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Staff Picks

 

Stamp Stories: The Revolutionary War

A resource demonstrating a fun and engaging teaching strategy, Stamp Stories.
Postage stamps are not simply a means to send a letter but can serve as windows into the history and cultures of the world. Every stamp tells a story. Simultaneously a primary and secondary source; the subject depicted on a stamp presents opportunities for innovative teaching strategies that appeal specifically to visual learners.

In this lesson, students build their own stamp collections to show what they’ve learned and debate why the stamps they've chosen reflect the given theme.

This specific collection features the Revolutionary War but the technique may be applied to any subject or theme as an assessment, review tool, or ice breaker.
Emily Murgia
14
 

Communication

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

Maureen Leary
8
 

A Morning in Damascus

This collection features a series of three independent activities around one singular portrait of Bayard Taylor (formally titled A Morning in Damascus) painted by Thomas Hicks, 1855.  Taylor was one of America's foremost and most popular travel writers of the mid to late 19th century.  

These activities were created for my Advanced Placement World History course to practice close reading skills as well as historical thinking skills.  The notations provided here are for teacher reference and would not be given to students. 

This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2017 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute.

#NPGTeach 

#historicalthinking

Lauren Hetrick
12
 

The Fantastic World of Nineteenth-Century Women’s Emotions: Two Literary Portrayals

Inspired by the December 2nd, 2015 Dibner Lecture by Laura Otis
Describing complex human emotions in words has challenged writers of every time in place. The feelings of rejected lovers are especially keen and make for engrossing stories. Two Victorian novelists, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling, combined popular knowledge of science, literature, and religion to create powerful portraits of abandoned women. Although based more on cultural myths than human physiology, their depictions of Miss Havisham and the lady in the phantom rickshaw have had a powerful influence on representations of women’s emotions.
Smithsonian Libraries
23
 

3D-Printing and Scanning

A collection of 3D printing and scanning applications from the Smithsonian.
Brian Ausland
6
 

Writing Inspiration: Using Art to Spark Narrative Story Elements

The Smithsonian museum collection inspires many to research the history behind artifacts, but this collection explores the use of art and artifacts to spark creative story writing. Students will choose artifacts to craft characters, a setting, and a plot conflict to create and write a narrative story.

Targeted Vocabulary: Narrative, protagonist , antagonist, character, character traits, setting, plot, climax, and conflict.

After reading and analyzing several narrative stories for story elements such as character, setting, plot, climax, and conflict, students will use this collection to begin planning their own narrative stories.
Individuals or partners will first view the portraits and discuss possible stories behind each face before choosing a protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters. They may begin to discuss and imagine character traits for each subject.
Next, the student will select a landscape setting in which the story may take place. The writer will describe the landscape, imagine a time period, and name the location.
Finally, the student will either choose an action artifact around which to build a major plot event, or have that slide as a minor scene in their story.
Students may use the Question Formulation Technique to garner ideas for background stories behind the faces. http://rightquestion.org/
Once the story elements are in place, the students may begin to draft narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

With the artifacts selected as the major story elements, the students may begin crafting their narrative story. The artifacts can then be displayed as illustrations in the published narratives.
Kathy Powers
66
 

Continuity and Change in Los Angeles

This collection uses the work of the Chilean photographer Camilo Jose Vergara to explore the historical thinking concept of continuity and change.  How has 10828 S. Avalon changed?  How has it remained the same?  Does change always mean progress?

#historicalthinking


Anna Rabin
11
 

Unpacking Sol LeWitt’s Open Cubes

Students will analyze Sol LeWitt's variations of the open cube to apply their knowledge of drawing cubes using isometric paper and nets of cubes. Students will extend their knowledge of surface area while observing LeWitt's Cube without a cube and make a generalization for two formulas.

This is an activity for a grade 6 or 7 geometry class. Prerequisite knowledge: volume, surface area and nets of cubes.

Students can do the work in groups of 2-3 there are sections for thinking routines and prompts for students to upload photos of their work.

Amanda Riske
8
 

Contemporary & Historic Architecture

How does the past influence the present and future? Compare forms in contemporary architecture with those of buildings from ancient and Renaissance times. What similarities can you find?

Jean-Marie Galing
34
 

Presidential Portraiture: Looking and Analyzing Questions

A topical collection of United States presidential portraits. This collection might be best shortened to introduce a specific historical era and the leader(s) of the time, or adapted to show how American leaders wanted to be perceived during their tenure and legacy and how artists depicted them. It includes the National Portrait Gallery's "Reading" Portraiture at a Glance sheet, which offers suggested looking and analyzing questions. It is also includes associated curator and educator talks on the portraits of the presidents, where possible.
Ashley Naranjo
55
 

Angles in Motion

Students will first observe the portrait of Martha Graham, and figure out who she is based on what it communicates about her. Then the observation of the angles in her pose will help students create a scale drawing of this piece. This activity combines thinking routines about looking at a portrait with the mathematical concepts of angles and scale.

Created for the National Portrait Gallery Learning to Look Summer Institute, 2016 #NPGteach
Rachel Slezak
7
 

Mary & Katy: See, Think, Wonder & Compare

Artful thinking routines to explore, critique, compare and contrast portraits of Mary Cassatt and Katy Perry from the National Portrait Gallery. #npgteach
Micah Haddock
6
 

The Valentine Dress

The Valentine Dress is the focus of a Visual Arts Lesson beginning with the Slow Look Strategy. This is followed with three ideas that may be incorporated into a high school fundamentals class. #npgteach

Vanessa Sales
11
 

Which decade is it?

Lisa Major
35
 

Visions of the Future

This student activity includes a range of visions of the future, to serve as inspiration and present a challenge for students: what do you want your city to be like in the future?

Students will watch a video where students complete a similar project, and then view a variety of artifacts presenting different views of the future, with questions for analysis. Finally, students will be tasked with developing their own vision for their city or town in the future.
Kate Harris
15