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The Folkways Collection - Episode 22: Subterranean Homesick Blues II

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Greenwich Village in the late 1950s and early 1960s--the time and place has taken on the flavor of legend. This second of two programs focusing on the era looks at Folkways Records' documentation of the burgeoning folk music revival and the New York coffee house scene which led to the birth of the singer-songwriter genre.

And One and Two

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Recording of songs and rhythm exercises by Ella Jenkins, including "I'm Going to School Today," "Rhythms around the Chair," and "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel." $10.00 for audiocassette or LP, $15.00 for CD.

Drum Sounds and Their Many Meanings

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Webpage by former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart shows how drums express the rhythms of the body, the family, the tribe, the nation, and the cosmos and how rhythms can be used to communicate and to express cultural connections. Includes video and audio clips.


SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
José Gutiérrez and the Ochoa brothers are among the most celebrated performers of the Mexican son jarocho tradition. Gutiérrez serves as the caller (pregonero), or lead singer, improvising verses in a high, clear, loud voice. Felipe Ochoa masters the arpa jarocha (harp) with an intensity that never lets up, and brother Marcos supplies the driving rhythm of the jarana, adding creative flourishes and abrupt stops that lift the others to a higher plane of performance. The three men have performed together throughout Europe and the Americas for the past two decades.

The Art of Cards and Letters

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Online exhibit highlighting the important role mail has held as a medium for personal communications. Includes sections on letters that bind families, military mail call, and the technology and industry of American envelopes.

Native American Games, Dances, and Crafts Bibliography

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
List of references on North American games, dances, and crafts.

Planet n

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students design a new object for the solar system (e.g., a planet, a comet, an asteroid). They show evidence of their knowledge of the actual solar system.


SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Puerto Rican culture is a representation of the diverse heritages of three main cultural groups: Taíno Indians, Africans, and Spaniards. This lesson focuses on the African influences found in Puerto Rico’s musical culture by studying bomba music.

Partes, Propósitos, Complejidades: Project Zero Agency by Design Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Un Project Zero “Agency by Design” rutina de pensamiento para observar de cerca.


Observar de cerca

Escoja un objeto o un sistema y pregunte:

1. ¿Cuáles son sus partes? [¿Cuáles son sus diferentes piezas o componentes?]

2. ¿Cuáles son sus propósitos? (¿Cuáles son los propósitos de cada una de sus partes?]

3. ¿Cuáles son sus complejidades? [¿Cómo se ve la complejidad en sus partes y sus propósitos, en la relación entre estos dos o de otras maneras?]

Propósito: ¿Qué tipo de pensamiento promueve esta rutina?

Esta rutina de pensamiento ayuda a los estudiantes a ir lentamente y observar detallada y cuidadosamente, al animarlos a mirar más allá de las características obvias de un objeto o sistema. Esta rutina de pensamiento estimula la curiosidad, plantea preguntas y hace evidente otras áreas para continuar la investigación.

Aplicación: ¿Cuándo y cómo se puede utilizar esta rutina?

Esta rutina de pensamiento se puede utilizar para explorar cualquier objeto o sistema. Esta rutina puede utilizarse por sí sola o en combinación con otra rutina.

Comenzar: ¿Cuáles son algunas ideas y consideraciones para poner en práctica esta rutina de pensamiento?

La rutina brinda una oportunidad para hacer visible el pensamiento de los estudiantes a través de la creación de listas, mapas y dibujos de las partes, propósitos, complejidades de varios objetos y sistemas. Usted puede presentar los tres elementos de esta rutina al mismo tiempo o hacerlo de uno en uno.

Si el objeto con el que los estudiantes están trabajando está presente y/o físicamente visible, los estudiantes no necesitan tener más antecedentes. Sin embargo, si los estudiantes están trabajando con un sistema, por ejemplo, la democracia, puede ser útil para los estudiantes tener conocimientos previos o darles la oportunidad de reflexionar sobre sus experiencias, al interactuar con ese sistema en particular.

Para llevar esta rutina al siguiente nivel, después de que los estudiantes hayan considerado las partes, propósitos y complejidades de un objeto tal como es, puede pedirles desbaratar los objetos con los que están trabajando y luego continuar identificando las partes, propósitos y complejidades que observan y usar diferentes marcadores de colores.

Usted puede cambiar la palabra "complejidades" por términos más accesibles, tales como inquietudes o preguntas.

East of Eden: Gardens in Asian Art

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Online exhibit looking at the cultivation and artistic representation of Gardens in East Asia with a focus on China and Japan. Shows the design elements that went into the gardens as well as examples, history, and significance of gardens as portrayed in Chinese and Japanese painting.

The Peacock Room

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Website telling the story of the Peacock Room designed by James McNeil Whistler, on view at the Freer Gallery. Includes suggested reading and printable version.

Artificial Anatomy: Resources

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Bibliographic material, web links, and museum collections reviewed by the National Museum of American History and relating to the online exhibition Artificial Anatomy: Papier-Mache Anatomical Models.

Wonder Bound: Rare Books on Early Museums

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Exhibit of books discussing the collection, exhibition, and preservation habits of early museums, galleries, and their libraries. Includes enlarged images of many resources.

Sound Sessions Radio - Ella Jenkins - First Lady of Children's Music

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Episode 14 features an interview with Ella Jenkins, the "First Lady of Children's Music." Ella recorded her first album for Folkways Records in 1957 and continues to entertain children of all ages.

You're a Grand Old Group

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson that introduces young students to the idea of symbols through a study of the U.S. flag--a symbol made up of symbols.The children get into groups to create their own symbolic flags.

Right Whale Listening Network

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
This interactive website includes audio recordings of the calls of right whales and other cetaceans.

Explore Smithsonian: How Are Optical Instruments Tested Before Space Flight?

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Telescopes have mirrors that help them gather light, but the challenge of modern telescopes is getting the mirrors to bend and move to collect the most light. Discover how Smithsonian researchers are making their own mirrors, and testing them, to go into space.

Ella Jenkins Interview

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Ella Jenkins, world-reknowned children's recording artist, released her first 10-inch vinyl album, Call and Response: Rhythm Group Singing, on Moses Asch's original Folkways Records, in 1957. Since then, she has released more than 30 albums containing hundreds of songs. Her universally appealing songs present simple melodies, interesting rhythms, easy-to-understand lyrics, and are usually recorded with youngsters singing along. Ella's playful and captivating songs help children appreciate themselves and understand others. In 2003 she sat down for an interview with Michael Asch (Moses's son) to reflect on her career.

Picture Writing

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
An activity to observe, describe, and write a story about an artwork. Emphasizing the process of writing rather than simply the end product, this activity invites students to look, explore, and think.


An activity to observe, describe, and write a story about an artwork.

1. List every detail you see (or do not see) in the work.

Do not include emotions that the work evokes or reactions to the content of the work.

Suggestions: List countable things, such as all the red, blue, or black items in the work. In writing things that are not in the picture, do you see all the fingers on the subjects’ right hand? Did the painter portray both the left and right side of the subject’s face?

2. Write a short description of the work so that another person could instantly recognize it.

Provide information but withhold all judgements.

3. Share descriptions with peers. What details do you remember from their descriptions?

Did the writer include any comments that were not just descriptions? If so, what were they?

4. Write a story about the work. Think of the work as a frame of a movie. “Unfreeze” the frame and set the painting into motion.

Write the story of what has just happened or what is about to happen. Mentally push the painting’s frame back and tell the enlarged story.

LAUNCH: Ideas for use

This activity can be used with any kind of visual art. Have students pick an artwork that most interests them. This may be from a Learning Lab collection of artwork you have pre-prepared for the students to explore or it may be an artwork that the student found by searching the Learning Lab database.

As students list details they see in the artwork and write their short descriptions, encourage them to describe details such as "orange flowers in background by stone fence" or "silver earring shaped like a teardrop." Encourage them to avoid listing any emotions that the painting evokes or any judgments or assumptions they might have about the work. For example, they could write something like "hands folded, eyes closed" but should avoid such language as "lost in prayer" or "sad and downhearted." Making judgments about the relationships between people in the pictures, e.g., "mother and son," should also be avoided.

When it is time for students to write their stories, tell the students that, unlike their descriptions, the stories need not be limited to physical facts. Any emotions or judgments the students wish to incorporate into their stories, as well as any way they wish to interpret what's happening in the paintings, is fine.

One way students might want to approach their stories is to concentrate on what's currently happening in the painting. Explain that if they take this approach, it might be helpful to treat the painting as if it were a frozen frame in a movie. To set the painting into motion, they can mentally "unfreeze" the frame. Other approaches to telling the painting's story include writing about what has just happened or about what is going to happen. Explain to the students that whatever they write, they must not contradict any factual information about the painting.

Have students share their stories with the group. If possible, have students read their stories to the group in front of the artwork they chose as their subject.

PLAY: It's Not Just for Kids

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson asking students to design a space where teenagers can play. Includes listening to a National Public Radio audio transcript that features the Strong National Museum of Play.

Eugene Allen (White House Maître D’) Discusses White House Experiences

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Eugene Allen worked in the White House for 34 years, beginning his career there as a pantry man in 1952 and rising through the ranks to

Yes, Thank You!

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
In this lesson plan, students design a sign that fosters positive human interactions. To determine the tone of the message, they evaluate public messages. They experiment with different texts and colors before creating the final product.

The Gold Nugget

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson examining the gold nugget that began the Gold Rush. Curator commentaries, related museum objects, videos, and related resources teach about the gold rush and its importance in America's westward expansion. Students will use what they have learned to create their own virtual exhibit.

Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Japan: Images of a People

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson plans bring Japanese and American art into comparison, illuminating the cultural heritage of Japan. Students create Japanese painted screens.
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