Welcome, Let's Do History!
Thank you for using Smithsonian's History Explorer! This page is designed to help you navigate the site and to provide you with additional teaching supports through our primary source guide, poster, blog posts, and information about the Museum's teacher professional development opportunities.
The Museum hosts a program that takes staff to communities nationwide called the "Smithsonian's Let's Do History Tour" and an institute for educators in Washington, D.C. each summer called the "Smithsonian's Teach-it-Forward Institute."
Tips for Using History Explorer
History Explorer is a full-featured search of all the educational resources from the National Museum of American History. For tutorials, tips for searching, and advice on subscribing to RSS feeds, visit How to Use this Site.
Guides to Teaching with Primary Sources
Engaging Students with Primary Sources, a guide for teachers, includes brief introductions to using documents, photographs, oral histories, and objects for classroom learning. The guide includes student handouts, sample lessons, recommendations for finding primary sources by type, and more support materials for teachers.
If You Walked in My Shoes This teaching poster introduces students to the who, what, where, when, why, and how of object investigation and the personal stories in history through six pairs of shoes in the Museum's collection.
Looking at Artifacts, Thinking About History, an essay developed for The Object of History, a partnership between the National Museum of American History and the George Mason Center for History and New Media, was written by Museum curators and introduces teachers to the variety of stories objects can tell. The site includes links to other resources for interpreting primary sources.
View 30 minutes archived webinars where we highlight key resources from the Museum’s online materials.
Hear ideas for using the History Explorer podcast series in your secondary classroom. The series is designed for students in grades 6 and up and provides 10-20 minute interviews with museum experts and first person perspectives on important events in American history, as well as behind the scenes views of artifacts in the collection. Visit https://americanhistory.si.edu/podcasts to preview materials.
Join us for an overview of the best of our Civil War online materials and a preview of resources in development. Designed for teachers of grades 5-8.
OurStory and Summer Learning
Join us to explore resources to support children’s learning through the summer. Designed for elementary teachers and parents of children in grades K-4.
In honor of the bicentennial of the national anthem and just in time for Flag Day, join us to find resources for teaching about the Star-Spangled Banner and learn how to participate in the Raise it Up! Anthem for America project, the largest simultaneous singing of a national anthem in history. Designed for teachers of grades 3-8.
Lead inquiry-based education throughout the school year using the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework! In this webinar, we will examine the Museum’s best resources for teaching the inquiry arc in the C3. Designed for secondary teachers.
Research for National History Day
Are you and your students gearing up for this year’s National History Day competition? Find tips on searching for primary materials from the Smithsonian, podcasts, blog posts, and other resources that students can use to learn about the historian's craft.
Additional Professional Development Opportunities
- Achieving the C3:An Exploration into 21st Century Social Studies with Dr. Kathy Swan of the University of Kentucky and Lead Writer of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies.
Or, find additional online resources on the following topics:
- Diplomacy in Action: Practicing Diplomacy from Early America to the Present
- Explore with Smithsonian Experts
- Abraham Lincoln
Suggestions for Planning a Visit
Are you bringing your class to the National Museum of American History? Consider
using the materials you find on History Explorer as pre- or post-visit activities, and
take a look at our Plan Your Visit page for tips and details on events at the Museum.
Staying in Touch
We love hearing from teachers, so be sure to keep in touch! You can find us...
On Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube
- Use the links above or at the bottom of the page to find the History Explorer team and the National Museum of American History on our social media channels.