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60-30-10
Lesson in which students investigate how designers use percentages by designing and decorating a room using three different color ratios.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Design It! Giving Voice to America
Lesson plan has students explore how postage stamps communicate messages about national identity, with four lessons on elements of art, principles of design, and social studies. Students demonstrate their learning by creating their own stamps. Also includes interviews with stamp designers.
Provider: National Postal Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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How does design solve everyday problems?
From the chair in which you’re sitting to the town in which you live, everything around you is the result of the work of designers. Some of it is successful and some of it isn’t, but it all exists to fulfill human needs. In this webinar, curator Ellen Lupton and educator Caroline Payson look at the ideas behind cutting-edge household items, from a glow-in-the-dark electrical cord to a camera for the blind. Discover how designers came up with these wild ideas and how you and your class might follow their lead.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Out and About – Creating Design
Lesson introducing students to the Elements of Art and Principles of Design through the use of digital cameras and the Photoshop CS2 program.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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Play on Words Design
Activity in which students design an image that is a “play on words,” using both traditional artistic methods and computer design to perfect the image.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  

Protective Design
Lesson considering how design can help people confront fears. Students draw conclusions about society and fear, learn about products designed to protect people from danger, and create their own products.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  

Robots All Around Us
An activity in which students research and discuss robots in order to design and build 3-D robot prototypes of their own.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
Overall Rating:  

Saris, Kimonos, Togas & Smocks: Exploring Clothing Across Cultures (4-8)
Activity in which students conduct collaborative Internet research on the social purposes of clothing, learn about different types of clothing, and create a presentation.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of an American Future Teaching Guide
Six lessons on the “history of the future” (how we have envisioned the future). Imagine and plan a future city, explore aspects of heritage to pass on to the future, and analyze how the design of the built environment will shape life in the future.
Provider: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8, 9–12
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Big/Small
Online exhibition illustrating how African artists use size and scale—both literally and metaphorically—to communicate ideas.
Provider: National Museum of African Art
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Doghouses, Doors & Design (PreK-1)
Lesson engaging students in active problem solving as they create a design for a doghouse. Involves work in collaborative groups, exploring numerical problems, and explaining strategy. Targets grades preK-1.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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Save Outdoor Sculpture! Children’s Page
Online children’s program on outdoor sculpture featuring five interactive activities.
Provider: Smithsonian American Art Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8, 9–12
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Totally Cool Toys
Lesson plan exploring the history of toy design that compares “folk art” toys to modern ones. Students design their own toys and present their product to the class.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
Overall Rating:  
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The Total Package
Lesson plan using the design process to solve a packaging problem. After learning about the environmental and economic impact of product packaging, students gather information about a product with excess packaging, create a new design for it, and generate a report on their design’s environmental friendliness.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  
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Air is All Around Us!
Lesson plan helps children understand that which is ubiquitous yet invisible—air. Begins with a visual demonstration to illustrate the existence of air. Students then brainstorm, design, and create an invention that shows air.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3, 4–8
Overall Rating:  

Extreme Textiles: Designing for High Performance
Website of exhibit featuring innovations in technical textiles. Shows new materials revolutionizing the fields of architecture, apparel, medicine, transportation, aerospace, and the environment. Includes game and videos of textiles in use.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
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Blast from the Past
Lesson plan looking at design as both the product created and the process of its creation. Students examine the design of past products and how these products served a past era, then imagine how life would be impacted if these tools had never been made.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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Chairs, Chairs Everywhere…
Lesson designed to help students become aware of the multitude of design variations in everyday objects by conducting surveys, collecting information, and creating a catalog of chairs. Students reflect on design elements at a mock design show with awards for chairs based on different design criteria.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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Smart Growth: Reshaping Communities
Lesson introducing students to smart growth (community development that serves the economy, the community, and the environment) as they explore a model community, plan a smart growth community, and present their designs.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  
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The Language of Native American Baskets from the Weavers’ View
Website explores the idea that we can understand baskets through the details of their making. Includes examples, techniques, tools, and descriptions of the values embedded in basket design and creation.
Provider: National Museum of the American Indian
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
Overall Rating:  

Turn it Upside Down: Introduction to Computer-Aided Design
Activity exploring roller coaster design, computer graphics, and architecture. Students focus on understanding the connections between mathematics, science, technology and innovation.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  

Work Hard and Work Smart: Designing for Athletes
Lesson in which students design a sports bag for athletes, investigate varied sports and consider their design needs, and engage in problem solving to create a new design.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
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Yes, Thank You!
In this lesson plan, students design a sign that fosters positive human interactions. To determine the tone of the message, they evaluate public messages. They experiment with different texts and colors before creating the final product.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
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An Exploration of Automotive Design
Students look at car design to explore the tension between aesthetics and functionality in design. For further exploration, students look at car advertisements and ask which elements the ads are emphasizing. Students then design their own car exteriors.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  
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Back to Basics
Lesson examining the unique and diverse historical artifacts that people have designed to fulfill their everyday needs (i.e., food, water, shelter) in extraordinary ways. After looking at the various ways these needs have been met historically, students create a pictorial timeline of how objects have been designed to meet a need throughout the course of history.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
Overall Rating:  

Black, Striped, White, & Plaid: Changing Patterns
Lesson exploring why objects are typically of a particular color or color pattern. After looking at everyday objects, students use the design process to create a new color or pattern for an everyday object.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): PreK–3
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High-End/Low-End: Exploring Price & Value in Design
Lesson plan comparing high-end and low-end versions of everyday objects to consider the role that economics plays in design. Includes analysis, discussion, small group work, and Internet research.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 4–8
Overall Rating:  
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Cell Game
Lesson in which students create a game that tests peers’ knowledge of cell structure and function. They go through the design process of prototyping, receiving feedback, and redesigning their game.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): 9–12
Overall Rating:  
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Josef and Anni Albers: Designs for Living
Online exhibition focuses on pioneering artist Josef Albers and his wife Anni, a prominent textile artist. Showcases both their iconic and their relatively unknown designs for everyday living.
Provider: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
State Standards: View state standards for this resource
Grade(s): General audience
Overall Rating:  
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United We Stand: Magazine Cover Analysis
Lesson plan using magazine covers from the United We Stand online exhibit to show the importance of efforts on the home front to the war effort in World War II and the role magazine publishers played in promoting national unity, supporting World War II, and selling war bonds. Students will analyze and interpret magazine covers from the July 1942 “United We Stand” magazine campaign and design their own magazine covers. Targets grades 6-8.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 4–8
Overall Rating:  

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