As K-12 schools close and universities switch to online formats during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Smithsonian can be a source for distance learning and digital engagement. Through the Smithsonian Learning Lab, the institution offers millions of digital educational resources for educators and students from our museums, research centers, libraries, and archives.
The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage provides resources related specifically to culture, communities, traditions, and music around the world. Explore activity guides, online exhibitions, lesson plans from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and more on our Education page.
Here are five activities we suggest for engaging young students at home.
- Interview your family members about their traditions
The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide walks through the steps of recording an interview, what kinds of questions to ask, and how to present the results, like a collection of family recipes or a scrapbook.
- Take a deep dive into daily life on the Tibetan Plateau
Lag Zo: Making on the Tibetan Plateau is an online exhibition that includes short essays, photo galleries, and videos. Students will be introduced to Tibetan nomadic living, Buddhism, traditional food and art, migration, and more.
- Meet the NEA National Heritage Fellows in your region
Every year, the National Endowment for the Arts recognizes folk and traditional arts experts as National Heritage Fellows. The Masters of Tradition story map showcases 400 of those experts, representing every region of the United States.
- Design a gargoyle and create your own “stained glass” window
The Masters of the Building Arts Activity Guide includes several hands-on crafts projects using materials that parents likely already have at home. Students can learn about the work of master artisans, from stone wall builders to ironworkers.
- Make a miniature rainforest in a jar
Using materials from your own backyard, this activity teaches students about the Amazon and the earth’s water cycle. By creating a tangible connection to the Amazon, kids learn compassion for other cultures and lifestyles.
The Smithsonian would like to hear from teachers and caregivers about Smithsonian resources that would be helpful to you. Email email@example.com with your questions and suggestions.