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Teacher Resources

Dear Teacher

Make the Sheldon Jackson Museum a part of your school year! The museum invites you to bring your classes to the museum or take advantage of our hands-on-loan program to bring a part of the museum to your classroom.

We offer a variety of educational programs that meet Alaska Content Standards for students of all ages. Programs often involve a PowerPoint presentation, first-hand examination of hands-on “artifacts”, and a bingo scavenger hunt or teacher-issued activity, such as journaling or sketching. Our most popular educational programs and how these programs and others offered at the museum meet Alaska Content Standards are described in detail here.

If you do not see a program that fits your students' needs, our curator can design a program by request or you can bring a class and implement your own program within our gallery space. Email your request(s) to Jackie Hamberg or call (907) 747-8904.

With the Hands-on-Loan Program, borrowers integrate the objects into their curriculum in a variety of ways. The objects, which are a separate from the museum's permanent collection, are used as models for students to create their own reproductions, or act as inspiration for creative writing, drawing, or drama. Students can use the objects as primary research material for reports and presentations. You can find hands-on objects useful for developing lesson plans or learning centers. To explore what objects are available to you (free of charge), visit our Hands-On Loan site. If you have questions about the Hands-on-Loan program, call (907) 747-8981.

Jacqueline Hamberg, Curator

Things to Note

  • Programs are listed by cultural group
  • ACS = "Alaska Content Standards" (indicated in italics)
  • Appropriate age levels are noted
  • Allow 2-3 weeks in advance for on-site visits.
  • Printable PDF of Educational Programs

Most Popular In-Museum Programs (by grade)


  • How the Tlingit Used the Animals


  • Tlingit Community House: Tools of Daily Life


  • Aleut (Unangan) & Alutiiq People of the Sea
  • Athabascan Culture
  • Cultural Comparison: Masks of Alaska
  • The Importance of Salmon to Alaska Native Peoples
  • Cultural Comparison: Masks of Alaska

High School:

  • More than Igloos & Ice
  • An Overview of the Sheldon Jackson Museum
  • Sheldon Jackson: The Collector

Museum Programs (listed by cultural group)


Aleut/Alutiiq: People of the Sea

4th – 7th Grade

This program emphasizes the Aleut and Alutiiq people's dependence on and relationship to the sea for food, clothing and shelter. Students take part in discussion, handle objects and try exercises used in kayak training. Variations can include a brief slide program. An activity sheet allows students to look for Aleut materials in the exhibits.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, 6, B1b; Cultural E1, 2, 5


Athabascan Environment: The Trade Connection

4th Grade & up

Students learn about the environment of the Athabascan and Tlingit and how these environments provided materials used in trade. The program includes discussion, slides, role playing, hands-on materials, and ends with a story writing activity using objects on exhibit. Activity is completed in the classroom.

ASC: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, 6; Cultural E5

Athabascan Food, Clothing and Shelter

4th Grade & up

This Power Point presentation shows how the Athabascans depended on the environment for their food, clothing, and shelter. There are hands-on materials, and a choice of activities. (A longer, more difficult fill-in-the-blank worksheet, a shorter fill-in-the-blank worksheet or "Athabascan Bingo" are the teacher's three choices for activities.)

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, B1b; Cultural E1, 2, 5

Athabascan Hunting, Fishing, and Gathering Technologies

4th – 7th Grade

This program examines some of the technologies used by the Athabascans in harvesting the animals and plants of the Interior. It begins with a discussion of seasonal patterns and divisions of labor through hands-on materials, and ends with a fill-in-the-blanks activity "Methods and Means."

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; Cultural E1, 5; History B1b

Cultural Comparison

Alaska Artifacts: Artifact Detection

4th – 7th Grade

This program examines some of the technologies used by the Athabascans in harvesting the animals and plants of the Interior. It begins with a discussion of seasonal patterns and divisions of labor through hands-on materials, and ends with a fill-in-the-blanks activity "Methods and Means."

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; Cultural E1, 5; History B1b

Alaska's Diverse Cultures: A Comparison

7th – Adult

Using hands-on objects, and an optional final activity, this program gives an overall survey of the diverse ways in which Alaska Native people have met their needs for food, clothing, shelter, transportation and technology. A forty-question activity gives the group a chance to use the Museum like a reference book. For shorter visits, "Museum Bingo" is available.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, 5, 6, B1b; Cultural E12, 5

Artifact Puzzles: Introduction to Alaska Native Cultures

4th Grade

Students take part in a quick review of the major cultural groups and their environments. Each selects an artifact puzzle piece from a bag, finds the other 4 people who have the matching pieces, then locates the artifact in the museum. The group then records answers to questions about their artifact. Each group has a chance to show their completed puzzle and share the information they learned about the artifact. Could be adjusted to younger students.

ACS: Geography A1, 5; History B1b; Cultural E2, 5

Aleut/Alutiiq, Athabascan and Inupiaq/Yup'ik Art Comparison

4th Grade & up

Students discover, through discussion and activities, that art is found in all aspects of Native life. They learn what materials are used and, as an example of art forms, how birds appear in Native material culture. Yup'ik and Inupiaq masks are compared as an example of a specific art form. The session ends with students working on activities (teacher's choice): "Bird Art Bingo" and/or "Mask Drawings."

ACS: Arts B1, 3, 4; Geography E1

Aleut/Alutiiq, Athabascan and Inupiaq/Yup'ik Hunting and Gathering Technologies

4th Grade & up

This overview of materials used by these three groups includes a discussion of similarities and differences in tools and equipment, plants and animals and environments of each group. Hands-on objects show examples of materials used on land and sea. An activity gives students clues to track down artifacts in the Museum that were used for hunting, gathering and fishing. Artifacts are numbered and labeled so students can match clues and objects on their activity sheets.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A4, 5, 6, B1b; Cul- tural E1, 5

Aleut/Alutiiq and Athabascan Comparison

4th Grade & up

Two very different environments affect the ways in which these two groups meet their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. After a discussion of each group's environment, hands-on objects are examined. Students are asked to determine through the types of materials they are made from, which group used the objects. "Aleut/Alutiiq, Athabascan Comparison Bingo," allows the students to explore the gallery for material culture of each group.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A4, B1b; Cultural E5

Alaska Native Games

All Ages

Students are asked to tell about the types of games and toys they play with. Afterward, there is a discussion about why certain toys might be used and how children's activities in Alaska Native cultures function as training for adulthood. Groups go to different stations to take part in games and use traditional toys. This program can be done at the Museum or Hands-on games may be checked out and used in the classroom.

ACS: Geography E1; Cultural D5

The Great Alaska Bird Hunt

2nd – 6th Grade

A quick review of birds found in Alaska and their uses, from food to clan crests, takes about fifteen minutes. Hands-on materials and photos illustrate some of these uses before students start "The Great Alaska Bird Hunt." This long activity challenges students to find the numbers assigned to their group and identify the object and its culture.

ACS: Geography A1; Science A14a; History B1b

Masks of Alaska

2nd Grade & up

This program introduces students to the secular and ceremonial uses of masks from Inupiat/Yup'ik, Athabascan, Aleut/Alutiiq and Northwest Coast cultures of Alaska. Students discover the similarities and differences in materials, styles, makers, and the historical and contemporary uses of masks. By looking at masks and photos, students will be able to recognize examples from each culture and make a detailed drawing of each type.

ACS: Arts B1, 3 ,4, 7, D3, 5; Geography E1

Salmon: Fish of Many Uses

3rd Grade

Most students are familiar with the importance of salmon as a food source in Alaska, but are surprised by its significance in making clothing and containers, as well as its use in clan crests. Following a discussion and look at hands-on materials, students try to find as many salmon- related artifacts in the Museum as they can by playing "Salmon Bingo."

ACS: Geography A1; Science A14a; History B1b

Use of Natural Materials in Alaska Native Arts

High School & up

This program is aimed at older students. It includes a broad, general discussion of similarities and differences between Alaska Native art and western art. Emphasis is placed on the use of natural materials in the creation of Native art. In an optional activity, students compare hands- on objects of one material to objects on exhibit of similar materials, then briefly explain how the objects reflect life in the culture to which they belong.

ACS: Arts B1, 3, 4; Geography E1, 2

More Than Igloos and Ice: Alaska's Diverse Landscapes and Cultures

High School & up

This Power Point presentation introduces Alaska's five diverse indigenous cultures with a brief look at how each managed to meet their needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Hands-on objects are a strong element in the program, allowing participants to feel, try on and experience the material culture of Alaska Natives. Throughout the pro- gram, participants are reminded that although cultures are diverse, they also have strong similarities. They are challenged to ask questions and discover what the commonly used object hidden in the brown bag is.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, 5, & 6, B1b; Cultural E1, 2, 5


Sheldon Jackson: The Collector

All Ages

This program, designed for adult audiences, can be ad- justed to suit most age groups. It answers the question of who Sheldon Jackson was, why and how he collected, and how he started the Museum.

ACS: History A2, 4, 5, B2, D3

The Sheldon Jackson Museum

All Ages

Using hands-on materials, documents and photos, this lecture covers Museum history from the original wood frame building to the current concrete structure, built in 1895, to more recent changes.

ACS: History A2, 4, 5


Inupiaq/Yup'ik Clothing

4th Grade

Using hands-on materials, students discover how clothing was made to withstand the cold, wet, and wind of the Arctic and Subarctic. After discussing materials and techniques, students draw pictures of clothing items that provide specific types of protection.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History B1b; Cultural E5

Inupiaq/Yup'ik Masks

4th Grade

Why people use masks, physical differences in Yup'ik and Inupiaq masks, and construction materials are discussed and examined before students begin drawing masks from both Eskimo groups.

ACS: Arts B1, 3, 4, 7, D3, 5; Geography E1

Inupiaq/Yup'ik Food, Clothing and Shelter

4th Grade

There are two versions of this program. One is led by museum staff using hands-on materials, photos, and discussion of these three universal needs. "Museum Bingo" allows students to search for examples of the materials discussed.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, B1b; Cultural E1, 2, 5

Another Version: Inupiaq/Yup'ik Discovery

Seasoned 4th Graders

Geared for students who have been to the Museum several times in one year and are familiar with the food, clothing and shelter concept. Four to five groups are assigned to study a specific topic using a research information sheet which they will use to report to the whole group.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, B1b; Cultural E1, 2, 5

Museum Appreciation

Museum Match


A brief discussion of what young children might see at the Museum helps put them at ease in an unfamiliar setting. A familiar game gets students looking at specific artifacts. Each student in a group of four or five, along with an adult "guide," receives a photo that the group must match with the artifact on exhibit. Adults then talk about the artifact with their groups.

ACS: Science B3; History A6, 9

Museums: Protectors of the Past

Upper-Elementary – High School

Students talk about why museums exist and the roles they play in preserving materials and ideas through exhibitions and programming. The discussion touches on some techniques and skills of museum conservation and technology. Students study the ways that artifacts can be damaged and what needs to be done to protect them.

ACS: A2, 4, 5, 6, B1b

Working in a Museum and Introduction to the Sheldon Jackson Museum

Middle School & up

Middle school students discover the diversity of muse- ums by comparing the collections of the Sheldon Jackson Museum to those of other museums they have visited. They are also introduced to the variety of jobs available in museums and the wide range of skills and abilities needed to operate a museum in a professional manner.

ACS: Employability B1, 4; History B1b

Northwest Coast

Family Roles and Shared Chores

1st Grade

Through discussion and the use of hands-on materials, students discover how extended families divided chores and the tools they needed to accomplish them. A brief discussion about clans, living arrangements, and how children learned chores is followed by an activity to match words and pictures with artifacts on exhibit.

ACS: History A4, 6; Geography B1, E1; Cultural E5

Foods from the Sea: Tools of Tradition

3rd Grade

Foods from the Sea: Tools of Tradition Through discussion and hands-on materials, students learn about the fish, animals, and plants harvested by the Tlingit and the tools and equipment traditionally used. The activity sheet asks students to match a picture of a plant or animal with the implement or object used to harvest or process it.

ACS: History A4, 6; Geography B1, E1; Cultural E5

Forest, Beach and Sea: Land of the Tlingit

3rd Grade & up

Hands-on materials and a slide program teach students about environmental influences on Tlingit life. A discus- sion of how the rich, natural environment led to the development of a unique social, economic, and cultural community is followed by an activity requiring students to read labels and make deductions to answer the questions. For younger students, "Tlingit Bingo" is available.

ACS: Geography B1, E1, C3; Eng/Lang Arts B2; History A4, 6, B1b; Cultural E5

Getting Ready for Winter


Students talk about how their own families get ready for winter and how some of these preparations are similar to those of the Tlingit. Food gathering, fall and winter celebrations and winter activities of repairing and making tools and equipment are discussed. An exercise that involves trying on regalia and using hands-on materials is followed by a "Tlingit Bingo" (some reading) or "Getting Ready for Winter Match" (no reading).

ACS: Geography B1, E1; History A6

Harvest Time

K – 1st Grade

The importance of berries, fish, game and plants is discussed using hands-on items traditionally used in harvesting. The different jobs people have and how children help are part of this discussion. The program topic can vary between spring to fall harvesting or combine the two. "Harvest Time Match" (matching with words) is the activity. A cut-out- and-color berry basket master is available to take back to the classroom.

ACS: Geography B1, E1; History A6

How the Tlingit Use Animals


After a quick introduction to the Museum, students watch a Power Point presentation of animals and try to identify them. The class is divided into four groups, each with an adult. The groups rotate in order to see objects like animal hides, bones and teeth at each station. After visiting all four stations, students begin a non-reading match game. Artifacts made from or representing animals are labeled for easy identification and matching with an adult's assistance.

ACS: Geography E1; History B1b; Cultural E1, 2, 5

Introduction to Tlingit Culture

Most Ages

This program offers a general introduction to Tlingit culture. Food, clothing, shelter and the effect of the environment on social and economic development are discussed. Hands-on materials serve as illustrations. "Tlingit Bingo," "Museum Bingo" or "A Look at Tlingit Material Culture" (reading or non-reading version) draws students into the gallery to look at specific artifacts.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, 5, 6, B1b; Cultural E1, 2, 5

Life in the Community House: Tlingit Tools of Daily Life

2nd Grade

Students are invited into an imaginary community house to see and learn how the Tlingit took care of their basic needs. Seated around a model fire pit, students talk about the size of a house, the furniture, tools and utensils they might have seen. There is extensive use of hands-on materials – trying on clothes or demonstrating the use of a tool. A matching activity with words and pictures or "Tlingit Bingo" can be used with this program.

ACS: Geography E1; History A6, B1b; Cultural E5

Tlingit Clothing

1st Grade

A wide variety of materials used in making traditional Tlingit clothing are examined and kid-sized clothes are available to try on. How clothing was obtained and made is discussed before students take part in "Tlingit Clothing Bingo" (beginning readers' match).

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History B1b; Cultural E5

Tlingit Discovery

Seasoned 4th Graders

This program is designed for students who have been to the museum several times in the last year and are familiar with the food, clothing, shelter concept. Four to five groups are assigned to study a specific topic. Students complete a research information sheet, that they use to make a report to the whole group.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, 5, 6, B1b; Cultural E1, 2, 5

Wonders of Wood

4th Grade & up

The importance of wood in the life of the Tlingit is explored in this program. How wood is used, who uses or works with what part of a tree, ceremonies and respect shown trees are discussed using slides and hands-on materials. Students have a chance to weave using hands-on boards, and experiment with kerfing on heavy cardboard. An activity using observation and inference skills can be used.

ACS: Geography A1, B1, E1; History A2, 4, 5, 6, B1b; Cultural E1, 2, 5

Activities for the Classroom

Visiting the Museum is not necessary for these activities. Instructions, templates, and information are available for use in the classroom. For an on-site program, please ask for the materials in advance of visit.

Supported Alaska Content Standards (ACS)

These are the Alaska Content Standards that apply to the museum programs. Other standards may apply depending on how the program is presented and how the objects are used.

English/Language Arts

  • A. A student should be able to speak and write well for a variety of purposes and audiences.
    • 4. write and speak well to inform, to describe, to entertain, to persuade, and to clarify thinking in a variety of formats, including technical communication.
  • B. Student should be a competent and thoughtful reader, listener, and viewer of literature, technical materials, and a variety of other information.
    • 2. reflect on, analyze, and evaluate a variety of oral, written, and visual information and experiences, including discussion, lectures, art, movies, television, technical materials, and literature.
  • E. A student should understand the perspectives of others in order to communicate effectively.
    • 1. use information, both oral and written, and literature of many types and cultures to understand self and others.
    • 4. recognize the communication styles of different cultures and their possible effects on others.


  • A. A student should be able to make and use maps, globes, and graphs to gather, analyze, and report spatial (geographic) information.
    • 1. use maps and globes to locate places and regions.
    • 5. evaluate the importance of the locations of human and physical features in interpreting geographic patterns.
  • B. A student should be able to utilize, analyze, and explain information about the human and physical features of places and regions.
    • 1. know that places have distinctive geographic characteristics.
  • C. A student should understand the dynamic and interactive natural forces that shape the earth's environments.
    • 3. recognize the concepts used in studying, environment, and recognize the diversity and productivity of different regional environments.
  • D. A student should understand and be able to interpret spatial (geographic) characteristics of human systems, including migration, movement, interactions of cultures, economic activities, settlement patterns, and political units in the state, nation and world.
    • 1. know that the need for people to exchange goods, services, and ideas creates population centers, cultural interaction, and transportation and communications links.
  • E. A student should understand and be able to evaluate how humans and physical environments interact.
    • 1. understand how resources have been developed and used.
    • 2. recognize and assess local, regional, and global patterns of resource use.
    • 3. understand the varying capacities of physical systems, such as watersheds, to support human activity.
  • F. A student should be able to use geography to understand the world by interpreting the past, knowing the present and preparing for the future.
    • 2. compare, contrast, and predict how places and regions change with time.


  • A. A student should understand that history is a record of human experiences that link the past to the present and future.
    • 2. know that the interpretation of history may change as new evidence is discovered.
    • 4. understand that history relies on the interpretation of evidence.
    • 5. understand that history is a narrative told in many voices and expresses various perspectives of historical experience.
    • 6. Know that cultural elements, including language, literature, the arts, customs, and belief systems, reflect the ideas and attitudes of a specific time and know how the cultural elements influence human interaction.
  • B. A student should understand historical themes through factual knowledge of items, places, ideas, institutions, cultures, people, and events.
    • 1. comprehend the forces of change and continuity that shape human history through the following persistent organizing themes.
      • b. human communities and their relationships with climate, subsistence bases, resources, geography, and technology.
    • 2. understand the people and the political, geographic, economic, cultural, social and environmental events that have shaped the history of the state, the United States and the world.
  • C. A student should develop the skill and process of historical inquiry.
    • 2. use historical data from a variety of primary resources, including letters, diaries, oral accounts, archeological sites and artifacts, art, maps, photos, historical sites, documents and secondary research materials, including almanacs, books, indices, newspapers.
    • 3. apply thinking skills, including classifying, interpreting, analyzing, summarizing, synthesizing, and evaluating, to understand the historical record.
  • D. A student should be able to integrate historical knowledge with historical skill to effectively participate as a citizen and as a lifelong learner.
    • 3. define a person's position on issues while understanding the historical aspects of the positions and roles assumed by others.


  • B. A student should be able to understand the historical and contemporary role of the arts in Alaska, the nation, and the world.
    • 1. recognize Alaska Native cultures and their arts.
    • 3. recognize the role of tradition and ritual in the arts.
    • 4. investigate the relationships among the arts and the individual, the society, and the environment.
    • 7. explore similarities and differences in the arts of world cultures.
  • D. A student should be able to recognize beauty and meaning through the arts in the students life.
    • 3. recognize that people tend to devalue what they do not understand.
    • 5. consider other culture's beliefs about works of art.

Cultural Standards

  • B. Culturally-knowledgeable students are able to build on the knowledge and skills of the local cultural community as a foundation from which to achieve personal and academic success throughout life.
    • 2. make effective use of the knowledge, skills, and ways of knowing from their own cultural traditions to learn about the larger world in which they live.
  • C. Culturally knowledgeable students are able to engage effectively in learning activities that are based on traditional ways of knowing and learning.
    • 4. identify and utilize appropriate sources of cultural knowledge to find solutions to everyday problems.
  • E. Culturally knowledgeable students demonstrate an awareness and appreciation of the relationships and processes of interaction of all elements in the world around them.
    • 1. recognize and build upon the interrelationships that exist among the spiritual, natural and human realms in the world around them, as reflected in their own cultural traditions and beliefs as well as those of others.
    • 2. Understand the ecology and geography of the bioregion they inhabit.
    • 5. recognize how and why cultures change over time.


  • A. A student should understand scientific facts, concepts, principles and theories.
    • 14a. understand the interdependence between living things and their environments.
  • B. A student should possess and understand the skills of scientific inquiry.
    • 3. understand that scientific inquiry often involves different ways of thinking, curiosity, and the exploration of multiple paths.


  • B. A student should be able to identify career interests and plan for career options.
    • 1. identify and appreciate personal interest, aptitudes, abilities, and priorities.
    • 4. identify education and /or training needed for career options and advancement, and develop a career plan.

Page last updated 07/29/2019