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Found 6,958 Collections


The Dred Scott Case

The Dred Scott case was one of America's most controversial Supreme Court decisions. Who was Dred Scott and did he have a right to his freedom?
The goal of this Collection is to engage students to read and research people and texts that comprised this historical event then write a persuasive essay based on opinion gathered from details and facts procured from their readings and research.

Dred Scott
Dred Scott vs Sanford
Dred Scott vs Sandford
U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court
Chief Justice Taney
Declaration of Independence
Missouri Compromise
Pre Civil War Era
Linda Muller

Tools of the Labor Movement

The United States labor movement began in full force during the late 19th century and peaked during World War II. Workers learned that by joining together in unions, they could exert more pressure on employers and the government to protect their rights and improve labor conditions. This collection includes a variety of resources related to the United States labor movement, particularly the various tools and strategies used to create change.

Guiding questions to consider are:
-What rights do workers desire?
-How can labor unions influence employers, government, and the public?
-What tools and strategies are most effective for improving working conditions? Consider: boycotts, picketing, appeals to the media, strikes, walk-outs, and slow-downs.
-How does the public perceive labor unions? How does this impact their results?
-Are women and minorities included in the labor movement? Were they always?
Kate Harris

Archaeology Lessons

This collection includes lesson plans and artifact collections that would be useful for any K-12 study of archaeology. Brief descriptions of the resources are included where necessary, so that teachers can quickly determine what might be applicable to their own classrooms.
Kate Harris

Sports and the African-American Civil Rights Movement

Popular athletes can reflect the broader societal change that is going on around them; they can also be instigators of that change. This collection traces the African-American civil rights movement through the 20th century and touches on athletes like Jack Johnson, Jackie Robinson, and Muhammad Ali. Students can use the collection independently to learn about this subject and complete the timeline worksheet included at the end.

Students will be asked to generalize about the civil rights movement during different time periods in American history, noting the shifts in focus, strategies, and success. In addition, they will draw parallels between events in sports history and the civil rights movement.
Kate Harris

My Smithsonian Closet

You could be exceptionally well-dressed if the Smithsonian were your closet.
Kate Harris

Who discovered America?

The question "Who discovered America?" invites a lot of discussion, now that many of us recognize that the simple answer of "Columbus" is not entirely accurate. This collection includes resources to help support student investigation into the answers of these questions:
-What does it mean to "discover" a place?
-How did the first peoples arrive in the Americas?
-What claims to the Vikings and the Chinese have to the discovery of America?
-Should Columbus be celebrated as a hero, villain, or something in between?

There are discussion questions and additional links throughout the collection. Teachers and students are invited to explore the many websites included to further their research.
Kate Harris

American Bald Eagle

How did the bald eagle become the symbol of America? What symbolism did Native Americans find in the bald eagle?
This Collection of resources on the American bald eagle includes images, videos, sculptures, and stamps that depict the American bald eagle.
Linda Muller

Photograph Analysis: Migrant Workers in the Great Depression

This collection includes only one image and is intended as a discussion-based warm-up to a lesson on the Great Depression and migrant families. Suggested questions for discussion, a photograph analysis worksheet and a writing prompt are included.
Kate Harris

Poster and Music Analysis: Joe Hill and the IWW

This collection includes an iconic labor union poster and is intended as a warm-up activity for a lesson on labor unions in the late 19th and early 20th century. Discussion questions and songs by and about Joe Hill are included.

Guiding questions to consider:
-What conditions led to the development of labor unions?
-How did the philosophy of the IWW, or Wobblies, differ from other labor unions?
-Why has Hill remained an iconic figure for the labor movement?


Kate Harris

Tools for Meditation

Are you interested in meditation? This topical collection includes a variety of tools for meditation, including mandalas, music, prayer beads, labyrinths, and a video of a guided meditation and pranayama (breathing) practice. Web links to additional background information are embedded throughout.
Kate Harris

Aral Sea: Exploring Change Over Time with Satellite Imagery

This teaching collection includes maps and satellite images, complemented by image interpretation guides and related magazine articles, for students to discover what natural causes and human impacts have had consequences for the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea has been a continuously shrinking body of water over the last 50 years after the rivers that fed into it were diverted by irrigation projects. Learn what you can discover by annotating change through satellite imagery.
Ashley Naranjo

Weikers Family Collection Class Warm-Up

This is a single document with hot spots and questions used to model primary source analysis for a sixth grade class. It is drawn from a collection of archival records and photographs documenting the Weikers family's experience in Nazi Germany and their persistent efforts to seek asylum in the United States. You can find the full collection here:

Questions to consider are:

a. Who are the Weikers?

b. Where did they live?

c. When did they live? What can they tell us about this time in history?

d. How were they affected by Nazi Germany?

e. What did they feel about the Nazis?

Tags: Nazi Germany, Holocaust era, primary sources, Pittsburgh

Kate Harris

Human Evolution - Early Human Diets

This Smithsonian Science How learning collection, from Q?rius at the National Museum of Natural History, is part of a distance learning program at This collection focuses on the significance diet for human evolution. Targeted at middle schoolers, the collection invites students into an authentic understanding of the evidence for early meat-eating in humans. Anthropologist Dr. Briana Pobiner is featured as an expert explainer. The collection includes an interactive webcast video with discussion questions, cross-cutting activities, an independent project, and other resources for teachers and students.

Key Terms: paleoanthropology, fossil, archaeology, human evolution, extinction, taxonomy, phylogeny

Key Concepts:

- What it means to be human

- Diet and culture of early humans

- Interpreting the family tree of humans

- Factors shaping human evolution

- Technology used by paleoanthropologists

Smithsonian Science How

The Music in Poetry

Lessons in this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom introduce students to the rhythms of poetry. The focus is on two poetic forms that originated as forms of song: the ballad stanza, found throughout British and American literature, and the blues stanzas of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. Poetry is put into terms of movement, physical space, and, finally, music.

Click the PDF icon to download the issue. Click on the boxes (then click again on "View original") for audio samples of ballads and blues from the Smithsonian Folkways archives.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Introduction to the Nature Journal

Lesson plan in which students practice writing and observation skills by keeping nature journals. They observe animals on the National Zoo’s webcam and write about the behaviors they see, making hypotheses based on these observations.
Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Native American Dolls

In this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, students examine handcrafted dolls from the National Museum of the American Indian. They draw connections between these objects and Native cultures, communities, and environments.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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.
Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Building Up, Breaking Down

In lessons in this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, students explore the weathering of buildings, which begins the minute the buildings are built. Physical breakdown (such as rock fracture), chemical weathering, and pollution are all key ingredients in this discussion of the geology of the built environment. Also included is a guide to gravestone weathering.

Click the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Inka Architecture: Teaching Resources

This topical collection gathers teaching resources on Inka architecture, focusing on building methods and architectural symbolism in Cusco, capital of the Inka Empire. These resources explore the symbolic layout of Cusco as well as the architecture of five specific structures: Saqsaywaman (upper temple of the sun), Hatunrumiyoc (a wall, once part of the palace of Inka Roca), the Qorichanka (lower temple of the sun), and the Double Jamb Doorway (a sacred entryway). Includes video interviews with archaeologists, interactive 3D models, and the exhibition website for "The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire." Resources also explore the continuing importance of these structures in Cusco today, both in terms of environmental stability and continuing cultures.

Keywords: inkan, inca, incan, archaeologist, stonework, continuing legacy, peru, symbol, religion, ancient civilization, world history, culture, cuzco, andes, saksaywaman, qurikancha, archaeology, pre-columbian, latin america, south america, ruins

Tess Porter

A Shape-Note Singing Lesson

Shape-note singing is a tradition that began in the American South as a simple way to teach the reading of music to congregations. Each note head has a distinctive, easy-to-remember shape. What a great way, then, to introduce the reading of music to children!

In this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, "A Shape-Note Singing Lesson," you'll find a lesson plan and a background essay. Click the PDF icon to see the issue. Click the last box for audio samples of shape-note hymns from the Smithsonian Folkways archives.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Every Picture Has a Story

In the lesson in this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, students closely examines four of the 13 million photographs in the Smithsonian. The pictures represent four important steps in the history of the medium: the introduction of portrait photography, the invention of a photographic printing process, the capture of instantaneous action, and the advent of home photography.

Click on the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Learning from Field Drawings: Fish of the Wilkes Expedition (1838-1842)

This collection explores field drawings from the United States Exploring Expedition, led by United States Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes from 1838-1842 utilizing several resources from the Smithsonian Field Book Project. Students will explore the elements of a field drawing, the information that can be gleaned from these records and consider why a naval scientific expedition might have included artists. To extend the activity, students can also select a fish image from the Smithsonian collection to illustrate and annotate the way that an artist in the field might.

Keywords: scientific illustration, sketches

Ashley Naranjo

National Teachers of the Year 2016

Step inside the Renwick's Wonder-filled, room-sized sculptures for a workshop focused on inspiring meaningful student inquiry. Explore artworks that pique your curiosity. Peel back their layered meanings to discover how humble, workaday materials build bridges to issues of global significance. Meet the mastermind behind Wonder, curator Nicholas Bell. Collaborate with other educators: how can you integrate visual thinking routines, environmental themes, and artists’ creative approaches into your curriculum? Learn by doing: no prior knowledge of art required.

This collection was created to support the 2016 CCSSO Teachers of the Year Day at the Smithsonian.
Elizabeth Dale-Deines
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