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Destination: X-ray Milky Way CD-ROM

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
CD-ROM tour of images of the objects in our Milky Way as observed in X-ray light by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Music as Environmental Advocacy

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Smithsonian archivist Jeff Place looks at the lives and works of musicians who have spread a message of appreciation and personal responsibility for our rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Ophie Webb Explains Bahamian Rake-n-Scrape Music

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Ophie Webb, leader of Ophie & The Websites, shares the history of the social dance music that was influenced by European and African cultures. After almost disappearing entirely with tourist marketing in the 1940s, a gradual resurgence of rake-n-scrape began in 1969 along with the push for national independence. The revival continues today, strengthening the cultural heritage that was nearly lost.

The Teodoro Vidal Collection: View the Objects

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Search engine for viewing the Teodoro Vidal collection of more than 50 objects and photographs relating to everyday life, religion, celebrations, and art in Puerto Rico from the 17th through the 20th centuries.

Smithsonian Latino Center Homepage

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Website of the Smithsonian Latino Center. Includes information on the Center's exhibitions, programs, collections, educational resources, and more. Many bilingual resources available.

"Tra Bo Dau" by Linda Griffiths and Lisa Healy at 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Linda Griffiths (Aberystwyth, Wales) and her daughter, Lisa Healy, are accompanied by Ceri Rhys Matthews (Pencader, Wales).

Resonance from the Past

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
This online exhibition displays African sculpture from the New Orleans Museum of Art. View works of art from Mali, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, and the Congo.

Anthropology Teaching Activities: Church Ethnographies

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Activity encourages students to examine religious institutions as the total integration of culture that is valuable to anthropologists. Students do participant observation and write an ethnography.

Los Texmaniacs perform “Por una mujer casada”

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Los Texmaniacs perform "Por una mujer casada" (For a Married Woman) from Texas Towns and Tex-Mex Sounds.

Telling Our Own Stories Through Corridos

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson plan using the lyrics and music of corridos along with the accompanying website to analyze written texts, visual images, and objects to develop students' understanding of various themes, regions, and perspectives of North American history. Students look at music as a primary source of history by interviewing family members about the songs they grew up with and comparing these songs to narrative corridos.

African American Pioneers in Aviation Teacher Guide

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
eacher's guide designed for use on its own or as part of a museum visit includes activities that focus on the challenges and successes of African American aviators.

Maritime Nation 1800-1850

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Section of the online exhibit On the Water: Stories from Maritime America focused on the maritime history of the United States during the first half of the nineteenth century. Learn how shipbuilders, mariners, and maritime merchants helped the new nation defend itself and grow. Topics covered are the roles that privateers played during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, immigration, early steam travel and coastal shipping in the Atlantic Ocean, the California Gold Rush, and the life-saving technology that was used to rescue the victims of shipwrecks.

Crystal Blue Persuasion (9-12)

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Activity examining historic posters, jewelry, quilts and buttons that were created to call attention to a political issue. Students then create an item that conveys a message about an issue.

Science and Natural History Books, Catalogs, and Posters from SITES

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Choose from a selection of books and posters for purchase from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Topics range from space exploration to national parks to spiders.

Comparing Confederate and Union Soldiers in the Civil War

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson plan uses primary sources as the inspiration for comparing and contrasting soldiers on either side of the Civil War. After examining uniforms and viewing two short video clips, students will develop questions and conduct short research projects to uncover the motivations behind the Civil War and the conditions for the soldiers who fought. Targets grades 6-9.

Digging It--A Garden, That Is

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students design a community garden to benefit the hungry in the community.

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.

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 on Words Design

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Activity in which students design an image that is a 'play on words,' using both traditional artistic methods and computer design to perfect the image.

America on the Move Classroom Activity Guide

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Activity guide accompanying the America on the Move exhibit on transportation in U.S. history. It delivers a variety of historical primary-source materials from the exhibition directly to your classroom. Through these documents and activities, students can build a deeper understanding of how transportation shaped American commerce, communities, landscapes, and population migrations.

West Point Graduates During the Civil War and Reconstruction

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Section of the online exhibit West Point in the Making of America describing the difficult choices regarding family and friends, and regional and national loyalties made by West Point Graduates during the Civil War. Whether they fought for the North or the South, West Pointers played major roles during the era of Civil War and Reconstruction.

First Person Account: Hal Moore

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Video of Hal Moore, the commander of a cavalry regiment, summarizing the role of the Huey helicopter in Vietnam. This video accompanies The Price of Freedom: Americans at War online exhibit and is meant for use with the 'The Soldiers Experience' lesson plan. Targets grades 2-12.

Anthropology Teaching Activities: Archeology in the Classroom

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Two student activities explore the relationship between material remains and activities in different areas. Students look at trash from around the school or objects hidden in a sandbox to simulate how archaeologists learn about a people from the objects they leave behind.

Problem Solved! Design Solutions (4-8)

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
In this lesson, students look at problem solving in design. In an exercise, small groups create a safe method for transporting an egg.
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