Lesson Plans

19 Result(s)
Grade Range
6-12
Afro Atlantic: Exploring Emancipation

This lesson plan uses A. A. Lamb's painting Emancipation Proclamation and resources from BlackPast to explore the successes and shortcomings of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Reconstruction amendments, as well as the roles played by Black people in securing their own freedom.

Grade Range
6-12
Afro Atlantic: Paths from Enslavement

Use Aaron Douglas’s mural Into Bondage to introduce the stories of famous Harlem Renaissance figures, including Langston Hughes, and to explore the history and importance of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of Black enslavement in the United States.  

Grade Range
6-12
Afro Atlantic: Mapping Journeys

Kerry James Marshall's painting Voyager, depicting two partially obscured Black figures standing aboard a ship, refers to an actual ship, Wanderer, which was among the last slave ships in the United States, illegally transporting more than 400 individuals from West Africa to Georgia in 1858—even though the importation of enslaved people had been banned in 1808. Use the painting as an entry point to discuss the Transatlantic slave trade and introduce students to the NEH-funded database Slave Voyages project. 

Grade Range
6-12
Visual Records of a Changing Nation

Students have multiple opportunities to analyze photographs captured during a national photography project about local history and changing places to create their own interpretations and exhibits. These materials were developed as part of a partnership between the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Grade Range
9-12
American Utopia: The Architecture and History of the Suburb

In 1900, there were 16 million households in the United States; as of 2019, there are more than 126 million, an increase of nearly 700%. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations of primary resources and visual media with group analysis to investigate the following inquiry: How is the architectural evolution of the American home related to broader themes of modern U.S. history, economics, and culture?

Grade Range
6-12
Scraping the Sky: Architecture and American History

In 2017, 144 skyscrapers (towers at least 660 feet tall) joined the skylines of 69 cities across the globe—a record that will likely be broken again before the end of 2018. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations of primary resources and visual media with group analysis to investigate the following inquiry: How is the evolution of the American skyscraper related to broader themes of modern U.S. history, economics, and culture?

Grade Range
9-12
Martin Puryear's Ladder for Booker T. Washington

Students examine Martin Puryear’s "Ladder for Booker T. Washington" and consider how the title of Puryear’s sculpture is reflected in the meanings we can draw from it. They learn about Booker T. Washington’s life and legacy, and through Puryear's ladder, students explore the African American experience from Booker T.'s perspective and apply their knowledge to other groups in U.S. History. They also gain understanding of how a ladder can be a metaphor for a person’s and a group’s progress toward goals.

Grade Range
9-12
Albert Sabin and Bioethics: Testing at the Chillicothe Federal Reformatory

In this lesson students will determine whether or not Albert Sabin acted ethically in his use of prisoners for experimentation; learn how to approach ethical questions using primary and secondary sources; and come to their own conclusions uses evidence-based logical reasoning.

Grade Range
6-8
What Masks Reveal

Explore the cultural significance of masks by investigating the role they play in ceremonies and on special occasions in societies from widely separated regions of the world.

Grade Range
9-12
Common Visions, Common Voices

Trace similar motifs in the artwork and folklore of India, Africa, the Maya, and Native Americans.