Found 687 Learning Lab Collections
In this collection, Educator Ramsey Weeks (Assiniboine, Lenape, and Hidatsa), from the National Museum of the American Indian, talks about Native American Ledger Art, and shares ideas for family and classroom "winter count" activities. The activities are suitable for English, art, history, and social studies classrooms.
The collection also includes information and resources about Winter Counts from the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Anthropological Archives, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Libraries, and the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.
This collection includes instructions and ideas for a classroom activity designed to get children and their families talking and creating together. It is suitable for K-5 classrooms, as an art, English, or social studies-based activity. Included here are examples of student work (images and video of students reading their books), as well as images from classroom displays.
In this activity, a 1st grade teacher from a bilingual school in Washington, D.C., used what we called the "Connections" handmade storybook design to have her students share important family lessons. She described how she did the activity: "I loved the book project and found that it was a way to get parents involved in making a book with their child at home. I pre-made the books since I thought the instructions were a little tricky. The instructions were to discuss and write about a Life Lesson that their families taught them. Our students created bilingual Spanish/English books. The format was perfect for this because it could be English on one side and Spanish on the other. Students enjoyed hanging their books up outside of the class for others to read and then sharing them with the class. It really helped them to understand what important life lessons families teach them and it helped to bring students' home knowledge into the classroom. We connected the books to our Life Lessons unit and plan to do the same thing this year."
This project is based on a handmade book design that can be found, along with several others, in another collection: Fun for the Whole Family: Making "Family Memory" Storybooks: http://learninglab.si.edu/q/ll-c/1tozk88HXhnFBU6d.
Allowing any citizen the right to vote no matter race or color of skin.
This activity can be used on its own or as a starting point for an interdisciplinary exploration of the global implications of HIV/AIDS.
This collection includes a three-part activity that can be modified by choosing to spend more or less time considering other viewpoints on HIV/AIDS. It uses Project Zero Thinking Routines and several images that allow students to explore multiple perspectives on HIV/AIDS. I have also created a separate collection with more images that could be used as starting points for further conversation called “The Global Implications of HIV/AIDS - An Interdisciplinary Exploration.”
The focus of this particular collection is to allow students to begin exploring at the individual level and then keep zooming out to the global level to engage with HIV/AIDS as a global issue.
Part I: The individual and Individuals within a Society
Using a work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres and the Project Zero Thinking Routine “See, Think, Wonder,” students can begin the conversation about the toll of HIV/AIDS on the individual level. Depending on student comments, this could also involve individuals within a society. The video included here could be shown as a follow-up explanation or could simply be used to help the teacher and not shown to students. The images of the quilt panel and the poster could both be used with the Project Zero Thinking Routine “Circle of Viewpoints” to help further the society or systems approach. These images allow students to explore the political complexities and how this can directly impact individuals within a group. Again, the video included could be used to enhance teacher and/or student knowledge.
Part II: Engaging in conversations about Society and Global Issues
Students will use the Project Zero Thinking Routine “See, Think, Wonder” to explore the Gapminder HIV Chart graphic (axes have been removed). If the group of students you are working with have less experience with thinking routines in general or are less inclined to take risks in sharing out, skip to the original version of the Gapminder HIV Chart graphic instead. At either starting point, more information can be revealed as students pose thoughts and wonders about the data provided. The link to the TedTalk can help students better understand what the graph is showing and perhaps be another starting point for a dialogue on the complexities of HIV/AIDS.
Part III: Reflection
There is some reflection built into the “Circle of Viewpoints” Thinking Routine but it is worthwhile to also reflect at the end of the activity. I have provided the Project Zero “I used to think…But now I think” Thinking Routine slide but a teacher could also choose to return to the Wrap Up questions provided from the earlier “Circle of Viewpoints” Thinking Routine and revisit what the students had mentioned from Part II.
What was the role of Science in the construction of race? How can various written works and works of art begin a conversation about race as a social construct? These series of activities allow for a dialogue about this complex issue.
This collection includes a three-part activity that can be modified by choosing to spend more or less time sharing out as a group and whether TED Talks are watched as a class or individually as preparation for class.
Part I begins with a work of art to stimulate thought using the Project Zero Thinking Routine "See-Think-Wonder." Students will then read an article and view an advertisement. Another thinking routine is used here to uncover the complexities of this particular advertisement. In the next parts, students view TED Talks followed by different kinds of media. Several Project Zero Thinking Routines can be used to stimulate and record thinking.
Part I: Identifying the focus and beginning a conversation
Starting with an artwork by Byron Kim and Glenn Ligon, students use the "See-Think-Wonder" Project Zero Thinking Routine to try and make sense of the image. After a class discussion, students should be guided to read a short article about skin-colored ballet shoes that would be more representative of the skin tones of actual ballet dancers. Teachers could choose to help students digest this article or move directly into the Ivory soap advertisement. Using the "Beauty and Truth" Project Zero Thinking Routine, students can uncover the underlying complexity of this image.
Part II: The evolution of skin color and telling the story of a work of art
After viewing the TEDTalk by Nina Jablonski about the illusion of skin color, students can reflect individually by answering the question "Why is it problematic to view race as a biological concept and categorize individuals based on skin color?" Then, using Project Zero’s "The Story Routine," students can create meaning for a work of art. Students can share out in pairs first or simply share out to the whole group depending on class size, etc.
Part III: Photography, an essay on color and race and a work of art from that essay
Angelica Dass’s photography challenges how we think about skin color and ethnic identity. The TEDTalk describes her Humanae project and allows for further dialogue about the complexity of skin color. Teachers could choose to help students identify important aspects of the talk or move directly into silent reading of Zora Neale Hurston’s essay "How It Feels to be Colored Me." Students can use the "Step inside-step out-step back" Project Zero Thinking Routine to identify perspectives addressed in this essay. Glenn Ligon created a work of art using this essay and students can use this piece to further the conversation with the same thinking routine or simply as part of the reflection. A final reflection about skin color and the social construct of race can be completed either as a group or individually using the "I Used to think…; But Now I Think…" thinking routine. Teachers should consider providing a more focused prompt that suits the goals/objectives of their lesson.
Look through the photographs. Spend a few minutes looking at each one, then pick three photos and consider the following questions: What are the common elements of the photos? During what time period do you think the photos were taken? In what part of the world were the photos taken? How are they similar? Different? You will record your observations on the quiz at the end of the photograph section.
As you investigate the artifacts, images, and readings in this collection, consider how the environment has been impacted by the development of canoes/boats? How were animals (birds, mammals, reptiles) affected by the launching of canoes/boats? How is the land affected by canoes/boats?
By using the pictures, students will be able for how the first canoe development may have affected the environment; students will construct an explanation of how the environment has since been impacted. They will then work to design solutions for ways of making less of an impact to the environment based on factors that can lead to the disruption of the protected waterways.
Meaning of Canoe:
The word 'canoe' originated from the word 'kenu' - meaning dugout. These seagoing boats were used by the Carib Indians of the Caribbean islands, and were made of large tree trunks which were shaped and hollowed, and were strong enough to travel between the islands.
Students will be able to:
1. Activate students’ prior knowledge. Tell students that they will learn about human-related impacts that threaten the environment.
2. Use a model to explore how the use of canoes effects the environment.
3. Construct explanations and design solutions for impacts of boating on healthy waterways.
4. Identify ways individuals can influence impacts of the boating industry.
1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the development of the boating issues based on the use of the canoe?
2. How do we assess the environmental, social, cultural, and economic benefits and drawbacks of various solutions to a problem?
3. How do we ultimately decide what solution is the 'best'?
4. What are the major concerns of using the waterways for leisure activities and for business?
- Computer lab with one computer for every student (computers should have Internet access) and the equipment to project onto a screen or white board
- One pair of audio headphones for each student
- Access to the Learning Lab Collections
- Review articles that emphasize the impact of environmental damage do to boating
- http://www.pbs.org/wayfinders/...This website has an activity that will help the students understand the building of the canoe
Today, the United States' borders are much larger than what they were 250 years ago. With the release from British authority, the United States faced the challenge of expanding westwards, bound by no outside law.
Art was perhaps the most compelling form of storytelling. Whether it was about certain war victories, discovery of land, or peace treaties, art was a popular way of depicting what had taken place.
Art during this era was also a form of propaganda: it had to be beautiful, depict the west as a place of grand spectacles and such. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that heavy romantic themes would dominate this era of art. This was called the Hudson River School movement, which often exaggerated the beauty of American nature. As a result, we get to explore three major themes associated with Western Expansion: discovery, exploration, and settlement. Examine how these pictures make you as the audience feel, and how it might relate to the successful expansion westwards.
Each item in this collection reflects the changing culture of America between the two World Wars. As we read The Great Gatsby and Of Mice and Men, consider how these pieces show the change of mindset across the decades.
Your task: select 5 artifacts and write a short paragraph for each saying how the object relates to 1) the era it is from, 2) to two texts, and 3) the other objects in you collection. Do not answer the three items like a list; rather, think about having your entire paragraph answer these questions: Why did I choose this object for this collection? What does it add to the whole? How can I interpret this object for the visitors of my gallery?
For your writing voice, sound authoritative, like a museum placard (those little signs next to objects). You do not need direct text evidence, but you do need to reference one or both of the texts.
Students will use the See/Think/Wonder strategy to make inferences about Hurricanes.
This unit explores different historical artifacts and the stories they tell. Students will investigate a range of objects, ranging from prescriptions to buffalo hides sourced from different Smithsonian collections.
Guiding Questions: How do humans shape the narrative of History? Whose History is being told? Is it possible to have multiple versions of the “past”?
The collection consists of 5 sets of artifacts, connected by some aspect such as culture, time period, event or movement. However, these objects each tell a very different story.
Working individually, in pairs or in small groups, students choose a set to explore. The students spend time quietly and carefully looking at the sources and investigate what they can tell us about our world, both locally and globally. This activity encourages students to reveal the multiple layers of meaning in an artifact from the most visible story to what it helps us to understand about the lives of our fellow human beings.
Students can share their ideas in pairs, or small groups, before coming together as whole class to share their findings.
Time: 40-60 minutes
As a follow up activity, students reflect on what new connections and information they discovered, new ideas that came to light, and what they found puzzling.
Students can complete the handout individually, in pairs or groups.
Time: 30-50 minutes depending on the length of the follow up discussion.
It might be interesting for students to watch the brief video included, where anthropologist Candace Green and curator Emil Her Many Horses, discuss the Lakota Winter Count as a form of historical record.
The duration of the video is just under 5 minutes.
For more information about the thinking routines visit:
This collection consists of three activities exploring different aspects of invention. Students are invited to examine how inventions are linked, the impact of innovation on society, and the ethical implications of innovation. Although designed to work as a unit, the lessons can be used individually.
Guiding Questions: What factors influence innovation in science? How do humans use science ? To what extent is science a group or individual process? Are all discoveries good or can they have a potentially negative effect?
In the first activity, students consider the process of invention by looking closely at images of inventions and exploring the connections between them. Students might consider which object was invented first, the microscope or the spectacles or investigate the relationship between glass, the telephone and the computer.
Students then view the short video on the manufacture of fiberglass, which looks at the process of innovating the glass manufacturing industry and the social and economic factors that propelled the invention of fiberglass.
Time: 50 minutes.
Building on the student’s earlier thinking about innovation, in this activity they explore how new inventions shape our understanding of our world and their impact on our daily life. Students are invited to explore images from artwork, advertisements, and leaflets and explain what each reveals about our changing world in both positive and negative ways.
This activity can be done individually, in pairs or in small groups followed by whole class sharing.
Time: 50 minutes, depending on the number of images explored.
The final activity delves into the ethics of invention and innovation, taking a broader look at the purposes and intended/unintended consequences of progress. This activity could also form the basis for further research into other inventions and their implications.
How does Art shape our knowledge of the world? What is the purpose of Art? What shapes our ideas about Art?
These are some of the questions students will explore in this collection. The focus of this collection is on visual art, including images drawn from photography, painting and sculpture. The 17 images are drawn from a variety of Smithsonian museums.
I use two activities, built on Project Zero thinking routines, to guide and scaffold the students' thinking. For more information and resources visit,
The activities can be done sequentially or individually over two 50-60 minute class periods, depending on how far the teacher would like to extend the follow-up discussion after the first activity or the number of images explored in the second.
The first activity, “What makes you think that? invites students to identify their own ideas about art, what they consider “good” art and to reflect on how they arrived at their conclusions. Students are invited to sort the works into two categories, "good" or "bad" art. Once they have sorted the works, they document the reasons for their choices and then compare with a partner, followed by whole class sharing.
It is interesting for students to think about where their beliefs come from and the discussion may extend to the influence of culture, perspective, religion, or personal versus public opinion.
In the second activity “Parts, Purposes, Puzzles students delve deeper into individual works. Students make careful observations, analyze component parts, consider the purpose of the artists choices, and pose questions.
The activity can be done individually or in groups.
As a concluding activity, students might find it interesting to revisit their initial rankings, and consider what they might now change and why?
These classroom resources from different Smithsonian museums focus on American Indian history and culture.
How was migration affected by the use of canoes/boats?
The earliest human migrations and expansions of archaic and modern humans across continents began 2 million years ago with the migration out of Africa of Homo erectus. This was followed by the migrations of other pre-modern humans including Homo heidelbergensis, the likely ancestor of both modern humans and Neanderthals.
How do canoes work? How do they float/move in the water?
An object will float if the gravitational (downward) force is less than the buoyancy (upward) force. So, in other words, an object will float if it weighs less than the amount of water it displaces. This explains why a rock will sink while a huge boat will float. The rock is heavy, but it displaces only a little water.
What does the weather do to the ocean currents?
Ocean water and currents affect the climate. It takes a greater amount of energy to change the temperature of water than land or air; water warms up and cools off much slower than land or air does. As a result, inland climates are subject to more extreme temperature ranges than coastal climates, which are insulated by nearby water. Over half the heat that reaches the earth from the sun is absorbed by the ocean's surface layer, so surface currents move a lot of heat. Currents that originate near the equator are warm; currents that flow from the poles are cold.
The Great Ocean Conveyor Belt
The great ocean conveyor belt is an example of a density-driven current. These are also called thermohaline currents, because they are forced by differences in temperature or salinity, which affect the density of the water.
The great ocean conveyor belt begins as the coolest of all currents - literally. At the beginning of the conveyor belt:
The Gulf Stream delivers warm, and relatively salty, surface waters north to the Norwegian Sea. There the water gives up its heat to the atmosphere, especially during the frigidly cold winters. The surface waters cool to near freezing temperatures, at which time they become denser than the waters below them and sink. This process continues making cold water so dense that it sinks all the way to the bottom of the ocean.
During this time, the Gulf Stream continues to deliver warm water to the Norwegian Sea on the surface. The water can't very well pile up in the Norwegian Sea, so the deep cold water flows southward. It continues to flow southward, passing the Equator, until it enters the bottom of the Antarctic Circumpolar current. It then drifts around Africa and Australia, until it seeps northward into the bottom of the Pacific.
The Consumer Revolution sparked the trend of what we call today, conspicuous consumption, during the 17th and 18th century. Fashioned in the English colonies, consumers purchased extravagant merchandise to display wealth within colonial societies. Due to this trend, the Consumer Revolution enforced a higher efficiency in goods through ease of travel and payment. These options eventually led to consumption from all despite race, class, or gender.
Each element of this collection has its own unique style. However, these distinct objects served different purposes within the societies of early America. Today, many items we purchase are influenced from some of the greatest designer's and public figures in history.
The overall hygiene of the early Americas, ranging from peculiar ailments to modern day maladies that are commonly used today. I felt that the topic of hygiene is regarded as rather taboo in American culture, especially hygiene pertaining to women as well as contraceptives. We tend to turn a blind eye when it comes to these things out of "shame" for bodily functions and personally feel as if these trends should stop.
The lives of many different men and their stories can be told and learned about through only an image. Paintings and drawings are very telling of a historical figure's history, whether i'ts through simplicity or complex work, studying an image that was produced by an artist can tell a learner a lot if they are willing to study the portrait.
Throughout the time of the American Revolution, different men from all kinds of different backgrounds and walks of life made history for the things they did. Some of them are known for groundbreaking stories such as leading a battle to victory, and others are known for being on the wrong side of bygone times. Some are only known for small feats, but every single man has a story. When studying the lives of historical figures, it can be hard to picture that story without putting a face to the name. You find yourself wondering what they wore, what they looked like, and how they held themselves. Knowing the likes of these things can really make each figure's historical stories that much richer, so to say.
Although your everyday and modern camera didn't exist in the seventeen and eighteen-hundreds, artists did. Every painting and drawing of a man came along with a story, and each portrait let the world know who these men were. If a man had a portrait, he had a story. The paintings and drawings of these men are important pieces of history from the Revolutionary era, as they serve as the only glimpse of what some of the most historical figures in American history even looked like. The artists from these times tell a man's history through only an image on paper.
The following ten paintings and drawings are portraits of men from the times of the Revolution. Although artists that the pieces once belonged to are long gone, the history of each man still lies within the images that are within this collection.
This collection does not pertain to a certain period; instead it spans throughout the 1800s. The portrayals chosen are not organized into a period due to the fact that the ideology of Native Americans primarily are negative, both past and present. This ideology was first planted into history through Christopher Columbus’ first meeting with “Indians”. In his journal, he describes them using animistic terms including, “ Their hair [is] coarse-almost like the tail of a horse…”.
Although they are human-beings and bleed red, in the eyes of everyone else they viewed them through warped lenses, they were monsters simply because they did not share their skin tone, their culture, their religion, or their mannerisms. They were characterized as “savages”, the notion of this word is that of uncultured, inhumane, and uncivilized. They were civilized, they did have their own culture, but it was not that of European Culture that sets it apart.
Thrown in this collection are positive portrayals, however, it is to be noted that out of ten there are only two. This was done on purpose to showcase how the majority are negative, and how hard it is to find a non-biased portrayal.
Have students examine these and write statements about what they learned about Prohibition from each source.
Museums and galleries play an important role in society. They preserve the past, enrich the present, and inspire the future. In this lesson, students will take a close look at museums, why they exist, and what the people who work in them do. By the end of the lesson, student's will create their own "Museum of Me."
This lesson was inspired by an issue of Smithsonian's Art to Zoo and includes Minecraft: Education Edition extensions. It is part of the 2017 Museum Day Live! STEM Challenge.
This collection includes a series of easy-to-do book projects designed to get families talking and creating together. Any of them can be used in the classroom (English, art, social studies), as a home project, or in an informal learning setting. All books are made from a single sheet of paper.
Titles are ordered generally from most complex to least complex for topic, and include:
"Our Home" Nature Walk Album
Today I Am Here
Things That Make Me Me!
I Am A Star
At the bottom, you'll also find an interview with the creator of these design templates, book artist Sushmita Mazumdar, and a video of her reading one of her own books.
Click on any of these demos and accompanying downloadable instructions to make your own "family memory" storybook!
tags: art, crafts, crafting, how-to
This collection contains a series of photos from Camilo Jose Vergara. The students will be asked to rate a series of photos for their chronology and how those photos can be interpreted by the viewer. In the end, students will be asked to document an important part of their family history through photo journalism and then write about their choices and the importance of their selected art. #SAAMteach