Teacher Guides and Resources

Discover how to integrate American art into your classroom

Teacher Guides

Museum educator speaking to students

Teacher Guides are listed with corresponding standards and grade levels; most are in PDF format. Student worksheets and other printable resources are also available. Be sure to check back periodically or sign up for our Teacher Resources e-mail list (select "Teacher Resources" checkbox).

These features contain interactive or media-rich content. In addition, we'd encourage you to explore our Current ExhibitionsPast Exhibitions, and Videos for primary source content such as artist interviews, that may be relevant or useful to you, whatever subject you teach. For additional Smithsonian resources, see the Smithsonian Learning Lab.

The American Experience in the Classroom

Using art to teach key moments in our nation’s history, from the emergence of our nation to contemporary life.

John Singleton Copley, Mrs. George Watson, 1765, oil on canvas

Investigate paired works of art that bring to life key moments in our nation's history. Explore the thematic threads that connect artworks across historical eras.

Primary Subject and Grade: US History 5-12 Primary Subjects and Grades: US History 5-12, Language Arts 5-12, Visual Arts 9-12, Civics 9-12
Components: Contextual Essays, Primary Sources, Literary Connections, Observation and Interpretation Activity, Media, Interactive Timeline, Glossary, Curriculum Connections, Core Concepts
Standards: U.S. History Content Standards, Common Core Standards – English Language Arts, Historical Thinking Standards

Campfire Stories with George Catlin

Native Americans, their ancestral lands, and the western landscape of the United States during the 1830s

George Catlin, Stu-mick-o-súcks, Buffalo Bull's Back Fat, Head Chief, Blood Tribe, 1832, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art

Take a virtual journey to meet American Indians of the 1830s with artist, ethnologist, and showman George Catlin. This site compiles paintings, historical documents, and commentary from contemporary experts so you can explore the intersections of two cultures, both in Catlin’s time and today.

Primary Subject and Grade: Visual Arts, U.S. History
Secondary Subject and Grade: Language Arts, Social Studies, Geography, Life Science, Music, Dance, Theatre
Components: Multimedia Interviews with Transcripts, Images with Exhibition Labels, Timeline, Maps, Database containing Catlin's writings and hundreds of his artworks, Lesson Plans.
Standards: Visual Arts: NSAE 1-6, U.S. History: NCHS 1-5, USHS Era 4, Era 6, Language Arts: NCTE 1-9, 11, 12, Geography: GESP 4, GESP 6, NGS 4, 6, 9, 10, 12-16, Life Science: NSES 3, Dance: NSAE 1-3, Music: NSAE 7, Theatre: NSAE 1-2, 5

Oh Freedom!

African American Civil Rights In American Art

James VanDerZee, Evening Attire, 1922, gelatin silver print

Drawing connections among art, history, and social change, Oh Freedom! provides educators with tools to help students re-imagine and re-interpret the long struggle for civil rights, justice, and equality in fresh ways.

Primary Subject and Grade: US History 5-12
Secondary Subject and Grade: Civics 9-12, Language Arts 5-12, Visual Arts K-12
Components: Images, Background Contextual Information, Artist Bios, Audio/Video, Interactive Timeline, Lesson Plans, Glossary, Bibliographies
Standards: U.S. History, Civics, Language Arts, Visual Arts

¡del Corazón!

Latino Voices in American Art

Ester Hernandez, Sun Mad, 1982, screenprint on paper

Many Latinos have immigrated to the United States. Whether their experiences are told firsthand or handed down from parents and grandparents, they seek to communicate the importance of their journeys and their culture.

Primary Subject and Grade: Visual Arts 9-12
Secondary Subject and Grade: Social Studies 6-12, Language Arts 9-12
Components: Images, Video, Artist Bios, Posters, Lesson Plans
Standards: Visual Arts: NAEA 1, NAEA 3, NAEA 4, NAEA 5, Social Studies: NCSS 1, NCSS 5 Groups, NCSS 10, Language Arts: NCTE 1

Meet the Artist: Video Series