Education Materials for K - 12 Teachers


The Smithsonian Institution Archives has online versions of its primary sources available to teachers, including diaries, letters, and photographs. The lesson plans and resources below provide ideas about how to use primary sources in the K–12 classroom. There are no restrictions on the use of these materials in the classroom.

Online Teaching Resources

Stories from the Smithsonian

A look at interesting primary source documents and images from the Smithsonian Institution Archives’ collections including eyewitness accounts of the Civil War around Washington, DC, by Mary Henry, who lived in the Smithsonian Castle, and Solomon G. Brown, the first African American employee at the Smithsonian; Snowflake photographs by “Snowflake” Bentley in the late 19th century; and James Renwick’s architectural designs for the Smithsonian Castle. Includes sample primary source exercises for use in K-12 classrooms.


Historic Pictures of the Smithsonian

Browse through historic images of the Smithsonian’s museums and research centers, and learn about its history through pictures.


Smithson to Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institution is celebrating 175 years of the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Join us in exploring our history.


Guide to Smithsonian Expeditions, 1878-1917

Learn about Smithsonian research expeditions around the globe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Joseph Henry: Father of the Weather Service

Learn about the Smithsonian’s first Secretary, Joseph Henry, and his role in creating the first weather observation program in the United States in the 1840s. 


Education Resource Package

A teaching resource package which includes downloadable lesson plans, primary source documents, and images from the Smithsonian Institution Archives’ collections.


Field Book Lesson Plans

Use the field notes of Smithsonian scientists and naturalists to work on observational and analytical skills.