The activities in the downloadable worksheets are designed to bring structure to a class trip while giving students the freedom to follow their own curiosity. The handouts can be used by any class, at any grade level, at any museum. By answering the sets of questions, students consider an exhibition as a whole and then zoom in on what they find most interesting.
Suggestions for the structuring of activities:
- Choose an exhibition to study and allow 5 minutes for an introduction and distribution of materials.
- Give students 30 minutes in the exhibition.
- Devote 10 minutes to a group discussion.
After students complete the worksheet activities, ask questions to stimulate different kinds of thinking:
Using Prior Knowledge
Prompt a conversation on what the students already knew about the subject of the exhibition. Ask them to consider: How have your ideas changed?
Ask students to summarize the various things they’ve seen or to describe relationships. An example of a summary question: What do the objects in this room tell you about American cities in the nineteenth century? A relationship question: In this exhibition, what stays the same in all of the images of the Buddha?
Imagining New Possibilities
Ask them to step inside the world of the exhibition. If you were the artist, how would you have expressed this idea? If you were the inventor, how would you have solved this problem?
Responding with Feeling
Encourage personal reactions. Of all of these landscape scenes, where would you most like to go to get away from it all?
Evaluating the Experience
Ask students to express and defend opinions about the visit as a whole. What was the most interesting thing you saw? Why did it interest you? Did the objects, labels, and design of the exhibition work together to tell a story or express a theme? How? What would you change about the exhibition?
Produced by the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access in consultation with the Smithsonian Council of Education Directors.