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Found 6,093 Collections



Resources for 5th and 6th grade social studies curriculum.

5th - Japanese Culture

6th - Immigration

Tracey Barhorst

The Wednesday Wars and the American Ideal

Resources to accompany a unit on the YA novel The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt.

Tip Walker

Ethnic Studies: Identity

Resources for 9th Grade Ethnic Studies Unit on Identity (self and as part of a larger group). Who am I? Where do I come from? #SAAMTeach

Danielle Torrez

Rosa and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

A look at the Montgomery Bus Boycott through Rumbaugh's sculpture of Rosa Parks.  A deep look at the characterization of the three figures through the lens of literary analysis.  Students will use the sculpture as a jumping board into literacy activities.

This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2019 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute. 


Kelly McGuire

Compare/Contrast: Faith Ringgold and Jacob Lawrence

This collection includes self-portraits by two different artists: Faith Ringgold and Jacob Lawrence.  Both artists are generally known for their efforts to represent everyday life experiences, struggles, and successes of African Americans.  The purpose of the collection is to prompt a discussion comparing/contrasting each artist's content and media choice in the context of a self-portrait.  Students will be asked to reflect on stages of the artistic process in terms of artist intent, choice of media, and general content of a finished artwork.     

This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2019 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute.  #NPGteach 

Liz List

Perspectives on Japanese-American Internment

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan during World War II, anti-Japanese paranoia increased in many parts of the United States. Many persons of Japanese decent, even those who were American citizens, were suspected of loyalty to Japan. In response to this perceived security risk, in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and resident aliens from Japan.

This lesson is intended to be used as an extension to the study of the Holocaust in English-Language Arts. Students should have some prior knowledge of World War II, Nazi propaganda and the Jewish experience in concentration camps. 

This collection was created in conjunction with the Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute at the National Portrait Gallery (2019). #NPGTEACH

Tracy Biondi

Dismissing the Dead White Guy

This collection explores the necessity, logic, and fairness of the inclusion and/or exclusion of people of history based on gender and/or race. 

Lessons include

Looking Using the Puzzle Strategy

Looking using several various strategies. 

Easily customization by simply using as an individual or group lesson or by requiring all, some, or one of the additional group portraits.

Researching People and Inventions

Recognizing Bias and Objective Analysis

Understanding the Difference Between Bias and Prejudice

Argumentative Essay Writing (Designed as a timed writing for AP Lang, but the prompt could easily be turned into a formal writing assignment. 


Deborah Eades

Genius as Immigrants

In this collection the students will examine the Time Cover of Albert Einstein and the Time Cover of J. Robert Oppenheimer. As they study the two, students will answer three questions about the two covers: What do you think you know about this portrait? What puzzles you about this portrait? What does this portrait make you want to explore? Students will examine the portrait to determine what they see as similarities in the two men.  Brief biographies of the men will be given to the students after they examine the photography to help students with the puzzling part and a possible springboard into the exploration of the men. After this the students will view the picture of the two men and answer the questions about them. 

This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2019 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute. #NPGteach

Shauna Cihacek

Well Behaved Women Rarely Become Famous

A collection of portraits of women that defied conventions of their day. Portraits chosen for this collection could lead to a discussion on the evolution of feminism in the US.  It includes several learning to look strategies.

This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2019 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute.


Kimmel Kozak

Art and Exercise: Yoga and Sandpainting


Students will learn that exercise changes how they feel, and how they feel can change what they are able to do. While learning about yoga, students will make sand painting inspired by artists around the world.

Essential Questions:

How can exercise change the way we feel? What kind of art can we make when we are calm? What can we do to feel calmer during the day?

Art Standards:

VA:Cr1.1.Pk - Engage in self-directed play with materials

VA:Cn10.1.Pk -  Explore the world using descriptive and expressive words and art-making.

Day One:  

Materials: Colored pencils, coloring sheets,

Compare a neatly colored sheet to a sheet with scribbles. What do you notice? Which one shows care? How do we know? Demonstrate coloring within the lines using one colored pencil at a time. Children can choose one coloring sheet, and complete it at their desk. Look closely at the first image "Indian Man Making Sand Painting." Participate in See Think Wonder thinking routine. Direct students to think about what the person is doing, and how they are feeling.

Day Two:

Materials: Colored pencils, coloring sheets

Watch video about Tibetan sand painting. Participate in See Think Wonder thinking routine. Why would you need to be calm to make this kind of work? What can we do to feel calm? Document answers. Reminders about coloring: within the lines using one colored pencil at a time. Children can choose one coloring sheet, and complete it at their desk.

Day Three:

Materials: Colored pencils, coloring sheets

What can we do to feel calm? Participate in short yoga video. Ask students how do they feel? Document student answers. Reminders about coloring: within the lines using one colored pencil at a time. Children can choose one coloring sheet, and complete it at their desk. Alternatively, students can finish a previous coloring sheet.

Day Four:

Materials: trays, colored sand, small containers (ice cube trays or similar would be ideal)

Teacher demonstrates sand painting. Emphasis on moving slowly, using pinching, having a plan, not bumping the tray, etc. If there is time, have one student also try sand painting while teacher and students narrate what they are doing. Ask students, how do we need to feel to do this kind of work? Participate in short yoga video. Transition to tables. Students make sand paintings, teachers document student work with photographs. Afterwards, ask why was it so important for us to feel calm for this work? What did we do to make sure that we felt calm? What would have happened if we were jumping around?

Keywords: yoga, sand, mandala, exercise, sandpainting, Tibetan, American Indian, Two Rivers


Allison Yood

New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) Arts Integration Planning Tool

Using a sample lesson "The Blues and The Great Depression" provided by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) as a model, this collection demonstrates how the Smithsonian Learning Lab can be a useful tool to curate digital resources that support a lesson for arts integration.

In this lesson, students will learn about the structure and content of the blues using songs from the 1930s and the Great Depression.Students will brainstorm circumstances of the Great Depression and use those ideas to create an original blues song from the point of view of someone living during the Great Depression.

Essential questions: 

● How does blues music reflect the challenges of poverty for the African-American experience during the Great Depression?
● How do images and songs reflect the emotions of the African-American experience during the Great Depression?

The original lesson was created by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) and included in their Arts Integration User Guide for NJ Educators and Practitioners, starting on p. 90 (

Ashley Naranjo


Cuneiform was written language used by ancient cultures, typically imprinted on clay or stone. Look at these images. 

See - Think - Wonder. Choose three types of cuneiform you find most interesting, and then write a one-page paper comparing all three. Why are they all so different? What might have influenced the choice of material used (stone, clay, etc)? What does each tell you about the civilization from which they originated?

Amy Baldwin

Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources: How we learn History

In this collection students will work with primary and secondary sources from and about Jamestown. They will create a definition of of both primary and secondary source and then read an article and watch a video to refine their definitions.

Guiding Question 1How do we learn history, in this case the history of Jamestown? 

Guiding Question 2: What are the characteristics of a primary and secondary source and how do I critically analyze them to develop an understanding of the story of Jamestown?

Big Idea: As students work with this collection to answer the guiding questions, they will understand that we learn history through the study of primary and secondary sources. It is important to know the benefits and drawbacks of each as we critically examine them for accuracy and bias.


Elizabeth Weiss

Student Podcasting: Exploring the "Nature of Science" through Podcast Development [TEACHER TEMPLATE-- MAKE A COPY]


EXAMPLE (3-4 sentences): Sixth grade students conducted research about our community's access to clean drinking water, electricity, and roads over the past fifty years. Students identified subject matter experts, refined interview questions, conducted interviews and produced the episode included here. This collection includes the completed podcast episode, alongside text and images documenting the students' research and production process.]

This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection includes examples of student-created podcast epsidoes, in response to prompts from the Sidedoor for Educators collections. After listening to Sidedoor podcasts to set context, gain background knowledge from Smithsonian experts, and initiate a local dialogue on the topic, students engaged in community-based scientific research to explore and collect evidence about how this topic and the content within the episode is defined locally.

To find additional student podcast collections, search the Smithsonian Learning Lab for #YAGSidedoor2019.

Ashley Naranjo

Power of the Press

The press and media have influenced America even before it was a country. The goal of this learning lab is to show the effect media has played on our democracy. It is also important to understand the bias that media and press can have on us everyday. Realizing this influence can make all of us better citizens.

Sydney Thatcher

Music and the Other Arts: Renaissance and Baroque as Examples

The National Association for Music Education Composition/Theory Connect #11 standard asks: Demonstrate an understanding of relationships
between music and the
other arts. One entree into the subject is to consider the correspondences of artistic movements in very different art forms.
For example: Just as we identify sixteen-century Italian art and architecture as Renaissance and seventeenth-century art and architecture as
Baroque, so we identify the music of those centuries as Renaissance and Baroque. Presented here are ideas on looking at the Renaissance com-
poser Palestrina and the Baroque composer Monteverdi  in light of the Renaissance and Baroque designs below. See READ MORE or click the text
box to the right of the rightmost picture.


The term Renaissance, meaning “rebirth,” refers to the rediscovery of artistic and architectural principles of ancient Greece and Rome, which began in Italy in the 1400s. Baroque comes from the Portuguese word barocco, meaning “irregular pearl.” The very name Baroque suggests everything that Renaissance is not.  

In architecture, common adjectives to describe Renaissance are: symmetrical, geometrical, proportional, restrained. For Baroque: sweeping, dramatic, ornate, contrastive, and, yes, irregular. The two architectural plans here, both from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, might give an indication of the differences.  

At left is a theater building in the manner of Antonio Palladio (1508–80), who gave his name to a specific Renaissance style: Palladian. On a Palladian facade such as this, the main entrance is at the exact center, topped by a pediment. The pediment rises to a point, but does not rise steeply. The round arch of this central entrance is flanked by two identical entrances. The three entrances are flanked by three round-arched windows on either side. As we move up, the steps are gradual: rectangular and then smaller square windows on the upper floor, then a low balustrade above. The two sides of the facade are identical.

At right is a plan for an unnamed Italian Baroque church. Students looking for differences in symmetry might see one right away: on the left of the upper section is a decorative urn; on the right is a much more prominent sculpture of a saint. The upper section itself tells us much: nothing in the Palladian building rises steeply like this.

A musical analogy might be found in the Renaissance church music of Giovanni P. da Palestrina (1525–94) and the Baroque church music of Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643). Aaron Copland wrote of Palestrina: “Part of the unworldly quality of many of Palestrina’s melodies is due to the fact that they move conjunctly, that is, stepwise from note to note, with a minimum number of skips. This restraining discipline, which makes so many of Palestrina’s melodies seem smooth and imperturbable, has the added advantage of making them easy to sing.”  

Monteverdi wrote something quite different about his own work: “I was aware that it is contraries that greatly move our mind. When I have not been able to find variety in the affections I have at least sought to bring variety into my music.”  


Available in public-domain recordings are an Agnus Dei by Palestrina and a Deus ad adiutorium by Monteverdi. The Palestrina is represented only by the melody; the Monteverdi in voices. As you listen to both, try to concentrate only on the melody of the Monteverdi. Ask students:  

Which piece has the broadest range in pitch?  

Which piece do you think would be more difficult to sing?  

Show students the two pictures, the Renaissance and Baroque buildings, without identifying their time periods. Ask:  

Which building reminds you most of the Palestrina? Which of the Monteverdi? Can you explain the analogies?  

Scroll down the main screen to find samples of sheet music for Palestrina and for Monteverdi. The Palestrina contains only one skip of a third. The rest of the notes move, as Copland says, conjunctly—one step at a time. Ask students to concentrate on the mere shapes that the notes form as they make their progression along the staffs.    

Which looks most like the Baroque church? Which looks like the Renaissance building?  

Palestrina composed for the ancient, relatively austere St. John Lateran Church in Rome. Monteverdi composed for the sumptuously Byzantine St. Mark’s Church in Venice. Were they influenced by their architectural surroundings?  

It is one of the sweet mysteries of art: Impressionist music somehow sounds like Impressionist painting. Did Impressionist painters and musicians learn from each other? Or Modernist composers and Modernist architects? Or was there just something in the air?

The question is without clear answer, but clearly there is an analogous relationship between architecture and music. As musicologist Joseph Machlis put it: “It has been said that architecture is frozen music. By the same token, music is floating architecture. Form is the structural principle in music.”

Scroll farther down the main screen to see a graphic representation of this.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Art and Exercise: Large Drawings and Strength Training


Students will learn that exercise changes how they feel, and how they feel can change what they are able to do.While learning about muscles and strength training, students will create large scale drawings using their whole body in the style of artist Heather Hansen.

Essential Questions:

How can exercise change the way we feel? When might we need to be strong? What can we do to make our bodies stronger? How can we use our muscles to make art?

Art Standards:

VA:Cr1.1.Pk - Engage in self-directed play with materials

VA:Cn10.1.Pk -  Explore the world using descriptive and expressive words and art-making.

Day One:

Materials: Playdoh, trays

Show children playdoh. How do I use this? Don't mix the colors. Keep it on the tray or in your hands. Close the container when finished. Never take any playdoh with you.  Squeeze a ball of playdoh in your hands. Have children feel your bicept, notice the difference in my arm. These are my muscles. At tables, have children use playdoh. Encourage children to squeeze playdoh and feel their arms.

Day Two:

Materials: Playdoh, trays

 Watch film "Weightlifting at the Zoo." Participate in See, Think, Wonder thinking routine. Direct the conversation to why animals might need to be strong and what they are doing to make sure that they are strong. At tables, have children use playdoh. Encourage children to squeeze playdoh and feel their arms.

Day Three:

Materials: chalk, black paper

Ask children when does someone use their strength? Why might someone want to become stronger? Document their answers. Show children chalk. How would you use this? Make sure that you are careful because it can break easily. If you drop it on the floor, pick it up right away. Use one piece of chalk at a time. Draw only on your own paper. Send children to tables to draw on paper with chalk.

Day Four:

Materials: Large paper taped to the floor, chalk, playdoh, trays

Watch video of Heather Hansen working. Participate in See, Think, Wonder thinking routine. How would we do this kind of work? Demonstrate how to draw like Heather Hansen. In small groups have children try drawing in the style of Heather Hansen. Children who are not drawing can use playdoh.

(This lesson make take more than one day)

Day Five:

Materials: Large paper taped to the floor, chalk taped to weights, playdoh, trays

Show students chalk taped to weights. Today we will continue working like Heather Hansen, but using these instead. Demonstrate using the weights on large paper. How do you think this will be different? Will it be easier or harder? In small groups have children try drawing in the style of Heather Hansen. Children who are not drawing can use play doh.  What would happen if we didn't have strong muscles for this work? What can we do to make our muscles stronger. 

(This lesson make take more than one day)

Key Words: muscle, strength, weight, lift, Heather Hansen, body, exercise, Two Rivers


Allison Yood

March of Progress

Collection for lesson 1 of Prehistory of Humans

Kirra Lent

Humanity and Technology


English Language Arts


Students will explore themes relating to the connection between humanity and technology using a variety of media.

Sara Noah

What is an ecosystem?

In this collection students will compare and contrast ecosystems in order to define them.

It can be used as part of a larger study on ecosystems and interconnections.

This collection contains images and videos depicting the biotic and abiotic elements of a desert and rainforest ecosystem. The accompanying note catcher links to an article on ecosystems from National Geographic and a TedTalk about the body as an ecosystem.

Guiding Questions: Students will construct responses to the following guiding questions as they work with this collection: 

GQ 1:  What is an ecosystem?

GQ 2: What makes a healthy ecosystem?

Big Idea: As students work with this collection to answer the guiding questions, they will understand that an ecosystem is made up of the living and non-living elements of work together to create a bubble of life. Students will learn that all of the elements of an ecosystem are interconnected and that a healthy ecosystem is diverse and well-balanced.


Elizabeth Weiss

Mini Unit Recognizing the American Dream


Maria Ryan

American Flag/Washington DC Flag Lesson, One or Two Part

With this collection, students will use a version of the Zoom In thinking routine to analyze several flags with an eye toward creating their own flag at the end of the lesson.

The Guiding Questions used in this lesson are:

-How did the United States flag change over time?

-Why do countries feel that it's important to have a single flag?

The Big Idea for this lesson is:

Simple symbols, like the those presented on flags, can represent a lot about a country's past and what makes that country unique.  

In this lesson, students will begin by exploring the collection and answering, using the quiz tool,  the questions embedded about the two early versions of the American flag.  The questions push students to analyze each flag, consider how versions of the American flag changed, and think critically about how symbolism can be used in a flag to represent unique and/or historical aspects of a country. 

Once students have completed the quiz questions, the teacher will call them together to discuss  the evolution of the American flag and what the elements of the flag's current and former designs represent.  The teacher will then turn the class's attention to the Washington DC flag and reiterate that its design was taken from George Washington's English ancestry.  Using this as another example of a flag drawing upon elements of history, the teacher will  make the point that the DC flag hasn't changed in appearance in over 80 years.  

The class will brainstorm what they feel are the most important and/or interesting aspects of DC history based on what they have studied.  They will then brainstorm symbols that could be used to abstractly represent elements of DC's unique past, status, and culture.  

Once a number of good ideas have been generated, each student will have the chance to create their own version of the DC flag, either modifying the exiting version of creating a completely new design.  On the draft sheets will be a checklist that focus's students attention on the  most important aspects of any flag, namely its symbolism and its connection to the history of the place it represents.  

If the teacher wishes to make this a longer activity featuring multiple drafts, he or she can consider looping in the art teacher to discuss concepts of sketching and design.  


Peter Gamber

How might we re-design our classroom?

This collection begins with the analysis of a series of images from 19th and 20th century classroom settings. Next, learners will apply Agency by Design thinking routines to explore elements of their own classroom that could be re-designed. Learners will go through the design process to: 

  • identify the precise challenge
  • brainstorm a solution, and
  • create a prototype.

This lesson introduces the design process to learners through a familiar system, the classroom. It allows for learners to collaborate in the improvement and re-design of their own learning environment, while taking into account the needs of other users of the space. 

This collection was created as an example used in the "Smithsonian Learning Lab, Focus on Design" session at the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) Arts Integration Learning Institute. 

Ashley Naranjo

How Did We Get Here?: Introduction to Flying Machines

This is a  collection designed to introduce students to the history of aviation as told through the lens of the scientific method-design process. Students begin by thinking about why is flight important in our lives, and how did we get to the airplanes we now know? Students look at the many designs that planes have gone through, and discuss why perseverance and problem-solving are important skills to have. They also see that teamwork, cooperation, and a desire to succeed were necessary for the Wright Brothers to do their important work. Feel free to pick and choose from the resources in creating your own collections:

Overall Learning Outcomes:

  • Scientists use trial and error to form conclusions.
  • Scientists test hypotheses using multiple trials in order to get accurate results and form strong conclusions. 
  • Scientists use multiple data and other evidence to  form strong conclusions about a topic.
  • Scientists work together to apply scientific research and knowledge to create new designs that meet human needs. 
  • Scientists help each other persevere through mistakes to learn new ideas.

Guiding Questions for Students to Answer from this collection:

  • Why is flight important?
  • How do scientists solve problems?
  • How do scientists collect data to help them solve problems?


Katherine Dunn
5257-5280 of 6,093 Collections