Interior Banner for Harvard Museum of Natural History
lowerlevel_images6.png
studentinarthropods.jpg

Gallery Activities

Looking for a way to engage your students as they explore the galleries? These activities are designed to help focus students on some of the larger themes presented in the museum. They challenge students to look closely and draw meaningful conclusions about the collections.

How to use these activities: 
Select an activity from the list below. Make photocopies of the activity for your students. The museum will NOT have copies available. Provide your students with crayons or pencils to write with. Please ask your students to refrain from leaning on any of the glass cases while writing. We recommend providing students with clipboards or notebooks to lean on.

Forest Explorers | Museum Safaris | Animal Detectives | Gallery Games | Mineral Hall Activities | Animal Trackers  | Geological Time Scale | Thoreau's Maine Woods: Seeing It Your Way | Explore EvolutionJunior Paleontologist

 

Forest Explorers

Recommended for Pre-K and Kindergarten

This activity is designed to be used in the New England Forests exhibition in conjunction with the Welcome to the Forest Discovery Program, however it can also be used independently.  This activity takes between 10 and 30 minutes to complete.

Forest Explorers
There is lots of life in a forest!  Students discover who lives where in the forest as they find and draw plants and animals in the New England Forests exhibition.

Museum Safaris

Recommended for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and grade 1

Each of these activities can be used to aid young students’ exploration of the museum’s galleries during a self-guided visit or before or after a school program. Each activity takes between 10 and 30 minutes to complete, depending on the interest of the students.

Colors Around Me
The world is a colorful place! Students practice color recognition and observe the wide range of colors found in the natural world as they find and draw specimens of different colors in the museum’s galleries.

On the Move!
Animals have many different ways of getting from one place to another.  Students learn some of the ways animals move as they find and draw animals that swim, fly, and walk on two or four legs.

Under Cover
Students look closely at what covers an animal’s body as they find and draw animals with fur, feathers, scales, and shells.

Animal Detectives

Recommended for grades 1-6

This activity can be used to focus students’ exploration of the museum’s galleries during a self-guided visit, an after-school visit, or before or after a school program. This activity takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Animal Art
This is an excellent pre-visit or post-visit activity. Students look at a small piece of an animal and draw what they imagine the rest of the animal looks like. 

Animal Detectives
In this activity, students look closer at the museum’s collections to figure out which animals are pictured. While exploring, students will have the chance to compare animals and explore themes like camouflage, body coverings, and adaptations like beaks and feet.

Animal Detectives II
In this more in-depth version, students practice close observation as they search for animals in the Great Mammal Hall. 

Gallery Games

Recommended for grades 1-6

These thinking games can be used to focus students’ exploration of the museum’s galleries during a self-guided visit, an after-school visit, or before or after a school program. This activity can last between 5 and 30 minutes depending on the interest of the students.

Gallery Games
How many things can you notice? Try out your looking and memory skills.  These activities will help your group look at objects in the museum more closely and have fun with the exhibits. Work in small groups with an adult facilitating. 

Mineral Hall Activities

Recommended for grades 2-5

These activities can be used to aid student’s exploration of the Minerals, Gems, and Meteorites Gallery during a self-guided visit or before or after a school program. These activities take about 20 minutes to complete.

Student Investigation
This activity challenges students to look closely at a mineral of their choosing. By examining the range of samples represented in the museum’s collection, the students discover what geologic properties make their mineral unique.

Mineral Guide
Designed for chaperones to use with students, this guide directs groups to well know minerals in the Minerals, Gems, and Meteorites Gallery and provides information on the formation, uses, and properties of those minerals. 

Mineral Hall Activities Hints for Teachers
Use these hints to make the most out of the Mineral Hall Activities, both in the museum and in your classroom.

Junior Paleontologist

Recommended for grades 2-5

This activity can be used to aid students’ exploration of the museum’s galleries during a self-guided visit or before or after a school program. This activity takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Junior Paleontologist
From early arthropods to Ice Age mammals, the remains of extinct animals leave clues about the past. Students act as Junior Paleontologists by looking closely at fossils and making inferences about the animals’ lives.

Animal Trackers

Recommended for grades 3-5

This activity is designed to be used in the New England Forests exhibition during a self-guided visit, an after-school visit, or before or after a school program. This activity takes 10-20 minutes to complete.

Animal Trackers
This activity challenges students to look closely at the size and shape of animal feet as they match animals in the New England Forests exhibition to pictures of each animal's tracks.  Relate the tracks to how each animal moves by figuring out if the prints are from front or hind feet.

Geologic Time Scale

Recommended for grades 3-8

For use in your classroom before or after a visit.

Geologic Time Scale
This time scale can be printed at various sizes for use while exploring
museum exhibits or display in the classroom.

Geologic Time Scale Hints for Teachers
Use these suggestions to get the most out of the timeline.

 

Thoreau's Maine Woods: Seeing It Your Way

Recommended for grades 6-8

This activity is designed to be used in the Thoreau's Maine Woods exhibition during a self-guided visit or before or after a school program. This activity takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Thoreau's Maine Woods: Seeing It Your Way
In his essays on his trips to Maine, Thoreau describes in detail the sights and sounds of the woods, as well as his feelings about them. In this activity, students practice writing factual descriptions of and emotional responses to contemporary photographs of the Maine woods inspired by Thoreau's journeys.

Explore Evolution

Recommended for grades 6-8 (Can be used as a starting
place for grades 9-12)

The gallery activity can be used to aid students’ exploration of the museum's galleries during a self-guided visit or before or after a school program. This activity takes about 45 minutes to complete.

For grades 9-12, use the observation activities described here and assign more in depth analysis questions as is appropriate for your curriculum. 

Explore Evolution
Explore evolution in the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s world-class collections with this gallery activity. By observing specimens and making inferences, students will investigate evolutionary concepts such as adaptation, speciation, coevolution, and the magnitude of time.