Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Curious Curators
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into two sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extension -- Additional Activities


Print out the student organizers for handing out during the class sessions.

  •  5" x 8" index cards or blank paper for placards.
  •  Markers and pens.
  •  Table space for final exhibitions. Might also need tape or
      tacks for hanging things on the walls

Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:
  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

Bookmarked sites:
The following sites should be bookmarked:
  • Art Tales: Telling Stories with Wildlife Art
    Shows how art exhibitions are developed by a curator around a theme. They also provide interactive tools so users can create their own collections within the larger online collection.

  • ArtNature
    Online collection of original oil paintings from nature and life by European artists.

  • African Art: Aesthetics and Meaning
    An electronic exhibition catalog from Bayly Art Museum at the University of Virginia. Click Exhibition to see artifacts.

  • Dick's Courtroom
    An online collection devoted to the game of basketball. Click Galleries to see the collection of basketball shirts.

  • Online Collection of Banana Stickers
    A personal collection of 1500 stickers from bananas.

  • NativeTech
    Dedicated to disconnecting the term "primitive" from perceptions of Native American technology and art. A good example of a site with a mission.

  • Fish Collection
    A collection of fish images from the Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

  • The Metropolitan Museum
    A variety of online collections from a range of time periods and locations.

  • The Galleria
    A personal online collection of art from a 20-year old college student and artist. Features American and European art. Click East Wing or West Wing to see the collections. Also note that this collector has a mission statement.

  • Wooden Toy Museum
    A collection of old and new wooden toys.

  • Zoids: The Coolest Toys Ever
    Zoids were a Japanese toy sold during the 80s, now no longer on the market. Click on "My collection of Zoids" on the left to see a gallery of Zoids.

  • Lost Something
    A collection of objects that were lost by someone. Click the "I" symbol to see a mission statement from the collector.


Day One

  • Ask students to think about personal collections. Does anyone in the class have a collection? What kinds of things do you collect or have they seen collected? Write their answers on the board so that they can see how diverse collections can be. Ask students if they can draw any conclusions about their tastes or culture based on the kinds of collections mentioned.

  • Ask students if they've ever been to a museum. What is a museum? What kinds of things do museums collect? How are museum collections different from personal collections?

  • Ask students if they know what a curator is, and discuss the ideas that come up. Then, have students go to this Web site with the task of writing two sentences that define the job of a curator:

    For a good definition of what a curator does, see the following URL:

    After they have completed their task, have the class write a working definition of a curator. Tell the students that they will become curators for this project. In other words, they'll be making a collection, and studying not just WHAT forms a collection, but WHY collectors collect things.

  • Next, you will lead the entire class through a tour of an online collection. As you peruse the site allow students to discuss what holds the collection together. Introduce the idea that collections have themes - central organizing principles of some kind (works by a particular artist, works by African Americans dealing with African American subjects, or even toys from the 20th century) and/or missions - something the collector wants to accomplish or communicate.

    Online Collection of Banana Stickers
    A personal collection of 1500 stickers from bananas.

    Distribute the Questions to Consider organizer and answer the questions with the class. Write your answers on the board.
    1. What makes a collection stick together? What do these things have in common?
    2. What is the theme of the collection?
    3. What would you say about where this collector is from? What does the collection say about the person and where he or she is from?
    4. Does this collection have a mission? If so, what is it?

  • Have students look at collections on the Web - choosing 2-3 of the pre-bookmarked sites. They can do this individually or break up into small groups. Ask them to use the Questions to Consider organizer, which they can use to make notes on the sites they review.

    Day Two

  • Start the class with a discussion of their Web research from the previous class. They can refer to notes they made on the Questions to Consider organizer.

  • Now it is time for the kids to begin their own collection. Lead a discussion on collection themes. Students can draw from their notes and brainstorm ideas for other possible themes. You may wish to mention some ideas they can use as a group:
    1. Life in our community
    2. Family life in the early 21st century
    3. Products from around the world
    4. Objects from nature
    Hand out the Student Pathways organizer.

  • Now break up into groups of 4-5 kids each. Each group will decide on a theme for their collection. They can use the ideas from the Web sites, ideas you suggested, or come up with something completely new. Answer these questions:
    1. What is the theme of this collection?
    2. What is the mission of this collection? (Not just what but why make this collection?)
    3. Who will be interested in this collection and why?

  • Review their collection themes to make sure they are on track. Remind students to bring in objects for their collection the next day.

    Day Three

  • Students bring in collection items to share.

  • Now, you'll lead students through the steps of writing a placard describing each object in the collection. Take your students to this site featuring a collection of African Art:

    African Art: Aesthetics and Meaning

    Have the students look at the descriptions of these pieces. Ask each student to write at least three questions that are answered by each description. For example:
    • What is its name?
    • When was it made?
    • What is it made of?
    • Where is it from?
    • What is it used for?
    • Why was it made?
    Ask students for any additional information that they could include in their placards. Now have the class organize the criteria in the order they think is most appropriate. Ask questions such as, "What should your placard describe first?" "Which should come next?"

  • Have the students return to their groups and collaborate on writing placards. The groups should discuss each object in the collection and how it contributes to the theme and mission. The cards will be displayed along with the object in the final exhibition. If the resources are available, the descriptions can be digitized to accompany an online exhibition.

    They should discuss as much as they need to in order to understand how that item fits into the collection. They can also decide as a group that the object doesn't fit into the collection and bring something new in the next day. They can revise the collection and/or bring in a few more objects overnight.

    The Student Pathways organizer has some information about making decisions as a group.

    Day Four

  • The group refines their collection and finishes their cards, and sets their collection up for viewing the next day. They choose one member of the group who will present the theme to the class; the other students will each talk about one of the items in the collection. You can take a break in the middle to have discussion between the various teams on how it's going, what problems they have had, etc. The teams can also provide feedback to each other.

    Day 5: Culmination/Assessment

  • Each group presents their collection. One member of the group sums up the theme and the mission of the collection. Each member of the group talks about one object in the collection, and how it contributes to the whole.

    After the collections are presented, everyone can go around and tour the "museum". You might also invite other classes, parents, and community leaders to attend.


    Begin the lesson with a screening of some or all of the segments of PBS' EGG: THE ARTS SHOW, "Collectors," and discuss key ideas (why collectors collect, what makes a collection stick together, what people get out of viewing collections). Clips from the show are available at the program's Web site:


    Organize a field trip to a local museum or gallery. Meet a curator and have her talk about her job and favorite art collection. You can also take your students to an ask-an-expert site, such as this one:

    Ask a Curator! Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

    For other ask-an-expert sites, visit this list of links compiled by the Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education:

    Cross-curricular extensions:
    • Have the collections be "historical" - from the present time, but presented as though a collection from the past (i.e. common household objects of families in the late 21st century).
    • Have the collections be scientific, with scientific discovery as an important part of the mission. For instance, have students collect and identify plants.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students