Activities to celebrate Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month


May is Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, a time to recognize the contributions and cultural influences of this diverse community in the United States. While this has been a tough year for everyone, it’s worth noting that the pandemic has been a particularly tough time for the Asian-American community.

For the final section At Home, this activity page looks not only at the past year, but also at the childhood influences that will shape our return to the world. From a craft that uses paper to create beautiful images following the methodology of a traditional Japanese art form, to a cryptogram that reveals a quote from an award-winning poet and novelist, to a Filipino game you can create with just a few household supplies, these activities are designed to provide opportunities for joy, discovery, nostalgia, and connection.

In the words of Ling Ma, the Chinese-American author of “Severance,” a novel about a pandemic that started in China and spread to the United States, “So let’s come back, as we do in period. of mourning, for pleasure but above all for the need for relief, to art.

This work of art is inspired by a style of Japanese playing cards called Hanafuda, or Hwatu when used to play the Korean game Go-Stop, as well as by the ancient Indian game known as Snakes and Ladders. Cut out these cards and arrange them like a puzzle to form a completed work of art. In a Hanafuda deck, the cards contain images of nature representing different months of the year.

Once the cards are placed in the correct order, you will see eight butterfly tracks (dotted lines), and each butterfly track has a letter on each end and a butterfly on one end that will help you decode the cryptogram below. If, for example, there is a “Z” at the end of the track and a “Y” with the butterfly, for each “Z” in the cryptogram text, you replace it with a “Y” to decipher the quote .

The first pair, L -> A, have been provided to begin with. Not all letters are given, so you’ll have to use your cryptogram solving skills to decode the rest!

Download a printable version of this activity here.

Chigiri-e (pronounced chee-ghee-ri-eh) is a paper craft from Japan dating to the Heian period (794-1185). Often associated with calligraphy, it involves tearing colored paper into shapes and creating images that resemble watercolors. Using handmade paper is an important part of the traditional art of chigiri-e, but here you can use your journal.

1. Emboss the card stock: Trace the template onto the card stock using an embossing pen or pencil. The point is to outline the image so that you have a guide on where to stick the colored paper.

2. Trace and Tear: Trace a shape from the template onto newspaper, tissue paper, or other types of paper you may want to use. Tear off the paper along the traced shape; you can trace the lines with a stylus to make tearing easier.

3. Glue to card stock: For easier positioning (and less mess), add water to the glue and use a paintbrush to apply the glue directly to the card stock. Use tweezers to position the torn paper.

5. When you’re done, share your artwork, frame it, or start your next creation.


  • Using an embossing stylus makes tearing easier.

  • Remember, however, that this is not a precision exercise. The imperfect nature of the torn paper is what gives the texture of the artwork.

  • Don’t be afraid to improvise; if you find bare spots, just glue small pieces of paper to add more dimension.

  • You can also tear the paper into small pieces and glue it to the card stock, like coloring in a coloring book.

  • Handmade paper, as well as paper with gradient color or texture, will give your art a water-like texture.

Sipà is a Filipino game related to the Southeast Asian sport sepak takraw, or kick volleyball. Sipà, which means ‘kick’ in Tagalog, is the name of the game itself, as well as the word for the ball. It is part of a rich tradition of children playing outdoor games, especially in urban and rural areas.

Typically made from a lead washer and rag, this version uses common household materials to make your bullet.


1. Cut the sheet of newspaper in half. Fold a sheet in half lengthwise and crosswise and cut along these lines to make four pieces.

2. Stack three of these pieces (this makes it more aerodynamic). Place a small coin in the center, bundle the paper and secure it with a string or rubber band.

3. Cut the top of the paper into thin strips. You can use the fourth sheet to catch the scraps and cut off the top to make it more even.

How to play:

  • Go outside

  • Hit the sipà using your feet or legs (below the knees), like in a hacking bag.

  • Players score based on the number of times they can hit the sipà without it hitting the ground.

  • Variant 1: the players take turns throwing the sipà as many times as possible; the player with the highest score wins.

  • Variant 2: Form two teams. The players take turns passing the sipà. If the ball hits the ground, the opposing team wins a point. The team with the highest score wins.


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