Resources to Help Teach About and Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

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*Swing recommends that substitute teachers get all outside teaching resources approved by the school prior to sharing with students.

May marks Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate and acknowledge the culture, heritage, and history of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

According to The Library of Congress, May was chosen as it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843. May also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 – the majority of the workers who laid the tracks for this major development were Chinese immigrants.

At Swing, we are honored to support Asian Pacific American Heritage Month educators who are part of our diverse substitute teacher network and believe now – as well as throughout the entire year – is a great time for all educators to teach students about the innumerable contributions of Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

Below are some sites with timely and relevant resources and lesson plans that can easily be integrated into classroom instruction:

The Library of Congress. The institution has compiled a vast collection of educational exhibits and collections to educate students about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, as well as teacher-specific resources including ready-to-use lesson plans, student activities, collection guides and research aids.

For example, want to teach about the Vietnam War? Check out these primary sources and teaching activities, as well as these teacher guides for analyzing primary resources.

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. The organization has educational content featuring interviews with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month community members, links to community-created educational resources, book recommendations, discussion ideas, and more. Here are few to check out:

  • Making Art + Global Interconnections: This arts education module series features four art-making ideas, each with a lab collection, a downloadable PDF, recorded webinars, video tutorials, and more.
  • Culture Lab Playbook: An activity book featuring coloring sheets, writing prompts, discussion starters, and more, all created by artists, scholars, and activists. 
  • Kindness Heals Activity: Includes three activities for middle and high school students to reflect on this year and last.

Edutopia. This popular education site curated a list of books – and accompanying educator guides – that Pre-K and elementary teachers can use with students. These include:

ADL. The organization created a teaching unit, titled “Voices of Japanese-America Internees,” to teach high school students about the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. It can be downloaded here.

Sites like Share My Lesson and the U.S. Department of Education also feature resources that can be used as a jumping off point to start teaching students more about the rich history of Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders and all the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month culture has to offer. 

Looking for more ways to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the classroom, at work, or at home? Below are some additional resources for teachers, school leaders, parents, and students alike.  

Have more resources to share, favorite podcasts to suggest, or other recommendations to contribute? Let us know by commenting below!

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