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Going Beyond Stereotypes: Mexican Indigenous Dress and Musical Instruments

By: Lisa Falk, Head of Community Engagement, Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona The Smithsonian’s Learning Lab collections are rich resources that can bring the world into your classroom. The collections can be used to unpack stereotypes. Use the Learning Lab to introduce your students to some real Mexican indigenous costume traditions by asking them, “What would Frida Kahlo wear?” And then delve into why. This questioning helps students reflect on how stereotypes are developed and ho…

Teacher Feature: Ms. Kelly’s Second-Grade Social Studies Unit on Communities

Teacher Feature is a new series on promising practices in using digital museum resources in the classroom. Interested in contributing your approach? Send us a note! By: Ashley Naranjo, Manager of Educator Engagement, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access  Projected at the front of Meghan Kelly’s second-grade classroom in Avonworth, Pennsylvania, select artworks from the Smithsonian serve as an introduction to a deep discussion about rural, urban and suburban communiti…

Using Artifacts to Inspire Critical Thinking

By: Mary Manning, College and Career Readiness Specialist, Cleveland History Center  You don’t need to be a museum curator to use artifacts in a classroom. If you decide to use visual thinking strategies, which offer powerful ways to unravel all the symbolic power of artistic images, they may not seem to apply to artifacts, especially those used in daily life that may not carry symbolic meanings. However, artifacts are the most often forgotten yet most compelling kind of primary …

National History Day: Stories of Triumph and Tragedy from the National Portrait Gallery

By: Kate Clarke Lemay, Historian and Briana Zavadil White, Student and Teacher Programs Manager, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the story of America by portraying the people who shape the nation’s history, development, and culture. Our collection presents people of remarkable character and achievement. These Americans include artists, politicians, scientists, inventors, activists, and performers, who together form our national identity.…

Strategies to Engage Young Children with Museum Objects and Artworks

By Meredith Osborne, Museum and Early Learning Specialist, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center and Brooke Shoemaker, Museum and Early Learning Specialist, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center As early learning and museum education specialists at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, we believe in the value of using museum objects (including artifacts, artwork, specimens, etc.) to engage children ages zero to six in learning every day. Objects tell stories, provide opportunities for careful lo…