School can be a busy place. There are lessons to be taught, homework to be graded, tests to take, and a myriad of other responsibilities to address. It’s easy for teachers, as well as students, to get overwhelmed by everything that’s happening around them. And that was before the pandemic. With this school year finally coming to a close, most of us are exhausted.

Given the circumstances, it’s easy to overlook events like Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Our classrooms are full of squirrely students who are eager to get to summer. But celebrations like AANHPI Heritage Month are important. American history cannot be told without the valuable contributions of countless AANHPI heroes, and for many students, this month is an opportunity to feel seen. We should embrace this unique chance to foster a growth mindset in our classrooms.

Celebrate American History

So, how do we celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month with students in a way that’s memorable, meaningful, and fun? Here are a few activities to help you get started:

  • Meet the STEAM Dream Team: Introduce students to Asian and Pacific Islander Americans who changed the world! Use the STEAM Dream Team activity and challenge them to match a description of each innovator with that person’s name and picture. At the end of their adventure, they’ll discover how many they got right. If they made any mistakes, they’ll receive clues that can help them navigate the quest successfully. When they achieve success, they’ll be rewarded with a short game that launches their curiosity about even more great STEAM Dream Teamers!
  • Collect AANHPI Literature: There are plenty of incredible books written by authors of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, and many more featuring characters of the same backgrounds. Share these with your students and create some time for free reading. Consider including books like Front Desk by Kelly Yang, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen, and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.
  • Take a Field Trip…Around the World: Let your students roam the globe to see AANHPI heritage with their own eyes! From the slopes of Everest to the streets of Shanghai to a small-town hardware store in Nepal, this field trip will expand your students’ horizons. Use this Thinglink and have students explore what incredible discoveries they can make. When you are finished, have them share out a few of their favorites!
  • Explore the Lunar Calendar: Introduce your students to the Lunar calendar. Explain that while many calendars are based on the Earth’s rotation around the sun, the Lunar calendar is based on the phases of the moon. Have your students research the different phases of the moon and how they can be used to measure time. Then, explain how people of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese heritage use this scale for important cultural events!
Ending the Year Right

This time of year is always challenging as we try to juggle the demands it brings. Still, it’s important that we take time to celebrate what matters. Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportunity to expand the scope of our students’ world and get them thinking beyond the classroom. Take this moment to celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month, recognize the amazing accomplishments of our fellow Americans, and leave your classroom feeling inspired!

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