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Silk Road hat and camel

Fun at home activity

Make a hat, mosaic tile and more.

Discovery space school holiday program


These activities were inspired by the exhibition Travelling the Silk Road.


Have you ever visited far away places and experienced new things?

Children in the April 2012 school holiday program, inspired by the Travelling the Silk Road exhibition, embarked along their own voyage of discovery in the 'Discovery Road' activity space.

See some images of the Discovery Road creations on Flickr

If you were unable to come to the National Museum of Australia over the April school holidays, you might like to download some of our activity sheets to do your own activities. As Silk Road artisans, children can make their own Turfan hat, collage camel, Arabic-style tile or Cyril the Chatty Camel Chatterbox.

Turfan inspired hat (Turfan)

What did the travellers of the Silk Road wear?

Turfan inspired hats
Turfan inspired hats (Turfan).

What you need:

A3 coloured card (or paper). If you only have A4 paper, you will only need to use the shape with the two shaded sides, however you will need four of these – two should fit on one piece of A4.

What to do:

  • Use the Turfan hat template to print out on directly onto the coloured paper/card or cut it out as a template and trace the outline onto your coloured card. If you have a small head you can reduce the size of the template on a photocopier.
  • Use the Silk Road patterns template as inspiration for your design or check out images of the Travelling the Silk Road exhibition on the National Museum of Australia website. Cut around the outline of the Turfan hat shape on your coloured card and, while laying it flat, decorate using materials you have collected.
  • When you have finished decorating the hat, you can fold it along the black lines and join all the pieces together using the glue to stick the shaded tabs underneath. You might need to reinforce it with sticky tape on the inside.
Arabic-style tiles (Baghdad)
Arabic-style tiles (Baghdad).

Arabic-style tile (Baghdad)

Inspired by the stunning tiled and patterned mosques of the Middle East, design your own Arabic-style tile.

What you need:

  • pdf Silk Road patterns template (PDF 278kb)
  • Small tile from the hardware store (we used 10cm square and they cost about 50 cents)
  • Cut up bits of coloured paper into 1-centimetre sized squares
  • Plastic discs (optional)
  • PVC glue brush for the glue
  • Tile/glass paint (optional)

What to do:

  • For inspiration, google 'tile paterns mosques' and select images, or have a look at the Travelling the Silk Road section on the National Museum of Australia website. Our Silk Road patterns template might also give you inspiration.
  • Make a practice design with the cut up pieces of paper and discs on the table in front of you.
  • When you have them arranged, spread glue on your tile and carefully place the paper or discs on the tile following your design.
  • When the glue is dry, apply the tile/glass paint for a final touch.

Collage camel (Samarkand)

Travellers used camels to carry their goods and chattels over the Silk Road, where paper was made and traded. Create your own paper collage camel.

Collage camel (Samarkand)
Collage camel (Samarkand).

What you need:

What to do:

  • Print out the Camel collage template and use your coloured or patterned paper to create an exotic camel using scissors and glue. Maybe your camel can be carrying interesting goods or wear shoes and a hat.

Cyril the Chatty Camel Chatterbox

Cyril the Chatty Camel Chatterbox
Cyril the Chatty Camel Chatterbox.

What you need:

What to do:

  • Print out the Chatty Camel Chatterbox template on both sides of the A4 paper and follow the instructions for folding and using. You might need to trim it using scissors. Then let Cyril the Chatty Camel give you some concise travel advice inspired by the Silk Road.


  1. Fold and crease paper in half and in half again to create a centre point. Lay flat with this side up.
  2. Fold each corner into the centre point on this side and crease. Flip over.
  3. Bring the four new corners into the centre point and crease. Flip over.
  4. Place the thumb and pointer finger of each hand into the folds, bringing all points together.
  5. Pick a number from one to eight and open and close the chatter box this many times. Now choose one of the displayed numbers and read your Silk Road inspired fortune.

Cyril the Chatty Camel's travel advice:

  1. Turn the obstacles on your path into stepping stones
  2. Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet
  3. Get ready! Good fortune comes in bunches
  4. One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things
  5. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
  6. Your many hidden talents will become obvious to those around you
  7. No road is long with good company
  8. Excitement and intrigue follow closely whereever you go!
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