Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Hello Sparkle moms and dads. As a super proud Asian American, Ellie has been telling us all about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
What is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
It takes place throughout the month of May, and is a yearly celebration of the history, culture, and contributions of Asian Pacific Americans to the United States. The celebrations first began back in 1977 with a 10-day commemoration. Then over 10 years later in 1992, George H W Bush passed a law that made the celebration last for the whole month of May!
But why May? Well, the two main events that kick-started AAPI Heritage Month both took place in the month of May …the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States on 7th May, 1843, and the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, mainly by Chinese immigrants, on 10th May, 1869.
We’ve really enjoyed chatting about AAPI Heritage Month here at the Sparkles HQ. And with almost 7% of the United States’ population now made up of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, it’s more important than ever to talk to our kids about it too. We need them to grow up celebrating diversity and inclusion. So with Ellie’s help, we’ve come up with some fun ways you can teach the Sparkles about the huge part Asian Pacific Americans have played in the nation’s history, and continue to do so now.
How to Recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Month with Kids
- Explore 🌏 If you have a globe of the World, why not use it with the kids to explore Asia and the Pacific Islands? Or use Google Maps to take a ‘walk’ through some of the countries. There are plenty to choose from…. China, Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Hawaii, Guam and the Samoan Islands, to name just a few! Talk about the different geographies and look into the cultures. How many of the countries have the Sparkles heard of?
- Read and watch 📚 Read children’s books or watch films together featuring Asian or Pacific Islander characters. It helps for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to see others from their culture represented in media, empowering them to aim high in the future. Plus, it’s a great way to learn about other cultures and will help encourage empathy and widen children’s view of the world. (Book lists sorted by age can be found online.)
- Historical sites 📍 Check out AAPI Heritage sites online so you can virtually explore parks, memorials and historic sites around the country that honor famous Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you can get to visit any of the sites in person, even better! There are also some great AAPI art museums, such as the Asian Art Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art.
- Taste the cuisine 👩🍳 How about cooking some simple Asian and Pacific Islander recipes together?! Find some recipes online and decide which ones to try…Korean BBQ Short Ribs, Thai Style Beef Jerky, Japanese Shiitake and Vegetable Rice or Vietnamese Sausage are just a few suggestions!
- Get musical 🥁 Look up traditional Asian and Pacific Island instruments. Help the Sparkles try to make their own versions using recycled materials from around the house. Some examples we found are Slit Drums, Nose Flute, Shell Trumpet, Chinese Cymbals, Singing Bowls and lots of types of Gongs!
- Learn together 💌 Kids will love to make some AAPI Heritage Month-themed invitations, inviting friends and family to come round and celebrate together. How about serving everyone some of the recipes you’ve been practicing?!
- Reflect and recall 📝 Towards the end of the month, get the kids to draw a picture of something they’ve found fun or interesting from the various activities they’ve done. It could be an object from the museum, the national flags from countries they’ve been looking at, one of the musical instruments or their favorite recipe. Or get the building bricks out and see if they can build something that reminds them of their AAPI Heritage Month.