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Found 6,932 Collections


Beyond Monarchs: Animal Migration

This collection starts with monarch butterflies and their migration. My hope was to remind the second graders about what they have already learned about monarchs. 

Once the students' background knowledge is activated then the students can participate in the Tuning In activity. Students will analyze the art piece using the Harvard's Project Zero Thinking Routine: See, Think, Wonder. 

Once the students have made their thinking visible then the class will find more out by learning about the art piece from the artist and learning about bird migrations. The students will engage in the Harvard Global Thinking Routine The 3 Ys.

To push the students beyond flying animals the Going Further section will expose the  students to migrations of animals on land, air, and see. The students will end this section using the Thinking Routine Think, Puzzle, Explore. Students can then have time to research about animals on their own.

Ellen Rogers

Connecting to Great Gatsby's Appearance vs. Reality in Self Portraiture

This lesson, integrated halfway through F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, will address both character analysis and the ever present theme of appearance vs. reality in the text.  By using Thomas Hart Benton's "Self Portrait with Rita" as a starting point students will study the specifics of a self portrait from the 1920s which highlights American dream centered ideals.  As a second step, students will make connections between the painting and the characters from our text.  As a final extension activity, students will further explore the inspiration, the biography, or another work by Benton.


Molly Boehler

Artist and Archivist: The Papers and Legacy of Angel Suarez Rosado

The Archives of American Art seeks to identify and acquire personal papers and institutional records of national significance in the arts. This topical collection explores the documents and objects from the papers of Angel Suarez Rosado, a living artist of Puerto Rican descent, and their lasting significance to the public.

Included here are a bilingual video with curator Josh T. Franco, an exhibition webpage from Rosado's site-specific installation at the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania, and the Archives of American Art homepage where users can explore online collections, resources, and publications, and a final discussion question. 


Philippa Rappoport

Seeking equality: A brief history of the American women's fight for political rights

This learning lab provides the preface and context for an in-class SAAM presentation on the ideology of republican motherhood as it influenced women during the years 1770 to 1920.  This lesson seeks to answer two questions:

  • To what extent did American women embrace the ideology presented by  republican motherhood?
  • In what ways and to what extent did women find the ideology to be confining, and thus, challenge it?

Preparing for the lesson:

The night before the first lesson, students will:

  • Study the document Women’s Suffrage Postcard and respond to the Claim-Support-Question activity built into the document. Look for the paper clip icon in the upper left hand corner.
  • Read the article: How women’s history and civil rights came to the Smithsonian; be sure to read my annotation attached via the paper clip icon.
  • Watch Dr. Berkin’s short presentation on republican motherhood; craft your own definition of republican motherhood and post it in the text entry box under the paper clip icon.

Day 1 – Jigsaw Activity

The class will break into 4 groups, each becoming an expert on a particular aspect and era in which the women’s rights movement made strides. As you study the listed resources, on the note taking worksheet, record the ways women embodied the principles of republican motherhood. Additionally, note the ways in which they challenged this philosophy.

Once each group has completed their research, students will break into jigsaw groups through which they will share the resources they studied and their analysis of these resources. 

Day 2 – Video Conference with SAAM

Using artworks presented by  the Smithsonian American Art Museum and in conversation with a SAAM curator, students will analyze artworks from each era to extend their understanding of the ways through which women both accepted and challenged the ideology of republican motherhood.

Concluding activities (day 2 HW):

  • Study the Women’s Suffrage photograph and respond to the Claim-Support-Question activity built into the document. Look for the paper clip icon in the upper left hand corner.
  • Read the article Women in World War I and the Time Magazine article How World War I helped women gain the right to vote; watch the two video excepts embedded in the Time article from PBS’s The Great War.
  • Study the photo / painting The Emancipation of Women, and synthesizing all of your knowledge, respond to the Claim-Support-Question activity built into the document. Look for the paper clip icon in the upper left hand corner.
Jill Stedman

Stamp Design: Micro-Narratives

The postage stamp has a long and rich history within our visual culture. It is a carefully crafted micro-narrative, which often exhibits everyday representations or the spirit of a nation. A good micro-narrative can have a substantial impact in a quick timeframe. They often come from our shared culture – they are parts of stories we communicate, that mark our achievements, struggles, and understanding of our collective culture. They are concise and lead us quickly into making better sense of the world we are in and designing for. 

The postage stamp in its limited real estate, is a wonderful study of a carefully crafted micro-narrative. It can build a shared sense of national belonging amongst humans or a sense of tribalism through national identity. They are composed of three essential pieces of information in their design: subject, stamp value, and country of origin. The reference of the country provides context for the subject, which often reflects the country’s national and cultural identity.

This collection serves as a visual aid to expose and explore the design principles and techniques necessary to communicate a concise message within a restricted space. 

CONSIDERATIONS: use of visual components in a formal, conceptual, and systematic method

The design and arrangement, or appearance of typeset matter.                            

+ Type as a system and vehicle for communication.                               

+ Type used as image, type as form, typographic color, typographic structure, typographic systems 
   and hierarchy, active white space as punctuation, tempo, and rhythm. 

A tangible or visible representation and/or a vivid or graphic representation or description.

+ Images used as a vehicle for communication and storytelling.   

+ Photographs, illustrations, and visual representations like icons, indexes, and symbols. Images
    used as type,  images used as form, images used as color, and images used as structure.                  

+ The Hierarchy of images, i.e. alpha, beta, infra.

The shape and structure of something as distinguished from its material. Geometric and organic form, graphic simplification, patterns, textures, abstractions, reductions.    

+ Form used as type, form used as image, form used as color, and form used as structure. 

+ Form/counter investigations, navigation and direction, active white space. 

A phenomenon of light or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects. 

+ Color can be used in both a functional and symbolic role.

Something arranged in a definite pattern of organization. Grid systems, visual organizations, and compositions.     

+ Structure used as type, structure used as image, structure used as form, and structure used
   as color.

Formal (syntax) and conceptual (semantics) connections.

Information to be communicated or “story being told.” Thematic cultural, social, and historical reflection. Conceptual story, metaphor, or message.  


Semiotics - se.mi.ot.ics: a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals primarily with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactic, semantics, and pragmatics.

• Semiotic theory is a branch of linguistics that has become a useful tool in two-dimensional design for understanding the relationships between the viewer/user, the form that conveys a message, and the message’s meaning.

Syntactics – syn.tac.tics: A branch of semiotics that deals with the formal relationship between signs or expressions in abstraction from their signification and their interpreters.

• Syntactic refers to the formal relationship among elements in a composition or among related forms. When analyzing a form for its syntactic qualities, you might ask yourself: Are all the parts of the form arranged to appear unified?

Semantics – a branch of semiotics dealing with the relationship between signs and what they refer to and including theories of denotation, extension, naming, and truth: the meaning or relationship on meaning of a sign or set of signs.

• Semantic refers to the relationship between form and its meaning. When analyzing a form for semantic qualities, you should ask yourself: Does the form adequately reflect its meaning? Is the meaning singular or multiple, ambiguous or clear? Which of these is more desirable?

Pragmatics – prag.mat.ics: relating to matters of fact or practical affairs often to the exclusion of intellectual or artistic matters: Practical as opposed to idealistic.

• Pragmatic refers to the relationship between a form and its user. This aspect examines a sign when it is applied. When analyzing a form for its pragmatics, consider these questions: Is the form related to its context? Is it understandable in its context? 

• Excerpts from Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design: Understanding Form and Function by John Bowers, pg. 22 

Brenda McManus
Assistant Professor  | Art Department | Pace University-NYC   

BRED | a collaborative design lab
Instagram: bred_letterpress

Brenda McManus

Crime Photography by Decade

Skylar Seabert

Exploring Systems - for teachers

Systems can be vast or miniscule. They can be man-made or occur in nature. A system can be simple or complex but all systems are have various parts. Each of the parts have functions within the system and each system has its own function (what a part or system is used for is called its function)

In this collection, students investigate a variety of systems by viewing and reading about them. 

This collection can be used in the classroom as students explore the crosscutting concept of systems and system models across a variety of science disciplines. The collection can also be used in a design thinking course or unit or as students undertake engineering projects and explore processes and systems.

This collection is designed for students to use independently either in class or on their own. The collection can also be used as a small group or whole class activity driven by discussion instead of writing.

The task is provided in the first slide in the collection. Extension activities can be applied to the task. One extension is included in the task slide and prompts students to use the Learning Lab to seek out their own example of a system and explain its parts and functions. A more interactive class based extension might be for students to circulate and look for a partner/partners who chose the same system or can find a way to make connections between two or more different systems that they chose. Partnerships/teams can then compare the parts/functions that they have identified and prepare to share with the larger class community.

sara gottlieb

The Industrial Revolution

Eile Guenego

Einstein and social media

Rosemith Metayer

Spring Dance

Spring is the true celebration for nature, so called rebirth. After severing cold winter, the sun arises again to the new cycle of life. The new grass, young soft leaves of the bushes have attracted a bewildering number of creatures that have still had doubts about the new season coming. The alchemy of it has found the reflection in many art masterpieces.

The Spring Dance exhibit captures spring’s nature, its beauty and overall respect for Mother Earth. Spring dance is like a flowering limb in a painting or a slow-motion video of bees pollinating asking us to slow down and listen to the Earth, nature, and all the beauty that surrounds us. 

The Spring dance collection is created for everyone who is interested in learning about nature, who  appreciate the beauty of the spring season in every brush stroke, print or sculpture, in the art work from the past, as well as the present. It will hopefully serve as a reminder to anyone that respect  our nature and should be just as important now, as it was to the past civilizations. We have much to learn from the artists who provide their vision and their ability to conserve and cherish the nature while creating works that inspire people near and far. 

 "Spring Dance" includes paintings, prints, sculpture, and digital objects. 

Linda Honzik

Abraham Lincoln

This is a collection about Abraham Lincoln.
Daniel Mian

Identifying Characteristics of Renaissance Art

This collection will teach you about how Renaissance artists changed the style and focus of art in the period between 1300 and 1600 CE. When you are done, you should be able to thoroughly answer the question: How did the art of the Renaissance reflect the new emphasis on humanism and science?

First, review the painting, Raphael's School of Athens, and learn about the new techniques used.
Then study the additional works in the collection and try to use them as examples of the different techniques. Some of the works are from the Renaissance period and others are more modern interpretations. A worksheet is included at the end of this collection to record your work.
Finally, test your knowledge with a quick quiz. Use your worksheet to help!
Robin McLaurin

Indian Education Media Arts Integration

Collection of Native American Ledger Art and drawings on hides. 

Would be used with other resources on modern Ledger Art being created today, as well as the history of ledger art and hide paintings in Plains Indian cultures. 

Robin McLaurin

Irish Music

This collection includes a wide range of Irish contemporary and traditional music in the Smithsonian collections, with two lesson plans for grades 3-5 from the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.


Robin McLaurin

ART: Colors, shapes & lines all around

Talk with Me!

Having conversations with young children contributes to their thinking and language development. All conversations are good, but research shows that the quality of words children hear matters more than the quantity. Further, what’s best is an exchange; in other words, talk with children, not at them.

The Talk with Me Toolkits give parents and caregivers thematically organized high-quality, authentic materials to make children their conversational partners in discussions that matter. Each online toolkit features captivating videos and real-world photographs, as well as intriguing paintings and other artworks to observe and discuss through conversation prompts.  Hands-on activities and books complete each toolkit. Simple instructions appear right in the toolkits, so you can jump right in. See what interests your child and get started. There’s a lot to talk about!

To read more, see, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Usable Knowledge site, The Brain-Changing Power of Conversation.

Robin McLaurin


Native American Pictographs
Robin McLaurin

science in art

Robin McLaurin

Art and Exercise: Jackson Pollock and Zumba


Students will learn that exercise changes how they feel, and how they feel can change what they are able to do. While learning about Zumba, students will make Jackson Pollock inspired artwork.

Essential Questions: 

How can exercise change the way we feel? What kind of art can we make when we are energized? What can we do to feel more energized 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 1:

Materials: butcher paper taped to tables, crayons

Students look at images of Jackson Pollock in his studio. Students participate in See Think Wonder thinking routine. Emphasis on what Jackson Pollock does with his body to make art. I wonder, do you think that he could make this artwork if he was really sleepy? What can we do to feel more energized. Participate in Zumba video. Demo how to draw collaboratively on tables covered with butcher paper using crayons. Transition to tables with butcher paper for large collaborative drawings. 

Day 2:

Materials: butcher paper taped to tables, crayons

Students review images of Jackson Pollock in his studio. What is Jackson Pollock doing to get these drippy lines? Is he splashing all over the place? Let's watch a video of Jackson Pollock working! How do we look and sound when we watch a video? See think wonder thinking routine. Is he just smashing everywhere or is he making sure to hit the canvas? Is he painting directly on the canvas or is the paint falling through the air? Participate in Zumba video. Have one student demonstrate how to draw collaboratively on tables covered with butcher paper using crayons. Transition to tables with butcher paper for large collaborative drawings. 

Day 3:

Materials: Play dough, trays, paint in cups, canvas on floor, aprons, sticks and brushes, drop cloth/plastic to protect the floor

Look closely at examples of Jackson Pollock artwork. Participate in See, Think, Wonder routine. Emphasize that Jackson Pollock painted drips, not his house or his mom. Today we are going to paint just like Jackson Pollock, but first we need to make sure we aren't too sleepy to do it. Participate in Zumba video. How do we use play dough? Some children will use play dough and some will paint like Jackson Pollock. Everyone will do both, but maybe not today. Thumbs up if you understand. Transition to tables some children use play dough and some work with the teacher to paint like Jackson Pollock on the floor. Transition to carpet. What did you notice when you were painting like Jackson Pollock? What would have happened if we were really sleepy? What did we do to get energized?

(this may take more than one class to complete)

Keywords: Zumba, sand, energized, paint, Jackson Pollock, Two Rivers


Robin McLaurin

Pocahontas: Comparing and Contrasting Portrayals

In this collection, we explore various portrayals of Pocahontas over 400 years. Students can compare and contrast two or more artistic renderings of Pocahontas, using the provided strategies and historical context with guidance from the teacher. By using portraits of the same sitter by different artists, students consider historical accuracy and changing cultural and historical perspectives. 

This collection was adapted from National Portrait Gallery educator, Briana White's collection, "Compare and Contrast Looking Strategy: Learning to Look with the National Portrait Gallery " and supplemented with the National Museum of the American Indian's Americans online exhibition. Sources for the approach include Compare and Contrast, the National Portrait Gallery's Reading Portraiture Guide and Project Zero's Artful Thinking Routines. 


Robin McLaurin

History, Media, and Culture: African American Soldiers in the Civil War

Representation in media is important.

In this Learning Lab, we will explore how the African American soldiers fighting in the Civil War are portrayed in two films: Glory (1989) and Lincoln (2012).

History X Media X Culture (HMC) is a series designed by the National Museum of African American History and Culture to teach students historical thinking skills of analysis and interpretation, and also media literacy by exploring historic and modern films about or created by African Americans.

What can we learn, and what do we learn about history from popular media? How does popular media influence our understanding of history? How does the history portrayed in popular media change from the historical account based on primary sources?

Furthermore, how are historical individuals and groups represented in popular media? How do these representations affect how we understand these historical persons and their modern-day descendants? How people are depicted on the screen influences our modern world. We must question and analyze what is said and shown in the media, and why it shown to us.

Your objectives are as follows:

1. Explore how the soldiers are represented in each film, and then compare the film’s portrayals.

2. Compare these representations to historical accounts and primary evidence.

3. Question why the changes were made in the film, and how do these changes affect our understanding of history and ourselves?

The movies contain images of the violence of war, carnage, and brief offensive languages.

The analysis questions are taken from the National Archives and Records Administration Document Analysis Worksheets, unless stated otherwise.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Otzi the Iceman

Theories about Otzi #iste2016
Carrie Johnsen
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