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Staff Picks

 

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
 

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
 

The NHD @ NMAAHC Collection Connection Grid 2017: Taking a Stand in History

Welcome to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection Grid for the 2017 NHD Theme!

Below are some objects and videos to help you explore the 2017 NHD theme: Taking a Stand in History. These objects will help you consider the perspective of the African American experience in history.

These objects may help you form an idea for a project topic or they may help to expand the narrative of your selected project. Click on the text icon for possible project connections and/or the hotspots to reveal object questions to spark your curiosity.

The artifact questions should encourage viewers to think and explore the history of the object or video on their own!

NMAAHC Education
46
 

Civil War Diary: Homefront Perspectives

Diary entries from Mary Henry and Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas during the Civil War.
Nicole Gilbertson
8
 

Key Moments in WWII: What makes you say that?

Using the Project Zero Visible Thinking routine "What makes you say that?," students will investigate two photographs, taken from different angles, of Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu aboard the USS Missouri as they signed the surrender that would officially end WWII.

Tags: world war 2; world war ii; general macarthur; carl mydans; primary source; ww2; japanese instrument of surrender; potsdam declaration; inquiry strategy

#visiblethinking

Tess Porter
4
 

Compare and Contrast Looking Strategy: Learning to Look with the National Portrait Gallery

In this collection, we look at portraiture through the lens of comparing and contrasting two portraits. This looking strategy allows participants to consider similarities and differences between two portraits. Consider using portraits of the same individual at two different point in his or her life, portraits by the same artist, or portraits by different artists of similar subject matter.

Included in this collection are examples of portraits National Portrait Gallery educators have had success with when facilitating the compare and contrast looking strategy while teaching in the galleries: Pocahontas, Shimomura Crossing the Delaware and Washington Crossing the Delaware, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, LL Cool J and John D. Rockefeller
Briana White
22
 

Mummy Science - Natural and Cultural Preserved Remains

This Smithsonian Science How learning collection, from Q?rius at the National Museum of Natural History, is part of a distance learning program at http://qrius.si.edu/explore-science/webcast This collection focuses on the science of mummies. Targeted at middle schoolers, the collection invites students into an authentic understanding of how mummies form, both naturally and culturally. Physical and forensic anthropologist Dr. David Hunt is featured as an expert explainer. The collection includes an interactive webcast video with discussion questions, cross-cutting activities, an independent project, and other resources for teachers and students.

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

Key Terms: physical anthropology, archaeology, skeletal remains, mummification, burial practices, decomposition, culture

Key Concepts:

Skeletal analysis for age, sex, ancestry, and health

Cultural burial practices over time

Chemical process of mummification

Scientific benefits of studying mummies

Technology used by physical anthropologists

Smithsonian Science How
13
 

The Subway

Artworks, photographs, and other documents relating to the New York subway system.
Phoebe Hillemann
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
 

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
 

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
 

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
 

Hamilton!

Have your students (or you) caught the Hamilton bug inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical? This collection is filled with resources and teaching ideas about the founding father. With his musical, Miranda has transformed teaching the Founding Fathers from distant and un-relatable to a relevant story of a hustling immigrant whose rise helps progress the American Revolution and set the new nation on track to become the economic powerhouse that it remains today.

Tags: Alexander Hamilton, ten dollar bill, Aaron Burr, duel, treasurer, financial plan, Federalist

Kate Harris
14
 

My Smithsonian Closet

You could be exceptionally well-dressed if the Smithsonian were your closet.
Kate Harris
29
 

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