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Found 5,422 Collections


Human Figure

This collection supports learning in the Grade 4 gesture drawing and wire sculpture lessons. Activities:

  • Realism vs. Abstraction: students sort sculptures of the human figure into two categories (realistic or abstract). Describe the ways that some artists abstract the human figure.
  • Compare contrast 2D/3D: identify the shapes an artist used to portray the human figure in a gesture drawing, then identify the equivalent forms used in a sculpture. Record findings in a T-chart.

Jean-Marie Galing

Design with Empathy (Objects)

This collection includes objects that reflect a design with empathy approach. Explore the objects further on the URLs under the info link.

Jasmine Kassulke

Einstein and social media

Rosemith Metayer

social medial effect on race and color

Inquiry Description

Throughout history, people have represented themselves and others through media (e.g. paintings, film, photos, song, social media, etc.). Artists and individuals make conscious and unconscious choices about how to represent a person using media and color. These representations are open to individual interpretation.

In this inquiry, students  develop awareness of different perceptions and expressive qualities of color through an examination of historical sources. The first formative task entails a student exploration of the attributes of color through the "Interpreting & Communicating Color" task using paint color samples. Students then apply this understanding while analyzing portraiture and various other media through the lens of how artists represent a songwriter, George Gershwin. The second formative task involves students discussing and supporting claims about how Gershwin is represented in a text, The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue, and in his music and a portrait. Students then write and support claims about how Gershwin is represented in various media forms in the third formative task. The lesson concludes with a summative task during which students determine the best colors and media to represent their own identity within the creation of a self-portrait.

The 2017 NCSS Notable Trade Book, The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue, is intriguing because the illustrator chose to represent Gershwin in shades of blue. This text is ripe for color analysis. This Gershwin biography provides background knowledge about Gershwin's personality, thus acting as a resource that students may use to develop claims about artist's color choices as representations of Gershwin's identity. After acquiring knowledge of Gershwin's personality traits, students apply perceptions about the expressive qualities of color to various media (portraits, sculpture, photo, etc.). Many of these historical sources are from the National Portrait Gallery, a Smithsonian Institution museum, and represent treasured elements of our national history.

This inquiry will consist of four class periods [approximately].


Structure of the Inquiry

NCSS's Theme 4 Individual Development and Identity and the C3 Framework (i.e. D2.His.6.3-5.) expect that students investigate how individual perceptions effect how people are represented throughout history. Throughout the formative tasks, students gradually build skills needed to interpret and communicate about artists' color and media representations of people as well as individual perceptions about color usage within artistic works. Students interpret several portraits, namely, Wormley's 1936 George Gershwin; Auerbach's 1926 Gershwin at the Piano; and a 1934 Gershwin self-portrait. Additionally, students examine other forms of portraiture: Noguchi's 1929 Gershwin sculpture and a 1936 Gershwin photo. After examining these historical sources, students make a determination as to which historical source best represents George Gershwin and provides evidence as to why it is the best representation of Gershwin.

Students are expected to develop their personal identity as related to their time and place in society as stated in NCSS Theme 4 Individual Development and Identity. In the summative task, students apply these understandings to create a new historical source, a self-portrait, by making intentional choices about how to represent themselves through color within media.  

Inquiry Questions for the Lesson:

Compelling Question: What factors influence how individuals are perceived by others and themselves?

Supporting Question: What are the attributes of  color?

Supporting Question: How do media and color effect one's representation of identity?

Supporting Question: How are media and color used to represent George Gershwin's identity?

Supporting Question: What do media and color reveal about you?

These NCSS C3 Framework History Standards are the basis for the lesson content:

D2.His.10.3-5 Compare information provided by different historical sources about the past.

D2.His.13.3-5. Use information about a historical source, including the maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose to judge the extent to which the source is useful for studying a particular topic.


Rosemith Metayer

Is facebook making us more sad?

Rosemith Metayer

Mission Vieja: The First Site of La Purisima Mission 1787-1812

Established on December 8, 1787 La Purisima Mission is the eleventh of twenty-one missions in California.  Between 1787 and 1812, La Purisima Mission thrived in terms of population and economic growth as well as increases in farming and livestock operations.

December 21, 1812 changed everything.  A large earthquake followed by a series of large rainstorms destroyed the mission site.  The year 1812 is now known as The Year of the Earthquakes.

Following the devastating earthquake of 1812, the Mission Padres sought permission to relocate La Purisima Mission to a site located four miles away.  Construction at the current location began in the spring of 1813.

Today, the original site of La Purisima Mission is known as "Mission Vieja" or the "Old Mission".  Visitors can still see some of the original walls and entry way to the church.  A vast majority of the site is covered by a neighborhood that was constructed during the mid-1900s.     

La Purísima Mission CA State Historic Park

Bracero Program: Unveiling Stories

In this activity, students will examine photographs documenting the Bracero Program, the largest guest-worker program in US history. Started in 1942 as a temporary war measure to address labor demands in agriculture and railroads, the program allowed Mexican nationals to take temporary agricultural work in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and 24 other states. By the time the program ended in 1964, over 4.6 million contracts were awarded.

Using two Project Zero Global Thinking Routines - "Unveiling Stories" and "The 3 Ys" - students will analyze the stories these photographs tell about the experiences of braceros in this program, and the impact of these stories in multiple contexts. Additional resources (primary sources, a digital exhibition, and an article) and information on how to use these routines in the classroom can by found by clicking Read More ».

Keywords: mexican, immigration, work, migration, migrant workers, agriculture, reform, politics, government, leonard nadel, photojournalism, activity, inquiry strategy, global competency, global competence, latino, chicano, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, 1940s, 40s, 1950s, 50s, 1960s, 60s

#LatinoHAC #EthnicStudies

Tess Porter

Bracero Program: Step In, Step Out, Step Back

In this activity, students will examine a painting of Mexican guest-workers, known as braceros, involved in the Bracero Program (1942-1964), the largest guest-worker program in US history.  Started as a temporary war measure to address labor demands in agriculture and railroads, the program allowed Mexican nationals to take temporary agricultural work in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and 24 other states. By the time the program ended in 1964, over 4.6 million work contracts were awarded. 

Using a Project Zero Global Thinking Routine - "Step In - Step Out - Step Back" - students will examine the perspectives of those depicted in the painting, consider what it means to take the perspectives of others, and explore avenues and methods to learn more about Braceros. Resources for learning more about the Bracero program are located at the end of the collection and include: Bittersweet Harvest, a digital exhibition about the Bracero Program; the Bracero History Archive, which includes oral histories, objects, and more; and a Learning Lab collection of photographs documenting the Bracero Program.

Keywords: laborer, immigration, work, migration, migrant workers, agriculture, reform, politics, government, photojournalism, activity, inquiry strategy, global competency, global competence, latino, chicano, 1940s, 40s, 1950s, 50s, 1960s, 60s


Tess Porter

Apollo 13

Collection created to supplement the Red Clover Award book Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13.
Carrie Speranza

MUSIC: Travel this Land

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!

This collection explores Music. All children, including young children, have musical potential! For more information, check out the National Association for Music Education and their statement on music in early childhood here:

This series of four Smithsonian Learning Lab collections is funded as part of the Smithsonian Year of Music. #SmithsonianMusic 

Talk With Me Toolkit

Gere Kavanaugh

Gere Kavanaugh (1929- ) has had a long a storied career as a designer, she was one of the first women to graduate from the Cranbrook Academy, as well as one of the first female designers employed at GM. An all around designer her work was not limited to one field. Her designs include furniture and industrial designs as well as interior, graphic and exhibition design. after leaving GM Kavanaugh went to work for Victor Gruen in Los Angeles eventually leaving in 1964 to start her own design firm, Gere Kavanaugh/Designs were she continued to work for with and for big name clients. Her designs for fabrics and wallpaper are great examples of her playful and colorful approaches to design. Now in her 90s her work continues to be relevant with today's audiences, her designs have most recently been sold to CB2.

Mandy Horton

September 11, 2001

This is a Smithsonian Learning Lab topical collection, which contains images, text, and other multimedia resources that may complement the Tween Tribune feature, Battered bronze sphere returns to World Trade Center site. Use these resources to ask, where is 9/11 lie in our national memory? Is it recent event, or history?

Kelly Wall

Seeking equality: A brief history of the American women's fight for political rights to match their civic contributions.

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 students 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 photography 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 Iand the Time Magazine article How World War I helped women gain the right to vote; watch the two video excepts imbedded 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

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

Untitled Collection

Rosemith Metayer
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