This April is the 25th year for Asian Pacific American Month, and here at Big Universe, we want to recognize the great value Asian Americans and Pacific Americans give our society. Representing cultures from the Asian continent as well as the island nations of the Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia, it's a time to celebrate the diversity of the culture and the people with heritage from those places. Let these ideas below give your lesson plans life.
People. Have students research the many notable Asian/Pacific Americans and create a visual biographic display using foldables or creating a reference resource for future students to read. This helps students understand the importance these persons played in their respective contexts as well as provides an opportunity to learn more about the ways these people contribute to their own lives. Amy Tan, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Senator Daniel Inouye, Tammy Duckworth, and Norman Mineta may be great places to start.
Places. Pair students to research a country to make an interactive atlas or bulletin board. Pick 5 - 7 areas to highlight (e.g. national language, population, current history, notable people) and post it in a booklet in the shape of the country or as an infographic posted on the map.
Impact on society. Learn about the positive and negative experiences Asian Americans endured in the United States. From the Japanese interment camps, the relationships over time of America with different Asian countries, and the impact of globalization on both the US and the Asian continent are great places to start. Then create a video or slide presentation about the findings and conclusions gathered from the research done.
Entertainment. Study several different styles of dance and learn one per district/family permission. Look at kid-friendly movies or video clips from different cultures and have students write a response to what they saw. Illustrate the information and then post it in a prominent place.
Literary connections. Whether it's a text to self or world connections, students need to practice this skill, so what better way to do that than by reading! Start with books like Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club or The Great Wall of Lucy Lu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang. Talk about how these texts impact how you view life and write a book review. Publish it in the school newspaper and allow others to read about the connections between the writers and the receiver.
Cuisine. Make or taste foods from different areas in Asia and the Pacific. Try sushi, pad thai, pancit, or ramen noodles to start. Invite local restaurants or families [with proper permissions per district] to provide the food or do simple recipes that can be made easily in school, such as Chinese Donuts and Rice Cooker Cake. Compare and contrast the ways food tastes and the preparation methods, and discuss how external factors--particularly religious influences but also colonization influences--contribute to the development of the cuisine in the regions studied.
Have any tried and true ideas you'd like to share below? We'd love to hear them!