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Found 882 Collections


Letter Writing and Censorship in World War I

This activity has students investigate experiences of servicemen in World War I through primary sources - censored U.S. Army mail postcards and envelopes.  Students will compare and contrast these primary sources to examine how censorship affected communication between servicemen and their loved ones, while building an understanding of how U.S. Army mail censorship was implemented and why it was necessary.  Using two Project Zero Visible Thinking routines, this activity is designed to spark further inquiry into World War I and the experiences of servicemen. The activity ends with an opportunity to learn more by examining a parody of the form postcard written by a British serviceman in his diary.

Information on how to use this collection in the classroom can by found by clicking Read More »

This collection was created in conjunction with the National Postal Museum's "My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I" teacher workshop (July 19, 2017). It focuses on two of the many postcards from this topical collection to demonstrate its use in a secondary classroom. #NPMTeacherPrograms

Keywords: WWI, WW1, the great war, army, military, soldiers, soldier, primary source, project zero, thinking routine

Tess Porter

Mummification in Egypt: Ritual and the Afterlife

In this student activity, learn the process and religious significance of Ancient Egyptian mummification through analysis of objects associated with tombs and funerary rituals. 

Big ideas: Why and how did the Ancient Egyptians practice mummification? How does their religion effect their material culture?

Includes artifacts, multiple choice and discussion questions, and opportunities to learn more through a reading-level appropriate article and a webcast. Encourages cross-cultural comparison of Afterlife concepts. Resources for learning more about the subject, through videos and articles, are located at the end of this collection.

Keywords: mummies, mummy, archaeology

Tess Porter

Flashcard Activity: Asian Pacific American Resources

This collection contains a diverse set of resources related to Asian Pacific Americans that may be used as an introductory activity to spark classroom discussion and prompt students to conduct research about how Asian Pacific American history is American history.  For discussion questions and activity implementation ideas, click "Read More."  A file to print these resources as flashcards is located at the end of the collection; please see the resource's Information (i) tab for printing instructions.

This collection is not comprehensive but rather provides a launching point for further research and study.

This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

Keywords: printable, flash card, think puzzle explore, project zero visible thinking routine, apa


Tess Porter

Foreigners in Japan, 1860-1861

Using the Project Zero Visible Thinking routine "What makes you say that?", students will examine Japanese artworks depicting Americans and other "westerners" in Japan to analyze Japanese views towards foreigners in the period after the signing of the Kanagawa Treaty (1854). The Kanagawa Treaty, the first treaty between the United States and Japan, ended a period of Japanese isolationism that had lasted for 220 years. Collection includes 21 woodblock prints from the years 1860-1861.

Keywords: commodore perry, matthew perry, treaty of amity and commerce, townsend harris, national seclusion, sakoku, millard filmore, edo period, treaty of amity and peace, harris treaty, inquiry strategy, foreigner, global perspectives


Tess Porter

Ancient Egyptian Stelae: See Think Wonder

Using the Project Zero Visible Thinking routine "See Think Wonder," this activity explores multiple stelae, or funerary markers, from Ancient Egypt. Through analysis of these stelae, students will gain an understanding of: the different functions of stelae, their common characteristics, and how they fit into the larger picture of Ancient Egyptian funerary practice and afterlife beliefs.

Keywords: stela, stele, steles, stelai, memorial, commemorative, inquiry strategy, archaeology


Tess Porter

The Classical Origin of Iconic American Symbols

In this student activity, analyze how and why iconic symbols of America, such as the Capitol Building and the United States Seal, were inspired by Greek and Roman art and architecture.  

Explores the big ideas:

  • How were symbols of America influenced by those of Ancient Greece and Rome? 
  • What might this desire to associate America with historic, successful democracies say about early American hopes for their new nation?

Includes: architecture, a seal, portraiture, a video, a primary source letter, discussion questions, and an opportunity to learn more through the full digitized text of "The Ruins of Palmyra," a publication that heavily inspired early American neoclassical architecture.

Keywords: greece, symbolism, classic, classical

Tess Porter

The Bracero Program: Constructing a Narrative

This assignment asks students to look at evidence and develop a narrative. Developed by UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project. 

Filiberto Chavez

Changing Places and Never Let Me Go

Hey Guys!

Here is your challenge for the day.  

You are going to look at a series of photos today taken at the same location over multiple years. The photos are in chronological order.  Take your time to look at each photo carefully to spot the changes that you see.  Look at each photo individually and then look at the series as a whole. At the end of the series, I want you to write down some of the ways in which the series of photos reflects the characters, plot, and/or major themes of Never Let Me Go.  Be prepared to share with your neighbors some of what you experienced.

If you finish early, take a look at the painting titled "Waiting Room."  What parallels do you see between Never Let Me Go and the thematic elements present in the painting?  Be prepared to share.


Michelle Fortier


Compare similarities and differences among types of birds.

Analyze bird sculptures: what shapes/forms help represent the body, head, neck, beak, or wings? Which type of bird would you like to sculpt in clay?

Jean-Marie Galing

Planet Series: Mercury

This assignment allows you to explore these aspects of Mercury:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Size
  • Atmosphere
  • Surface
  • Moons
  • Exploration

Many of the artifacts, videos, and images include questions that will help you better understand our solar system. 


Begin this activity by watching the first video about Mercury, which will help you answer questions throughout the collection.

Tags: Stars, Moons, Mythology

Christina Shepard

Scientists: What do they do?

Students, please scroll through the videos in order to learn about four areas of science with Smithsonian scientists: Earth science, Marine science, Animal science, and Space science. There is a Smithsonian online interactive in each section under learn more.

Tags: frogs, elephants, ocean, snails, dinosaur, leopard, elephant

Christina Shepard

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

John F. Kennedy Portrait

This activity explores Elaine de Kooning's John F. Kennedy portrait and the process of its creation from sketches to the final piece. The collection includes a video about John F. Kennedy's assassination and prompts learners to better understand how to read this portrait by thinking critically while answering questions.

Christina Shepard

Jackson Pollock

Are you interested in learning about Jackson Pollock and his "drip" method of painting? If you are, this is the perfect collection for you!

You will be asked questions throughout this collection to help you better understand Jackson Pollock's art work.

Christina Shepard

Allensworth Collection

Allensworth, CA. founded in 1908, represents the only all black township in California; founded, built, governed and populated by African Americans. Located in the great central valley (southern San Joaquin), it was founded to be a agricultural community and center of learning. Where, African Americans only 50 years out of slavery could become economically free. Due to lack of a dependable water supply, the untimely death of the Colonel and other factors the town's future was bleak. By 1918 the town began its demise struggling to survive. The historic portions of the town became a state historic park in the 1970's. It is formally listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a California Historic Landmark. Here is a link to the park site, where you will find contact information for park ranger Steve Ptomey who developed this collection and manages the Allensworth State Historic Park.

Steven Ptomey

Mike's Test Version_Storytelling Training: Creating Your Story

Whether you're participating in the Stories: YES program in conjunction with a Museum on Main Street exhibition or creating digital stories on your own, the six modules in the Storytelling Training Series will help you think through everything to help get started. Ready to start developing your story? In this short course, you'll get some tips on how to create a story board, writing a non-fiction script, and more. 

This training module was created by the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program, a part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, in conjunction with the MuseWeb Foundation.

Michael Cieslak

Thinking About "The Way We Worked"

In this short course, you'll learn about topics that inspired the traveling exhibition "The Way We Worked," produced by Museum on Main Street at the Smithsonian. 

This training module was created by the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program, a part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, in conjunction with the MuseWeb Foundation.

SITES Museum on Main Street

The Way They Was- Thematic Links to To Kill a Mockingbird

This collection contains the provocative piece The Way They Was and asks students to make parallels to the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. It uses thinking routines such as "See/Think/Wonder", "Circle of Viewpoints", and "Claim/Support/Question". There is also a graphic organizer in the shape of a door that allows students to record the connections they see between the piece of art and the novel. This lesson can be used after Chapter 25 or at the end of the novel.


Sara Katlen

Socially Constructed Learning Through Art

Visual art is a language that is socially and culturally constructed.  Socially constructed learning values diverse perspectives, engages with local and global experts, and employs inquiry, discovery and exploration to move students toward global citizenship.  Because the visual arts leverage the power of dialogue and debate to sharpen critical thinking, starting with the arts is a logical place to help students develop empathy for others while increasing their cultural intelligence.

This collection was created to support teachers and administrators who wish to better understand the various cultures in their schools.  Using both Project Zero's Global Thinking Routines and strategies from Amy E. Herman's Visual Intelligence book, participants will practice articulating cultural perspectives and communicating across differences using artwork and primary sources from the vast collections of the Smithsonian Learning Lab.  Participants will learn how to read a work of art, understand compositional hierarchy, and question what is missing.  The frameworks provided by Project Zero and Amy E. Herman will allow everyone, even those not accustomed to discussing art, a place from which to begin using art as a foundation for building culturally-responsive curriculum.

Participants will see museums as the cultural ambassadors that they are and ask whose culture is being represented and whose is missing and why.  Extending from this inquiry, participants will recognize the role schools play in nurturing and shaping the lives and identities of our students.

Julie Sawyer

Portrait of a Community

This activity asks you to think about what makes a community. Can objects and images tell a story about a place?

Choose five images or objects that best represent a place, whether it's a town, county or some other geographically defined location. Find them by searching the Learning Lab or uploading from other sources.   

Shannon Sullivan

Senses Series - Sight in Humans and Animals

How do we see what we see? This collection is about seeing the world in unexpected ways through human innovations and animal adaptations. Meet a teen who invented a new way to see infrared, a visually impaired woman with a bionic implant, a shark whose eye is similar our own, a Giant Squid with the world's largest eyes, a mantis shrimp who sees many colors in all directions, and a nocturnal sweat bee who navigates the jungle in the dark. Learn about why human vision can only see a certain type of light within the electromagnetic spectrum. Background information from the website Neuroscience for Kids provides an overview of how the eye and brain function together, and experiments to try. The collection concludes with a cross-cultural examination of seeing from a Tibetan monastic Buddhist perspective. How might their experience of sight differ from your own? 

Based on exhibition project work through Science for Monks and The World of Your Senses Exhibition (2010).

Tracie Spinale

Senses Series - Hearing

How do we hear what we hear? This collection is about hearing the world in unexpected ways through human perspectives of science and culture, and animal adaptations. Meet a shark whose entire body is an ear; zoo otters who play the keyboard; rabbits whose large ear adaptations provide self-defense; and the reasons for a sea lion's bark. Learn about the structure and function of human ears can only see a certain type of light within the electromagnetic spectrum. Background information from the website Neuroscience for Kids provides an overview of how the ear and hearing functions work, as well as a sound experiments to try. The collections closes with a cross-cultural examination of hearing and function from Tibetan Buddhist monastics.

Based on exhibition project work through Science for Monks and The World of Your Senses Exhibition (2010).

Tracie Spinale

Senses Series - Smell

How do we experience the sense of smell? This collection explores the variety of human and animal smell experiences. Videos examine ants that use smell to communicate, orchid bee perfumery, and the unique smell adaptation of the maned wolf. Background information from the website Neuroscience for Kids provides the structure and function of the nose, as well as olfaction experiments. The collection concludes with a cross-cultural examination of touch from a Tibetan monastic Buddhist perspective. How might their experience of smell differ from your own?

Based on exhibition project work through Science for Monks and The World of Your Senses Exhibition (2010).

Tracie Spinale

Senses Series - Taste

How do we taste what we taste? This collection is about the kinds of tastes that the human tongue experiences. Background information from the website Neuroscience for Kids provides an overview of how the tongue and taste function. Included are experiments to try, as well as examples of the kinds of tastes: sweet, salty, sour, hot and bitter. The collection closes with a cross-cultural examination of tongue function and tastes from Tibetan monastics—who recognize thirty-six different tastes!

Based on exhibition project work through Science for Monks and The World of Your Senses Exhibition (2010).

Tracie Spinale
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