Pacific Islander Heritage Month (FREE materials)

May is Asian American, Pacific Islander Heritage Month. An important celebration, but one that doesn’t typically draw the fanfare of February’s Black History Month, or Hispanic Heritage Month. However, with the popularity of Disney’s Moana and Lava songs I have found an easy engagement piece that allows students to access a part of the world they might not be familiar with. By the time they found out these islands were made from volcanos they were totally hooked! 

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Download Powerpoint here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XK6E7EwutWFzffcFRAzxHsRCleDbRY85/view?usp=sharing

What can I say, except you’re welcome? Moana is the perfect entry point into this unit. Not only does it deal with Moana, who is a Pacific Islander herself (most likely from Tonga I’ve read) and the demi-god Maui (who can teach an overview of some of the cultural myths and folklore) but the voice actors themselves are great Role models! Student will probably recognize Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (voice of Maui) but he also happens to be Samoan – not just any Samoan but his grandpa was a wrestler int he Polynesian Pacific Pro Wreslting League and his grandma was the first female promoter. Auli’i was only 16 when she sung the songs for Moana, but she was born on Hawaii and is part Hawaiian. I live this because, yes obvious the animated characters are Pacific Islanders, but you can connect them to real people and transform the material into something tangible and meaningful.

Streaming music giant, Spotify has created a ton of playlists that span all the genres of music that are featured in this month. You can find anything from K-pop to Bollywood, to Deep Roots. A great resource for students to explore on their own, or if you’re looking for music to feature in class there are ample choices here. I think it’s great because Spotify is something that students use regularly in their daily lives and this will allow them to connect it to what we’re learning in class. So for older students, or students who like to just listen to music on their own, this could be a great way to explore and experience this month.

Songs and Sing-a-longs

So in the life and times of Corona, I host daily sing-a-longs with my students; so this powerpoint would last me about a week. It’s full of videos, maps, songs, history, and more. It can be tough to cover such a geographically wide and diverse areas like Polynesia, but the music covered ranges from Hawaii, to New Zealand, and places in between. I’m based in Chicago, and so before we introduce new songs and materials I’ll start with a map that shows were Chicago is in relation to the place we’re learning about. I love weaving facts and history into my music and try to let it come from an authentic source. You’ll see as you look through the 10 or so activities, that the explanations are coming from people who represent the culture being discussed. It’s not just important for inclusivity and representation, but also makes the material real and engaging for the students. So for example when we learn about the Haka dance from NZ, it’s history and importance told (via video) by a tribal elder – and the tutorial is from a member of the NZ rugby team, the All-Blacks. My students love doing the Haka dance, but the surprise hit song for me was actually a simple one called Honu, the Hawaiian word for sea turtle. I found myself singing, and re-singing it, every class. Who knows what your students will end up loving, but there are enough materials in this Powerpoint that surely everyone can find something to love!

Activities Included:

  • Moana Sing-a-long
  • Meet the Cast (Moana) & Maui’s Myths
  • John Kanaka Cup Rhythm Game
  • Hawaii & Honu the Sea Turtle (vocab & song)
  • Meet Israel Kmakawiwo’ole
  • Lava Sing-a-long
  • Tong, Pa ki Tong (Phillipino Crab song)
  • History of the Haka (authentic source)
  • Haka Tutorial

Download Powerpoint here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XK6E7EwutWFzffcFRAzxHsRCleDbRY85/view?usp=sharing

 

 

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