11 Resources for Teaching About AAPI Experiences

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on May 11, 2021

iStock-1231898401Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month each May is a great time to recommit to centering Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) experiences in the classroom. Check out the following resources from a host of cultural institutions including the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience, Japanese American National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and California Museum to expand your pool of classroom offerings on the historical and contemporary experiences of AAPI peoples.   

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience
This Seattle-based museum offers an Online Classroom through which they share a host of classroom-ready teaching activities and learning tools on the histories and experiences of the following four groups of Asian Americans:


Japanese American National Museum
This Los Angeles-based museum offers these classroom resources, as well as the following virtual events that you can book for you and your students at least three weeks in advance:

Let Curiosity Guide You: Grades 4-6
“This facilitated exploration of key artifacts, images, and documents from JANM’s on-going exhibition Common Ground: The Heart of Community provides students the opportunity to learn about and react to Japanese American history while honing critical thinking skills and engaging (verbally and non-verbally) in facilitated virtual discussion.”

The “Stuff” of History: Grades 7-12
This facilitated exploration of key artifacts, images, and documents from JANM’s on-going exhibition Common Ground: The Heart of Community provides students the opportunity to learn about and react to Japanese American history while honing critical thinking skills and engaging (verbally and non-verbally) in facilitated virtual discussion.”

Speak with a Survivor Add-On: Grades 4-12
“Using a virtual video/audio conferencing platform, speak to a survivor of America’s concentration camps and gain insight into the first-hand experience of living through history. Trained docents and facilitators who lived through WWII will engage with your group to provide a rare, first-person glimpse of this critical era of American history. Offered depending on speaker availability.”

Smithsonian Institution
Multiple arms of the Smithsonian Institution are offering the following educational events during the month of May around AAPI experiences. Below are the words of event organizers:

Panel: Youth in Action: Ecological Knowledge in Pacific Coastal Communities (Thursday, May 20, 2021 - 12:01 AM ET)
This virtual event asks: How can traditional knowledge inform responses to current environmental challenges? This event features a conversation with young Indigenous activists from across the Pacific who are using traditional ecological practices to combat threats to the ocean resources their communities have protected and thrived on for thousands of years. Recording will be available on demand until Thursday, May 20, 2021. 

California Museum
This Sacramento-based museum describes their institution as one that “engages, educates and enlightens people about California’s rich history, its diversity and its unique influence on the world of ideas, innovation, art and culture.” Below is a description of one of their offerings in the words of the exhibition’s curators:  

Kokoro: The Story of Sacramento’s Lost Japantown Online
“Based on a 2017 exhibition at the California Museum, this collection of photos explores a now-vanished and mostly forgotten neighborhood. Once the fourth-largest Japantown in the nation, the once-vibrant community was born out of racism and ultimately was destroyed by it.”

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Facing History and Ourselves invites educators to use our Teaching Idea, Bearing Witness to Japanese American Incarceration.

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Topics: Asian American and Pacific Islander History

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