Teacher Resources

Browse resources for teachers & educators on the Oakland Museum of California's website. Photo: Toni Gauthier

At OMCA, our Learning Initiatives team has developed a number of online resources for educators to use:

OMCA Online Collection
Oakland Museum of California has an extensive collection of objects that are not on view. Much of OMCA's collection can be browsed on the Online Collection website.

Picture This
Picture This: California's Perspectives on American History is an educational resource that features primary source images from OMCA's collections that reflect the rich cultural diversity of California.


Gallery Guides

Guide to the Gallery of California Art

This guide highlights five gallery “stops” with suggested questions and activities for youth in grades 3 to 5. The Gallery of California Art is organized around three major themes that have inspired art-making in California from the 1800s to the present. These themes are California Land, People, and Creativity.
Download the Guide: Art (pdf)
Guide to the Gallery of California History
The overarching theme of the Gallery is Coming to California. Here your students will discover the influx of people to California throughout human history—and their interactions with those already here and the environment. your class can also explore why California was a place that both attracted new arrivals and at the same time forced others out. Finally, your students can consider the influence of California on our individual and collective identities. 

Download the Guide: History (pdf)

Andrew J. Russell and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad Curriculum

Andrew J. Russell, East and West Shaking Hands at Laying Last Rail, 1869. Imperial collodion glass plate negative, 10 x 13 in. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California, Museum Purchase. Photo: Ben Blackwell.

Andrew J. Russell and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad
Curriculum (Grades 8 and 11)

Uncover the history behind the building of the Transcontinental Railroad and practice visual literacy skills, using the online tool Picture This to closely examine historical photographs from the Oakland Museum of California’s Andrew J. Russell Collection. Curriculum includes:

  • Four document-based lessons that guide students through an inquiry process to explore themes of westward expansion
  • Sixteen photographs from the Andrew J. Russell Collection that probe key topics, such as Native Americans in the West, the environment, working conditions, and technological advancement

Download the Guide (PDF)

This curriculum was made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts.

National Endowment for the Arts

Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California

Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California Teacher Resources

Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California illuminates local histories and social forces that changed the face of art in—and beyond—the Golden State. While exploring this exhibition, your students will learn about four remarkable moments when artists in California formed communities that changed the face of art.

The Fertile Ground teacher resources guide contains background information and suggested activities for the classroom or your next Museum visit. Through these activities, your students will explore the exhibition’s key messages and better understand that we are all part of our own creative communities, or “fertile ground.”

Download (6.5 Mb)

Giant Robot Curriculum

Giant Robot Curriculum (Grade 9-12)

Download (25Mb)

Above and Below Curriculum

Vietnam-Era Curriculum

Collecting Community History Handbook Excerpts
The OMCA's publication, Collecting Community History: A Training Handbook for Educators, provides students with methods for bringing their community's history to life by conducting original historical research. These excerpts support the student activities in these lessons.
Historiography: Learning the Skills and Processes of an Historian
Interviewing: Conducting Oral History Interviews
Writing: Communicating Historical Research
Lesson 1
Lesson Plan #1: From the Quiet Decade to Social Revolution: How the Vietnam War Transformed California

Lesson 1 Student Handouts
The Legacy of McCarthyism
Questions for Berkeley in the Sixties

Lesson 1 Oral Histories
Oral History: Charles Benninghoff
Oral History: Clay Carson
Oral History: Karen Jo Koonan
Oral History: Lois Lundberg
Oral History: Frank McAdams
Oral History: Tom Smothers
Lesson 2
Lesson Plan #2: 1968: Year of Social Change and Turning Point in Vietnam and the U.S.
Lesson 2 Student Handouts
Discussion Questions for Hearts and Minds
Guidelines for Completing Timelines
Internet Research Study Group
Oral History Process and Resources
Recommended Websites for Internet Research
Student Group Project
1968 Timeline
Character Tracking for Hearts and Minds
General Vo Nguyen Giap
More about the 1968 Tet Offensive
1968: Oral History Project
Essay on 1968 and Oral History

Lesson 2 Oral Histories
Oral History: Judy Grahn
Oral History: David Harris and John Burns
Oral History: David Hilliard
Oral History: Doug Ryan
Oral History: Margaret Salazar
Oral History: Irv Sarnoff
Oral History: Barbara Sonneborn
Oral History: Charley Truilljo
Oral History: Bruce Weigel

Lesson 2 Civil Rights Oral Histories
Oral History: Bill Brent
Oral History: Clay Carson 2
Oral History: Dr. Maulana Karenga 1
Oral History: Dr. Maulana Karenga 2
Oral History: Lois Lundberg 2
Oral History: Bobby Seale

Lesson 2 Politics Oral Histories
Oral History: Lou Cannon
Oral History: Lionel Chetwynd
Oral History: Widening the Social Divide 1965-1966

Lesson 2 Tet Offensive Oral Histories
Oral History: John Baky
Oral History: Ezra Pratt 1
Oral History: Ezra Pratt 2
Oral History: Frank McAdams
Oral History: Barbara Sonneborn 1
Oral History: Barbara Sonneborn 2
Oral History: Winnie
Lesson 3
Lesson Plan #3: Coming to Terms: Stories of Southeast Asian Political Refugees

Lesson 3 Student Handouts
Field Journal Guidelines
Guidelines for Internet Research Team Presentation
Guidelines for Using Oral History
Internet-Based Research Project Guidelines for Working Collaboratively
Internet Research Project—Oral Histories from Southeast Asian Refugees Recommended Websites for Internet Research
KWL Chart
Oral History Process and Resources
Our Journeys, Our Communities: Southeast Asians In American History, By Khatharya Um
Southeast Asian Refugee Oral History Presentations: Guidelines for Working Collaboratively
Topics with Resources for Internet-based Research on Southeast Asian Countries and the Vietnam War

Lesson 3 Oral Histories
Oral History: Vu Hong Pham
Oral History: Anh Phong
Oral History: Lam Nguyen
Oral History: Ham Tran