The lessons in this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom introduce the work of botanists and botanical illustrators, specifically their race to make records of endangered plant species around the world. “Very little of the world’s flora has been fully studied,” says one Smithsonian botanist, “and time is running out.” In the first lesson, students gets to know six endangered plants. They examine illustrations, photographs, and dried specimens of the plants as they consider this question: If a scientist can take a picture of a plant, are there advantages in having an illustration? They go on to consider some of the big questions that botanists themselves must ask: Which of these species are most in need of conservation efforts? Are any of these plants more worth saving than others?In the second lesson, the students try their own hands at botanical illustration, following the methods of a Smithsonian staff illustrator. All that is required for the lesson are pencils, markers, tracing paper, and access to a photocopier.
In pretending, we learn to navigate with ease between real and imaginary worlds while learning the differences between them. Using our imaginations encourages original thinking, flexibility, adaptability, empathy, and the ability to generate multiple solutions to a problem. Pretend play helps us learn to think visually and spatially and to both capture and express ideas.
This site introduces students to archeology -- the study of material remains to learn about past human experiences. This lesson (Grades 3-8) discusses various challenges of an archaeologist: locating a site that will yield clues about the people who once lived there, conducting excavations, and more. Students identify artifacts from a contemporary setting, describe the function of each artifact, identify methods for dating soil layers, and interpret soil profiles.
- Arts and Humanities
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- Lesson Plan
- Smithsonian Institution
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- Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies
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This site offers geography and history activities showing how two years in history had an indelible impact on American politics and culture. Students interpret historical maps, identify territories acquired by the U.S., identify states later formed from these territories, examine the territorial status of Texas, and identify political, social, and economic issues related to the expansion of the U.S. in the 1840s.
This online lesson provides perspectives from Native American community members and their supporters, images, news footage, an interactive timeline, and other sources about an important campaign to secure the treaty rights and sovereignty of Native Nations of the Pacific Northwest. Scroll to begin an exploration of the actions Native Nations took to address injustices.
This online lesson provides perspectives from Native American community members, images, objects, and other sources to help students and teachers understand the efforts of Native Nations of the Pacific Northwest to protect and sustain salmon, water, and homelands. Scroll to begin an exploration of the Pacific Northwest history and cultures.
This Teacher Resource Guide is designed for incorporation into history and social studies curricula. It will introduce your students to some of the events and issues that shaped George Washington’s life. The activities should enhance your students’ knowledge of Washington and expand their horizons about this complex and interesting man.
The purpose of this lesson is to show learners how to keep a nature journal. How to reflect, respond, and question the observations they see in the world.
This online exhibit explores the history and development of the electric guitar. It includes information about the instrument designers and the musicians who influenced the creation of new guitars and innovations in their sound. Examples of about 40 different guitars are included with descriptions of each. There is also information on how different types of acoustic and electric guitars operate with the sounds of each available for listening. Finally, addition information, references, and links are included.
Archeology offers the most tangible evidence of earlier civilizations. Although archeology has already provided invaluable information pertaining to the life styles and skills of the peoples from this region of West Africa, the archaeological record is still incomplete. The figurative sculptures featured in this resource furnish one part of the historical puzzle of this region. These handsome terracotta sculptures are from the Inland Niger Delta region near Djenne (pronounced JEH-nay; also spelled Jenne), one of several important trading cities that grew and developed during the Mali Empire.
This activity “Becoming aware of the Japanese American Internment Camp Experience” is intended to help students become aware of, and sensitive to, the Japanese American interment camp experience. They will develop a sense of empathy by simulating the situations which Japanese American children faced.
When scientists discover a new fossil skull, they compare it to skulls that have already been identified as particular early human species. In this activity, you get the chance to be the scientist!
This site helps students see how plants and animals interact to accomplish pollination. Students (Grades 3-8) identify plant and animal parts involved in pollination, connections between pollination and food production, relationships between pollinators and the plants they pollinate, and ways flowers have adapted to encourage pollination.
This manual provides you with a variety of creative and engaging strategies to help students think about how wars have been defining moments in both the history of the nation and the lives of individual Americans.
Exploratory play is about asking questions: “What happens when I do this?” “What if I did it this way?” Experimenting with materials and pushing their limits encourages us to consider a wide range of possibilities when problem-solving. Playing around with objects and ideas helps us see that there may be more than one solution.
This site looks at the history and variety of voting methods in the U.S. -- the voice vote, party ticket (paper ballots listing candidates from just one party), Australian ballot, gear and lever machine, and others. Voting reforms of the early 1900s, when the U.S. electorate doubled, are described. Kinds of voting equipment used in counties across the U.S. are shown on a map. Innovative design improvements are discussed.
Within These Walls...tells the stories of five families who lived in this house over 200 years and made history in their kitchens and parlors, through everyday choices and personal acts of courage and sacrifice. In this online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, students will learn how the Smithsonian acquired the house at 16 Elm Street Ipswich, Massachusetts and saved more than a dozen family stories and 200 years of American social history. They will also learn some of the methods historians and curators used to learn about this house's past, the ways that it changed over time, and the people who lived in it.
This online exhibition celebrates the centennial of flight with a thorough presentation of Wilbur and Orville Wright's biography, their technical achievements and the cultural impact of their breakthrough in the decade after 1903.