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Ocean Planet Lesson Plans
Six interdisciplinary lesson plans on aspects of the sea from geography to its influence on literature. Each lesson has the same elements: background information, learning objectives, list of materials; step-by-step procedures, student handouts, and a list of resources.
Provider: National Museum of Natural History
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): All grades
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Minerals, Crystals, and Gems: Stepping-Stones to Inquiry
Lesson plans introduce students to mineral science and the scientific process of observation, hypothesis, and conclusion.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Winning the Vote: How Americans Elect Their President
Online issue with activities to introduce students to the office of the presidency and the process of electing the president. Includes lessons on political campaigns, political parties, and the Electoral College.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Geography from Space
Online quizzes that allow students to test their geographical knowledge.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Here’s Looking at You, Squid
Downloadable activity sheet with fun facts on the giant squid and a drawing exercise.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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High-End/Low-End: Exploring Price & Value in Design
Lesson plan comparing high-end and low-end versions of everyday objects to consider the role that economics plays in design. Includes analysis, discussion, small group work, and Internet research.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
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Grade(s): 4–8
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History in the Making and Trading Places
Two lesson plans about the life of Roberto Clemente. Students create a timeline of events in Clemente’s life, aligning the timeline with major historical events. Next, students interpret and dramatize events in Clemente’s life, using role playing to identify with Clemente and empathize with victims of discrimination and prejudice.
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Planning Your Smithsonian Visit
Guide providing extensive information on the Smithsonian’s Washington-area museums and the National Zoo. Includes hours, attractions for children, museum-highlights tours, Washington maps, recommended dining, transportation information, and a reading list.
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8, 9–12
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Science Behind the Story
Learn how technology is used to collect El Niño data. Includes matching, discussion, and writing activities.
Provider: National Museum of Natural History
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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The Transit in Pictures
Lesson plan has students write a screenplay and produce a movie or animation of a Transit of Venus including narration. Includes options for paper flip animation or use of electronic media.
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Libraries
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Grade(s): 9–12
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The West as America
Five-lesson teacher guide exploring numerous aspects of the nation´s expansion westward.
Provider: Smithsonian American Art Museum
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Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8, 9–12
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What Is El Nino Anyway
Educational activity explaining what El Nino is and its connection to sea temperatures. Students learn to read sea temperature charts to see the evidence scientists use to predict El Nino events.
Provider: National Museum of Natural History
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Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Work Hard and Work Smart: Designing for Athletes
Lesson in which students design a sports bag for athletes, investigate varied sports and consider their design needs, and engage in problem solving to create a new design.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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Yes, Thank You!
In this lesson plan, students design a sign that fosters positive human interactions. To determine the tone of the message, they evaluate public messages. They experiment with different texts and colors before creating the final product.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Native American Dolls
Students examine handcrafted dolls from the National Museum of the American Indian. They draw connections between these objects and Native cultures, communities, and environments.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: A Mouse Like a House? A Pocket Elephant?: How Size Shapes Animals, and What the Limits Are (1987)
Online issue that engages students in a discussion of animal size and the importance of size in an animal’s life. Includes information and activities to explore animal size differences, with a focus on metabolism and body temperature.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): PreK–3
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: World War II on the Home Front: Civic Responsibility
Lesson based on posters that encouraged American citizens to contribute to the war effort. Students consider the importance of volunteerism in a free society.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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From Airmail to Airlines
Teacher’s guide featuring classroom activities that explore changes in air transportation from 1920 to the present. Designed to complement transportation units, but can be used alone or with a museum visit.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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Collecting Their Thoughts: Explaining How Things Work
In a writing activity, students watch a demonstration of how something works or how something is done. They observe carefully, sketch, and take notes before writing.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Letters from the Japanese American Internment
Lessons based on letters from young people in an Arizona internment camp to a librarian in their hometown of San Diego. Students piece together a story by comparing these primary-source documents—documents that help to show that history is never a single story.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Decoding the Past: The Work of Archaeologists
Students use the methods of archeologists to identify and interpret artifacts from a contemporary setting.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Stories of the Wrights Flight
Lesson plan includes firsthand accounts of the Wright brothers first flights on December 17, 1903, which students compare to a secondary source, a newspaper story that appeared the next day.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Art to Zoo: Celebration! (1982)
Online issue introduces the celebratory rituals of various cultures. In a lesson, students compare birthday rituals from other cultures with those of their own.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): PreK–3
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Artifact & Analysis: A Teachers Guide to Interpreting Objects and Writing History
Presents a strategy for incorporating historical artifacts and documents into the teaching of U.S. history. Designed as a companion to the Advanced Placement Program U.S. History course.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 9–12
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Black, Striped, White, & Plaid: Changing Patterns (4-8)
Lesson asking students to create a new design for an everyday object, using color and patterns.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Cell Game
Lesson in which students create a game that tests peers’ knowledge of cell structure and function. They go through the design process of prototyping, receiving feedback, and redesigning their game.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
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Grade(s): 9–12
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Josef and Anni Albers: Designs for Living
Online exhibition focuses on pioneering artist Josef Albers and his wife Anni, a prominent textile artist. Showcases both their iconic and their relatively unknown designs for everyday living.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Let Your Motto Be Resistance
Online exhibition features over 30 prominent figures in African American resistance across 150 years of U.S. history. Provides biographies, images, and educational activities relating to each person.
Provider: National Museum of African American History and Culture
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Smithsonian American Art Museum Classroom Videoconferencing: Artful Connections
Listing of al Smithsonian American Art Museum videoconference field trips for students from kindergarten through college.
Provider: Smithsonian American Art Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8, 9–12
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Revolutionary Money
Students examine paper money from the colonial and revolutionary periods to gather primary source information about the times.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Apollo 11: Walking on the Moon
Primary sources, photographs, audio, video introduce students to the history of the space race and the incredible advancements that put a man on the moon. Includes interactive writing exercises.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12, General audience
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Collecting Their Thoughts: Conversing with an Object
Students make connections to museum objects that might otherwise seem strange or intimidating. Writing exercises include dialogues with the objects.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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My Wonderful World
A selection of Smithsonian geography resources for teachers and students, arranged by the five continents. Presented as part of the National Geographic-led project My Wonderful World.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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A Smithsonian Idealab: Smithsonian Kids
Children can explore some of the 137 million objects at the Smithsonian that have been grouped into categories such as “patriotic,” “fast,” and “fun.”
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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Migrations in History
Drawing from the vast collections of the Smithsonian, the site considers what happens when people move and how they make a new home of a new location.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): General audience
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Art to Zoo: Digging Up Dirt: How Paleontologists Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life (1992)
Online issue with information and activities to introduce you and your students to the science of paleontology. Includes lesson plan with activities that relate to geology, paleontology, anatomy, and the scientific method.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Fossils: Footprints Across Time (1984)
Online issue that helps students understand the earth’s past through geologic record and fossil evidence.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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Archaeology
Home page for the NMNH department of Archaeology. Information on North American archaeology, research programs, training programs, collections, online databases, online exhibits, teaching guides/activities, and staff video interviews.
Provider: National Museum of Natural History
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Art to Zoo: Lift and Drag: Principles of Flight and the Soaring Imagination (1978)
Online issue introducing basic principles of flight through classroom study of balloons and gliders. Includes directions for creating models of early gas balloons and gliders for classroom air show.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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Art to Zoo: A Ticket to Philly—In 1769: Thinking about Cities, Then and Now (1990)
Online issue that allows students to “visit” eighteenth century Philadelphia in order to encourage them to think about communities as “organisms.” Includes a map and a “step-by-step” guide of the sights of old Philadelphia.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: What Is Currency? Lessons from Historic Africa
In lesson plans, students gain a basic understanding of money and economics by exploring the currency system of the Akan people of Ghana in West Africa.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Going…Going…Gone? Tropical Rainforests—How They Work, What They Do for Us, What’s Being Done to Them… (1988)
Online issue that promotes rainforest conservation by providing students with information and thoughtful activities to help them better understand the workings of the rainforest and its plant and animal life.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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Art to Zoo: Using the Yellow Pages as a Teaching Resource (1988)
The Yellow Pages becomes a source of activities in subjects as various as history, math, writing, consumer education, art, career awareness, library skills, and map reading.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Grade(s): 4–8
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Fruitful Exercises
Downloadable PDF activity sheet about foods that come from trees. Children complete poems about these trees by filling in the last rhyming word.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Minerals, Crystals, and Gems: Stepping-Stones to Inquiry
Lesson plans introduce students to mineral science and the scientific process of observation, hypothesis, and conclusion. Students create a mineral exhibit, observe the factors in crystal growth, and go on a mineral scavenger hunt.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: In or Out? Make Up Your Mind! (1978)
Online issue featuring the game “Include Me In!” Students decide if historical figures are significant enough to have their portraits included in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): PreK–3
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And Now a Word From Our Sponsors
Lesson plan has students write and produce public service commercials promoting the Transit of Venus and providing information about its safe viewing. Students will be able to identify the components and attributes of commercials including bias and misinformation found in commercials.
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Libraries
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Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Art to Zoo: Perfectly Suited: Clothing and Social Change in America (1995)
Lessons that encourage students to think about the interaction of clothing and society, both past and present. Focus is on nineteenth-century clothing and its reflection of middle-class ideals.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Contrasts in Blue: Life on the Caribbean Coral Reef and the Rocky Coast of Maine (1996)
Lesson plan that demonstrates how these two ecosystems are unique yet related. Emphasis is on the formation of these environments and the organisms that call them home. Students consider the role of temperature, sunlight, waves, tides, and food chains.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Nineteenth-Century Family Portraits: Looking into Home, Sweet Home (1988)
Lesson plan in which students analyze portraits for an idea of the family structure that was changing with industrialization, urbanization, immigrations, and other trends.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Resources for Teaching American History: Civil Rights
Multimedia site includes teacher-selected primary sources, a video on Medgar Evers, elementary-school lessons on Rosa Parks and desegregation, and Advanced Placement DBQs on Brown v. Board of Education.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Japan: Images of a People
Lesson plans bring Japanese and American art into comparison, illuminating the cultural heritage of Japan. Students create Japanese painted screens.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Airplanes and Airports: How to Take Off Without Ever Leaving the Ground (1982)
Lesson plan that provides insight on how airplanes and airports profoundly affect our lives. Includes lessons on the forces of flight and how to create a model airplane.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: The Greatest Show on Earth (Starring Some of the World’s Smallest Animals, 1981)
Issue includes insect facts, a brief lesson in insect adaptation, a bibliography of resources, and a pullout page, “Make Your Own Insect Zoo.”
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Basic Needs
Activity examining the unique and diverse historical artifacts that people have designed to fulfill their everyday needs in extraordinary ways.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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Chairs, Chairs Everywhere… (PreK-3)
Activity designed to help students become aware of the multitude of design variations in everyday objects by conducting surveys, collecting information, and creating a catalog of chairs.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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Exploring Earth
Guided tour explaining how planes, spacecraft, and satellites are used to predict weather, survey the terrain, and locate pollution.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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In the Beginning: Bibles before the Year 1000
Online exhibit exploring the early years of the Bible through biblical artifacts, including pages and fragments written in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Syrian, Armenian, and Ethiopian. Discusses how the bible evolved gradually through the cultural interactions and exchanges of many different societies, which books were selected as cannon and which were apocryphal, how Christianity spread, and the bible as an iconic image. Includes audio interviews with curator Michelle P. Brown.
Provider: Freer and Sackler Galleries
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Moving the Mail West
Lesson plans on U.S. postal history focus on the Civil War, Westward Expansion, and the Gold Rush. Students enter the world of stagecoaches and the Pony Express as historians themselves, learning to tell primary from secondary sources. Includes lesson plans, historical background, worksheets, primary resources, secondary research articles, and a game.
Provider: National Postal Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Saris, Kimonos, Togas & Smocks: Exploring Clothing Across Cultures (9-12)
Activity in which students conduct collaborative Internet research on the social purposes of clothing, learn about different types of clothing, and create a presentation.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Building Up, Breaking Down (2000)
This issue explores the weathering of buildings, which begins the minute they are assembled. Physical breakdown (such as rock fracture), chemical weathering and pollution are all key ingredients in this discussion of the geology of the built environment.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Under the Spell of Spiders
Lesson plans examine the important roles that spiders play in the environment. Includes activity in which students create an imaginary creature.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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A More Perfect Union
This exhibit puts the subject of the Japanese American internment into the context of the U.S. Constitution.
Grade(s): General audience
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Art to Zoo: Ethnic Folklore in Your Classroom: Traditions, Tales, and Treasures from Tijuana to Timbuktu (1984)
Online issue encouraging educators and students to embrace diversity in cultural heritage. Includes instructions on how to put on a folklife or cultural heritage festival in the classroom.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8, 9–12
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Art to Zoo: Spring at the Smithsonian (An Incipient Case of Puppetmania, 1979)
The issue demonstrates that the ancient art of puppetry can be an effective means of integrating creative activities – writing, acting, crafts – with the traditional core of studies.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Trains and Railroads: From Wooden Track to Amtrak (1984)
This issue suggests ways of introducing the subject of trains and railroads in a social studies unit on westward expansion. Included is a pull-out page titled “Write a Story!”
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Turning Dreams into Reality (1984-85)
The issue takes students on a guided tour of the invention process, from dreams to the reality. It includes a “pull-out page” detailing the early history of the photograph.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Buffalo Hide Paintings
Webpage on the significance of buffalo hides to Native Americans of the Great Plains and the symbols they painted on them.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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ComTech
Innovative, modular, discovery-based curriculum for grades 7–9 technology students. Students master a limited number of powerful technology and science concepts, sense the excitement and challenge of technology, and develop critical thinking and reasoning skills that can be transferred to all disciplines. Purchase required.
Provider: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Elihu Vedder’s Drawings for the Rubaiyat
Presentation of Elihu Vedder’s illustrations for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khay-lam, which set the standard for the artist-designed book in America and England. Includes background information on the artist.
Provider: Smithsonian American Art Museum
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Grade(s): General audience
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Heart Mobiles In Action!
Lesson in which students demonstrate their understanding of the heart and its role in the body by creating a model that is displayed in the classroom as a mobile or wall hanging.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
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Grade(s): 9–12
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Inventing Our Way Out of the Climate Change Problem? Innovative Youth Tackle the Issue
Can new inventions address climate change? In this webinar, Smithsonian educator Tricia Edwards introduces the work of inventors concerned with sustainability issues, as well as to her own work in bringing young inventors and research scientists together on environmental projects.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Lighting a Revolution
Online exhibit exploring the process of invention by comparing Thomas Alva Edison’s well-known work on the electric light bulb a century ago with several modern lighting inventions. Considers the process of innovation through five steps: preconditions, invention, promotion, competition, and consequences. A guest lounge and library include two photo galleries, scripts, and curator notes for the exhibit, a mystery object, links, a bibliography, and additional scientific and historic information.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Looking at Earth
Online exhibition demonstrating how views of our planet from above have helped us better understand it. Provides examples of satellite imagery and aerial photography used for urban planning and more.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
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Grade(s): General audience
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Math Quilts
Lesson in which students examine geometric quilt patterns to learn how math may have been used to help slaves escape to freedom. They slide, flip, and turn geometric shapes to create their own quilt with map of how to “escape” the classroom and head to the school front door.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
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Grade(s): PreK–3
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Murals in My Neighborhood
In this lesson, students use grading rubrics to explore and rate murals in their own communities. Students learn about the design and presentation of murals while becoming comfortable using rubrics.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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Objectivity
Activity examining historic artifacts to determine if they were designed to help people survive or to create enjoyment.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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Origin Stories of the Plains Indians
Webpage about creation stories of the Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan Indians and how they are depicted on a buffalo hide painting. The parts of the painting that depict the Native American creation stories are highlighted and described in an interactive buffalo hide painting.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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People Movers
Students investigate how transportation has evolved through the years and how it may continue to change in the future through teamwork activities.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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Rameli's Machines: Original Drawings of 16th Century Machines
Online exhibition presenting the drawings of military engineer Agostino Rameli. He produced a remarkably illustrated book in 1588 describing a large number of machines that he devised. This website presents the illustrations of some of the machines in this book, a short biography of Rameli, and further readings.
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Libraries
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Royal Gifts from Thailand: Selected Masterpieces from Thailand´s Royal Gifts to the United States of America
Discusses the symbolic exchange of gifts between Thailand and the United States that established a bond between two very different nations. Spans the time between 1833 and the present.
Provider: National Museum of Natural History
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Shadow Games
Lesson plan experimenting with the distance of light sources to see how it affects the shapes of shadows. Students experiment with distances, record the results in a data table, and discover the relationship between distance, light source, and dimension of the shadow.
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Libraries
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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Smithsonian Kids Collecting
Website that explores Smithsonian rock, stamp, and coin collections while providing advice to kids on building their own collections. Includes videos of collectors.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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The Cosmos in Miniature: The Remarkable Star Map of Simeon De Witt
Online exhibit telling the story of early American science includes a digital reproduction of the oldest surviving Anglo-American star map. This map, created in 1780, reflects a story of scientific curiosity and the practical applications of astronomy in colonial America. Focuses on the map's creator, Simeon De Witt, and the scientific context in which he lived.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  

The Look of the Listen
Lesson in which young students sing songs from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (and provide sound effects) after examining cover art related to the songs. Subjects of the songs include animals and trains.
Provider: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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The Underwater Web: Cabling the Seas
Online exhibition on the underwater cables that provide global communication. Includes history of the telegraph, optic and electric lines, the historical context of the connections, and related library resources.
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Libraries
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Zebra Lineup
Downloadable PDF activity sheet on which children identify three zebras by their unique stripe patterns.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Talking Houses—What They Can Tell You about the People They Shelter (1987)
In this issue, students look closely at houses from other cultures and find intriguing clues about the people who built them. In a lesson, they use an inquiry approach to draw conclusions about tipis.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Facts about Americanos: Latino Life in the United States (Datos sobre Americanos: La vida latina en los Estados Unidos)
Teaching guide describing the role of Latin Americans in U.S. culture. Includes color images, pie and bar charts, and population demographics. Bilingual (English/Spanish).
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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New Kid on the Block
This lesson plan uses a public radio story on the “Ukrainian Diaspora” in Chicago (through archived audio) as a foundation for a considering the ways that young people adapt at a new school. Students interview schoolmates who have transferred in the last year. Drawing upon these interviews, they design a program or materials for new students.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Changing Gender Roles on the World War II Home Front
Lesson plan examining changing gender roles on the American home front during World War II. Students analyze photographs and wartime advertisements related to “Rosie the Riveter,” then conduct their own research project on women during World War II. Targets grades 6-12.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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“Pardon This Interruption—Columbus Has Landed!!!”
Lesson in which students create a public service announcement using the theme of colliding cultures in North America.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Plants and Animals: Partners in Pollination
Lesson plans introduce students to the role of bees play in pollination and, ultimately, the production of many of our foods. Students learn about the parts of flowers and bees and their symbiotic relationship.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Tracking the Buffalo: Stories From a Buffalo Hide Painting Homepage
Website exploring the role buffaloes played in the lives of Native Americans of the Northern Plains. Includes online interactive, printable activities, a map, information about the art of buffalo hide paintings, origin stories of three tribes, a teacher’s guide, and a bibliography of related books appropriate for all ages.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
Overall Rating:  

Afghan Rubậb: The Lion of Instruments
Lesson in which students analyze and play (on guitar and drums) the traditional Afghan music played on rubậb and tabla. Includes a discussion of the censorship of traditional music under the Taliban.
Provider: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
Overall Rating:  

African American Pioneers in Aviation
Research and teaching website that challenges students to analyze primary documents related to the struggles of African Americans to gain equal opportunity in the field of aviation.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving
Teacher's guide offering background information on the Wampanoag Indians of New England. Activities encourage students to explore the themes of environment, community, and “encounters” to better understand the American Indian's role in the Thanksgiving holiday.
Provider: National Museum of the American Indian
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: “Give It Your Best!”: Civilian Contributions to the Home Front (1988)
Lesson plan that introduces students to efforts on the home front during World War II, as illustrated by media messages. Students take on a wartime persona by writing a V-mail letter. Includes facsimile of a V-mail form.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: In the Playtime of Others: Child Labor in the Early 20th Century (1988)
Online issue activities related to the work and working conditions of child laborers in the early twentieth century.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
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Art to Zoo: Of Kayaks and Ulus: The Bering Sea Eskimo Collection of Edward W. Nelson, “The Man Who Collected Worthless Things” (1981)
Online issue featuring activities based on objects in the Smithsonian’s collection of Alaskan Eskimo artifacts, given to the institution by ethnographer Edward W. Nelson.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Old Photographs: Windows to the Past (1979)
Online issue detailing the technological history and historical significance of photography and cameras. Students use old photographs to learn more about life in the past.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Playing Historical Detective: Great Grandmother’s Dress and Other Clues to the Life and Times of Annie Steel (1981)
Online issue in which students become detectives piecing together the life of a nineteenth century woman by examining primary source documents and artifacts
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
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Art to Zoo: Stamps as Storytellers—and the Story of Stamps (1985)
This issue demonstrates the ways that stamps can add a new level of interest to curriculum-based lessons. The lesson plan focuses on stamps that tell the story of westward movement in the United States.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: The Internet and You
Published in 1997, the issue was an attempt to dispel the mysteries that still surrounded the Internet. It includes a tutorial on using Adobe Acrobat Reader and an introduction to Smithsonian websites.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Art to Zoo: The Stuff of Stories (Using Museums to Inspire Student Writing, 1994)
In this issue, students tap into the tales stored in museums. Teachers find ideas for using museums and other community resources as springboards for student writing.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  

As Precious As Gold
Online exhibit with letters and documents from the Gold Rush. Includes sections on discovery of the gold, how mail was carried to and from remote areas, Americans abroad, stories from the Gold Rush getting to the gold.
Provider: National Postal Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Astronomy Education Links and Resources
Educational weblinks and resources relating to astrophysics. Sections include careers/internships, general education, K-8 education, 9-14 education, and teacher's resources.
Provider: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): All grades
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Back to Basics (PreK-3)
Activity in which students examine the unique and diverse historical artifacts that people have designed to fulfill their everyday needs in extraordinary ways.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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Booming Out
Small photographic exhibition portraying the history and contemporary lives of Mohawk ironworkers, who have worked on practically all of New York City’s major construction projects.
Provider: National Museum of the American Indian
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Continuum 12 Artists
Online exhibition presenting new work by contemporary Native artists. Represents diverse media including painting, sculpture, prints, photography, video, and installation pieces. Includes essays on the artists and online galleries of their work.
Provider: National Museum of the American Indian
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Cosmic Voyage Teachers Guide
Activities in this guide provide students with concrete experiences to help them understand measurements, scale and how scientists work. The activities work well alone or as a supplement to the Imax film Cosmic Voyage. The film is widely available on DVD.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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In Search of the Giant Squid Curriculum Guide
Geared for 5-8 grade students with special "roadmaps" for older or younger audiences. Includes lesson plans, instructive websites, worksheets, and teacher answer keys. Also incorporates fascinating illustrations and instructive maps.
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Mobilizing Children on the World War II Homefront
Lesson plan examining propaganda cartoons and other primary sources to analyze how young Americans have been mobilized for war. Students will analyze the intent and purpose behind these images and explore how the government attempted to unite the country behind the war effforts. Targets grades 6-9.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
Overall Rating:  

Música Latina: Exploring Hispanic Heritage through Music
Webpage includes an essay on the growing Latino community in the United States and the infusion of Latin music. Includes musical selections from Colombia, Texas, and Puerto Rico, and film clips of live performances.
Provider: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Neighborhood Rubrics
Lesson in which students use rubrics to rate their neighborhoods and determine what is important in a neighborhood and what needs improvement. They then write a persuasive essay defending their rating.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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On the Interstate
Online exhibit examining the Federal-Aid Highway Act, the resulting creation of the interstate highway system, and the profound impact these highways had on American lives, commerce, and the landscape. This is the sixteenth section of the online exhibition America on the Move.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  

Paredon Records: Activist Songs and Speeches from 1970-1985
Webpage documents Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber’s mission to promote social and political activism through Paredon Records. Listen to music and spoken-word recordings as you learn about the role of music in political activism in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Provider: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena
Webpage focuses on two percussion-driven musical traditions from Puerto Rico and the formal and cultural distinctions between the styles. Includes music samples and videos of dance performances to the music.
Provider: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Science TV: Making It Real
In this lesson, students make connections between science and design and ultimately create a mock science television show that addresses social issues.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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Silk Road: Connecting Culture, Creating Trust
Website of the Silk Road Project. Inspired by the cultural traditions of the historical Silk Road, the project is a catalyst, promoting innovation and learning through the arts. Various educational resources available.
Provider: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Smithsonian Folkways: Featured Artists
Webpage includes a selection of biographical information of featured musical artists from around the globe. Through video and audio clips, students connect the artists with their work to recognize the skills involved in music-making.
Provider: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Smithsonian Source: Invention
Section of SmithsonianSource.org intended to supplement the materials you currently use for lessons on American inventions and innovations. Includes a video tracing the development of the electric guitar, DBQs, lesson plans organized by grade level, and primary-source documents from the Smithsonian collections.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): All grades
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Stampin’ Ground
Lesson has students design and produce cards and/or wrapping paper inspired by techniques used in African and Asian cultures. They create stamps for transferring a repeating image.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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Telling Our Own Stories Through Corridos
Lesson plan using the lyrics and music of corridos along with the accompanying website to analyze written texts, visual images, and objects to develop students’ understanding of various themes, regions, and perspectives of North American history. Students look at music as a primary source of history by interviewing family members about the songs they grew up with and comparing these songs to narrative corridos.
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Transforming Language: Xu Bing’s Monkeys Grasp the Moon
Students learn a traditional Chinese folktale and examine a contemporary artwork based on it: Xu Bing’s Monkeys Grasp for the Moon, which is made up of the word monkey in more than a dozen languages. This set of four lessons is divided into grades K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12. Younger students arrange cut-out letters into a picture. Older students create an animation.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): All grades
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Treasures of American History: Spanish Version
Downloadable transcript of the online exhibit Treasures of American History in Spanish. The topics included in the exhibition are: creativity and innovation, American biography, national challenges and American identity.
Provider: National Museum of American History