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Asian Art Museum
Pros: The site features dozens of excellent lesson plans, activities, and other classroom resources that provide a diverse look at Asian art.
Cons: Materials are intended primarily for teachers; the structure makes it a bit difficult to just let kids loose on the site.
Bottom Line: It offers an in-depth look at Asia’s influence on art and history and provides lots of creative tools for educators.
Curriculum units center on topics like Chinese dynasties, samurai arts, and New Year celebrations; subjects include visual and performing arts, history and social science, English and language arts, math and science, and art history. Kids can work on an archeology inventory projects involving terminology and Afghanistan; classify organic and inorganic objects and hypothesize what will happen to them in different environments; and map out ancient traders' travel experiences. Many items include multiple documents, including lesson plans with extension activities and Common Core standard tie-ins, maps, PowerPoint presentations, and packets that cover concepts like myths and metaphors.
A professional development section lists workshops that provide professional development credits; you can also download packets on art in different regions and view studies on programs on Asian topics in K-12 schools, museum partnership benefits, and other topics.
The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco's educational website offers 91 lessons and activities, 326 videos, images of 257 pieces of art, and many more resources for educators and students. Its content incorporates and builds upon the museum's collection, which includes pieces from countries ranging from Turkey to India and China from a more than 6,000-year period. The museum's cache features more than 18,000 objects, including paintings, furniture, textiles, and large sculptures; more than 10,000 are available online in its growing artwork database.
You can search for artwork, activities, and video clips by term, region, topic, curriculum unit, academic subject, and grade level. Items are available for pre-kindergarten to college and beyond. Teachers can access content on topics like Chinese brush painting and assembling a personal narrative; they'll also find reading and other material, labeled as background information, on the geography of Southeast Asia, Buddhism's main branches, and other subjects.
The inventive, creative activities provide a solid mix of art projects, reading, geography, and other lessons. Each is classified in a way that makes it easy for educators to gauge its potential age and lesson applications, and the search functionality makes it easy to find specific types of assignments or ones on certain topics.
You can also access more than 650 video and audio recordings on iTunes U, many of which are programs intended for educators, including scholar talks, storytelling videos, art activities, documentaries, and other items. It would be nice to see some more content that kids could access and have fun with directly on the site, but it's a great tool when driven by teacher support.