Skip navigation
Share this page

Early Learning Resources

SEEC Early Childhood Resources

Looking at Art with Toddlers

In recent years, researchers have discovered what early childhood educators have known for a long time...that the early years of life are the most critical for learning. We now know that brain development is directly related to early experience, and we understand that any learning which is sensory in nature promotes optimal growth and development. SEEC recognizes this critical period for young children and emphasizes interactive, multi-sensory learning in everyday activities. SEEC's teachers encourage exploration and discovery, placing objects and works of art at the center of a child’s day. Integrating the rich resources of the community into the curriculum enhances learning.

Download the "Looking At Art with Toddlers" Article

Click on image for a larger view

Imagine! Introducing Your Child to the Arts

Published by the National Endowment for the Arts, 2004. This 1997 NEA publication revises and updates the previous edition's material on introducing children to the arts. An excellent resource for parents and teachers, the publication includes activities and suggestions in literature, dance, music, theater, visual arts, folk arts, and media arts aimed specifically at children ages 3-8 years old. Includes pull-out guide of arts activities. 68 pp. Edited by Dr. Sharon Shaffer. Visit the National Endowment for the Arts web site at: to request a copy of the report.

Early Learning and Museums Literature Review

This 2012 report, prepared by Mary Ellen Munley, looks at the literature that relates to the role "traditional museums" play int eh education of young children and the lives of their families.

Download the "Early Learning and Museums" review

Smithsonian in Your Classroom

The Spring 2008 issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom featured a collaboration with SEEC.

From the Smithsonian in Your Classroom website:

"The lessons here bring collections into the classroom to give tangibility to mathematics - to turn numbers on a page into numbers of actual things. In the first, "A Collection of Artifacts," young students take a close look at something we use every day but rarely think about until it's missing - the button. In early-algebra exercises of sorting and classifying, they organize a collection of random buttons, counting and multiplying them according to attributes. In the second, "A Collection of Natural Objects," students work with seashells and come to see how sorting and classifying relates to the work of scientists."

Download the "Teaching with Collections" article

National Arts Education Association Newsletter

In a newsletter article for the National Arts Education Association, Dr. Sharon Shaffer discusses the growing recognition of the importance of early childhood education.

Download the article

SEEC's Educational Outreach Program

View and download a sample lesson plan from SEEC's museum education team.

Download the "Geometric Mouse" Lesson Plan

Other Early Learning Articles

Growing Young Minds
This 2013 IMLS report discusses the important role that museums and libraries can, and should, play in the education of young children.

Kids Online: A new research agenda for understanding social networking forums.

Podcasts and videos

Parents' Perspective Podcast

Dr. Sharon Shaffer was interviewed about museum schools for the award-winning radio show "Parents' Perspective".

Click here to listen to the podcast.

The Smithsonian's Role in Advancing Early Learning in Museums

Click here to watch the video.

Other Smithsonian Early Childhood Programs and Connections

Discovery Theater

Smithsonian Camps

Additional Websites

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Visit for education resources for educators, parents and students.

National Association for the Education of Young Children

Arts Education Partnership

National Art Education Association

National Endowment for the Arts

National Building Museum

Corcoran Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art

Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center

PO Box 37012, MRC 184
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC 20013-7012