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Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! 2024


There is a Black History Month, Native Americans Heritage Month, a Hispanic American Month and a Woman’s History Month. Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month is a time to highlight the contributions of these groups of people to the culture of the United States. It is celebrated in the month of May but could be used throughout a school year whenever you are wishing to highlight contributions of famous people to our world.

Did YOU Know? 

1. Could the people of Polynesia have sailed across the Pacific to Hawaii? In 1973, a group of people tried to prove this was possible. 

Using just traditional sailing and navigational methods, the Hokule’a sailed, in 1975, from Hawaii to Tahiti and returned back to Hawaii. Eventually, the Hokule’a did a 3 year voyage covering 47,000 nautical miles around the world.(completed in 2017) 

2. Surfing became very popular thanks to Hawaiian native, Duke Kahanmoku. He was called the “father of surfing”. He was also known as the “Big Kahuna”. 


3. Many words in the English language originated with Asia/ Pacific Islanders. For example, the word, “tattoo” comes from the Tahiti language. The word, "ketchup" comes from a Malay word(koetsiap) meaning seafood sauce. The word, " ukelele comes from the people of Polynesia .


Thought Questions:

1. Do you think we should establish specific times to highlight the contributions of different cultures to our American culture? Why or why not?

Extension Activities:

Ask the students if they can identify Asia and Pacific Island nations. Use a world map to locate the countries. 

Scroll down to Map of Asia Pacific region:

1. Try Japanese Origami:

2. Make a Chinese paper Lantern:

3. Try Rangoli, an Indian art:

4. Try learning a Filipino dance called tinkling.

5. Lunar New Year:

6. Learn about the Hula, Traditional Hawaiian dance:

7. Book recommendations
8. Coloring sheets

9. Learn about the Cherry Blossom Festival:

10. Dragon Boat Festivals:

11. Animals native to Asia:

12. Animals native to Pacific Islands:

13. Languages from Pacific Islands:

14. Languages from Asia:

15. There are many people to highlight in a resource on Asia/Pacific Islanders including Here are additional names you may wish to share with your students: 

Michelle Kwan: Figure skater, Olympic medalist(Hong Kong ancestry). 

Kristi Yamaguchi: Olympic Gold Medalist, figure skating(Japanese ancestry). 

Apolo Ohno: Japanese American speed skater/ 8 time medalist at Olympics. 

Iwao Takamoto: Japanese American animator and creator of Scooby Doo. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: WWE World Heavyweight Champion and 

actor, Samoan and African American descent. Jordan Ta’amu NFL quarterback, Samoan descent. 

16. Listen to music from Pacific countries(see instruments). Sing songs such as a Lullaby from Tonga, Tahiti, etc. Click on Oceania and the Pacific Islands. 

17. For teachers

Additional Link for Teachers:

AAPI Heritage Month for Kids



Check out my webquest: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Free illustrations from Pixabay