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Museums and Learning Museums and Learning - Resources
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Museums & Learning: A Guide for Family Visits - April 1998

Look for this sampling of the many excellent publications for families, children, and teachers in your public library or bookstores. Contact the publisher for others that are available free or at nominal cost.

Publications for Families

A Child's Book of Art: Great Pictures First Words by Lucy Micklethwait (London; New York: Dorling Kindersley 1993) contains pictures from different periods, cultures, and artists accompanied by a word or phrase to stimulate discussion between parents and children ages 4 to 8.

Bottlecaps to Brushes: Art Activities for Kids by Lynn-Steven Engelke (Washington, DC: National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian, 1995) provides a tour of selected museum exhibits, with activities showing how to create art from everyday materials.

Doing Children's Museums: A Guide to 225 Hands-on Museums by Joanne Cleaver (Charlotte, VT: Williamson Publishing, 1988) offers tips on preparing children for museum visits and information about museums around the country.

Minds in Motion: Using Museums to Expand Creative Thinking by Alan Reid Gartenhaus (Caddo Gap Press, 1991) explains how science, history, and art museums can expand creative thinking in children and adults.

Museums: What They Are and How They Work by Cass R. Sandak (New York: Franklin Watts, 1981) discusses types of museums, how they work and who runs them, and how to make the most out of a visit.

National Gallery of Art Activity Book: 25 Adventures with Art by Maura A. Clarkin (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1994) focuses on objects from the National Gallery of Art's collections, combining puzzles, games, and hands-on art activities with learning about great works of art.

Online Kids: A Young Surfer's Guide to Cyberspace by Preston Gralla (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996) describes sources of information available online. Includes sites for museums, hobbies, games, and homework.

The Nine-Ton Cat: Behind the Scenes at an Art Museum by Peggy Thomson and Barbara Moore (Boston: Houghton Mifflin; Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1997) takes a behind-the-scenes look at the National Gallery of Art, including its workshops and labs.

Publications for Teachers

The following publications are available from the Smithsonian Office of Education, Arts & Industries Building, Room 1163, MRC 402, Washington, DC 20560 or fax (202) 357- 2116:

Carousel: A Guide for Teachers and Students Visiting the Smithsonian Institution helps teachers find resources designed especially for them and their students. The Guide contains descriptions of permanent exhibitions, tours, and programs for students, professional development programs, and free and low-cost teaching guides. Free.

Collecting Their Thoughts: Using Museums as Resources for Student Writing offers activities to do in the museum or classroom. Grades six through nine. Cost: $5 (covers shipping and handling).

Smithsonian in Your Classroom (formerly Art to Zoo) contains teaching ideas for grades four through nine. Published four times every school year. Free subscription.

Smithsonian Resource Guide for Teachers, published biannually, contains brief descriptions of Smithsonian materials, publications, and teaching guides. Cost: $5 (covers shipping and handling).

Teach the Mind, Touch the Spirit: A Guide to Focused Field Trips by Helen H. Voris, Maija Sedzielarz, and Carolyn P. Blackmon (Chicago: Department of Education/Field Museum of Natural History, 1986) describes the structure of field trips and includes pre- and post-visit activities. Includes tips for teachers from teachers; resources; and philosophy, strategies, and techniques to museum teaching. Available for $10 from the Department of Education, Field Museum of Natural History, Roosevelt Road and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605.

True NEEDS, True PARTNERS: Museums and Schools Transforming Education (Washington, DC: Institute of Museum Services, 1996) describes 15 collaborative projects between museums and schools around the country. Available free from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Room 510, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20506; e-mail:; or call (202) 606-8536.

Publications for Children

A Kid's Guide to the Smithsonian by Ann Phillips Bay (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996) presents highlights from the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of American History, and the Museum of Natural History. Includes tips for planning--and surviving--museum visits.

Are Those Animals REAL? by Judy Cutchins and Ginny Johnston (New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1995) takes a behind-the-scenes look at some of the ways museum artists prepare wildlife displays.

A Visit to the Sesame Street Museum by Joe Mathieu and Liza Alexander (New York: Random House 1987) tells a story about how Sesame Street characters Bert, Ernie, and Grover discover the wonders of art, science, and history during a visit to the Sesame Street Museum.

Digging Up Dinosaurs by Aliki (New York: Harper & Row, 1988) explores what dinosaurs were like and how their skeletons got to the museum.

Let's Go to the Art Museum by Virginia K. Levy (Pompano Beach, FL: Veejay Publications, 1983) introduces children to the basic elements of art.

Mommy, It's a Renoir! by Aline D. Wolf (Altoona, PA: Parent Child Press, 1984) helps children learn to appreciate art.

Museums by Janet Papajani (Chicago: Childrens Press, 1983) describes various types of museums and their collections.

Magazines for Children

Calliope: World History for Young People (Cobblestone Publishing, Inc., 30 Grove St., Peterborough, NH 03458). World history for grades 5-9. Often works with museums on special features. Recommends books, videos, and places to visit.

Cobblestone (Cobblestone Publishing, Inc., 30 Grove St., Peterborough, NH 03458). American history for grades 4-8. Collaborates with museums on issue topics. Recommends books, videos, and places to visit.

Faces: People, Places, and Cultures (Cobblestone Publishing, Inc., 30 Grove St., Peterborough, NH 03458). An anthropology monthly for grades 4-9. Recommends books to read and places to visit.

Muse (The Cricket Magazine Group, P.O. Box 7468, Red Oak, IA 51591-0468; subscriptions 1-800-827-0227) Science, history, and art stories for children ages 8-14. Published in conjunction with Smithsonian magazine.

Odyssey: Adventures in Space (Cobblestone Publishing, Inc., 30 Grove Street, Peterborough, NH 03458). Space and earth science magazine for grades 5-9. Recommends science museums to visit.

Electronic Resources

More and more virtual museums and field trips appear on the Internet every day. Many of the sites listed here have been recommended by museum professionals and librarians working with children. Note sites containing lesson plans for teachers.

Museums in General

Museums Around the World

Smithsonian Institution, This site allows you to access all 16 of the Smithsonian Institution's museums and galleries: Anacostia Museum; Arthur M. Sackler Gallery; Arts and Industries Building; Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; Freer Gallery of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; National Air and Space Museum; National Museum of African Art; National Museum of American Art; National Museum of American History; National Museum of the American Indian; Museum of Natural History; National Portrait Gallery; National Postal Museum; National Zoological Park; and Renwick Gallery.

World Wide Web Virtual Library Museum, a comprehensive list of museums around the world that are available on the Internet


Art Institute of Chicago

Art Museum Network, the official web site for the largest art museums in North America

WebMuseum, Paris

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Children's Museums

Children's Museum of Indianapolis  


Illinois State Museum, At Home in the Heartland exhibit

Liberty Bell Virtual Museum

Library of Congress

Natural History

American Museum of Natural History, New York

Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

Science and Technology

Chicago Academy of Sciences


Franklin Institute Science Museum

Miami Museum of Science

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Science Learning Network

Special Interest

The Friendship Firehouse Museum

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

The White House

Other Resources for Teachers

Lesson plans and teaching plans from the Smithsonian's many museums and research offices

Going to a Museum? A Teacher's Guide. Includes a compilation of lesson plans written by teachers for art, language arts, science, social studies, as well as general lesson plans. Also includes a museum field trip planning guide and Internet resources.

AskERIC Lesson Plans, includes an art appreciation plan that teachers can use for students in grades K-2 to introduce them to basic elements of art. This site also contains links to other sources of lesson plans

ArtsEdNet contains lesson plans and curriculum ideas

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) Web site contains hundreds of federal resources for teaching and learning. FREE resources are searchable, and message boards are provided for sharing favorites and for teachers to partner with federal agencies to develop new resources.

Other Sources


Associations and Organizations

The following organizations have helpful publications; some available free or at nominal cost. You may request a publications catalog and ordering information from:

American Association of Museums (AAM). For a bookstore catalog, call (202) 289- 9127, fax (202) 289-6578; write to AAM, 1575 Eye Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005; or visit their Web site and online bookstore.

Association of Science-Technology Centers, Incorporated (ASTC). To locate science centers around the world via Internet, go to the ASTC Web site and select Science Center Travel Guide. The guide provides links to web sites of many science centers and museums, aquariums, planetariums, natural history museums, and children's museums. For a flyer listing the science centers or a publications catalog, write to ASTC, 1025 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005-3516.

National PTA. The National PTA's Web site provides information on parent involvement programs to promote more meaningful parent participation in children's education, including arts in education programs.

[ Bibliography ] [ Table of Contents ] [ Acknowledgments ]

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