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Island headdress

Fun at home activity

Make an island headdress.

Boy wearing a handmade headdress, in front of a tropical backdrop


This activity is inspired by the exhibition Lag Meta Aus: Home in the Torres Strait at the National Museum of Australia.

The exhibition includes the British carrier plane headdress pictured below, made by Solomon Ahmat of Badu Island in 2005.

Torres Strait Islander people tell stories about their traditions and daily life through dance and costume. Some Islander headdresses are quite detailed sculptures. They are made from natural and man-made objects.

An aeroplane headdress modelled on a British Mitchell Carrier plane, circa WWII. The metal headpiece is painted in red, white and blue stripes, with black adhesive tape wrapped around the outer band. On top of the metal headpiece, is a painted wooden model of a British Carrier Plane, possibly made of balsa wood, supported by metal struts under the wings. The aeroplane is painted green with markings in blue, red, white and yellow. The wings each feature a target or bullseye design, and two propellers.


Imagine if your home was on a hot tropical island, surrounded by water!  How different would your life be? What animals and plants are on your island? How would you travel around? What would your house be like? What would you play with and how would you entertain yourself?

Kids in the July 2014 'Discovery Island' school holiday program thought about what it might be like to live on a tropical island and were encouraged to make an island scene headdress, then do a dance wearing their headdress in a virtual island scene. You can make your own headdress from everyday objects at home. Here are some ideas.

Time and difficulty

These activities are easy and can be completed in less than an hour.

Hint: If you are using objects around the home, make sure you ask an adult first. You might need help from an adult with cutting, gluing (especially if you are using hot glue) or tying string to attach things to your headdress.

This activity is good to do with a friend, as you can help each other fit the cardboard straps to your head.

What you need

  • two long strips of cardboard (about 4cm x 60cm)
  • a small paper plate (about 15cm in diameter is ideal)
  • stapler and scissors
  • sticky tape, string or glue to help attach things to your headdress.  If you have a hot glue gun at home, this works really well to attach things, but you will need an adult to operate as it can burn your fingers.
  • decorative materials such as foam, feathers, fabric, shells, pegs, hoses, plastic, cellophane, paddle pop sticks or netting. In fact, you can use anything crafty that might be around.

What to do: images and text


Share your creation

Wear your Discovery Island headdress for all your friends and family to see. Share your creation with us by sending a photo to:

We will add your photo to the National Museum’s Flickr stream, where you can see other craft creations from our Discovery Space.

Discovery Space

All of our fun at home activities are based on Discovery Space school holiday activities and are developed for kids to do at home if they can’t come to the Museum.  Check out what kids thought of our activities at the Museum.

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