Search form

Back to Asian and Pacific-Island Heritage
Lesson Plan
Famous Asian Americans



  • Social Studies
    --Current Events
    ----U.S. History


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Match the names of famous Asian Americans to their accomplishments.


Students will

  • do basic research using library and/or Internet resources.
  • learn about the contributions of Asian Americans.


Asian American, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Philippines, Asia, immigration, Asian-American Month, Pacific Island, Pacific Islander, census, population, diversity

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

This activity introduces students to some famous Asian Americans. Provide each student with a copy of the Famous Asian Americans work sheet. Challenge students to use library or Internet sources to match each person's name in the left column to the phrase in the right column that explains why the person is famous.

The famous Asian Americans included on the work sheet are:
Michael Chang -- tennis player
Sarah Chang -- violinist
Daniel K. Inouye -- U.S. senator, Hawaii
Duke Kahanmoku -- Olympic swimmer, "Father of Surfing"
Michelle Kwan -- Olympic figure skater
Maya Lin -- architect, designed Vietnam Memorial (Washington, D.C.)
Seiji Ozawa -- conductor, Boston Symphony *
Allen Say -- children's book author
Vera Wang -- fashion designer
Yo Yo Ma -- cellist
* Many consider Seiji Ozawa to be Asian-American because he is such a part of the American cultural fabric. However, he does not hold American citizenship; he remains a Japanese citizen.

Extension Activity
If you teach elementary or older students, you might print the names of the Asian Americans listed above and below on slips of paper. Have each student draw one slip of paper, and research the person whose name is on the paper to learn about his or her life and special contributions. Then have students write brief reports about the people they researched.

Connie Chung -- television reporter
Ann Curry -- news anchor woman, Today Show
S. I. Hayakawa (1906-1992) -- U.S. senator, college president
Dr. Feng Shan Ho -- saved thousands of Austrian Jews during the Holocaust
David Henry Hwang -- playwright, M Butterfly
Colonel Young Oak Kim -- first Asian American to command a battalion in combat
Ang Lee -- movie director: Hulk; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Bruce Lee (1940-1973) -- movie star and martial artist
Gary Locke -- governor, state of Washington
Norman Y. Mineta -- first Asian-American member of U.S. president's cabinet
Patsy Mink -- Congresswoman, Hawaii
Ralph Nader -- consumer advocate, presidential candidate
Yoko Ono -- artist, musician; was married to Beatle John Lennon
Dalip Singh Saund -- first Asian elected to Congress (1956)
Donna E. Shalala -- secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
John Sununu -- congressman, New Hampshire
Amy Tan -- author, Joy Luck Club
Tiger Woods -- golfer
Kristi Yamaguchi -- Olympic figure skater
Jerry Yang -- co-founder of Yahoo!
Laurence Yep -- author, young adult fiction (Dragonwings, Rainbow People)


On the work sheet, students match at least 8 of 10 people with their accomplishments.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding

NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools

Click to return to this week's lesson planning article Celebrating Asian and Pacific-Island Heritage.

Find more great holiday and "special days" teaching resources in Education World's Holidays and Special Days Center.