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EXPAND YOUR CLASSROOM

What can art show students about the world? Explore the answers with SAM.

SAM provides creative learning opportunities for students and educators that ignite curiosity, foster critical thinking, and develop environments that are rigorous, inclusive, and collaborative.

Aligned with State and Common Core Standards, SAM’s resources and experiences contribute to building a community of lifelong learners. Every learning opportunity can be customized to meet the needs of each student, school, educator, or community.

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Educator Programs

Educator Programs

Educators are at the center of learning and your significant contributions have profound effects on the learning of your students. SAM’s Educator Programs provide teachers with rich opportunities to relate the arts directly to your own lives and the lives of your students.


It has been a while since I really spent time to absorb, interpret, and discuss works of art, and I got so much out of bouncing ideas off of fellow educators. This workshop definitely got me thinking about ways of seeing and guiding that inquiry with students.

Middle School Educator

VISIT SAM FOR FREE

SAM loves educators! We offer free admission to educators year-round so that you can visit as often as you like. Request a Free Educator Pass by emailing educatorprograms@seattleartmuseum.org with your preferred date, time, and location. Remember to bring proof of school affiliation when you arrive.

Educator Workshops & Institutes

Educator Workshops & Institutes

SAM’s virtual and on-site professional development workshops offer K–12 educators and administrators techniques and ideas for integrating popular culture, art, and cultural objects into classroom learning. Educators from all subject areas will gain strategies for connecting with SAM’s global collection, special exhibitions, and contemporary world issues.

All workshops include free resources and Washington State clock hours.

Educator Previews & OPEN HOUSES

Educator Previews

SAM celebrates educators! Join us for live music, curator talks, docent tours, art-making activities, and free resources at these exhibition sneak-peaks.​​​​​​​​​

Arts Integration Professional Development

Photo of an adult and child's hands working on a paper and ink art project

SAM’s programs and resources focus on inquiry-based observation and art-making. Equity is at the heart of what we do and we provide visual art-based lessons that celebrate student voices, while supporting cultural understanding and social justice. SAM’s 2022-23 professional development offerings for educators include:

Drawing from Nature
This workshop introduces educators to lessons, activities, and approaches that may accompany an Olympic Sculpture Park visit or be adapted for in-classroom use. Using related resources, students will make connections between art and science, engage in close observation, and create art inspired by the natural and urban environments that surround them. Recommended for K-5th grade educators.

Eyes on Asia
In this workshop, educators will engage with artwork from the Seattle Asian Art Museum's collection, draw connections to their own lives, and create art in a hands-on lesson related to identity and portraiture that they can bring into their classrooms. They will be able to supplement lessons with videos, lesson plans, and other resources. Recommended for K-5th grade educators.

Art of Empathy
During this workshop, educators will draw connections between Social-Emotional Learning and art. They will explore ways to enhance student well-being by identifying and reflecting on emotions through grounding exercises and artmaking, as well as strategies for close looking and open discussion of artworks from SAM’s global collection. Recommended for K-5th grade educators.

What is American Art?
Following a two-year collaboration with artists and community members, SAM will debut its reinstalled American art galleries in October 2022. During this field trip, educators are invited to explore artworks from the reinstallation. SAM Education staff will provide information about in-gallery engagement strategies, as well as connected resources. Recommended for 6th-12th grade educators.

Email us to inquire about professional development offerings for your school.

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What topics would you like to see covered in a future educator program? Fill out the form below to share ideas!

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SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Art Goes To School

SAM offers programs designed to engage students of all ages in deep looking, critical thinking, and creative art making. Through free tours for all public schools and bus subsidies for Title I Schools we aim to ensure that cost is never a barrier to an authentic art experience.

These inspiring, adaptable programs build direct connections between works of art, classroom curriculum, and students’ own experiences and backgrounds.


Thank you so much for a wonderful day! This was truly one of the most organized and age-appropriate fields trips I have ever taken my class on. I hope I can do it again next year.

–Elementary School Teacher

GUIDED SCHOOL TOURS

Self-Guided Visits

SAM’s school tours are image-focused and inquiry-based experiences for K–12 students. One portion of the museum visit will be led by trained guides, they encourage students to look closely, share personal perspectives, and build connections to their own lives and learning. Then teachers and chaperones will lead art activities in the galleries to give students an opportunity to get creative and learn together with classmates.

Check out our How to Visit SAM video before your guided tour!

Seattle Art Museum

  • Artistic Elements: In this tour, K–3 students explore the basic elements of art—such as line, shape, color, and texture—while looking at global art from SAM’s collection. Through working independently and together, students learn how artists use these elements to communicate narratives, opinions, and lessons with viewers. Artistic Elements involves a guided or self-guided tour alongside an independent art activity in the galleries.

  • Artistic Choices: What choices are part of an artist’s process? Who decides if an object is art? In this tour, students in grades 5–12 investigate and critique works of art from artists of varying eras and cultures who work with different materials and scales. Contextual information enriches dialogue and deepens students’ personal connections and students reflect on how these techniques and concepts can be applied to their own art-making.

  • Art of Empathy: Art has the power to elicit empathy! In this tour, K–12 students develop close-looking and observational skills that can be applied to recognizing, labeling, and describing emotions. Students engage with artworks from varying times, cultures, and artists that give insight into communities and experiences outside of their own. This tour involves a guided tour and a self-guided art activity in the galleries.

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Olympic Sculpture Park

  • Drawing from Nature: Experience the interation of dynamic sculpture and native plant life in diverse ecosystems as you move along the Olympic Sculpture Park’s Z-shaped pathway. Use inquiry-based discussions and activities to investigate this incredible site and all it has to offer. A site for art and open green space provides a variety of experiences and learning opportunities within the urban outdoor environment.

Book Now


Seattle Asian Art Museum

School tours will return to the Seattle Asian Art Museum in January 2023.

To learn more about in-gallery art activities led by teachers and chaperones, visit School Tour Resources.

Please note: we are unable to offer art studio workshops for students during the 2022-23 school year. Teachers and chaperones will be asked to lead a guided art activity in the galleries while the other half of their group completes the docent-led tour.

Self-Guided School Tours

Self-Guided Visits Self-guided visits are for educators who wish to customize their museum experience by leading their own tours through the galleries. Available at all three SAM sites, all self-guided visit groups must register with the museum in advance.

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To learn more about self-guided activities students can use in the galleries, visit School Tour Resources.

BUS Subsidies

Subsidized School Programs

SAM wants all students and educators to experience creative learning opportunities, regardless of barriers of transportation. We provide bus subsidies for schools with 40% or more students on free or reduced-price lunch programs. For inquiries regarding bus subsidies, please email us.

Virtual Tours

Self-Guided Visits

We are not able to accept new virtual tour reservations between January-March 2023. All current reservations will be honored. Please check back in April 2023 for more updated booking information.

Virtual Tours bring the museum to you! A SAM Educator will guide students through close looking, discussion, movement, and sketching connected with high resolution images of objects from SAM’s global collection. Each tour is 30-60 minutes and can be implemented in a fully remote setting, or in a classroom with a projector. Scheduling is flexible. Grades K-12, 10-30 youth per tour. Free for public schools, $100 for private schools.

Art of Empathy Virtual Tour
The Art of Empathy series is based on the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)’s Core Social Emotional Competencies. This dynamic presentation will include drawing, breathwork, open discussions, and close-looking of artworks from SAM's global collection.

Enhance your curriculum or virtual tour with the Art of Empathy Educator Resource Guide

Accessibility

The Seattle Art Museum strives to be accessible for all visitors and provides a variety of support services to assist with your visit. Find more information on Accessibility here and email us to request accommodations during your visit.


Support for K-12 programs during the 2021–⁠2022 school year is provided by the BNSF Railway Foundation, the Foster Foundation, the Freeman Foundation, and Nordstrom. Partial, sustained support for SAM’s K-12 programs is provided by an endowment established in 1999 by a National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant and the generous contributions of matching donors, including the Ann P. Wyckoff Education Endowment. The William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the Seattle Art Museum has supported SAM K–12 programs since 1994.

2019–2020 SCHOOL TOURS & WORKSHOPS

Seattle Art Museum

Families from Around the World
Grades K–2

Artistic Elements
Grades K–4

Artistic Choices
Grades 5–12

Living Histories: Northwest Coast Native American Art
Grades 3–7

Art of Symmetry
Grades K–4

Perspective in Art
Grades 5–12

Olympic Sculpture Park

Drawing from Nature
Grades K–12

Seattle Asian Art Museum

(Tours begin March 2020)

Stories of Asian Art
Grades K–12

Book N​​ow​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Educator Resources

educator holding a resource document in their hand at a workshop

Find lesson plans, video playlists, and other materials to connect the art at SAM with your classroom. Access resources for exhibitions that are  currently on view, as well as past exhibitions and SAM’s collection.

Learn More​​


EARLY LEARNERS

Child holding their hands, which are covered in paint, towards the camera

Art Adventures

Bring SAM to your Early Learning space! In Art Adventures, SAM educators lead culturally-responsive art making workshops that explore SAM’s art collection by utilizing learning methods inspired by Visual Thinking Strategies for ages 3 – 5. We also offer Parent and Early Learner Teacher Professional Development sessions related to these strategies. Themes include:

  • Triangles Make me Dance: Patterns, shapes and feelings
  • Nature is My Canvas: The natural world as inspiration
  • A Splash of Color: Exploring Art around the world


Art Adventures programs are 30-45 minutes long and SAM provides all materials. These programs are free and based on availability. Interested in having SAM visit your Early Learner’s classroom or organization? Email FamilyPrograms@SeattleArtMuseum.org for more information and availability

SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS

SAM is expanding the role of cultural institutions in K–12 education through advocacy, collaboration, and the development of innovative partnerships and programs.

Collaborative Partner Schools

Collaborative Partner Schools

SAM’s school partnerships are designed to support arts integration in local K-12 classrooms and expand entry points for the school community to grow and learn together. Benefits of being a partner school may include free curricula and resources, professional development for a teaching team or the entire staff, field trips to one of our three museum sites, subsidized bussing, and free student admission.

Let us know how we can support you and your students! For more information about partnering with SAM, email us. SAM prioritizes partnering with Title 1 schools and availability is based on staff capacity.

Seattle Public Schools

The Creative Advantage
The Creative Advantage is a city-wide partnership led by Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. Their goal is to make quality arts education accessible to every student in SPS, with a focus on lower-income communities and communities of color that have been shown to have less access to arts learning opportunities. SAM is proud to partner with this initiative to provide professional development training and resources for schools and community organizations. For more information, visit Creative Advantage Seattle.

Naramore Art Show
Since 1985, the Naramore Art show has been an annual tradition celebrating the excellence of the Middle and High-School artists of Seattle Public Schools. Seattle Art Museum is a proud partner in Naramore, and each year we look forward to working with graphic design students as they design promotional posters, assisting with the installation of art in our Community Gallery, and honoring artists in the award ceremony. From Lincoln to Chief Sealth International High School, SPS is represented by some of the most imaginative and thought-provoking artists in this city. These are students who are constantly questioning the social issues they’ve seen rise around them and their works show the incredible deep empathy, wisdom, and compassion for this world they’re growing up in.

Eyes on Asia
Beginning in 2019, SAM created a program for upper elementary students throughout Seattle Public Schools focused on the recently renovated Seattle Asian Art Museum. In collaboration with SPS teacher advisors across different schools, SAM developed a curriculum focused on K–5 Literacy standards, as well as identity development and student voice. Through this partnership, teachers have received professional development, curriculum for pre- and post-visit lessons, art kits, and more. Starting in 2023 this program will include museum visits to the Seattle Asian Art Museum as an annual experience for SPS students across the district, with subsidized bussing for all schools.

Highline Public Schools

Highline Partner Schools
Since the 2000s, SAM has partnered with schools throughout Highline to create arts-integrated lessons for teachers across subject areas.

Drawing from Nature
Beginning in 2016, SAM created an annual program for all second graders throughout the Highline School District to receive an in-depth exploratory visual arts program. Created with teacher advisors, this program targets the social, emotional, and developmental stages of students while giving them first-hand experiences with art and ecosystems at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Teachers receive professional development and strategies to incorporate pre- and post-visit lesson plans into their curriculum. This program is free and includes subsided bussing for all schools.


Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM