Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Books that Celebrate Asian Cultures



Recently I had a very thoughtful, open discussion about the importance of children, especially Asian children, feeling represented and celebrated at schools.  Growing up in the public school system in the 90's, I was not exposed to much literature about my culture.  I remember reading all the Classics during Read Alouds in my elementary classroom but rarely did I see main characters in books who represented and looked like me, spoke like me, or ate the things that I ate when I went home.  

When I became a teacher and did some research on my own, I realized how much children literature that celebrates Asian cultures are really out there!  

If you are a teacher and you have students who are Asian, please expose them to books of characters that represent them.  As humans, we all have the need to be acknowledged and "seen", truly seen as who we are.  Children are the same.  They need to know that others share their experiences and that their culture is worthy of being celebrated and shared in the classroom as other cultures do!  Even if you don't have Asian students in your classroom, please find some time to read these as well to enrich your students with knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

With that being said, I would like to share with you some of my favorite books that celebrate Asian cultures for the primary grades.


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This book hits home for me.  Just as the author, I was too a Vietnamese refugee.  I share so much of her personal experiences of growing up as a Vietnamese American and growing up in a new country that is now  home.  The book is longer than the other books listed, but it is written as a diary in a poetry form and is simple to understand for children.  I love this book and would recommend it for second graders and up and would use it to teach empathy, character traits, and making connections.



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This sweet, rhyming book is about a little Korean girl who helps her mom prepare bee-bim bop, a dish with rice, meat, vegetables, and egg in a hot stone bowl.  While your students will notice that there are differences between the food that the main character eats and them, there are still many similarities between them as well! Therefore, this book would be perfect for comparing and contrasting, making connections, and reading and writing procedural text!  



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Do you have students who bring food from home for lunch that is not the traditional American school lunch food?  I remember packing some stir-fried noodles for the son one day when he was Pre-K.  He had it for dinner and loved it so much that he requested I would pack  the left-overs for him to eat at school.  So I did just that and was so excited for him!  When I picked him up, he said that his friends asked him why he was eating noodles and he said that he didn't want to bring them to school anymore because it was different.  When he said that, it broke my heart.  Therefore, I love Yoko as it is a story of cat who brings sushi and red bean ice cream to school one day and is faced with questions and harsh words from her classmates.  Reading this in the classroom will definitely allow for some good conversations about diversity, acceptance, and kindness!


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This sweet story is about a little Korean boy who receives a letter from his grandma who lives in a town near Seoul.  Through their correspondence, the reader gains a better understanding of where Juno's grandma lives and the close relationship between the two of them.  Not only does this book give young readers a peek into life in Korea, but it also encourages young readers to make text-to-self connections and is also a good segway for students to practice writing friendly letters to their own grandparents!


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In this book, Aneel's grandparents from India visits him and his grandfather, Dada-ji tells him some of the most wonderful and adventure-filled stories that he has ever heard. However, he figures that to have the same powers that his grandfather had as a kid, he has to learn to make and eat the hot, hot roti Dada-ji ate!  



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Children have always wondered about my name, Ha. Growing up, I always had kids question me about it and people still do when they first meet me, which I do not mind anymore.  However, I wish so much that my teacher could have read this book to me when I was a kid as I was the one with the ethnically marked name and had secretly wanted to change my name.  Now, I understand how my name has shaped me to be the person that I am today and how it is so much of my identify.  If you have students who also have ethnically marked names, this book will help them to understand how special their name really is while it also helps other students to learn acceptance of differences.


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This story is based on the author's grandmother's journey growing up in China and overcoming the traditional expectations of girls to become the person that she wanted to be.  I love this book because not only does it speak of Chinese traditions and culture, it also has a positive message for little girls! After reading this, students may write and share their wish for themselves and their dream of what they want to be when they grow up.


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Have you ever tried dim sum before?  It's one of my favorite Asian dishes! Almost every Sunday, my family would go to a local Chinese restaurant to eat dim sum after church when I was a kid.  The small dishes are dumplings filled with various meats and vegetables that are usually steamed or fried. They are flavorful, often served in mini bamboo steamers, and pushed around the restaurant in carts to patrons.  I love dim sum, and I love that this easy-to- read book describes these beloved Chinese dishes to young learners in such simple and descriptive terms!



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Set in the Hawaiian islands, this book describes how the main character celebrates New Year with her family.  It is filled with descriptions, details, and examples of how different Asian cultures blend together to make up her family.  Students can easily connect this text to their life as understand how we all share so many traditions from other cultures within our family as well!


With Chinese/Lunar New Year coming up, this time of year is the perfect time to introduce your students to Asian cultures as many local Asian restaurants and grocery stores will be decorated with red decorations and pictures of the new Zodiac sign.  If you need a quick and meaningful read aloud, I highly suggest my personal favorite, Sam's Lucky Money by Karen Chinn.

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If you need resources to celebrate Chinese New Year with your students, click to the images below for more details.







Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliated links, meaning that I will earn a commission if you click through the links and make a purchase.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Valentine Gift Ideas & FREEBIES


Valentine is just around the corner, and this year I am teaming with Oriental Trading to bring you some fun Valentine student gift ideas and FREEBIES!

Do your students love EMOJIS as much as mine?!  They just can't seem to get over how funny, cute, and ABSOLUTELY COOL Emojis are!  So to surprise them, I got them these adorable Valentine Emoji Pinhole Glasses from Oriental Trading!  They are going to squeal and some may SCREAM with excitement when they find out, and I'm going to love all the class photos that we'll get at the party with them wearing these fun glasses!

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What about a little gift that students can make at the Valentine Party and take home?  Well, these Mini Heart Print Gliders are just perfect! Not only are cute, there are 48 of them in a package!  Whatever you don't use this year, you can definitely save for next year's party!


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If you need some quick Valentine math and literacy review, I recently updated my First Grade Valentine Math and Literacy Packet and added the Kinder Packet as well! Scroll down for a sneak peek inside! Click on the packets for more details!














To download the tags for FREE, click on the graphics below!  Hope you have a great time celebrating Valentine's Day with your students!







Pin Now, Read Later!


Saturday, January 20, 2018

My First Saturday 6

It's been such a looong time since I've blogged. 97 days or 3 months and 5 days to be exact. 😂

After Halloween, the holidays just came so fast and furious that it's really been a whirlwind since then. If you would like to see what I have been up to, please connect with me on my Instagram!  I share snip bits daily, and would love to connect with you!

Ok.... so back to blogging... lol... As part of my New Year's Resolutions to blog more often, I am linking up with my friend Megan from Mrs. Wheeler to bring to you my Saturday Six, a rundown of six things from my week!



To celebrate Dr. King's birthday, my class read about his life and work and used these adorable, FREE banners from Playdough to Plato to share our own dreams for our country and world.  While we had off for the Holiday, I'm so glad that these banners are handing in our classroom to remind us to keep Dr. King's dream alive!  

As a quick activity to tie asking literal questions to text, I encouraged my students to ask questions before, during, and after reading about Dr. King.  We recorded the questions on sticky notes, then went back and answered them on pink stickies that were placed directly underneath of the questions.  The kids loved completing the anchor chart together, and since we used stickies, I will be able to reuse this anchor chart for next year! Can we say, "SCORE?!!!!" :) 

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Since Tuesday was a super cold day, I had to use my Jeans Pass a wear my new super comfy and warm sweatshirt from The Wright Stuff Chics.  Jeans plus a cute teacher tee made the day back from a 3-day weekend PERFECTO!

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I'm a month ahead, but my son's Kindergarten teacher, who is also my #TeacherBestie, and I are planning to do a fun Chinese/Lunar New Year STEM Challenge together.  Therefore, I have been prepping for all the lessons on the holiday that we will need to teacher beforehand.  Pulling out the books and looking through my files made me so excited as the holiday hits directly HOME for me!  Plus I get to celebrate it with my son and his Kindergarten class this year! You can check out this Chinese Zodiac, craftivities, and more from my newly UPDATED Chinese New Year Packet by clicking on the images below.

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Since we're half way through the year, it's that time when I'm almost out of color dry erase markers. But then!!!! One of them sent this in for me! A brand new pack so pretty that I had to pull out my book stand! 😂🌈  I seriously have been blessed with such amazing parents in my classroom!


For many classrooms around the country, the countdown to 100th Day of School has officially begun! In years past, I have celebrated by having students dressed as 100 years old.  But honestly, my most favorite activity is when my students got to choose 100 items of something and create their own 100th-Day t-shirt!  Look at some of the examples below!  Their creativity really blew me away!!!

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To add more FUN with instruction to your 100th Day celebrations, check out these interactive and engaging activities below that are from my 100th Day of School Packet.  It has both math and literacy activities that are perfect for the entire day!
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The weather was finally nice enough outside on Saturday that we finally got to go to the local library to read some books and then went home to enjoy our new spa! Let's just say, some of us were more than SUPER EXCITED! :)

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