Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is observed in May to recognize the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
Our AAPI Heritage Month Activity Bags have everything you need to get creative and learn about traditions from different Asian countries. Activities include a sand mandala, shibori-dyed bandana, custom calligraphy lantern, and origami.
SF students can pick up bags in the S-Lobby starting Monday, May 10. The lobby is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please bring your SFID. You may also pick up an additional bag for a friend if you bring their SFID. If you are unable to pick up your bag in-person, e-mail email@example.com, and we’ll be happy to help! Students must be currently enrolled to participate.
A mandala is a geometric configuration of symbols with spiritual significance in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Shintoism. Mandala as an art form first appeared in Buddhist produced in India during the first century B.C.E.
A sand mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of intricate mandalas made from colored sand. A sand mandala is ritualistically dismantled once it has been completed and its accompanying ceremonies and viewing symbolize the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life.
The sand mandala kit in your activity bag doesn’t require as much skill or training, but you should still take your time and be intentional in creating your mandala.
- Mandala template
- Colored Sand Packets
- Pencil or pen
- Customize your sand mandala by labeling each section with the color you want to use. Starting with one color, peel off the paper film on all the sections you want to be that color.
- Cut a small hole in the corner of your first colored sand packet and gently pour the sand over the adhesive areas. Pat the sand down to ensure that as much sticks as possible, and then tilt the excess into a container.
- Repeat with each color until the entire mandala is covered with sand.
Shibori Dyed Bandana
Shibori is a Japanese manual tie-dyeing technique that produces different patterns. The earliest surviving examples of shibori-dyed cloth date back to the mid-8th century in Japan. Shibori techniques are generally grouped into three categories: kōkechi, tied or bound resists; rōkechi, wax resists; and kyōkechi, resists where the fabric is folded and clamped between two carved wooden blocks. You can try out one of the traditional shibori folding techniques to create your own shibori-dyed bandana (steps and images from DesignSponge):
Square Accordion Fold
Fold the fabric lengthwise, accordion-style, to make a long strip. Then fold this strip again, accordion-style, to make a square or rectangle. Place a box or block on either side of the folded fabric, and secure with two rubber bands per side.
Triangle Accordion Fold
Fold the fabric lengthwise into a long strip. Then, fold the strip again in triangles, accordion-style. Lightly secure one rubber band on each corner, trying not to scrunch the fabric too much.
To create a diagonal fan pattern, fold the fabric accordion-style, with all folds originating from one corner of the fabric. Once this fan shape has been created, fold the fabric again accordion-style, creating a messy-square type shape. Secure with rubber bands, then proceed to dye.
To make an abstract ring pattern, simply bunch up a small wad of fabric anywhere on your larger fabric piece, and place a rubber band around it. The areas covered by the rubber bands will create small, abstract rings of white.
- White cotton bandanna
- Dye bottle with water added
- Rubber bands
- Sealed container or bag
- Gloves and an apron are recommended
- Once you choose your folding pattern and secure your cloth with rubber bands, you’re ready to apply the dye.
- The dye tablet is already in the dye bottle – just add water and shake the bottle to dissolve. Find a surface that is safe to work on and free of dirt or residue.
- Slowly drip the dye over the bandana, making sure to apply evenly and especially around rubber bands.
- To set the dye, place the dyed garment in a sealed bag or container for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- Remove rubber bands and unfold to reveal your design. Rinse bandana until water runs clear. Machine-wash separately the first time.
Chinese Calligraphy Lantern
Chinese calligraphy is the writing of Chinese characters as an art form, combining purely visual art and interpretation of the literary meaning. Chinese characters can be retraced to 4000 B.C. Chinese calligraphy and ink and wash painting are closely related: they are accomplished using similar tools and techniques and have a long history of shared artistry. Distinguishing features of Chinese painting and calligraphy include an emphasis on motion charged with dynamic life.
The ink brush, ink, paper, and inkstone are essential implements of Chinese calligraphy. They are known together as the Four Treasures of the Study. The shape, size, stretch, and type of hair in the brush, the color and density of the ink, as well as the absorptive speed and surface texture of the paper are the main physical parameters influencing the final result. The speed, acceleration and deceleration of the calligrapher’s moves and turns, and the stroke order give “spirit” to the characters by influencing greatly their final shape. The “spirit” is referred to yi in Chinese calligraphy.
- Practice sheets
- Paper Lantern
Practice Sheet Template
All Chinese characters are made up of a finite number of components which are put together in different combinations. These components are called radicals. Radicals hold information about the character meaning and sound. Practice a few characters using the worksheets provided. Pay attention to the order and direction of each radical that makes up the character. Learning to mix calligraphy ink and maser brushstrokes requires practice and specialized tools, so to keep it simple we’re going to use a marker. Once you’ve mastered a character or two, you can begin working on your custom calligraphy lantern. Use the marker provided to embellish your lantern with the characters you practiced. Be careful not to press too hard on the paper so it does not puncture.
Paper lanterns are ubiquitous in Chinese celebrations, as well as festivals in Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Korea, and Vietnam. Poems about paper lanterns start to appear in Chinese history at around the 6th century AD. The Lantern Festival is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. Usually falling in February or early March on the Gregorian calendar, it marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations.
Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper. The goal is to transform a flat square sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques. Origami practitioners generally discourage the use of cuts, glue, or markings on the paper. Japanese origami has been practiced since the Edo period (1603–1867).
We provided ten sheets of origami paper for you to practice. There are so many origami projects to try, so here are a few ideas to get started: