Google Arts and Culture is a massive online project with thousands of resources and online activities. The sheer scale can be a little overwhelming, but it offers fantastic opportunities for online learning, especially in the arts, science, history, and geography. We have collected a few of the ways in which this astonishing, free resource can be used in lessons.
How to find and save content in Google Arts and Culture
A word of warning; the content on the site is not, for the most part, specifically designed for primary-aged children. Make sure to check thoroughly that the content is appropriate for your students. Also, be aware that the way the site is structured means it is easy for children to “wander away” from the subject you are interested in.
- Type your topic into the search bar, and the site will display all of the resources that relate to that theme, including museums and online exhibits. As well as results for your search, it will also show related content.
- Log in to the site using a Google login. This allows you to use the heart icon to add to your favourites, so you can easily find your content when you are planning and teaching.
- The Museum views feature is useful for showing artworks and exhibits. For example, you can go on a tour of the Science Museum in London.
- There is also a range of lesson plans available on the site. Frustratingly, these are not searchable by age, although mostly, they are aimed at a wide audience and could easily be adapted for the primary age range.
- The Arts Colouring Book allows children to explore the colour palettes of famous artworks. The method of colouring is very simple, but what is interesting is that each artwork has its own custom palette, giving children an opportunity to think more deeply about colour and experiment with the effects of different colours easily. Children can switch between the original and their version at any time. All of the pictures can also be printed out. This is one of several themed colouring books available on the site.
- The Colour Explorer organises artworks by colour, giving children another opportunity to think about the use of colour.
- Some artworks allow you to zoom in so close that you can see incredible detail that you would never be able to get close enough to see in a gallery. For example, in van Gogh’s Starry Night, you can zoom in and see the canvas where it shows through the paint. This allows children to think in detail about how an artwork was made. You can also “visit” the painting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York by clicking “View in Street View”. Clicking on van Gogh’s name will take you to a section all about him, allowing the children to explore further.
- The Get Smart with Art project is specifically designed to help young people learn about art and includes lesson plans to get you started.
- Children will enjoy painting with music in this interesting experiment.
- This 3D video of the Berlin Philharmoniker is a great way to experience an orchestral performance.
- The Timeline function is handy for putting historical and cultural studies in context, as it shows what else was going on in the world at the time you are studying. You need to be careful with this feature, as some of the images show nudity. For example, if you are studying Ancient Egypt, looking at the timeline will show you other cultural objects from the same period.
- Using the Historical Figure feature shows all of the content about a person. It is a good tool for researching significant people (Take care with the A-Z as it uses first names, not surnames!). For example, this page on Florence Nightingale shows all of the relevant content about her. It is also easy to organise the content about a person into a timeline; try clicking the clock icon to the right of the screen on the page, and you will see all of the content organised chronologically.
- There are also some useful themes for historical study. For example, if you are studying prehistory, this page about the Bronze Age and this one about Early Technologies would be perfect.
- You can make a virtual visit to many important cultural sites from this page. The site is integrated with Google Street View and takes you straight to the heart of the location, which saves time (and frustration) for children who might otherwise end up at the back door or looking the wrong way! You can search for sites using the search bar in the top left-hand corner.
- This is a terrific resource for a topic looking at the sea, allowing children to view high-quality images and videos of the seafloor in the Antarctic.
- You can get a good look at Thomas Edison’s DC Generator on the site too, or travel to the Moon in Apollo 11.
Using the resources
- After using some of the resources, it is useful to discuss the site. How does seeing the objects virtually differ from seeing them in real life? Which would you prefer? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Do you think it is a good idea to preserve things digitally?
- You can also use the resources to inspire your own presentations. Look at how information is presented, for example. What do you notice? How could you use that in your own work?
What are your favourite ways to use Google Arts and Culture? Let us know in the comments below!