Smithsonian Websites

Unit 1
“Solving the Puzzle of Letters and Numbers”

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Additional Resources:

  • For more information on Robert Indiana (including why he changed his name to “Indiana”), visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website feature “Bottlecaps to Brushes”
  • Go to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art website for a transcript of an interview with Robert Indiana.
  • Download “Profile: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery News” (a PDF file) for painted portraits or photographs of several great American poets and a brief history of their work and lives. Have students choose a poem and create a piece of art that relates to the poem.
  • Introduce students to the rhythms of poetry as a form of song. Go to the Smithsonian Education website to download the lesson plan “The Music in Poetry.”

Unit 2
“Capturing Childhood”

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Additional Resources:

  • For lesson plans and background on the history of photography, go to the Smithsonian Education’s website feature “Every Picture has a Story”.
  • For learning resources and photographs in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, visit the Smithsonian Photography Initiative website.
  • For more information on toys used throughout American history, visit the Smithsonian National Museum of American History website feature “Treasures of American History”.
  • For more information about daguerreotypes, go to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website feature “Secrets of the Dark Chamber: The Art of the American Daguerreotype”.
  • Daguerreotypes were relatively expensive, which meant most families had few if any family photographs as late as the early twentieth century. Ask students to imagine that they can have just one photograph of their family (or a friend). Ask them to write a paragraph about the photograph, answering the following questions: Where and how would the family or friend be posed? What would they wear? Who would take the picture?

Unit 3
“Respect”

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Additional Resources:

  • For more information about the story behind Jesse Treviño’s painting of his brothers, go to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website feature “1001 Days & Nights of American Art
  • For more on Treviño’s own amazing personal odyssey as an artist and person, visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website feature “¡Del Corazón: Latino Voices in American Art Galería”
  • For a biography on Jacob Lawrence, go to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website feature “Have a Question?”
  • Go to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art website for documents relating to the artistic and teaching career of painter and teacher Jacob Lawrence.

Unit 4
“Baseball in America”

Additional Resources:

  • Go to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s website exhibition “Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers” for sports stories to share with the class.
  • For biographies of famous athletes, visit the Smithsonian Education’s website feature “Spotlight: Biography” and click on “Athletes.”
  • For information on Morris Kantor’s work, go to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website feature “1001 Days & Nights of American Art”
  • In Rejects from the Bat Factory,Mark Sfirri uses several different types of wood, including mahogany, curly maple, cherry, zebrawood, cocobolo, and lacewood. Ask students to pick one of these types of woods and research where it is grown, whether or not it is harvested in sustainable fashion (or rare and endangered), and, if not, what steps need to be taken to preserve it. They should also include information on other ways the wood is often used, such as for instruments. Have them present their findings in an oral report to the class.
  • Look at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art website for photographs of Morris Kantor and digital images of his sketchbooks.

Unit 5
“Dignity Through Art”

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Additional Resources:

  • For a biography of James Hampton, go to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website feature “Have a Question?”.
  • For general information on James Hampton, visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website feature “1001 Days & Nights of American Art”.
  • To zoom in on details of The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation’s Millennium General Assembly, go to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website feature “Collections & Exhibitions” and follow the directions for “Interact: Zoom It.”
  • Watch a video of the elaborate installation of Hampton’s artwork on the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website blog EyeLevel “300 Hours and One Legendary Artwork”. It took more than 300 hours to complete the museum installation! Hampton himself spent hours nearly every day for 14 years working on this work. Ask students if they had two to three hours a day to commit to a life’s work, what would they build or create?
  • Go to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s website feature “United States Cent, 1974”, which discusses how the U.S. Mint considered using aluminum instead of copper for the American penny.

Unit 6
“Imagining the Future”

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Additional Resources: