Need new fun and creative ideas for your classroom? Check out these standards-based lessons, covering a variety of topics, written by our trained educators. These lessons can be paired with books, online resources, or other museum videos, and include hands-on learning that students can complete at home or in the classroom. The best part? They’re all free and ready for you to download today!
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Students will observe the parts of a seed, and identify how the different parts of the seed help a plant germinate.
PLANTS ALIVE: Garden in a Glove Journal
Students will observe the germination and growth of plants from seeds over the course of several days, and record their observations in a journal.
Measuring a Dino
Students will begin exploring dinosaurs’ bodies by measuring them and comparing dinosaur size to their own size.
BEES: The Helpful Heroes
Students will discover that small actions we take can help maintain, and even grow the bee population.
What’s in a Dinosaur’s Name?
Students learn how dinosaurs are named for unique body parts or behaviors, for the location where they were found, or after a person and create their own dinosaur using the naming conventions they learn.
Growing a Grass Head
Students learn about germination, or the process by which an organism grows from a seed and witness how seeds use sun, water, and soil to turn into a fascinating head of grass!
Twirly Whirly Tornado
Students discover the science behind tornados and create a funnel, observe how a funnel moves debris, and learn how a thunderstorm can create tornados.
Tie Dye Paper
Students characterize materials by their state of matter and then combined materials to create a piece of colorful, tie dye-esque paper.
Students will witness a fascinating chemical reaction and learn how to identify when a reaction has occurred by combining simple ingredients.
Students discover the science behind stars and create a constellation viewer of their very own.
Color Changing Milk
Students observe a molecular dance of bursting colors through exploring states of matter and learning that materials can be characterize by how they respond to water.
Crawlin with Pollen
In this lesson, students will discover the importance of pollinators and their role in helping plants produce nourishing food and oxygen-producing trees .
Mold and Cast
Students will define the term fossil, identify the difference between a mold and a cast fossil, and understand how scientists use models to learn about the physical structure of something in the natural world.
Students will learn about a woman named Mary Anning, commonly known as one of the greatest fossilists in the world.
Build a Parachute
Students create a parachute to explore how air pushes up against an object and slows it down as it falls.
Fireworks of Glass—Collector's Corner
Students examine the characteristics of objects found in collections, identify elements in objects that distinguish them as individual, and connect objects through similarities.
Fireworks of Glass—Creations of Color
Students create an extraordinary work of art, similar to Dale Chihuly’s glasswork, from ordinary materials.
Candy Rock Cycle
Students recognize how the rock cycle provides an explanation of how our planet is constantly recycling itself and have a better understanding of where the rocks dug up in a garden may have once been!
Bubbling Lava Lamp
Students discover that when oil, water and salt are combined, a magical creation of lively lava-like liquid forms. Groovy, baby!
Weather - Hail
Students discover how scientists study the effects of severe weather on materials and structures to build safer homes and buildings using an engineering design challenge.
Building a Box Kite
Students investigate how moving air causes a kite to fly and test their knowledge by constructing a paper box kite.
DNA - The Action of Extraction
Students extract DNA from wheat germ to learn about how DNA can easily be found in our food.
DNA - The Ladder of Life
Students create a DNA model to illustrate how the four DNA bases are like a blueprint for each living thing.
CELLS-The Living School
Students compare the parts of a cell and their functions to their school to understand how a cell’s parts work in unison to be effective in the body.
In-depth Units of Study
Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit
Preschool & Kindergarten
In this unit of study, students become familiar with doctors and their tools. Students will increase their awareness of the human body and learn how choices they make can help them stay healthy. Students will use their early literacy skills to demonstrate what they have learned about health and wellness.
- Lesson 1: Doctors Help Us Stay Healthy
- Lesson 2: Let's Make Healthy Choices
Dora & Diego: Let’s Explore!
Preschool & Kindergarten
Help little ones grasp how to care for one another by helping, sharing, and being kind. They’ll also learn about setting goals, overcoming obstacles, and solving problems—all while having fun! Introduce students to Spanish words, rainforest animals, and the importance of daily physical activity like running, dancing, jumping, and climbing!
- Lesson 1: Let’s Explore with Dora and Diego
- Lesson 2: Rainforest Adventures
- Lesson 3: Rainforest Rescue
Take Me There: Greece
Young Learners will fall in love with the bright colors, rhythmic music, delicious food, and fascinating people of Greece as they begin to discover another culture. Studying other cultures cultivates a sense of respect and pride for self and others and promotes inclusivity and community. Lesson experiences are designed to ignite the imagination and formulate a deeper understanding of the world.
- Lesson 1: Welcome to Greece
- Lesson 2: Greek Culture
- Lesson 3: Greek Values
Grades K-2 & 3-5
In The Children’s Museum exhibit Circus: Starring You visitors become part of the excitement. In the unit of study, students explore the history of the circus, make connections between the written word and visual and performing arts, and learn more about the science behind some of the circus’s most popular acts.
- Lesson 1: Circus Life
- Lesson 2: Joining the Circus
A Guide to Learning in Playscape
Current research studies show that during the first years of life (newborn to age 5) new connections are being formed in a child’s brain. This takes place primarily during rich sensory experiences that are significant in forming the foundation for future learning. This guide will help assist parents and teachers as they interact with young learners in the four major areas of the gallery:
- The Natural World
- The Invented World
- The World of Art and Music
Book Power: Exploring the World of Museums with the Write Tools
Equip your students with the skills they need to explore—reading, reflecting, writing and illustrating. They’ll keep track of their adventures in an Exploration Journal. They’ll learn about the difference between non-fiction and fiction, how to use signs to get around, how books open exciting new doors, and so much more!
- Lesson 1: Tools for Reading and Researching
- Lesson 2: Tools for Reflecting on Experiences and Information
- Lesson 3: Tools for Writing and Illustrating a Story
Welcome your students to the wild and wonderful world of dinosaurs! They’ll learn how they were classified, compare shapes and sizes, and explore how paleontologists make discoveries. They’ll analyze how dinosaurs interacted back in the day, and make their own dinosaur drawings and a fossil cast.
- Lesson 1: Dinosaurs Were Different Types and Sizes
- Lesson 2: Some Dinosaurs Lived Together
- Lesson 3: Fossil Clues Help Us Learn About Dinosaurs
- Lesson 4: What Happened to the Dinosaurs?
Health House: Food, Fitness and Fun: 24/7
Engage your students in what it means to live a healthy life! They’ll learn how to read food labels and understand basic nutrition. They’ll take part in fun active play and learn about exercise benefits. And don’t forget healthy habits! We’ll highlight how important hand-washing, teeth brushing and a good nights’ sleep are to good health.
- Lesson 1: Daily Fuel Up!
- Lesson 2: Active Play Every Day!
- Lesson 3: Healthy Habits Around the Clock
One with the Earth: Native Americans and the Natural World
Explore the rich cultures of Native Americans through literature, storytelling, and fun, hands-on activities. Students will gain an understanding of how and where Native Americans lived in the past and today, as well as their relationship with the natural world. Students will create their own vibrant stories and share with one another.
- Lesson 1: People of the Woodlands
- Lesson 2: People of the Plains and the Southwest
- Lesson 3: People of the Northwest Coast and the Arctic
All Aboard! Trains in History, Folklore, and the Future
Inspire your students through how trains transformed our communities and way of life. Introduce fun stories, songs, and legends based on trains. Explore the story of the Reuben Wells, a historic engine found right here at The Children’s Museum! Students will keep a Train of Thought journal for their findings, and create a fun train project at the end!
- Lesson 1: Trainspiration!
- Lesson 2: Trains and Your Town
- Lesson 3: Engines of Change
Pirates & Princesses: Storybook Adventures
Children of all ages are fascinated by the adventures of storybook princesses, princes and pirates! Through learning experiences layered for Preschool and Kindergarten, and Grades 1 and 2, this unit of study enables students to use their imaginations; explore traditional, multicultural, and contemporary stories; and create new tales of adventure on land and sea.
- Lesson 1: Picturing a Prince, Princess, or Pirate
- Lesson 2: Royals and Rebels: Fact or Fiction
- Lesson 3: Royally Swashbuckling Storytelling
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer
Students will have an opportunity through puzzles and challenges to explore their individual and group potential as well as to train together as a team, both physically and mentally.
LEGO® Travel Adventure: What Will You Build?
Grades K-2 & 6-8
It’s time for an adventure! Students will plan a voyage that encourages them to think geographically and apply physical science in building and testing LEGO® transportation models. They’ll work together to determine how to get over land, over water, and through the air. After designing and building, they’ll test, revise, and share results.
- Lesson 1: Adventures on Land
- Lesson 2: Adventures on Water
- Lesson 3: Adventures in the Air
LEGO® Castle Adventure
Students become storytellers as they learn about action, suspense, and figurative language. They’ll also learn about what castle life was really like for medieval nobles and peasants. Then they’ll put their math and design skills to work planning and creating their very own LEGO® castles as teams.
- Lesson 1: Castle Tales: Slaying Dragons and Celebrating Good Deeds
- Lesson 2: Not Quite a Fairy Tale: The Castle Community
- Lesson 3: Thick Walls and High Towers: The Art and Science of Building Castles
Sports Science and Wellness
This unit of study contains three lessons, each with three experiences that may be taught together or individually. Each lesson will connect to science and/or math standards, along with a health standard or sports connection.
- Lesson 1: Your Body in Motion
- Lesson 2: Sports and You
- Lesson 3: Your Healthy Body
Stories of Inspiration
This unit focuses on the lives and accomplishments of sports figures who participate in a wide variety of sports, ranging from basketball to auto racing and football to tennis.
- Lesson 1: Working Toward Excellence
- Lesson 2: Trailblazers
- Lesson 3: Giving Back to the Community
Game On! Capturing Sports in Art
This unit is based on selected works from the National Art Museum of Sport (NAMOS), a collection of sports art at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
- Lesson 1: What's Your Story?
- Lesson 2: Who Are the Players?
- Lesson 3: Athletes in Action, Bodies in Motion
- Lesson 4: Artists Set the Stage: Places in Sports
This unit of study is designed to complement the ScienceWorks exhibit by inspiring students to use scientific inquiry to examine some of today’s most challenging environmental problems. Students will learn about the diverse set of skills needed by people pursuing STEM careers and some of the challenging problems scientists are trying to solve today.
- Lesson 1: Investigating Nature
- Lesson 2: The Ways of Water
- Lesson 3: Weathering the Climate
The Liberty Bell 7
Human beings have always been fascinated by the sky and dreamed of traveling beyond the atmosphere that surrounds Earth to the moon, planets, and stars. In this set of learning experiences students discover how scientists, engineers, and astronauts worked together to solve design and retrieval problems related to using rockets to launch the first space capsules and their astronauts.
- Lesson 1: To Space and Back
- Lesson 2: People and Places in Space Exploration
Grades 3-5 & 6-9
Dancing is a part of nearly every culture around the world. People participate in dance for many different reasons and in many different ways. In this unit of study, students will explore dance from both an artistic and historical perspective, learning about dance from different cultures, how dance has changed over time, and what it takes to become a dance professional.
- Lesson 1: Dance Around the World
- Lesson 2: Dance Through the Decades
- Lesson 3: Dance Performance
Beyond Spaceship Earth
Buckle up! You are in for a great ride! This unit of study explores the International Space Station through STEM experiences in space science education. But space science education isn’t limited to just stars and planets. It’s about becoming part of a team that asks Earth-based questions to find answers about life. And it’s about inspiring students to explore mysteries beyond Earth’s surface. It’s also about visionaries, thinkers, dreamers, and inventors.
- Lesson 1: Orbiting Earth
- Lesson 2: Living in Outer Space
- Lesson 3: Working in Outer Space
Dinosphere—Now You’re In Their World
Bring the strange and fantastic world of dinosaurs to life for your students! Includes printable activities, hands-on fossil crafts, the science of measuring dinos, vocabulosaurus and so much more. Take an unforgettable trip to the Cretaceous Period without leaving the classroom!
- Lesson 1: Dinosaurs—Fascinating Animals from the Past
- Lesson 2: Many Types from Different Times and Places
- Lesson 3: Some Dinosaurs Lived Together
- Lesson 4: Dinosaurs Are Not Alive Today—Or Are They?
What do museums and economics have in common? Students dive into the resources, economic impacts, opportunities, and more that museums provide. They’ll construct budgets, explore museum jobs, and learn about volunteerism along with new friends Penny Saver, Bud Budget, and Calvin Cash!
- Lesson 1: Imagine a Museum
- Lesson 2: Museumworks
- Lesson 3: Common Sense
Fireworks of Glass: The Art of Dale Chihuly
Uncover ordinary materials being transformed into extraordinary works of art. Explore the ancient process of glassblowing and the science behind the art. Students will create their own sculptures, plan installations, and study renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
- Lesson 1: Dale Chihuly: Artist
- Lesson 2: Intense Fragility
- Lesson 3: Tower Power
- Lesson 4: Culminating Experience—Install It Yourself!
Curious Scientific Investigators: Flight Adventures
Let’s build flying machines! Students will make paper rockets, parachutes, and foam gliders to experience how objects move through the air. Tackle topics like thrust, weight, gravity, force, and lift through fun activities and stories. Explore cutting-edge work done by NASA and aviators of today and long ago.
- Lesson 1: Moving Through the Air: Weight and Lift
- Lesson 2: Moving Through the Air: Thrust and Drag
- Lesson 3: Moving Through the Air: Control
Paleo Artists: Bringing Dinosaurs to Life!
Explore how science and art combine powerfully to bring dinosaurs to life for us—millions of years later! Students will dive into how paleo artists use skills and creativity along with scientific information to create stunning art. After analyzing professional paleo works, students will create their own!
- Lesson 1: Paleo Art—Moments in Time
- Lesson 2: Paleo Art Collectors and Artists—Opening Windows on the World of Dinosaurs
- Lesson 3: Culminating Experience—Dinosaur Discovery
Children in the Civil Rights Movement: Facing Racism, Finding Courage
Meet ordinary children of the past who inspire us even today! Step back in time to a United States full of racism and segregation. Students will explore the Civil Rights Movement and leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They’ll see how young people impacted history, and then make plans to better their world.
- Lesson 1: We Shall Overcome
- Lesson 2: Everyday Courage
- Lesson 3: The Tree of Promise: Making a Difference
Making a Difference Through Service Learning: The Power of Children
Empower your students to impact the world! They’ll take a time, talent, and treasure inventory and start thinking about how they can serve the community. Explore as a class what it means to be a responsible, active citizen. Students will finally team up to plan, execute, and assess their own service-learning project.
- Experience 1: Speaking Up
- Experience 2: Planning to Make a Difference
- Experience 3: Taking Action
Treasures of the Earth: Discover Clues to the Past
Students will become detectives of the past as they dive into all things archaeology. What do archaeologists do? What tools do they use? How do they excavate a site? From an ancient Egyptian tomb to an underwater shipwreck site, students will investigate real-world examples of archaeology.
- Lesson 1: Egyptian Treasures
- Lesson 2: Chinese Treasures
- Lesson 3: Treasures Under the Sea
China's Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army
Grades 3-5 and 6-8
Teach your students that through the use of archaeology, science, history, and art, we can begin to understand the Terra Cotta Warriors and to imagine what they and the entire tomb complex of the First Emperor would have looked like when they were new.
Hot Wheels: Race to Win
This unit of study is designed to complement the Hot Wheels™: Race to Win™ exhibit by inspiring students to experiment and learn how physical forces influence the distance and speed their Hot Wheels cars can travel. Students learn about the diverse sport of auto racing and the skills needed by people who pursue racing careers.
Treasures of Ancient Greece
Students learn about many aspects of daily life in ancient Greece in experiences correlated to Indiana and Common Core standards in Social Studies, English Language Arts, Visual Arts, and more. Through hands-on and creative experiences, students explore ancient Greece and prepare to visit the Treasures of Ancient Greece exhibit.
- Lesson 1: Private Life
- Lesson 2: Public Life
- Lesson 3: Religious Life
- Lesson 4: Antikythera Mechanism
The Sacred Journeys unit of study uses the exhibit and National Geographic images as a springboard to encourage learning about different religions and cultures of the world. The unit connects to middle school and high school curriculum in social studies, English language arts, and visual arts.
- Lesson 1: Journeys of Faith
- Lesson 2: Sacred Journeys
- Lesson 3: Sacred Journeys in Art and Words
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Agricultural Biotechnology
Students will trace the fascinating timeline of biotechnology, seeing firsthand how humans have been experimenting with food for centuries. They’ll examine cells and create DNA models. Introduce the exciting scientific advances—and the controversies—stemming from today’s agricultural biotechnology.
- Lesson 1: The History of Agricultural Biotechnology
- Lesson 2: Cells
- Lesson 3: DNA—The Code of Life
Plunge your class into life in the Cretaceous Period! Surround students with the riveting world of the dinosaurs as they create fossil casts, analyze how dinosaurs interacted, and explore the lives of real-life paleontologists. They’ll also discover plant and animal classification and how to use scientific methods to make discoveries.
- Lesson 1: Dinosaurs 101—Fascinating Animals from the Past
- Lesson 2: Dinosaurs—Rulers of the Cretaceous
- Lesson 3: Scientific Methodosaurus
Ryan White: Facing Discrimination, Finding Determination
Students will get introduced to Ryan White, an Indiana boy who contracted HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, making him a target for discrimination. They’ll be inspired by his determination to educate those around him and change the world. Then they’ll create and follow an action plan for sparking positive change in their own community.
- Lesson 1: Ryan White: Like Every Other Kid
- Lesson 2: Ryan White: The Power of His Voice
- Lesson 3: The Tree of Promise: Making a Difference
Anne Frank: Facing Hatred, Daring to Dream
The inspiring words of a young girl in Nazi Germany continue to impact us today. Students will learn about Anne Frank’s intense struggles, but also the hope she shared through her diary. Then they’ll consider how they can impact their own communities—creating an action plan and following through with a service project.
- Lesson 1: In the Path of History
- Lesson 2: Anne Frank: The Power of Words
- Lesson 3: The Tree of Promise: Making a Difference