Summer Learning

Examine collections of the Museum's key resources on major themes in American history and social studies teaching.  Additional resources can be found in the main search areas of the website.

Summer Learning

Research indicates that students lose some of their academic skills during the summer months away from school. Keep your kids learning all summer long with these interactives and activities for families. 

Creating Stories Activity Kit

Grade Range: 5-12
Resource Type(s): Lessons & Activities, Worksheets
Date Posted: 7/7/2008

In this activity kit, students will use primary and secondary sources, and conduct oral history interviews to construct a family immigration or migration story. The kit contains step-by-step instructions, sample interview questions, and research guidance. The kit can be used in conjunction with a 28 minute streaming video called Creating Stories: America on the Move Electronic Field Part 2. It is included in the online exhibition entitled America on the Move, which focuses on transportation in US history.

Where's Everyone Going?

Grade Range: 5-8
Resource Type(s): Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted: 7/7/2008

In this interactive game, students explore the changes in America transportation over time as they match a variety of vehicles with their destinations and time periods. This interactive is included in the online exhibition entitled America on the Move, which focuses on transportation in US history.

Life on the Water

Grade Range: K-4
Resource Type(s): Lessons & Activities, Reference Materials
Date Posted: 5/21/2009

For hundreds of years, seacoasts, rivers, lakes, and canals have had a big impact on the ways America has changed as a country.  By using this OurStory module from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, children and adults can enjoy exploring lighthouses and the maritime history of the United States together through children's literature, everyday objects, and hands-on activities.  Focused around Keep the Lighthouse Burning, Abbie, a work of children's literature about a teenage girl who becomes a hero by running her father's lighthouse during a storm, the module includes links to hands-on activities and a list of recommended readings for further exploration.

Who Am I? A History Mystery

Grade Range: 5-12
Resource Type(s): Interactives & Media
Duration: 30 Minutes
Date Posted: 9/21/2010

In this interactive game, students select a mystery character from the Civil War and examine objects that hold the key to their identity, video footage, first person reenactments, oral history interviews, and lesson plans.  This resource was developed in conjunction with the exhibition The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.

All Aboard the Train

Grade Range: K-4
Resource Type(s): Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities, Reference Materials
Duration: 175 Minutes
Date Posted: 11/30/2010

Railroads have moved people and cargo around America for more than 180 years. By using this OurStory module, children and adults can enjoy exploring the history of trains in America. Focused on actively reading Jingle the Brass, a historical fiction picture book about a ride on a steam locomotive, this module also includes links to a hands-on activity, field trip, and object-based learning experience.

The 39 Clues Decoding History Virtual Field Trip

Grade Range: 3-5
Resource Type(s): Interactives & Media
Duration: 23 Minutes
Date Posted: 3/5/2013

Bestselling 39 Clues author David Baldacci takes students on a webcast field trip to meet renowned museum curators, go behind the scenes, and investigate some of the most fascinating mysteries of American history. Baldacci is the author of Day of Doom, the last book in The 39 Clues series, Cahills vs. Vespers.

Artifacts featured in the program include Lewis & Clark's compass, the Star-Spangled Banner, signed pottery made by a slave, and Abraham Lincoln's watch. Under related links on the resource page, see accompanying pre- and post-webcast materials available for download, as well as a program transcript.

History Explorer Podcast: Road Trip Edition

Grade Range: 6-12
Resource Type(s): Interactives & Media, Worksheets
Duration: 38 Minutes
Date Posted: 6/14/2012

Special summer edition: Going on a road trip? Along the way, listen to this special edition of the History Explorer podcast series. It’s a compilation of some newer and older podcasts around the theme of perhaps the most common car ride entertainment—music.

Founding Fragments: Star-Spangled Souvenirs

Grade Range: 4-12
Resource Type(s): Interactives & Media, Primary Source
Duration: 5 Minutes
Date Posted: 2/4/2014

A short video, this one is great as a lesson opener! "Star-Spangled Souvenirs" is the first episode in the NMAH webseries "Founding Fragments." Join host Tory Altman for a behind-the-scenes look at some of our most intriguing and little-known objects.  Hear personal interviews with curators and get a glimpse into non-public spaces at the museum.  This episode focuses on the scraps of the original Star-Spangled Banner flag that have been cut off from the flag and kept as souvenirs over the 200 years since it was originally sewn.  Many pieces of the original flag have found their way to the Smithsonian, but the whereabouts of nearly 8ft of flag are still unknown.  One of many episodes available on YouTube.

Baseball Saved Us

Author: Ken Mochizuki
Reading Level: Early Elementary School
Genre: Fiction
Awards: Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award
Bilingual Yes

Told by a Japanese American boy, this story shows how baseball made life in the internment camps more bearable for many Japanese Americans....

Jingle the Brass

Author: Patricia Newman
Reading Level: Early Elementary School, Late Elementary School
Genre: Fiction

Ride a train with a friendly conductor who teaches a young boy how to talk like a railroader.

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie

Author: Peter Roop & Connie Roop
Reading Level: Early Elementary School
Genre: Fiction

In the winter of 1856, a storm delays the lighthouse keeper's return to an island off the coast of Maine, and his daughter Abbie must keep...

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