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Found 479 Collections



Discovery Theater is a pan-institutional museum theater dedicated to bringing theatre to young audiences and general visitors on and off the Mall since 1969. Recommended for children between the ages of 3 and 7, this delightful Discovery Theater original offers a fresh take on three classic tales . The Little Red Hen asks the question “Who will help?” Jack and the Beanstalk proves that small is mighty. And The Gingerbread Man… well, he’s just one bad cookie. Filled with delightful songs, puppets, and audience participation, this bilingual story-time spectacular is not to be missed! 


Jack and the Beanstalk: Our version of this classic story teaches kids about overcoming adversity and intervening on behalf of those with less power than you.

The Little Red Hen: This story teaches kids about the important of helping others!

The Gingerbread Man: This fun tale also serves as an example of not trusting someone without carefully considering what their motives might be.

Discovery Theater

Zoology Introduction: Observing Pandas

This lesson plan teaches innate and learned animal behavior by having students watch videos of Bao Bao, the Smithsonian National Zoo's panda, and answer questions about her behavior in the videos. The videos range from Bao Bao as a newborn to her first birthday and have quiz questions connected to them to help students better understand how to observe animal behavior. There is a hand out for students to read while watching the videos to better help them answer questions. There is also a chart attached that can be used by the teacher to write down the behavior of Bao Bao in each video in fifteen second increments. This teacher lesson plan can also be adapted to be used as a class assignment, if needed. 

Christina Shepard

World War I Stamps

This topical collection features forty international stamps that were issued during the World War I era. These stamps will serve as inspiration and a starting point for teacher-created Smithsonian Learning Lab collections during the National Postal Museum's workshop, "My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I" (July 2017) 


Ashley Naranjo

World War I

This collection highlights artifacts and secondary sources to help students explore the history of World War I. Specific topics referenced in this collection include trench warfare, women's contributions to the war effort and aid efforts.

Time Period: July 28, 1914 - November 11, 1918

National Museum of American History

Woodcut Portraits

Jean-Marie Galing

Women's History Month Family Festival

Here is a collection of videos from a Women's History Month family festival, that includes interviews and performance footage with Kathak dancer Prachi Dalal, Native American singing group Ulali, mother-daughter storyteller and artist Yona Zeldis McDonough and Malcah Zeldis, and the Georgia Tech Glee Club paying tribute to the women in the audience for Women's History Month.

Philippa Rappoport

Women and Sewing in the Revolutionary Era

Among the many purposes art fulfills, it can convey a message, allow self-expression, and indicate a way of life. In the Revolutionary War era, while boys were taught traditional knowledge (much like today), girls were instructed in the arts--including sewing.1 This medium helped women contribute to their home as well as communicated thoughts and emotions of them and their country.

The art of sewing was used in practical manners through household items like quilts and bed coverings, giving a picture of normal life. Even the decorative works were practical; Education accessible only for the rich, the art was displayed in houses to show off their wealth and skill in order to attract suitors. It also conveyed values about religion and family, with passages and pictures, helping people in their time--and ours--understand their thoughts that otherwise would have gone unacknowledged. Some women even professionally embroidered to exchange it for money and goods, giving some financial independence in a time of assumed submission. 1

American culture also form into what it is today through these creations. Using stylized images, they created the picture of a patriot, dictating to the nation what a true American looks like and promoting the war effort. It showed what the country was as well as what it could be. In a time of adjustment and confusion, it gave the nation a direction of how to live.

Sewing gave a voice to the voiceless and helped define a woman's traditional role in American society. From the practical household items to a platform to display their personality, it gave them an outlet to educate and express themselves, giving them a way to participate and contribute to the country.

The first article is an embroidery frame. This was used to hold embroidery in place when creating. It is what opened the door for so many women to learn this skill and create a whole new influence in America.

The second article listed, called Sweet Sampler, is an example of what a girl would learn to do in school. This was made by an 13-year-old. A simple scene with just , this shows the beginning of a hard-to-attain education and the seeds of what grew into a popular form of expression.

The third article shows a quilt, one example of a household item done by sewing. Though the creator had no kids, it shows how the skill could be used practically to keep a family warm.

The fourth article is a coverlet (bedspread). Its design was inspired by Indian bed hangings, showing how American culture is influenced by outsiders-- and shaped by it-- through this medium. It is yet another example of how sewing was applied in basic items.

The fifth article, a pair of decorated shoes, was the only one I found of its kind. It was designed after German trends; this is another sample of other nations' influences on America, creating what is considered "American" today. In addition, it shows another use for sewing and embroidery.

Article six is a woman's stylized sampler tracking her genealogy. This is an example of work done with sewing to attract suitors and display wealth and education. It showcases what is considered "good" values through this display, giving a hint to the culture at the time.

Article seven demonstrates religious virtues. This perpetuates the cultural religious emphasis at the time, especially among the elite. This is yet another indication of American culture and also shows the woman's values-- a detail we otherwise wouldn't have known about.

Article eight, along with the rest following it, are more professional. Made with embroidery thread, it depicts a pleasant rural life, giving an idea of what was considered ideal life (for an elite, at least). The artist clearly had to develop this skill with the very little independence they were given.

Article nine's details were done using needlework. The artist depicted a woman flying an American flag in a picturesque setting. This became "a symbol of liberty to Americans during the Revolutionary War period" (National Museum of American History).

The final article depicts Liberty with armor and "a boy and girl looking toward a distance hilltop" (National Museum of American History). There are national emblems and symbols included, showing this picture is patriotic. This is yet another example of women influenced (as well as influencing) nationalism and the American war effort.

Shira Solomon

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

I created this collection for families to do together while schools are closed. I will be making a collection a day while we are out of school. Today we will be exploring superheroes. The idea is for families to look at the items in the collection and consider what they see in the objects and paintings, what they think, and what they wonder. Families can also watch videos about creating Marvel Comics as well as a video about a really amazing comic book store owner. At the end of the collection I have provided a few ideas for families about what to do next.

If you want to learn more about more about See Think Wonder you can click here to see a video of a teacher using the routine in her classroom.

Ellen Rogers

Winter Olympics: Highlights Collection

This is a Smithsonian Learning Lab topical collection, which contains images, text, recordings, and other multimedia resources that may complement the Tween Tribune feature, Four Olympic stadiums with unexpected afterlives. Use these resources to introduce or augment your study of this topic. If you want to personalize this collection by changing or adding content, click the Sign Up link above to create a free account.  If you are already logged in, click the copy button to initiate your own version. Learn more here

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

William H. Johnson

Jean-Marie Galing

Willi Smith

Willi Smith (1958-1987)

Willi Smith was an African American fashion designer whose street wear line known as WilliWear was and experiment of democracy in fashion. WilliWear designs were known to be bold, blurring the lines between high and low culture, and his work often involved collaborations with other artists and designers. The openly gay designer's career was cut short when he died in 1987 from complications from HIV/AIDS.

This collection is a representation of the 2020 exhibition Willi Smith: Street Couture at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, which features over 200 pieces from Smith’s work and career and his numerous collaborations with artists, dancers, choreographers, graphic designers, architects, and more. The works on view include video, sketches, patterns, photographs, and garments.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Why Is Celia Cruz Called the Queen of Salsa?

Celia Cruz celebrated her Cuban American identity as one of the first women salsa singers. 

Because of Her Story presents a YouTube miniseries where students speak with Smithsonian curators about four women who shaped American history and culture. In Why Is Celia Cruz Called the Queen of Salsa?,Mincy, a student, speaks with Ariana A. Curtis, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

See more YouTube videos from the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative, Because of Her Story. #BecauseOfHerStory

Because Of Her Story

Why did the Second Great Awakening inspire reform movements?

The Second Great Awakening was a religious revival movement in the first half of the 19th century. It emphasized emotion and enthusiasm, but also democracy: new religious denominations emerged that restructured churches to allow for more people involved in leadership, an emphasis on man's equality before god, and personal relationships with Christ (meaning less authority on the part of a minister or priest). There was also a belief that the Second Coming was imminent, and society must be improved before that time. Women were heavily involved in the 2nd Great Awakening movement, converting in large movements and taking on leadership roles in service committees and reform work.

Students and teachers might use this collection as a topical resource to explore: Why and how did the Second Great Awakening inspired a range of antebellum reform movements?

Other questions that might support this inquiry include:

  • How are concepts of democracy and equality important to both the Second Great Awakening and the rise of reform movements?
  • Why do you think women were often leaders in antebellum reform movements?
  • More Americans were moving westward during this period. How do you think that impacted the religious revival movement?
  • Can you hypothesize a connection between the increase in utopian societies during this time and the growing reform and religious movements?

Tags: abolition, temperance, women's rights, women's suffrage, second coming, antebellum reform, asylum and prison reform, education, 2GA

Kate Harris

Who "Cares?"

What does a comparison of the collections of Smithsonian's  Museum of American History, Division of Science and Medicine   (Washington, D.C.) 

and its local affiliate the Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, Ohio) 

tell us about Collecting and the recognition of women in medicine and Science?

Kimberly Lenahan

What's a Lichen? How a Smithsonian Scientist Studies a Unique Symbiosis

This collection supports the free Smithsonian Science How webcast, "What's a Lichen? How a Smithsonian Scientist Studies a Unique Symbiosis,"  scheduled to air on November 14, 2019. Manu is a scientist at the Smithsonian who studies lichens, a lichenologist. She collects lichens from all over the world, depositing them into the U.S. National Herbarium, which is located at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Manu identifies the lichens she collects with observations of how the lichen looks, their DNA data and where they were found.

Lichens are a symbiotic relationship between algae and fungus. They have been on earth for millions of years, living on rocks, trees, and soil in all different habitats on all seven continents. Even though lichens are all around us, scientists are still learning about what they are, where they live, and how many different species of lichens there are.

Fungus is any group of spore-producing organisms feeding on organic matter, and include molds, yeast, mushrooms, and toadstools. Algae is a simple, non-flowering plant. Algae contain chlorophyll and produce sugar through photosynthesis, like other plants, but do not have true stems, roots, leaves, or vascular tissue like most other plants. Lichenization is a fungal lifestyle, and therefore the name of lichen is the name of the fungus component.

When you look at a lichen, what you’re looking at is the “house” that the fungus and algae grow together. Scientists call this house a “thallus.” When algae and fungus come together to form this house, we see a lichen. This partnership is called a symbiotic relationship, because it helps both the fungus and algae survive. Research has shown that lichens are not a natural biological group, meaning they do not all come from a single common ancestor, in other words, lichens have many origins. Currently there are almost 20,000 species of lichenized fungi known.

In this symbiotic relationship, the fungus and algae benefit from being associated with each other. The fungus provides the house, its shelter (the thallus). This shelter helps the algae survive in habitats where it would otherwise be exposed to the elements and possibly could not survive. The algae provide food for the fungus, in the form of sugar. The sugar is a byproduct of photosynthesis that occurs within the algae.

Lichens are very important for the environment. They are an important food source for many animals, provide nest materials for birds, and provide habitat and material for biomimicry for insects and other organisms.

Lichens are also important for humans by providing natural dyes, perfumes, litmus paper, and even food. Humans even use lichens as bio-indicators, organisms that help humans monitor the health of the environment. Some species of lichens are sensitive to environmental pollution, so their presence or absence can help us understand more about the health of the environment, like air quality. 

Lichens produce over one thousand different chemical compounds, most of them unique to lichens. These compounds include acids and pigments. Some chemicals may even fluoresce under UV light, making them important components for lichen identification.

Lichens have DNA, which is used to identify lichen and compare relationships amongst and within species. DNA analysis has been an important tool for lichenologists in identifying and understanding the biodiversity of lichens.

Sign up for the Smithsonian Science How webcast to introduce your students to Lichenologist Manuela Dal Forno! The program airs at 11am and 2pm on November 14, 2019. Sign up and view the program here:

Maggy Benson

What is art? #TeachingInquiry

1. Do you think art is universal in its qualities and nature?

2. WHY is art created?

3. Who decides what is art and what is not art?

Kaavya Lakshman

What did money look like under colonial rule in West Africa?

How did colonialism affect the lives and livelihoods of Africans? The kinds of money people used can provide some clues. This collection contains coins and notes introduced by the colonial powers which  Africans received in return for the sale of produce and used for paying taxes. It also includes cowrie shells, kissi pennies and manillas, which Africans often used to buy everyday goods in local markets despite colonial government policies banning them. 

NMAH and London School of Economics

Well Done, Sister Suffragette!

I created this collection for families to do together while schools are closed. I will be making a collection a day while we are out of school. Today we will be exploring women's suffrage. The idea is for families to look at the items in the collection and consider what they see in the objects and paintings, what they think, and what they wonder. Families can also watch a free Brainpop video about women's suffrage as well as listen to the song "Sister Suffragette" from Mary Poppins. At the end of the collection I have provided a few ideas for families about what to do next.

If you want to learn more about more about See Think Wonder you can click here to see a video of a teacher using the routine in her classroom.

Ellen Rogers

Watersheds, Water Clarity & Human Impact on Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe has become a symbol of the controversial balance between preserving and expanding into natural systems. Tahoe’s clarity has also been decreasing since at least 1968; down from 100 feet of visibility to about 70 feet nowadays. Fine particles from urban expansion is one of the main causes, as well as the introduction of invasive species. These photos and questions will help students to understand some of the reasons why Tahoe is becoming murkier. They can provoke relevant ideas about how to slow that loss of clarity down or even reverse it, so that future generations of people and native species can enjoy and rely on this magnificent lake, just as we have done in the past. Simply click the paperclip in each image to see the prompts pertaining to each photo. This collection is ideal for a discussion-based lesson.

Lake Tahoe Interpretation

Waste Not, Want Not

I created this collection for families to do together while schools are closed. I will be making a collection a day while we are out of school. Today we will be exploring reducing, reusing, and recycling. The idea is for families to look at the items in the collection and consider what they see in the objects and paintings, what they think, and what they wonder. Families can also watch a video about upcycling and fix it clinics as well as learn about how people can repurpose waste. At the end of the collection I have provided a few ideas for families about what to do next.

If you want to learn more about more about See Think Wonder you can click here to see a video of a teacher using the routine in her classroom.

Ellen Rogers

Was the printing press revolutionary?

Saúl Martínez Bermejo

Visible Thinking with Still Life: Activities for Intro to Nutrition (NUTR101) Students

Intro to Nutrition is a 3 credit, non-lab science in the General Education curriculum at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, USA.

Scientists rely on observation to help them identify patterns and to formulate their hypotheses.  These three looking activities help students to develop more effective looking, thinking and questioning skills. These skills will serve them in this science class and in their lives outside the classroom, as well.

Exercise #1: Students are presented with two still life portraits from the 19th century.  The first is by German American artist Severin  Roese in 1852 and the second by Everhart Kuhn, in 1865.  Working in small groups students use the SEE-THINK-WONDER routine to discuss and record the similarities and differences they can identify. They share out to the larger group their findings to see if others saw the paintings differently.

Exercise #2:  Students examine one of the two paintings, either Still Life #12 (1962) by Tom Wesselmann or Breakfast Tacos (2003) by Chuck Ramirez.  This exercise employs the WHAT MAKES YOU SAY THAT routine from Project Zero.


Sara Ducey

Virginia History Tour

From Jamestown to the present, explore some of the people, places and events that tell the story of the history of Virginia. 

( Curated to support Virginia Standards of Learning for the  Virginia Studies course.)

Nancy Butler

Viral Histories: Stories of Racism, Resilience, and Resistance in Asian American Communities

How do we  strengthen and build community in the middle of an emergency?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian Americans have been experiencing increased racism and hate crimes. While these incidents of increased prejudice and violence occur today, they reflect a long history of how power, prejudice, and public health have intersected throughout American history. 

For Asian Pacific American History Month, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History held conversations in a series called Viral Histories: Stories of Racism, Resilience, and Resistance in Asian American Communities, with community leaders combating racism while serving on the front lines. Community leaders shared their first-hand experience with historians who connect these experiences to the past.  

This collection contains several sub-collections that explore different topics related to this event.  Learn more at


National Museum of American History
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