I first began really thinking about using artifacts as a part of instruction when I met Keil Hileman. Keil was teaching in Monticello Trails Middle School in the DeSoto school district when I first ran across his room full of thousands of artifacts. Keil sucked me in to the idea that a single artifact can have a tremendous impact on student learning.

I’ve been using a West African manilla from Keil as an example with teachers for several years. And it never fails to intrigue and engage teachers and students.

explorehistoryAnd now the Smithsonian has created a very cool site that focuses on the effective use of artifacts and primary sources as teaching tools. Called History Explorer, you can search for resources by grade level, content area and time period.

Your gateway to innovative, standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history, designed and developed by the National Museum of American History as part of Verizon’s thinkfinity.org consortium. Explore the rich resources of the Museum and bring history to life with artifacts, primary sources, and online tools for the classroom, afterschool programs, and home.

They also have a Twitter feed that I ran across that updates you daily on the site’s goodness as well as a nice RSS feed. If you’re looking for additional resources, ideas and access to great artifacts, you really need to head on over!