While the physical buildings of the Smithsonian Learning Lab may be closed, they’ve made more than four million artworks, books, objects, specimens, and archival materials available to the public through their website. Even better: their Learning Lab has organized these materials into pre-packaged collections sorted by grade level as well as subjects. All of these amazing materials are free.
Students can learn about everything from engineering (and how to build a tower through a fun interactive game) to shapes and colors with a Joan Miro inspired art activity. And that’s just the beginning!
The Smithsonian Learning Lab
The lesson plans for students from Pre-K through 12th grade were developed in partnership with DC Public Schools and tied to national learning standards.
They have a list of resources for teachers, as well as ones for caregivers. The amount of activities and games (yes, games!) the Smithsonian is offering? It’s pretty amazing.
Video: What Is The Smithsonian Learning Lab?
Where to start with the Free Smithsonian Resources
Since there are so many activities to choose from, you might be wondering where you should start.
The Smithsonian recommends beginning with their Learning Activities Choice Board.
Learning Activities Choice Board
This board changes weekly and features activities in four categories: science, social studies, culture, and arts. For example, this week kids can learn about which household liquid will shine pennies, which puts those life skills to the test as well.
Pick Activities from the Smithsonian Education Guide
The Learning Lab sorted all their resources in a variety of ways. If you’ve got younger kiddos you’re looking to entertain and educate, use the Caregiver resource guide, which has collections curated based on reading, art, culture, science, and more.
Caregiver Resource Guide
From here, you and your kiddos can choose what to learn about, like Guatemalan weaving, animal tracks, light and shadow, what cultural symbols mean, 3D puzzles, and oh so much more. Want to see the animals at the Smithsonian zoo? You can do that too through their webcams.
Questions? Ask a Smithsonian Educator
Have a question about one of the collections, or need help finding something? Smithsonian educators are also offering Office Hours and Live Q&As on a weekly basis. They also have Distance Learning Events. Access everything here.
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These dazzling young stars are in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), one of the closest galaxies to our Milky Way. This composite image shows X-ray data from @nasachandraxray (operated for @nasa by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) in purple, infrared data in red, and optical data in red, green and blue. While we're closed, we're sharing images from across the Smithsonian that might brighten up your feed. #MuseumFromHome #MuseumMomentOfZen
The Smithsonian museum may be closed, but their resources are most definitely not. Even while stuck at home, you can travel the world and learn just about anything you want through their vast collections. The only question is: what will you learn first?
Looking For More Distance Learning Activities?
- Join one of your kids’ favorite authors or illustrators for online story time!
- Travel the world from your couch with this list of 40+ virtual field trips.
- A dozen moms shared how they are keeping sane with a schedule for school at home.
- Let kids explore this virtual Hogwarts escape room!
- Get kids off technology and back to basics with learning worksheets you can print at home!
- Make being stuck at home fun with our favorite indoor games for kids.
- Print out some Frozen 2 coloring pages.
- My kids are obsessed with these active indoor games.
- 5 minute crafts are saving my bacon right now — so easy!
- Impress your “students” with fun facts for kids!