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Guide to Finding Lesson Plans

Guide to Finding Lesson Plans


Introduction |  Lesson Plans in Print |  Online Resources




According to the Facts on File Dictionary of Education, a curriculum guide differs from a lesson plan in that it includes “one or more aspects of curriculum and instruction, such as philosophy, policies, aims, objectives, subject matter, resources and processes” (p.138), while a lesson plan “ includes the instructional objectives and methods for a particular functional unit or period of instruction” (p. 271). The Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL) has many materials containing lesson plans, primarily in the form of curriculum guides. However, lesson plans can also be found on various websites. This guide explains how to find lesson plans in print and online.



Lesson Plans in Print

Many lesson plans are embedded within curriculum guides. If you are looking for lesson plans on a specific topic, see the Guide to the Curriculum Collection which includes a “Call Number Guide by Subject.” Find the call number that corresponds to your subject. For example, if your subject is American history, the call number will be 973. Then you can either use the Library Catalog and run a call number search to see titles within that call number range, or you can browse the Curriculum Collection bookshelves in Room 101, Main Library. Curriculum guides are shelved separately from the textbooks and other materials and begin with the prefix “CURR.” Look at the Map of the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library to determine where they are located.



Online Resources

Common Core State Standards

Common Curriculum
This free curriculum planning program allows teachers to design and develop lesson plans collaboratively. Teachers can also quickly search Common Core standards within the program to ensure their lessons align with state standards for education. In addition, lesson plans can be easily updated and altered to fit students’ needs. Individual teacher registration is required for free access. Schools can opt to pay a fee that allows an unlimited number of collaborators to work together on lesson plans.

K-5 Math Teaching Resources
Free, printable resources, activities, and games to supplement the Common Core State Standards in mathematics for grades K-5.

ReadWorks is a non-profit organization that provides free lesson plans and teaching units on reading comprehension for grades K-6. The site is searchable and browsable by topic, grade, and standard. Lesson plans align with the Common Core State Standards and state standards. 

Share My Lesson: Common Core State Standards Information Center
Share My Lesson was developed by the American Federation of Teachers and TES Connect, an online network of educators, and provides a space for teachers to share lesson plans and teaching resources. Share My Lesson contains lesson plans aligned to the Standards and created by and for teachers. In addition, users can browse lesson plans by state to find lesson plans that align with current standards. Users must create an account to use this free site.

Teaching Channel: Common Core
A collection of videos from the Teaching Channel with information about and suggested activities that align with the Common Core State Standards.  Select Common Core from the drop-down menu under Topics.

A searchable collection of activities, student work and instructional units aligned to the CCSS and created by educators in New York City.

Language Arts

ReadWriteThink is a website focused on literacy for K-12 students. It provides detailed, research-based lesson plans that can be searched by grade level as well as area of literacy practice. The site also includes a wide variety of web resources, including instructional, reference, professional development, and interactive student resources.

Story Arts Online
Story Arts Online provides lesson plans and activities to help teachers incorporate storytelling in the classroom to teach language arts. The site was created by storyteller and author Heather Forest and funded by Bell Atlantic Foundation. The site also has suggestions as to how to use storytelling to teach math, science, social studies and the arts, and includes concise folktale plots and Aesop’s fables as retold by Forest.

This website allows users to search specific books or authors and provides supplemental reading sources and activities, such as author interviews, lesson plans, audio readings, and related booklists.  A great resource for K-12 teachers and school or public librarians.


MSTE Online Resource Catalog
The Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed a number of interactive resources for aiding K-12 students in their math and science education. These lessons range from number and operations to data analysis and probability in mathematics and from basic chemistry to physics in science.

United States Mint Lesson Plans
This site uses U.S. coins to teach basic math and counting. Each lesson plan has been contributed by teachers and includes grade level and national standards information.

Multiple Subjects

Awesome Library
This site provides lesson plans for most subject areas and includes links to other information sources that can be drawn upon to create original lesson plans. The extensive listings about multicultural holidays and current events are especially useful.

Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is a not-for profit organization dedicated to providing information and education to help children and teens navigate media and technology. Their site provides cross-curricular lesson plans that address digital literacy and citizenship for students in grades K-12. The lesson plans are free, research-based, and aligned to the Common Core State, International Society of Technology Education, and American Association of School Librarians Standards. Topics covered are: Internet safety, privacy and security, relationships and communication, cyberbullying, digital footprint and reputation, self-image and identity, information literacy, and creative credit and copyright.

Developed by the National Endowment for Humanities and other sources, this site contains links to 49 of the “top humanities sites” and lesson plans in the areas of history, English and language arts, foreign languages and art history. It also includes learning guides that provide tips for using sites for designing class curricula and activities. Sites are searchable.

Gooru provides an open and collaborative learning community online that makes available free K-12 educational materials. Educators can find interactive materials for instruction that are standards-aligned and can share personalized, custom collections keyed to the needs of their students.  Interactive lessons are available in the disciplines of science, math, the social sciences, and language arts. Common Core Standards are available for math instruction from grades 6 to 12. Lessons are also available from a number of partner libraries, which are accessible directly through the Gooru site.

Kennedy Center Digital Resources
The Kennedy Center Digital Resources provides a wide range of teaching resources with a special focus on the arts for grades K-12. These resources include print lesson plans, audio stories, video clips, and interactive online modules and cover topics from dance, theater, and music to literary arts, media arts, and visual arts. In addition to the arts, this website also has teaching resources for other disciplines, such as English, geography, history, information education, language arts, math, physical education, science, social studies, technology, and world languages.

Lesson Plan Library
The Lesson Plans Library contains lessons for grades K-12 in common and not so common subjects. Plans range in subject from literature and math to forensic science and meteorology. Written by teachers and educators, these lesson plans are both comprehensive and easy to follow. Most plans define what national academic standards the lesson plans meet. In addition, this site is also linked to several other “teaching tools” from The Discovery Channel.

Library of Congress Lesson Plans
The Library of Congress has teacher-created, classroom-tested lesson plans on United States social studies, geography, science, sports and recreation, journalism, and literature, among other subjects. All of the lesson plans use primary sources that can be found at the Library of Congress and are provided with each lesson plan. Lesson plans can be searched by topic or by era. Grades 3-12 are targeted. Standards can be found by searching within each lesson plan for state, grade, and subject.

Peace Corps WorldWise Schools Lesson Plans
Based on lessons used by teachers in the Peace Corps, provides nearly 300 standards-based lesson plans. Different concepts and subjects are illustrated using examples from regions and cultures. Searchable by grade level and subject area.

Smithsonian Learning Lab
The Smithsonian Institution has many resources for educators, including hundreds of lesson plans in all subject areas and grades from preK-12. Search for “lesson plans” in the website search box to find lesson plans in resources and collections. Each lesson plan includes all of the materials needed (photographs, handouts, suggested strategies, reproductions, activities, standards information, and additional online resources). Lesson plans are created around an inquiry-based learning model and make extensive use of primary sources and museum artifacts.

United States Department of Agriculture Teacher Center
This website, produced by the nation’s experts in the field of agriculture, this site includes nearly 200 lesson plans for grades K-12 on all aspects of agriculture and agricultural history. Most lessons focus on facets of the American agricultural system, however there are several lessons on agriculture around the world. Lesson plans include science experiments, Web Quests, introductions to careers in agriculture, and agriculture as an aspect of the global economy.

U.S. Census Bureau: Statistics in Schools
The Statistics in Schools (SIS) program provides teachers with resources to help promote statistical literacy in K-12 classrooms. Through the combined effort of the U.S. Census Bureau and teachers from across the United States, this online resource offers free and customizable lesson plans, activities, and other resources designed to prepare students for a data-driven world. These resources are primarily organized by grade level (K-12) and subject, including math, English, history, geography, and sociology. This program also contains select resources for the Pre-K level in both English and Spanish, as well as for ELL and adult ESL learners.


The Concord Consortium
The Concord Consortium is a non-profit educational research and development organization based in Massachusetts. The STEM resource finder on the Consortium’s site provides free, open source educational activities, software, and models for teaching STEM subjects to elementary school through college students. The resources are keyword-searchable and allow users to browse by subject and grade level. Also includes a tool to find activities and models that adhere to the Next Generation Science Standards.

eGFI is a website provided by the American Society for Engineering Education, and it contains engineering lesson plans and class activities for K-12 teachers. Lessons and activities incorporate engineering concepts to teach math and science skills. The site also provides a list of engineering and technology outreach programs and web resources for teachers and students.

EPA EnviroKids
Provides environmental games appropriate for children in grades K-12 such as game shows, crossword puzzles, word searches and matching endangered species. Also contains teacher resources and lesson plans on the environment and science.     

Food Timeline
Spanning back to the beginning of recorded history, this comprehensive website provides everything you have ever wanted to know about food including history, law and regulation, inventions, nutrition, and historic cookbooks/recipes. Also included are lesson plans, a food reference guide, and a list of libraries and museums that specialize in food.

Teaching Earth Science: Classroom Activities and Lesson Plans
This website provides a range of lesson plans based on geography, geology, astronomy, and other earth sciences using maps, satellite images, and other projections. Also provides links to current topics in the earth sciences.

Try Engineering
Includes a collection of more than 100 engineering-related lesson plans for students ages 8-18. Each plan provides a lesson focus, synopsis, target age levels, learning objectives, learner outcomes, activities, materials, and alignments to curriculum frameworks. Lesson plan topics include mazes, search engines, sorting, decision trees, periscopes, tennis, and more.

USGS Education
This site, administered by the U.S. Geological Survey, provides educational resources in areas like Biology, Geography, Geology, and Water. Resources are arranged by grade level. While some links are not strictly lesson plans, many of the resources listed on this site can be incorporated in the classroom as a supplement to an existing Earth Science curriculum.

Social Studies

9/11 Memorial
These lesson plans, developed by the National September 11  Memorial & Museum, the New York City Department of Education, and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, are written for use throughout the school year and across disciplines. Each lesson adheres to the Common Core Standards and remains grounded in the collections of the museum. These lessons do not require visits to the museum and can be used in any classroom.

America Responds
Compiled by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), this page provides lesson plans for teachers who wish to teach about issues such as war, patriotism, peace, and tolerance.

Center for Civic Education: Voting and Elections
These lesson plans introduce students to the basics of the voting process and provide hands-on opportunities for students to experience registering and casting votes. Lesson plans are available for elementary, middle, and high school students. These lesson plans can be downloaded freely as zipped files. In addition, individual documents from each lesson can be found in the Resource Bank on this site.

The Civil War Curriculum
The Civil War Curriculum page offers links to lesson plans related to the American Civil War for students from elementary to high school. Lesson plans include a complete outline, College and Career Readiness (CCR) anchor standards, National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) standards, related resources, and downloadable content for each lesson. The entire Civil War Curriculum can also be downloaded by registering for free with the Civil War Trust.

Digital History
This extensive historical website provides resources for teachers who want to make learning about history interesting and exciting. Key features include an interactive timeline, online textbook, and history reference room. Includes resource guides, lesson plans, and classroom handouts.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Education Resources
This resource contains in-depth lesson plans about various aspects of economics, including employment growth, income taxes, and supply and demand. Additionally, the website offers a podcast series called The Economic Lowdown which gives students understandable explanations and real-world examples of economic and finance principles. The site also includes resources and activities for both students and teachers.

Federal Reserve Education
This website, maintained by the United States Federal Reserve, contains numerous K-12 and college lesson plans and publications on subjects such as banking, economics, government, money, and personal finance. Resources can be found by typing keywords into the search bar. Additionally, the Resources by Audience tab allows users to search for lesson plans and activities by grade level. 

Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms
Designed specifically to support basic map and information acquisition skills at the K-12 levels, this website provides lesson plans based on 18 different maps. Divided into six different themes, each map contains several lessons for grades K-12. 

The National Archives Experience: Docs Teach
Provides activities and over 8,000 primary source documents from the United States National Archives for use in the classroom. Users can find digitized primary source written documents, images, maps, charts, graphs, audio, and video that span the course of American history. Users can also find ready-to-use activities, or alter pre-existing activities to fit their needs.

National Council for the Social Studies
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) supports elementary, secondary, and college teachers of history, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law. Their website includes K-12 lesson plans, as well as links to a host of additional resources. Lesson plans focus on current events or “teachable moments,” as well as historical events

National History Education Clearinghouse (NHEC)
Teachinghistory.org is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) and the Stanford University History Education Group have created the Clearinghouse with the goal of making history content, teaching strategies, resources, and research accessible.

Smithsonian’s History Explorer
Based on items at the National Museum of American History, this website brings the museum’s collections and research into your classroom. In addition to the tour guides, there are plenty of lesson plans and classroom curriculum suggestions.

Stanford History Education Group
The Stanford History Education Group site includes over 130 document-based lesson plans on US and World History, 80 history assessments featuring Library of Congress documents, and assessments on measuring student reasoning about online information.  Lesson plans and assessments are free with an account.  “The Stanford History Education Group is an award-winning research and development group that comprises Stanford faculty, staff, graduate students, post-docs and visiting scholars.”

Teaching with Historic Places
Contains over 100 free middle school lesson plans in the areas of history, social studies, and geography. Lessons are based on sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places and include maps, readings, photographs, questions, and activities. Each plan is linked to national standards in the relevant subject area.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Prepared by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, this website provides helpful tips for educators that will be teaching the Holocaust to middle and high school students. There are also links to lesson plans provided on the site.