May Is Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month,  an opportunity to celebrate the rich history and culture of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) in the U.S. It’s a great time to teach kids about these cultures, and what an important role they play in our nation’s story. 

Here are ideas.

1. Get out the globe to explore the geography of Asia, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

A mother and daughter look at a globe

If you don’t have an actual globe at home, go online! With Google Maps, your child can take a 3D “walk” through different places. Use Google Earth to “visit” historic locations.

Need a guide? Keep in mind that the term “Asian-Pacific” encompasses a wide array of cultures and geographies.

  • All of the Asian continent: This includes about 50 countries – from China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines to (in South Asia) India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.
  • Melanesia: New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands
  • Micronesia: Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia
  • Polynesia: New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island

How many places can your child find on their own? (How many can you?) Which have they heard of? 

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2. Take a deeper dive with AANHPI heritage sites.

Check out the National Park Service’s AAPI Heritage website, which makes it easy for you and your child to virtually explore parks, memorials, and historic sites around the country and U.S. territories that honor extraordinary Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

3. Read a children’s book featuring Asian characters, written by Asian authors, or illustrated by Asian artists.

A mother and daughter look at a book together

There are lots of great book lists out there: In addition to your friendly local librarian, has a list of recommendations, and so does the School Library Journal and Reading Rockets. Social Justice Books breaks down categories for early childhood, upper elementary, young adult and adult readers. You can check most of them out from the library.  

4. Learn about traditional Asian and Pacific Island music and instruments.

Do some research with your child at your local library or online and prepare to be inspired. Here are a few YouTube videos to get you started.

5. Check out AANHPI art museums and exhibits.

Lots of museums offer virtual gallery tours, like the Asian Art Museum and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.

6. Try different Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander recipes.

Get your child involved in researching and preparing simple dishes based on an Asian, Hawaiian or Pacific Island favorites, from Samoan coconut rolls to Vietnamese chicken salad.

7. Get creative with kid-friendly art that honors Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander traditions.

A few ideas? Make tissue-paper lei, watch a YouTube tutorial to learn how to dance the Hula or Tinikling, or use LEGOs to recreate famous architecture.

8. Take a virtual vacation to Asia, Hawaii or the Pacific Islands!

From planning your itinerary to making a memory book to document all the fun you’re having, Connecticut Children’s developmental pediatrician Robert Keder, MD, shares all the ideas your family needs for an exciting vacation… right from home.

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