• Benjamin Franklin's Many "Hats"

    Hiram Powers (1805–1873), Benjamin Franklin, 1862

    Ben Franklin, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution was also a philanthropist, a community leader, patriot, and Founding Father. This lesson plan exemplifies all our new country fought for in the Revolutionary War: individualism, democracy, community, patriotism, scientific inquiry and invention, and the rights of “We the People.”

  • Lesson 1: The Phoenicians and the Beginnings of the Alphabet

    "Aleph," the first letter in the Phoenician alphabet

    This lesson is about the Phoenicians, who invented the alphabet inherited by the Greeks, Romans, and eventually, us.

  • Rudyard Kipling's "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi": Mixing Fact and Fiction

    Portrait of Rudyard Kipling.

    In this lesson, students will use interactive materials to learn about Rudyard Kipling's life and times, read an illustrated version of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," and learn how Kipling effectively uses personification by mixing fact and fiction.

  • Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes: Poems for a Democracy

    Walt Whitman.

    Walt Whitman sought to create a new and distinctly American form of poetry. His efforts had a profound influence on subsequent generations of American poets. In this lesson, students will explore the historical context of Whitman's concept of "democratic poetry" by reading his poetry and prose and by examining daguerreotypes taken circa 1850. Next, students will compare the poetic concepts and techniques behind Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" and Langston Hughes' "Let America Be America Again," and will have an opportunity to apply similar concepts and techniques in creating a poem from their own experience.

  • Rudyard Kipling's "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi": Mixing Words and Pictures

    Portrait of Rudyard Kipling.

    In this lesson, students will read an illustrated version of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," examine how Kipling and visual artists mix observation with imagination to create remarkable works, and follow similar principles to create a work of their own.

  • Dust Bowl Days

    Eighteen-year-old mother from Oklahoma, now a California migrant.

    Students will be introduced to this dramatic era in our nation's history through photographs, songs and interviews with people who lived through the Dust Bowl.

  • Lesson 1: In Depth with the Full Spectrum

    Winslow Homer, The Milk Maid, 1878 (detail). A study in complementary  colors.

    In this lesson students will be introduced to the basics of the color wheel, as well as the ways in which artists use color to guide the viewer's attention through a painting's composition.

  • Lesson 2: Color Me Happy: Color, Mood, and Tone

    Winslow Homer, The Milk Maid, 1878 (detail). A study in complementary  colors.

    This lesson will introduce students to the ways artists use color to set the tone of a painting or to convey a particular mood to the viewer.

  • Thomas Hart Benton: The Sources of Country Music

    Thomas Hart Benton (1889—1975), The Sources of Country Music, 1975. Acrylic on  canvas, 72 x 120 in. (182.9 x 304.8 cm.).

    By analyzing The Sources of Country Music, students will discover the musical legacy of Thomas Hart Benton’s story of America and learn how the processes of modernity changed American life in the early decades of the twentieth century. By listening to country music, they will understand how advances in audio recording both captured and changed folk music.

  • Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series: Removing the Mask

    Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000)

    In this lesson, students analyze Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration of the Negro Panel no. 57 (1940-41), Helene Johnson’s Harlem Renaissance poem “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem” (1927), and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s late-nineteenth-century poem “We Wear the Mask” (1896), considering how each work represents the life and changing roles of African Americans from the late nineteenth century to the Harlem Renaissance and The Great Migration.