Skip to Content

Discover more than a million resources, create personal collections and educational experiences, and share your work.

Find out more and get started.

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is about discovery, creation, and sharing.

Discover Discover

The thrill of discovery awaits you in the Smithsonian Learning Lab. From the Discovery space shuttle to the Star Spangled Banner to dinosaur fossils, the Learning Lab gives everyone with a desire to learn the opportunity to explore the Smithsonian's rich resources anytime, anywhere.


Learn More

Create Create

Free your imagination – create personal collections using the Smithsonian's vast resources and add your own resources or those from other sources. Add notes, develop quizzes or create complete lessons or artistic collections, and build upon each for more personal and memorable learning.


Learn More

Share Share

Quiz your students on the U.S. presidents; awe your friends with handpicked photographic art and share your personalized collections. Become part of a collaborative, global community of learners who are passionate about bringing to light new knowledge, ideas, and insight.


Learn More

Smithsonian Staff Picks

 

Mary & Katy: See, Think, Wonder & Compare

Artful thinking routines to explore, critique, compare and contrast portraits of Mary Cassatt and Katy Perry from the National Portrait Gallery. #npgteach
Micah Haddock
6
 

Writing Inspiration: Using Art to Spark Narrative Story Elements

The Smithsonian museum collection inspires many to research the history behind artifacts, but this collection explores the use of art and artifacts to spark creative story writing. Students will choose artifacts to craft characters, a setting, and a plot conflict to create and write a narrative story.

Targeted Vocabulary: Narrative, protagonist , antagonist, character, character traits, setting, plot, climax, and conflict.

After reading and analyzing several narrative stories for story elements such as character, setting, plot, climax, and conflict, students will use this collection to begin planning their own narrative stories.
Individuals or partners will first view the portraits and discuss possible stories behind each face before choosing a protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters. They may begin to discuss and imagine character traits for each subject.
Next, the student will select a landscape setting in which the story may take place. The writer will describe the landscape, imagine a time period, and name the location.
Finally, the student will either choose an action artifact around which to build a major plot event, or have that slide as a minor scene in their story.
Students may use the Question Formulation Technique to garner ideas for background stories behind the faces. http://rightquestion.org/
Once the story elements are in place, the students may begin to draft narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

With the artifacts selected as the major story elements, the students may begin crafting their narrative story. The artifacts can then be displayed as illustrations in the published narratives.
Kathy Powers
66
 

The Fantastic World of Nineteenth-Century Women’s Emotions: Two Literary Portrayals

Inspired by the December 2nd, 2015 Dibner Lecture by Laura Otis
Describing complex human emotions in words has challenged writers of every time in place. The feelings of rejected lovers are especially keen and make for engrossing stories. Two Victorian novelists, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling, combined popular knowledge of science, literature, and religion to create powerful portraits of abandoned women. Although based more on cultural myths than human physiology, their depictions of Miss Havisham and the lady in the phantom rickshaw have had a powerful influence on representations of women’s emotions.
Smithsonian Libraries
23
 

Hamilton!

Have your students (or you) caught the Hamilton bug inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical? This collection is filled with resources and teaching ideas about the founding father. With his musical, Miranda has transformed teaching the Founding Fathers from distant and un-relatable to a relevant story of a hustling immigrant whose rise helps progress the American Revolution and set the new nation on track to become the economic powerhouse that it remains today.

Tags: Alexander Hamilton, ten dollar bill, Aaron Burr, duel, treasurer, financial plan, Federalist

Kate Harris
14