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Teaching Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage, Grades K-5

May Is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Found In: Arts, Language ArtsScience, Social Studies, PreK-2, 3-5

Lesson Plans

The Japanese American Internment
How Young People Saw It
Students in grades K-12 use primary and secondary sources to learn of the experiences of children and teens in World War II internment camps.

Creating Hawaii
Students in grades K-12 learn about Hawaii’s history and culture by exploring the Smithsonian exhibition, Creating Hawai’i.

Hawaiian Archipelago and Star Compass
This website provides a history of kites in general and then explores the significance of kites in Japanese culture. It provides plans for a number of kites. Some like the Kinetic Kite-Dancing Leaf are ambitious and could be used as a class project.


Wayfinders: The Game
Learn the skills of wayfinding and see if you can sail “ke,” an ancient Polynesian vessel across the sea.

Asian Art Museum: Education
Search region for K-12 lessons & activities, artwork, video or background information.

In this short video, students in grades 3-5 learn how to make a simple bullroarer with a tongue depressor, marker, and string.

Background Resources

Teaching Guides

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month: For Teachers
Primary sources, lesson plans, student activities, collection guides and research aids for grades K-12 – culled from materials at The Library of Congress, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, and other institutions.

May Is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
These activities, resources, books, and lesson plans for grades 1-5 support the study of ancient cultures, modern Asian Pacific societies, and Asian Pacific influence on American culture.

Toi Maori: The Eternal Thread ( PDF, 687 KB, 35 pgs.)
This teachers guide provides background on Maori weaving, traditions, materials and techniques.

Lesson Plan Units

Five Sites for Lesson Plans and Teaching Materials on China

Reading & Exploration

Secrets of Easter Island
This companion site to the PBS television series NOVA tells the story of how hundreds of giant stone statues that dominate the island's coast were moved and erected.

The Fate of Easter Island
Examines the impact a growing human population had the environment of Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

Wayfinders: A Pacific Odyssey
Learn about Wayfinding – navigating on the open ocean without sextant, compass, clock, radio reports, or satellites reports – and Pacific Island geography, culture, history, archaeology, linguistics and celestial navigation.

The Secrets of the Wave Pilots Examines how the Marshall Islanders were able to navigate great distances over open water without instruments.

Data & Statistics


Art History

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
Provides separate timelines for Oceania, regions of Asia.

The Art of South and Southeast Asia
This book, available in PDF format, introduces works of art from South and Southeast Asian collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Arts of Korea: A Resource for Educators
This book, available in PDF format, introduces Korea's artistic achievement and places it in the context of its history and religions.

Exhibits & Collections



History, Politics & Culture




Last Updated: March 13, 2020


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Teaching Asian Pacific Islander Heritage