in a group discussion context.
  • Learn to question and discuss issues relating to smuggling.
  • Develop their role play skills and experience life as a Border Force Officer.


Pupils will:

  • Be introduced to the world of smuggling.
  • Be introduced to the work of the education team and the value of a visit to a museum.
  • Learn about the techniques used by smugglers past and present to get such items as endangered animals and fakes into the country; and learn about how the UK Border Force works to keep us safe.    


Pupils will:

  • See the museum as a fun and interesting way to learn more about the past and the present.
  • Be inspired to investigate unusual objects and work out what they may be for or where they may have come from.