From the Oakland Museum of California comes “Picture This: California’s Perspectives on American History,” 140 primary source images from the museum’s collection for students and educators. The images are organized into six time periods: Early California 1769-1800s, The Progressive Era 1890-1920, Depression Era 1930s, World War II/Post War Era 1940-1950s, Vietnam/Civil Rights Era 1960-1970s, and Post-Vietnam Era 1980-present. The museum also offers eight activities to further the visual literacy skills of our students.
Possible classroom applications? This online exhibit could serve as an example for students to create their own image museum showing their state’s perspective on American History also. The Minnesota Historical Society encourages Minnesota educators to remember “Minnesota history is American History” and that is true for anyone in any state. It is understandable that it may be easier for students to make local connections than national so an exercise such as this one could help bring the big picture home. These images could also serve as writing prompts. Students could write newspaper headlines for what they see or they could research the event behind the photo and write a newspaper article. (A lesson plan for this type of activity can be found at the Library of Congress, I love this assignment for sophomores and juniors!)
Explore 97 Orchard Street, a tenement built in 1863 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. This New York City Museum tells the stories of the immigrants who lived here. The Tenement Museum’s website gives excellent historical context for tenement living, click “Play” in the site’s menu to reveal a virtual tour, an immigration game showing the path from Ellis Island to 97 Orchard Street, work with folk songs, multi-cultural heritage, webcomics and more. Under “Education,” find lesson ideas, primary sources, and more.
The Tenement Museum provides a glimpse into the lives of those who journeyed to the United States and whose reality was so different than those of our students of today.
In April I will be traveling to Washington DC with 13 students who took Constitutional and Criminal Law last semester. They are so intrigued with the US Supreme Court, we are going there to sit in on oral arguments. While playing tour coordinator, I was poking around the National Museum of American History’s website. I love this museum. Beyond the content that supports current exhibits in Washington, there is a link for kids that has activities to do “at home” including make a (virtual) sod house, solving mysteries, and making light bulbs. Educators can obviously leverage all aspects of the website but are also able to search for resources by grade level, format (artifact, lesson plan, primary source) and time period to access the digitized resources of the museum. The website also hosts 67 online exhibits from the First Ladies and the Presidency to Julia Child’s Kitchen and communities in the late 1800’s, it is a given every subject and grade level can find something in the resources and virtual exhibits visits here.
It is easy to get lost in the British Museum’s online museum of Athens. From a “day in the life” to a tour of the city to a simulation -game focusing on roles and duties in Anient Greece, this virtual museum trip is a great one for World History, possibly literature, and art classes, or just for fun would be an option too.