In the Classroom

These resources for the classroom were created through the collaboration of museum educators, classroom teachers, and literacy specialists. Lessons and overviews were designed for teachers and art studies were written for students. All learning activities utilize American artworks as rich informational texts and are grouped according to themes within “migrations,” a concept commonly taught in art, social science, or English language arts subject areas. The strategies and questions in these materials address the skills and understandings called for in the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts.

Learning activities

Art studies, each a stand-alone exploration of a single work of art that students can complete on their own or with guidance in the classroom. You can learn more about how these texts were written here.

Lessons, consisting of teacher-led activities that help students analyze the connections between a work of art and particular issues, themes, events, and/or other works of art. These lessons utilize art studies for student activities.

Overviews, which describe how lessons could be grouped for deeper exploration of a theme or topic.


The Dust Bowl: Environmental devastation produced the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Materials under this theme explore migrations caused by the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression.

Identity: Migration can have a transformative effect on an individual’s identity. Materials under this theme explore how migration shapes personal and cultural identities.

Migrations to Chicago: In the early 20th century, Chicago was a rapidly expanding city. Materials under this theme explore the migrant experiences of African Americans during the Great Migration from the South and the immigrant experience of Eastern European peoples who settled in Chicago.

Journeys: Both physical journeys and inner journeys can create lasting impacts on individuals. Materials under this theme explore what happens when people embark on journeys, whether they are routine trips or far-reaching travels.

Transformations: People and events can transform cities and cause a migration of ideas. The transformations materials examine how the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the 1893 World’s Fair, and the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright caused personal and public transformations in Chicago and beyond.

Western Expansion: The promise of land drew European Americans to the West in the mid-1800s. Materials under this theme explore the impact of Western Expansion on both Native Americans and settlers.


Learning Activities

Grade Range