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Smithsonian Staff Picks

 

Emergence of Civilization in China: Oracle Bones

In this student activity, students learn about life in early Chinese urban society by analyzing oracle bone divinations. These divinations, consisting of characters inscribed on turtle shells and animal bones over 3,000 years ago, are among the earliest systematic Chinese written language extant today. Students will answer object analysis questions, complete an activity using translations of divinations, and compare early Chinese urban society to Bronze Age societies in other parts of the world. This set includes multiple objects from the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Created by Elizabeth Eder and Keith Wilson at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in collaboration with Tess Porter, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

Tags: archaeology; ancestor worship; shang dynasty; diviner; early writing; early civilization; ritual; artifact; archaeological remains; artifact analysis

Freer|Sackler Education
10
 

Presidential Portraiture: Looking and Analyzing Questions

A topical collection of United States presidential portraits. This collection might be best shortened to introduce a specific historical era and the leader(s) of the time, or adapted to show how American leaders wanted to be perceived during their tenure and legacy and how artists depicted them. It includes the National Portrait Gallery's "Reading" Portraiture at a Glance sheet, which offers suggested looking and analyzing questions. It is also includes associated curator and educator talks on the portraits of the presidents, where possible.
Ashley Naranjo
55
 

Angles in Motion

Students will first observe the portrait of Martha Graham, and figure out who she is based on what it communicates about her. Then the observation of the angles in her pose will help students create a scale drawing of this piece. This activity combines thinking routines about looking at a portrait with the mathematical concepts of angles and scale.

Created for the National Portrait Gallery Learning to Look Summer Institute, 2016 #NPGteach
Rachel Slezak
7
 

Egyptian Hieroglyphs

What are hieroglyphs? What was the purpose? Who could write them? How did we discover how to read them?
Aubrey Gennari
11