People sitting around table learning at JANM education workshop

Education Resources

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Activities and Resources

Activities and resources for learners of all ages that make learning about the Japanese American experience engaging and exciting. Resources include printable offline activities, origami videos, web resources and lessons, printable curriculum, and more.
 
Join our Education Unit on JANM’s social media as they make learning fun and exciting through engaging activities, virtual speakers, and educational resources, including printable offline activities for the entire family.

Photo of Miné Okubo sketching in front of barracks

Featured Resource

 

MINÉ OKUBO’S MASTERPIECE ACTIVITY GUIDE (2021)

This activity guide, designed to accompany Miné Okubo’s Masterpiece: The Art of Citizen 13360 (on view at JANM through February 20, 2022), engages the user with activities and prompts that encourage thoughtful reflection and art making inspired by JANM’s collection of Okubo’s illustrations.

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Masters of Modern Design activity guide

Activities

Fun activities to learn from both on-line and off-line.

Explore

Kaeru Video

Videos

Watch and learn with origami tutorials and video lessons.

Watch

Exploring America's Concentration Camps

Web Resources and Lessons

Highly-visual web resources about the Japanese American WWII camp experience.

Explore

Instructions to All Persons poster, paired with Order 41. Gift of James V. Gatewood, 99.243.2

Printable Curriculum

Teach about broader issues of community, social justice, civil rights, and democracy.

Learn

First Person Voice Ruth Sumiko

First-Person Voice

Explore digital video shorts by our volunteers as well as life history interviews.

Explore

Education Resources Thumbnail

General Resources

Looking for some basic information about the Japanese American experience?

Explore

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activities
Masters of Modern Design activity guide

Activities

Fun activities to learn from both on-line and off-line. Keep checking back to see what new things we’ve added.

Activities

Miné Okubo’s Masterpiece Activity Guide (2021)

Activities inspired by Miné Okubo’s illustrations.

Miné Okubo’s Masterpiece Activity Guide cover

 

This activity guide, designed to accompany Miné Okubo’s Masterpiece: The Art of Citizen 13360 (on view at JANM through February 20, 2022), engages the user with activities and prompts that encourage thoughtful reflection and art making inspired by JANM’s collection of Okubo’s illustrations.

This booklet was created for the in-gallery experience but can be used at home with the museum’s digital repository of Okubo’s work.

Masters of Modern Design Activity Guide (2020)

Activity booklet inspired by the legacies of great Japanese American artists.

Masters of Modern Design Activity

 

Perfect for kids and creators of all ages, this activity book is designed to supplement the KCET and JANM’s Watase Media Arts Center co-produced documentary, Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience

These activities—designed to be done at home, offline and with materials lying around the house—are inspired by the legacies of the great Japanese American artists highlighted in the film. 

Share your art and find additional inspiration using the #JANMinspired.

Neighborhood Mapping (2020)

Collection inspired activity documenting your neighborhood.

Neighboorhood Mapping Activity

In 1943, Louise Sasano mapped the area around her barracks at Amache concentration camp. She made sure to include all the details that make a neighborhood feel like home.

Take inspiration from Sasano and this piece in JANM’s collection to document your neighborhood.

Share your creations on social media using the hashtag #JANMinspired.

Upcycled Wearable (2020)

Collection inspired activity crafting wearable art.

Upcycled Wearable Activity

 

Art and fashion often respond to our surroundings and our resources, like the delicate shell jewelry made by Ryo Maruoka during her time at Topaz concentration camp.

Find inspiration in JANM’s collection to transform everyday materials into wearable art.

Share your creations on social media using the hashtag #JANMinspired.

Home Mapping (2020)

Collection inspired activity documenting your home.

Home Mapping Activity

During World War II, 14-year-old Lilian Yamashita drew her barrack to document what life was like at Rowher concentration camp. Decades later, this artifact gives us insight into her experience during a period of great uncertainty for her and her family.

Take inspiration from JANM’s collection to document the space where you live and capture a moment in time.

Share your creations on social media using the hashtag #JANMinspired.

Stylish Sunhats (2020)

Collection inspired activity adding flare to your summer style.

Stylish Hats Activity

 

What can a paper hat teach us about early Japanese immigrants’ experiences in Hawai‘i?

Take inspiration from the Barbara Kawakami Collection sunhats to create some homemade “personal protective equipment” that shows off your creativity and style!

Share your creations on social media using the hashtag #JANMinspired.

Write to Me (2020)

Collection inspired activity practicing letter writing.

Write to Me Activity

Clara Breed, the San Diego Public Librarian from 1929–1945, was a lifelong friend to the Japanese American community. By keeping in touch with her former patrons after they were forcibly removed from their Southern California homes, she demonstrated friendship and allyship in the letters she wrote.

In the spirit of the Clara Breed Collection, write a letter to someone you care about.

Share your creations on social media using the hashtag #JANMinspired.

Create Your Own Spirited Pennant (2020)

Collection inspired activity showcasing your passion(s).

Create Your Own Spirited Pennant Activity

 

Pennants are a fun way to express yourself and your passions. Historically they are used to celebrate parts of a person’s identity like their hometowns, favorite sports team, and alma maters! 

These sweet and cherished souvenirs were popular décor inside barracks across America’s concentration camps during World War II and are a great way show your personality and creativity. 

Share your creations online using the hashtag #JANMinspired.

Fingerprint Stamping (2020)

Collection inspired activity stamping safe and artistic designs.

Fingerprint Stamping Activity

Fingerprint art is a safe and unique way to channel creativity and put a personal stamp on all your works of art!

Inspired by an inky pawprint that was included in a note sent to a young girl incarcerated in Poston, use markers as makeshift inkpads and bring your colorful fingerprints to life! 

Share your creations on social media using the hashtag #JANMinspired.

Colorful Engravings (2020)

Collection inspired activity that resembles the process of engraving.

 

Activities - Colorful Engravings

 

Art can be a great way to see the world around us in a new light. Inspired by Japanese American artist Nobuko Yanagimachi’s depiction of 1930s Seattle, try your hand at a simple crayon-based engraving technique to create a colorful drawing. 

Share your engravings on social media using the hashtag #JANMinspired.

Tell Your Story: Curate a (mini) Collection (2021)

Activity to create an auto-biographical and museum-like display.

Relics from Camp (installation detail of Gila River section) by Kristine Aono

What objects would you use to share the story of your life if there was a museum about you?

In this activity you’ll curate a mini exhibition from your home “collection” and make a museum display that shows who you are!

Share your exhibits with us on social media using the hashtag #JANMinspired!

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VIDEOS

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    Exploring America's Concentration Camps

    Web Resources

    Use these highly-visual web resources to learn the basic history of the Japanese American World War II camp experience.

    Enemy Mail (2018)

    Explore one family’s experience during WWII.

    Enemy Mail Gihachi Yamashita

     

     

    This online resource to teach about the Japanese American experience during World War II utilizes artifacts donated to JANM by the Gihachi Yamashita family. It includes an Issei’s reflections while separated from his family, and correspondence between him and his wife and daughters as they reached out to each other through months and years of fear and anxiety.

    Exploring America’s Concentration Camps (2017)

    Explore the history of Japanese Americans during WWII by thematic categories.

    EACC

     

    This thematic and inquiry-based JANM microsite, aimed at secondary students and teachers, integrates photographs, letters, artwork, oral histories, and moving images from our permanent collection to share stories from all ten of the War Relocation Authority camps.

    Document Analysis: Civilian Exclusion Order and Japanese American Incarceration During WWII (2018)

    Analyze the language and consequences of the Civilian Exclusion Order.

    Exclusion Order

     

    Carefully analyze and dissect a Civilian Exclusion Order for euphemistic language, misleading descriptions, and questionable instructions. Lesson developed by JANM Education staff and available through the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

    Documenting History: Photography and Japanese American Incarceration During WWII (2018)

    Learn about the Japanese American incarceration through the lens of photographs from camp.

    Documenting History Heart Mountain

     

     

    Critically analyze photographs depicting the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Lesson developed by JANM Education staff and available through the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

    Japanese American Incarceration—Focus on the Assembly Centers (2018)

    Learn more about the WWII temporary detention centers.

    Incarceration - Assembly Center

     

     

    Examine art and artifacts to learn about the experience of Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes and quickly moved to temporary detention centers, often referred to by the euphemistic term “assembly centers.” Lesson developed by JANM Education staff and available through the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

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    printable-curriculum
    Instructions to All Persons poster, paired with Order 41. Gift of James V. Gatewood, 99.243.2

    Printable Curriculum

    The following materials use the Japanese American experience to teach students about broader issues of community, social justice, civil rights, and democracy.

    They Called Us Enemy Teacher’s Guide (2019)

    Lessons to accompany the award winning novel.

    George Takes They Called Us Enemy

     

     

     

     

    This teacher’s guide was created by the JANM Education Unit for IDW Publishing to accompany the graphic memoir They Called Us Enemy co-written by George Takei.

    Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066 Lesson Plans (2017)

    Lessons to amplify primary source documents.

    Instruction to All Person Lesson Plan

     

     

    The JANM’s education department created six lessons to complement our exhibition that reflected on the 75th anniversary of President Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066. Included as part of this packet are a number of primary source documents found in the exhibition.

     

    Fighting for Democracy: An Educator Resource Guide (2007)

    Lessons to challenge and discuss ideas of American democracy.

    Educator Guide

    This resource guide offers educational activities designed to challenge conventional assumptions about democracy in the United States, facilitate critical thinking, activate youth-to-youth dialogue, and inspire participation. It was created to support Fighting for Democracy: Who is the “We” in “We, the People”?, an exhibition based on three fundamental premises: (1) We, the people, shape democracy; (2) I, too, can shape democracy; and (3) Those who have struggled for freedom and equality have extended democracy’s reach for all.

    The exhibition features seven real people and traces their stories throughout the pre-World War II, World War II, and post-war periods as examples of the millions of Americans whose lives were affected by the war and how each sought equal rights for their families and communities.

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    First Person Voice Ruth Sumiko

    First-Person Voice

    Explore digital video shorts by our volunteers as well as life history interviews on JANM’s Discover Nikkei website.

    Digital Shorts

    JANM volunteers speak on camera about their favorite artifact.

    Watch these short clips of JANM volunteers talking about their favorite artifacts in Common Ground: The Heart of Community.

    Life History Interviews

    Clips from life history interviews on JANM’s Discover Nikkei website.

    Put a face to history by listening to first hand accounts of the lives of Japanese Americans from a diverse range of backgrounds.

    How-to Resources on Discover Nikkei

    Learn how to preserve your own artifacts and stories.

    Learn about the history of your own family through these introductory resources which will teach you how to preserve both artifacts and stories.

    Kitchen Conversations: Discover Your Family Story (2021)

    Uncover your family history through asking and answering insightful questions.

    Uncover your family history with this simple memory-sharing activity! Through asking and answering questions, you’ll uncover parts of your family story you never knew.

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    Education General Resources

    General Resources

    Looking for some basic information about the Japanese American experience? You might try these links.

    Timeline and Vocabulary List (2019)

    Developed as a pre-visit resource for school visits to JANM’s core exhibition Common Ground: The Heart of Community.

    Map of Japanese American Confinement Sites in the U.S. during World War II (2009)

    Learn about the different camps and understand the geographic impact of camp through this detailed map created for JANM’s Enduring Communities project.

    Selected Bibliography on the Japanese American Experience (2009)

    Looking for more resources on the Japanese American experience? Explore these titles adapted from JANM’s Enduring Communities project.

    Terminology and the Japanese American Experience (2009)

    Adapted from JANM’s Haunting Questions: Understanding the Japanese American Experience exhibition, this short article explores why word choice is crucial in telling the story of Japanese American history.

    “Farewell to Manzanar” DVD (2011)

    Farewell to Manzanar DVD

    The film adaptation of Jeanne Watatsuki Houston's noted memoir is available on DVD from the JANM Store.

    BFE Nahan

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