Skip to Content

Smithsonian’s History Explorer

Found In:  social studies, preK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Undertaken while he was a 40-year-old lawyer in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln's patent illustrates an idea he had for lessening the draft of a river craft by pushing horizontal floats into the water alongside the hull when near shoal waters.

Smithsonian’s History Explorer is a resource for K-12 teachers and students of American history. The site teaches history by providing artifacts to "read" for the stories they tell. How To Use This Site has a printable site map and brief video tutorials on searching, making the most of resources, and viewing tutorials on RSS feeds. Teachers can share ideas or be considered for focus or evaluation groups by sending an email to: All resources can be searched by keyword and filtered by grade range, resource type, historical era/national standard, and cross-curricular connection.

Lessons & Activities are all standards-based and can be printed, emailed, and shared. Using one resource, 1950s and 1960s Suburban America Classroom Activity Guide, students in grades 5-12 use visual, analytical, and interpretive skills as they examine primary sources.

Interactives & Media feature audio, video, and interactive resources, many designed to be used by students independently. Interactives and media can be searched in the same manner as lessons and activities. In Be a Movie Director, students in grades 9-12 create one of two movies (Hot Rod Racing or Gangsters on the Run) using images from an online image database.

Museum Artifacts is a growing collection covering different historical eras. Users can suggest new artifacts. One artifact is Abraham Lincoln's Patent Model: Improvement for Buoying Vessels Over Shoals. Lincoln’s 1849 design lessened the draft of a river craft by pushing floats into the water beside the hull.

Themes such as immigration and civil rights collect related resources for easy access.

Books lets teachers or students search for related books by keyword and filter by era, reading level, and genre. Bilingual editions can be searched as well.

Teacher Resources provide teachers access to a primary source guide, and blog posts.



Average User Rating (0 users)

3 stars
of 5.

Your Rating