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Teaching Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage, Grades 6-8

May Is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Found In: Arts, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, 6-8

Lesson Plans

The Japanese American Internment
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.

Polynesian “Medicine” Sticks ( PDF, 84 KB, 2 pgs.)
Students in grades 3-8 create a medicine stick, god stick or walking staff in a similar style to what might be found on one of the Polynesian Islands.

A Polynesian Story
Students in grades 6-8 explore the geography of Polynesia, the origins of the Polynesian people, ancient and modern Polynesian culture, and the relationship of Polynesian people with their natural environment.

Korean American Experience, A Guide for Educators
Students in grades 6-8 explore 100 years of contributions to the United States. The guide is divided into 3 lessons, which can be presented together as a full teaching unit or individually as a quick introduction.

Vietnamese American Curriculum
Students in grades 6-9 examine Vietnamese resettlement and contributions to United States.

Cultural Comparison: a look at Vietnam and USA Studies in Cultural Prejudice and Differences
Students in grades 7-10 compare the culture of Vietnam and the United States.


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

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

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.

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

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.

Out of House and Home
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.

Data & Statistics


Art History

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
Provides separate timelines for Oceania, South and South East 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: April 11, 2014


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Teaching Asian Pacific Islander Heritage