Skip to Content
  • Language
  • End User
  • Time Required
  • Educational Use

Found 73 Collections


Objects and Materials associated with peoples lifestyles in The Colonial Period

People in colonial America worked hard to make a living, and they had to meet many of their needs for food, clothing, and shelter through their effort. All family members worked together to carry out this work. At home, men and women worked hard, but their responsibilities were different. Women took care of the house, while men headed their households and spent most of their time working. Men also took responsibility for running the farms and did the planting, plowing, and gathering of crops; they also built their homes and hunted animals for food. Children helped the house too. Young kids were given tasks such as gathering wood and water while older girls helped their mothers maintain the household. Older boys helped their fathers in the fields.

  Colonial America had three social groups or classes; most people belong to the middle class, they owned farms or businesses while the small upper class or gentry included wealthy farmers, government officials, and lawyers, at the bottom, were indentured servants or slaved Africans. The colonial period covered the history of the Europeans who settled in America from the start of colonization in the early 16th century till the revolutionary war. This collection typically describes how their lives were.

Abesolom Berakhi

Weapons Used To Colonize America

The era of this collection is before many technological advances had been made. Many weapons used then were handcrafted by the men and used to hunt and prey on animals of the wild. Before other colonies came and began their regimes, the natives would only give weapons after proper training. Before guns there were other materials put together to scare off predators and for various other reasons. When the European countries began to explore westward and colonize different parts of America was also the time weapons began to advance as well. When the European countries came over the did not only bring themselves and their seeds, but also guns which are weapons they did more severe damage and was easier to use than prior weapons like knives and daggers. They used the weapons for food but a time progressed the guns weapons were used less on animals and more for protection against other humans.  For the most part though, the men would hunt for food, usually enough to feed oneself and their family and friends.

Kane Williams

How Changes in Clothing Trends Affected Jewelry Worn (Evolution of Trends)

Jewelry was originally made to help people look good. Whether they were poor or rich, people have been wearing jewelry since the beginning of time. Jewelry was created to go along (or complement) people's outfits. That's why they call it an accessory, because it's supposed to match the clothes and make them look better. If you think about it, when you pick out jewelry, you'll see that you choose it according to what you will be wearing that day. The people back then did the same thing! You'll see that image meant a lot to people back in the day (and still does). As you can see, one of the main effects on the style of jewelry was the style of clothing. Depending on the times, there were different resources they had to make their clothes. The world is always evolving and advancing into something better. Before, us humans only had animals as resources to clothes and jewelry, but as time progressed and more discoveries were made, we started making them out of things like fabric and gems. When their clothing trends changed, so did their jewelry! Here, you will see the effects of clothing articles on jewelry and how it evolved over time.

Tianka Somerville

Treatment of Slaves Before 1865

In this collection you will see images, documents, and artifacts that exemplify the treatment of slaves before 1865. During the 1800's slaves were treated like animals or even worse. They were sold like property and were even being treated as if they were. In this collection I have provided images such as the slave badges they had to wear or the ads in the paper for the sell of a negro woman.  All of these images contribute to the ideal behind the brutal treatment of the all slaves during the 1800's. I created this collection so that it is shown how horrible slaves had to live and what they had to endure. I think that it is important to recognize the pain and struggles that they went through.

Jada Dean

toys in 1860

        In the 1860's toys where not as big and showy as they are now. they where very light hearted and simple but would still entertain the kids who had fun playing with them. Toys like the rocking horse were very simple in design providing only one thing which was to rock back and forth. The toy ark on the following picture is simple in design as well since it really doesn't do anything however it seemed to be a good way to educate kids back then about Noah's ark which is a fundamental Bible story. simple small rolling toys like the train seem simple now a days but where very popular amongst boys back in the 1860's.  

        The crank carousel is not to weird as there are many modern counterparts but basically it is really used by just cranking the lever until it starts moving around and maybe making some music which was really a basic form of amusement for kids in the 19th century.  The cat toy was a simple wooden toy that seem to have something in between it that made a sound when pushed. The Cradle seemed to be made for dolls since its unlikely to be made for an actual baby. The Dog toy seemed to be made and work the same way as the cat toy did. 

       The doll was a main toy little girls played with and seemed to be made out of wood all around with a simple dress as a cover. The Doll that follows the first doll seem to be a more elegant doll that was most likely reserved for wealthier families with little girls. The Duck toy worked and was made in the same way as the cat and dog toys were where you pressed on it and made a noise. The farm set was basically just a set of farm animals with a farm house included it like a lego set but with out the building aspect it was more of a toy for the imagination. 

Miguel Ramon

Origami Cranes: Activity and Background Information

People from all over the world have enjoyed doing traditional paper crafts for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. In this set, you'll explore the tradition of the origami Japanese paper crane, a symbol of hope. A demonstration video is included for those who want to make their own crane. Appropriate for classroom, home, or informal education settings.

The Japanese word "origami" comes from two smaller words: "ori" which means "to fold," and "kami" meaning "paper." Although this is the most common word in the United States for the craft of paper folding, the tradition is known to have existed in China and Japan for more than a millennium, and from there it spread to other countries around the world. Japanese patterns tend to focus on animals and flowers, while Chinese designs are usually for things like boats and hats. Paper folding's earlier use was ceremonial, but with time the tradition became popular as a children's activity. 

Philippa Rappoport

Origami Animals: Demonstration Videos and Background Information

People from all over the world have enjoyed doing traditional paper crafts for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. In this set, you'll find interviews with origami artists and a variety of demonstration videos to make paper animals (bull, butterfly, crane) and a paper wallet. Appropriate for classroom, home, or informal education settings.

The Japanese word "origami" comes from two smaller words: "ori" which means "to fold," and "kami" meaning "paper." Although this is the most common word in the United States for the craft of paper folding, the tradition is known to have existed in China and Japan for more than a millennium, and from there it spread to other countries around the world. Japanese patterns tend to focus on animals and flowers, while Chinese designs are usually for things like boats and hats. Paper folding's earlier use was ceremonial, but with time the tradition became popular as a children's activity.

Grab some paper and have fun!

Philippa Rappoport

Artful Animals: Elephant Conservation

This student activity analyzes our relationship to African elephants by exploring their representation in African art, alongside the threats facing this vulnerable species. Includes art objects, photographs, articles (including one with an adjustable lexile-rating), reading comprehension questions, discussion questions, and opportunities to learn more.

Tag: Africa

This collection was created to support the 2016 CCSSO Teachers of the Year Day at the Smithsonian.

Deborah Stokes

Animals in Art

The topic of this collection is how animals have been represented in artworks from different cultures and different times.
Galileo Galilei

Abstract Sculpture

For younger students, play an "I Spy" or sorting game with sculpture images. Attributes to look for:

  • Geometric shapes/forms
  • Biomorphic shapes/forms
  • Inside/outside sculptures
  • Sculptures that resemble animals or people
  • Sculptures that don't resemble anything
  • Big/little sculptures - explain how you decided this (scale in relation to its surroundings)

With older students, challenge them to construct a definition of abstraction based on what they observe in the sculptures.

Jean-Marie Galing

Animals in Art

This collection is about animals art.
Galileo Galileo

The Columbian Exchange

The Columbus Exchange was a widespread exchange of animals, plants, diseases, and technology that occurred between Afro-Eurasia and the Americas after Christopher Columbus landed in the New World in 1492. It lasted throughout the years of expansion and discovery. During this time, we see a huge change in society. We see a change in American transportation, in agriculture, in the food we eat, in the clothing we wear, and as well as in architecture. 

Throughout this collection you will see the various of things that were traded between city and city and how they were important in the world at the time. You will also see that not only did The Columbian Exchange bring goods to the Old and New World, but it also brought diseases such as syphilis, small pox, and polio. 

Cierra Johnson

Emergence of Civilization in China: Oracle Bones

In this student activity, students learn about life in early Chinese urban society by analyzing oracle bone divinations. These divinations, consisting of characters inscribed on turtle shells and animal bones over 3,000 years ago, are among the earliest systematic Chinese written language extant today. Students will answer object analysis questions, complete an activity using translations of divinations, and compare early Chinese urban society to Bronze Age societies in other parts of the world. This set includes multiple objects from the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Created by Elizabeth Eder and Keith Wilson at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in collaboration with Tess Porter, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

Tags: archaeology; ancestor worship; shang dynasty; diviner; early writing; early civilization; ritual; artifact; archaeological remains; artifact analysis

Freer|Sackler Education

Environmental Impact of Canoes -- Lesson Plans and Information

Look through the photographs. Spend a few minutes looking at each one, then pick three photos and consider the following questions: What are the common elements of the photos? During what time period do you think the photos were taken? In what part of the world were the photos taken? How are they similar? Different? You will record your observations on the quiz at the end of the photograph section.

As you investigate the artifacts, images, and readings in this collection, consider how the environment has been impacted by the development of canoes/boats? How were animals (birds, mammals, reptiles) affected by the launching of canoes/boats? How is the land affected by canoes/boats?


By using the pictures, students will be able for how the first canoe development may have affected the environment; students will construct an explanation of how the environment has since been impacted. They will then work to design solutions for ways of making less of an impact to the environment based on factors that can lead to the disruption of the protected waterways.

Meaning of Canoe:

The word 'canoe' originated from the word 'kenu' - meaning dugout. These seagoing boats were used by the Carib Indians of the Caribbean islands, and were made of large tree trunks which were shaped and hollowed, and were strong enough to travel between the islands.


Students will be able to:

1. Activate students’ prior knowledge. Tell students that they will learn about human-related impacts that threaten the environment.

2. Use a model to explore how the use of canoes effects the environment.

3. Construct explanations and design solutions for impacts of boating on healthy waterways.

4. Identify ways individuals can influence impacts of the boating industry.

Essential Questions:

1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the development of the boating issues based on the use of the canoe?

2. How do we assess the environmental, social, cultural, and economic benefits and drawbacks of various solutions to a problem?

3. How do we ultimately decide what solution is the 'best'?

4. What are the major concerns of using the waterways for leisure activities and for business?


- Computer lab with one computer for every student (computers should have Internet access) and  the equipment to project onto a screen or white board

- One pair of audio headphones for each student

- Projector

- Access to the Learning Lab Collections

Teacher Prep:

- Review articles that emphasize the impact of environmental damage do to boating website has an activity that will help the students understand the  building of the canoe






Michele Hubert

Animals in Nature

Look at each scene of animals in nature and think about what they could be doing. What do you see? What do you think is happening or is going to happen? What does it make you wonder?

Katie Grywczynski

Food Chain -- Lesson Plans and Information

How does fishing, pollution and human activity affect the energy balance in the ocean?

The oceans are an important resource for much of humanity. In the United States alone, about one in six jobs has something to do with the ocean. Unfortunately, while humans depend on the ocean for many different things, their activities can also have a negative effect on the ocean and its wildlife.


One of the biggest effects humans have on the ocean is through fishing. An increasing demand for protein has led to an increase in large-scale fishing operations, and throughout the 20th century, many countries failed to put safeguards into place to prevent overfishing. As a result, the populations of a number of large fish species have dropped by as much as 90 percent from their preindustrial populations. This depletion has led to disruptions in ocean food chains, removing predators and allowing other populations to grow unchecked. As the populations of targeted fish decline, many operations move down the food chain to other species, and over time this can cause significant alterations to marine ecosystems.


Human pollution also has a significant effect on the oceans. In the 1980s, travelers passing through the Pacific Ocean began to notice areas containing a high concentration of plastic trash, apparently collected by the ocean's natural currents into one area. The so-called Pacific Trash Vortex may contain up to 1.9 million pieces of trash per square mile, and a similar patch of garbage exists in the northern Atlantic. In addition, oil spills such as the one resulting from the Deepwater Horizon fire in 2010 can contaminate large stretches of the ocean, wiping out entire populations of fish and other species and affecting the regional ecosystem for decades.


Air pollution also affects the oceans. As the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the ocean absorbs some of the excess. The gas reacts with seawater and reduces its pH, increasing the acidity of the water. Since the industrial revolution, the pH of the ocean has decreased by 0.1 pH, representing a 30 percent increase in the acidity of seawater. This affects the growth of animals and plants in the ocean, weakening coral and shellfish.


Organic waste dumped into the oceans can have a devastating effect on ecosystems. Excess nutrients from fertilizers and sewage runoff flow into the ocean via rivers, and this sudden abundance of organic material can disrupt the balance of life in affected areas. Organic pollution can cause algae blooms, a rapid increase in certain species of microorganisms that may produce toxins or consume the free oxygen in the region, killing off or driving away other species.


Michele Hubert

Colonial America

Colonial America is the most significant period in American History to this day and will be for the rest of human life. It embarked the beginning of a new nation. A nation that would employ free will and promote freedom but also practice racism to full extent. The first settlements of this country's beginning symbolized privelege, which is what America stands upon this day in age and has stood upon since its' preformation.   

When these colonies began to form, we saw how the Colonists sought for new lives. The components of independence and diversity lie within the colonial times. These items are a direct example of the freedom, free will, and racism colonists exercised on a daily basis. Colonists brought over everything they had from Great Britain and even traded it with Native Americans and other countries. Trade was a huge source of materials, being that they lacked several resources needed to progress as they had wished.  The Slave Trade was a booming business for the white man. Blacks were not even looked at as human beings, but as property and animals. 

Jaylon Russell

Culture of England

Objects that represent the way of life in England, some of their core values, and other aspects such as fashion and the origin of Shakespeare's Globe Theater. Although we associate England with the power they obtained over the colonies and other areas of the world after the Seven Years War there were many other factors that contributed to the culture of this country. Aside from their strong army that allowed them to conquer vast lands England gave way to many ideas, inventions and forms of art.

English citizens understood the importance of nature and animals and spent a generous amount of time outdoors. Many items that originated in England portray innocence and their connection with the universe.

Iyanna Ferguson

Documents and Photos of America before Civil War

My collection is a compilation of documents and photos of events happened in the United States History before the period of Civil War. Although not all of the items are made at the time before 1865, the content of these items represents the history figures and events of that time.

 The items are organized in chronological order. As you move through my collection, you will see pictures of Native American people with their interesting culture in dancing, hunting. Then there is an event I consider important in the U.S history, which is tobacco cultivation. This event leads to so much controversial history consequences. Then you will see a some funny pictures of daily life activities of American people in the 18th century: a dressing room, a letter, books about plants and animals discovered in America. The books contain beautiful pictures and detailed descriptions of the environment in the U.S in general. You will also see some silverware in the consumer revolution in the 18th century.

 I hope you enjoy my collection. I had a lot of fun doing the research. Some of the pictures remind me of the long and difficult process of development I hope you have the same experience and thank you for watching.

Quân Uông

"Blacks in the Westward Movement," "What Can You Do with a Portrait?" and "Of Beetles, Worms, and Leaves of Grass"

The premier (1976) issue of Art to Zoo contains three sections on three different subjects: the experiences of African Americans in westward expansion, the use of portrait art in the classroom, and the ordinary lawn as a habitat for plants and animals. Click the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

A Mouse Like a House? A Pocket Elephant?

This 1987 issue of Art to Zoo engages students in a discussion of animal size and the importance of size in an animal’s life. It includes activities in which the students compare animal size differences, with a focus on metabolism and body temperature. Click the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Zika! Task 4-4 Identifying Local Disease Hosts

Use these supplemental resources to learn more about research being conducted on other animals which can be hosts for a variety of mosquito borne diseases. What animals live in your community that could be hosts for different diseases? Go outside and find out.

Andre Radloff


How do you communicate? Through words? Body language? A facial expression? Explore the different ways people and animals communicate.

Maureen Leary

Going...Going...Gone? Tropical Rainforests

Activities in this 1988 issue of Art to Zoo help students better understand the plant and animal life of rainforests. Click the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
1-24 of 73 Collections