Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies

The mission of the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies is to increase the Smithsonian Institution’s impact as a national educational organization. The Gateway to Smithsonian Educational Resources:

scems_screenshot is a vast website with tons of stuff for kids, parents, and teachers.

Our Students section includes activities and games aimed at encouraging young people to follow their curiosity.

If you are planning a visit to the Smithsonian museums, first visit our Families section, where you’ll find tips on making the most of the experience, along with supplemental readings and activities.

Our Educators section includes a database of more than 1,600 Smithsonian lesson plans and other educational resources. All are searchable by subject, grade level, and applicability to state standards. For a tutorial on using the database, click on the audio tour below.

Play Audio Tour

Here are some lesson plans related to this conference:

Decoding the Past: The Work of Archaeologists
In these lessons, students use the methods of archeologists to identify and interpret artifacts from a contemporary setting (Grades 4-8).

Native American Dolls
Students examine handcrafted dolls from the National Museum of the American Indian, drawing connections between the objects and Native cultures, communities, and environments (Grades 4-8).

Perfectly Suited: Clothing and Social Change in America
Students consider the connections between clothing and society, both past and present. The focus is on the nineteenth century (Grades 4-8).

Introduction to the Nature Journal
Students exercise the observation skills that are essential to writing, visual art, and science.

Under the Spell of Spiders
These lesson plans examine the important roles of that spiders play in the environment.

On you’ll also find many interactive games and activities:

Apollo 11: Walking on the Moon
Relive the first mission to the moon.

Digging for Answers
Test your research skills and/or expertise as you answer questions on everything from the human brain to the Wizard of Oz.

Here are fun websites that we couldn’t help but show you:

Great Cats
Learn about the felines of the Smithsonian National Zoo as you solve puzzles and even watch a live tiger cam!

Doghouses, Doors and Designs
Flex your creativity as you design your own doghouse.

Written in Bone
Forensic anthropologist Doug Owsley discusses what he’s learned about lives of the colonists of Jamestown by examining their bones. This video is part of, a one-stop shop for primary resources on American history.

Exploring the Planets
Journey to the planets of our solar system and learn what’s new in space exploration.

Check out the Smithsonian Youtube Channel where you can find great videos like these:

Feeding the Animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
The zoo’s head nutritionist, Mike Maslanka, describes what it takes to feed 2,000 animals of 400 different species 365 days a year.

Tales from the Longhouse: Native American Winter Storytelling Festival
Perry Ground (Turtle Clan, Onondaga) appears at the festival “Sharing our Stories” at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Thirza Dafoe and Gene Tagaban at the Native American Winter Storytelling Festival
Part II of this fun and kid-friendly storytelling festival features Thirza Dafoe (Oneida, Ojibwe) and Gene Tagaban (Tlingit/Cherokee).

The Ibero-American Guitar Festival
Listen to the folk sounds of the Americas.

Inside the National Museum of Natural History
Get an inside look at the museum’s field work, collections, research, and outreach.

Jamestown Archeology Project
William Kelso, chief archeologist at Jamestown, discusses his digs and recent discoveries.

Smithsonian In Your Classroom

Smithsonian in your Classroom is a free biannual publication for teachers. Each issue focuses on a single subject and includes a background article and lesson plans. Some recent titles are “Tales of a Whale,” “Prehistoric Climate Change,” and “The Universe: An Introduction.” Back issues dating from 1976 can be viewed online through our resource finder. Limited numbers of print copies are available on request. Check out the most recent issue of Smithsonian in your Classroom, “Universe”: