Dream in Color: Celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage | sponsored by Target
About This Lesson Plan

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Asian and Asian American


1 Week

May Is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Making Connections Using Maps

Lesson Plan for Grades 3-5

The United States is a nation of immigrants with many stories about journeys to America. Asian Americans journeyed from more than 50 Asian countries and, therefore, are a very diverse group. In this lesson, students map and learn about Asian countries and create a country quiz. Family history research helps students connect families and classmates to Asia and other parts of the world. Students connect their family birthplaces on a world map and see the web of journeys that brought students to their classroom.

National Standards

  • English Language Arts #4: Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • Social Studies: from Theme 1 – Culture
  • Experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity so that the learner can explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

Students will:

  • Learn names and locations of at least 15 Asian countries
  • Compare and contrast countries by learning facts about geography, sports and celebrations
  • Learn about family immigration patterns to the United States
  • Practice research, presentation and interview skills

Activity #1

  • Map A. Blank map of Asia
  • Map B. Map of Asia (for group exercise)
  • Map C. Labeled map of Asia (key to group exercise)
  • Fact Sheets for 15 countries (in four groups)

Activity #2

  • Index cards

Activity #3

  • World map
  • Bulletin board
  • Pushpins
  • String
  • Letter to parents

Activity #4

  • Homework sheet with sample interview questions
  • Letter to parents

Activity #1

  • Download the reproducibles.
  • Print Map A and Map C. Make one copy for each student.
  • Print Map B. Make one copy for each small group of five students.
  • Create overhead transparencies of Map A and C (optional)
  • Print one set of Fact Sheets. Make one copy for each small group

Activity #2

  • None (see Directions).

Activity #3

  • Write a letter to parents explaining the family history research assignment and asking for their help. Sample: "Researching family history is a powerful way for students to understand other cultures. In this lesson, students will create a family tree that lists the birthplaces of their parents." Make one copy for each student.
  • Create a family tree worksheet to list the name and birthplace of the student and his or her parents. Make one copy for each student.
  • Post a large world map on a bulletin board in the classroom.

Activity #4

  • Revise the Activity #3 letter asking parents to help with a family research interview. Sample addition: "Students will interview a family member or family friend to learn what it was like to move from one place to another. They will prepare a class presentation based on the interview."
  • Create a homework sheet with sample interview questions. Leave space for students to add questions the class agrees everyone will ask.


  1. Map A. Blank map of Asia (PDF)
  2. Map B. Map of Asia (for group exercise) (PDF)
  3. Map C. Labeled map of Asia (key to group exercise) (PDF)
  4. Fact Sheet Set 1 (South Asia) (PDF)
  5. Fact Sheet Set 2 (Southeast Asia) (PDF)
  6. Fact Sheet Set 3 (East Asia) (PDF)
  7. Fact Sheet Set 4 (Pacific Islands) (PDF)

Activity #1: "Mapping Asia"

  • Distribute one copy of Map A to each student. Ask students what world region this map represents.
  • Give students two minutes to label without any help as many countries and bodies of water as possible. Reassure students that this will not be graded. Use this as a pre-test to compare what students know before and after the lesson. Students can list on the side of the map the names of countries they know but cannot locate
  • Using an overhead projector, help the class label the Asian countries. Make a list of countries they can name but cannot locate on the map (optional).
  • Divide the class into small groups of around five students each. Have the students assign a role to each group member: gather or distribute handouts, write names on the group map, present the group's ideas to the class, etc.
  • Give each group one set of Fact Sheets and have them divide the Fact Sheets so each student has about three sheets.
  • Give each small group one copy of Map B. Students will work together to label the oceans and countries, taking turns reading the fact sheets aloud, and trying to use the information to match a name with each unlabeled country on the map.
  • Each presenter tells the class how many countries the group was able to map. Ask the students which countries were difficult to locate? Why they might know the locations of some countries and not others? If some students traveled to these countries or lived there? If some countries are in the news more often than others?
  • Give each group one copy of Map C. Have small groups compare their map to Map C and correct any mistakes.
Activity #2: "Country Quiz Game"
  • Ask students to share with the class some interesting or surprising things they knew about the countries or learned from the Fact Sheets. List student ideas in categories on the board, e.g. geography, food and celebrations, sports, religion, etc. Explain that these categories are useful ways to compare countries and cultures.
  • In small groups, ask students to create three to five quiz questions about the countries based on the Fact Sheets. Encourage students to create questions that compare countries in the categories listed on the board. For example, name three countries with the most people. What sport is the most popular across all the countries? What is the most common religion? Ask one student to write the questions and answers for the teacher to review.
  • Review each group's quiz questions. Check the answers against the fact sheets and edit the quiz questions and answers as needed. Return the corrected quiz questions to the small groups that created them. Distribute index cards and have the students write their questions on one side and the correct answers on the other.
  • Play the Country Quiz Game. Groups take turns reading one quiz question, and the other groups compete to see who can find and report the answers the fastest. Keep score on the board.

Activity #3: "Mapping Ancestor Birthplaces"

  • Distribute the family tree worksheet. Explain that students will write the names and birthplaces of their parents and grandparents.
  • For homework, students ask a family member or relative for this information. Hand out the letter to parents and tell the students to give the letter to the person who will help complete the family tree.
  • Using the family tree information, have the students find and mark with pushpins their own, their parents', and their grandparents' birthplaces on the world map you have posted. (If several students list the same city, use one pushpin and place a label listing the student names next to the pushpin.)
  • If students know where more than two generations in their family were born, use string to connect their family immigration route. All strings should converge at the city in which the school is located. (Optional: Use colored strings to represent movement from each continent, e.g. from Asia with red, from Canada or within the U.S. is green, etc.)
  • Look at the web of journeys represented in the classroom. Sample questions for class discussion: How many moves did it take for each student to come to this classroom? Which journeys were easiest or most difficult? Why? Does anyone know a story about an immigration experience? Were the journeys different depending on the year, e.g. would traveling in the 1800s differ from the 1900s or today?

Activity #4: "Migration Stories"

  • Ask students to interview someone about what it is like to leave a home and start over. This person can be a family member, relative or family friend, and the move can be across an ocean, to another country, within a state or even in the same town.
  • Explain that researchers usually create a list of interview questions that they ask everyone. Remind them that follow-up questions are OK. Sample questions: Why did you decide to move? How did you decide on your destination? What was travelling like? What was the hardest part of the journey? What was the best part of the journey? What did you do when you first arrived?
  • Hand out the homework sheet with sample interview questions. Have the students write down the additional questions they agreed to ask.
  • Send the students home with a letter to parents explaining that students will conduct interviews and prepare class presentations. Each student should write what they plan to say in their presentation. Students may collect photographs or artifacts as visual aids for their presentations.
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