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Word Version
This lesson was originally created under the Obama administration, but have now been updated to include Trump’s administration policies.
Grade Level Kindergarten to 5th grade
Duration 2-3 days
Learning Objectives For Kindergarten-3rd grade

  • Explore China, Myanmar (Burma), and their cultures through an analysis of maps and literature
  • Understand a civic process by role playing the process of immigration
  • Recognize how immigrants become good citizens and influence a community through their cultural items and historical figures

For 4th-5th grade

  • Understand the changes occurring in North Carolina and United States from these immigrants bringing their traditions and cultures
  • Exemplify hardships of immigrants assimilating into a new culture, monetary struggles and more
  • Identify the push and pull of why people immigrate to United States
NCSCOS Essential Standards Social Studies

K.G.1.2; K.C.1.2; 1.G.1.2-3; 1.G.2.3; 2.H.1.1; 2.C&G2.1; 2.C.1.1; 3.C.1.3; 4.H.1.1; 4.H.1.3; 4.G.1.1; 4.E.2.2; 4.C.1.1-2; 5.C.1.2; 5.C.1.3



  1. Begin by assessing what students know about immigration.
    1. For example, has anyone ever moved from one place to another?
      1. Some people move from one country to the United States.
    2. Can someone from another country become a citizen?
    3. Make sure to break it down to understand prior knowledge or misconceptions.
    4. Try to celebrate any students who are from a different country.
    5. Ask them if anyone has ever had Chinese food.
    6. Talk about how immigrants bring their culture to the United States.
  2. Begin to introduce the two countries you will be talking about today – China and Myanmar.
    1. For China:
      1. Present a map and talk about geography.
      2. Begin by assessing what students know about immigration.
        1. For example, has anyone ever moved from one place to another?
      3. Show them Beijing or the Yangtze River.
      4. Present the flag (online or real version).
      5. Read a book about China, depending on the age group.
        1. An example for Kindergarten to 2nd grade is “C is for China.”
        2. An example of non-fiction or 3rd-5th graders is “A House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China.”
        3. For older groups, there is “Mei Ling in China City” and “The Coolies” from the Carolina Asia Center Book Sets.
        4. Optional: Present food, dress or a cultural item. This can be obtained through a Culture Kit from Carolina Navigators, the local Asian market, or traditional Chinese restaurant.
    2. For Myanmar:
      1. Present a map and talk about geography.
      2. Talk about how some people call it Burma because that is what it was called many years ago.
      3. Show them Yangon or how many mountains are there.
      4. Present the flag (online or real version).
      5. For older students mention how Myanmar had a Burmese military dictatorship that fought Burmese political activists, Karen people, and other ethnicities. Myanmar just had an election where a democratic party won for the first time in over 50 years.
      6. Read a book about Myanmar.
        1. An example for Kindergarten to 2nd grade is “M is for Myanmar.”
        2. An example for 3rd-5th graders can be passages from “Bamboo People.” This book is a little mature so use your own discretion.
        3. Optional: Present food, dress or cultural item. This can be obtained through a Culture Kit from Carolina Navigators or a local Asian Market, such as “Little Burma” in Carrboro, NC.


Day 1:

Role play the immigration process for China. Need at least 3 people. Go through immigration process with volunteers for China.  Try to get students who have gone through this process to talk about it or help teach it to the class.

  1. A family wanting to travel to new country sends an application to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asking to come. This is a very long process as there are many forms to fill out.
    1. Ask the parents to sign their names or do smiley faces on 10 pieces of paper to show how long the process is.
    2. Ask them to say “please let me come.”
  2. Student acting as Reviewer at the US Embassy looks over their paperwork to decided whether the applicants should be let in.
    1. Ask the reviewer to pretend whether or not they should let the applicants in.
  3. When the US embassy approves the application, the Embassy will arrange an interview.
    1. Ask a new student, the US Embassy liaison, to meet the family.
    2. Ask the US Embassy liaison to ask the family why they want to come to America.
      1. Prepare for funny answers but try to get the point across that there are families that come to America for opportunities whether it is for job, other family members living here or education.
    3. The family comes to the United States.

Transition from China to Myanmar telling students sometimes people come a different way or for different reasons. Some people from Myanmar (or Burma) flee the country like the Karen people who first stay at a Thai refugee camp.

  1. Introduce Thailand by showing a map in relation to Myanmar and their flag.
    1. Role play what it is like to come to United States as a refugee.
    2. Needs at least 6 people.
    3. Try to get students who have gone through this process to talk about it or help teach it to the class.
      1. This information has been updated from the US Department of State’s website from January 20, 2017.
    4. Years ago, people from Myanmar flee into a refugee camp such as in Thailand because their government was hurting them.
  2. Ask the students representing the refugees to run in place.
  3. Family must register with US Embassy to say “I am a refugee.”
    1. Ask parents to fill out the papers with name or smiley face.
  4. An organization that is part of the Department of State does the first interview.
    1. Ask the interviewer to talk to the family
    2. Ask the family’s name
    3. Why they want to go to another country
  5. One student acts as the group of people who check the family’s papers.
    1. The student can say, “this family needs to come now.”
  6. The family interviews with Department of Homeland Security.
  7. Ask the interviewer to talk to the family.
    1. Ask their name.
    2. Do you want to come into United States?
  8. They take the student’s fingerprint.
  9. The interviewer passes the paper to another person and says “YOU ARE IN!”
  10. The family gets a doctor to check them and then they come to the United States.
    1. Make sure to explain the family must be checked by a doctor to see if they are healthy and have no diseases they can give to United States citizens.
  11. The family also attends a “cultural orientation” which means they will go to a meeting where a person will teach them about being American.
  12. Have a student wave the American flag and sing the national anthem.

For 2nd grade:

  1. Identify the timeline of the immigration process.

For older students:

  1. You can choose whether to talk about the Trump’s administration policies towards refugees.
  2. Many people are afraid that these refugees might be bad people because they come from countries whose people may not like the United States.
    1. However, most refugees are like you and me. They are kids with families who like to play soccer. Most refugees just want a better life in America.
  3. Our past president used to let in a lot of refugees.
    1. From October 2015 to September 2016, he let in a total of 84,995 refugees.
  4. The current president is trying to limit the number through by stopping immigration for a certain period of time or not letting refugees come in from countries he thinks is dangerous.The highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, is debating if it is okay for Trump to do this.
  5. The beauty of America is that everyone can have an opinion on this and can debate it.
    1. It is important to remember that almost everyone in this country had ancestors who were immigrants, so we must treat those who newly immigrated to the US with love and respect.
Day 2:
  1. Talk about how these immigrants, after one year or more, can become citizens of the United States.
  2. Optional: Role play the family being interviewed and taking a citizenship test to become citizens. Review what a good citizen looks like.
    1. Remind students that almost everyone in America are descended from immigrants.
    2. Talk and show pictures/videos of famous citizens who are immigrants or people whose family had immigrated to the country.
    3. Talk about how immigrants shape the community, especially in North Carolina.
      1. For example, not only did Karen people flee Myanmar but also Burmese people too.
      2. Frederick Win, who is a famous attorney and serves on the United States Myanmar Legal Counsel, is Burmese-American.
      3. One can talk about Jenny Ming, a Chinese immigrant, who became president of a clothing store called Old Navy and oversaw 900 stores.
      4. Ask them to imagine what it would be like to interview the coolest bands. For example, Ben Fong-Torres wrote for Rolling Stones and got to interview the best bands and comedians such as Ray Charles and the Jackson 5.
      5. Sometimes there are famous people in organizations making differences in the community. For example, Transplanting Traditions is a Karen farm group in Chapel Hill that sells American and Asian fruit and vegetables in the farmer’s market.
        1. This helps provide food to the community. You can read the students a story written by Karen students called “Transplanting Traditions: A Story of a Community Farm.”
        2. This is available in the Carolina Asia Center Book Sets.
      6. Talk about Yao Ming who was born in Shanghai and is one of the most famous retired NBA basketball players in the United States.
      7. In addition, immigrants are making changes to their community all over the world.
      8. There is the famous soccer player Kler Heh, and he is a famous Karen soccer player who came from a refugee camp from Thailand to the United Kingdom to play for Sheffield United.
  1. Immigrants have contributed their culture to the United States.
    1. Ask students how many people eat Chinese food.
    2. Talk about how Chinese Americans have adapted Chinese food to mix with American culture. More information down below.
    3. Ask them if anyone has tried Karen or Burmese food. Burmese food link down below.
    4. Try to encourage them to try these different foods.
    5. Immigrants have brought new holidays.
      1. Cultures from Asia celebrate Lunar New Year.
        1. This is a festival based on the lunar calendar filled with food and family.
      2. Myanmar, Thailand, and some other countries have a special festival in conjunction with Lunar New Year called Thingyan, or Water Festival.
        1. This is a four-day festival where people douse each other in water to wash away bad luck from the year before. This festival has occurred at High Point, NC. Videos are down below.
        2. They also have beautiful clothing such as the Karen shirts and skirts. Pictures down below.
      3. China has a festival called Dragon Boat Festival. It celebrates the patriotic poet Qu Yuan.
        1. The Dragon Boat Festival also honors the past tradition of Dragon Worship. Today, Cary, NC has dragon boat races during the festival.


Talk about how cultures of immigrants have been such a big part of United States- they made a show about it! Watch Fresh Off the Boat clips.

For 4th grade:

  1. Talk about how it is hard to immigrate to a new country.
  2. Talk about how they miss their old country.
    1. For example, point out how students have friends here.
    2. It would be hard to say goodbye to these friends to go to another country.
    3. In addition, people have to be careful what they spend because sometimes they come without much money.


For 5th grade:

  1. Identify push and pull factors of why immigrants may have left.
    1. Such as persecution in Myanmar leading to Karen people leaving.


Ask your librarian about books on China and Myanmar

Myanmar-General Information about Myanmar

China– General Information about China

Map of China

Map of Myanmar

Flag of China

Flag of Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi and Past Election in Myanmar– Information about Past Election and Significance

Immigration from China to United States– Information about Process

Govt Information about refugees – Information and process of coming into the United States, updated January 20, 2017 written by the government. Be aware that this is written by Trump’s administration to promote his policies; therefore, the writing is biased.

Karen Refugees– Information about Karen Refugees told by Karen Women

Refugee Immigration Policy– pdf of Refugee Immigration Flowchart taken during the Obama Administration

Frederick Win– Information on Famous Attorney

Jenny Ming– Information on Famous Businesswoman

Ben Fong-Torres– Information on Famous Writer

Transplanting Traditions– Information about Karen Farm in Chapel Hill. NC

Yao Ming– Information on Famous Basketball Player

Kler Heh– Information on Famous Soccer Player

Chinese Food in America– Information on Chinese Food’s Role in America

Burmese Food– Information on food from Myanmar

Lunar New Year– Information on Chinese Lunar New Year

Thingyan– Information on Myanmar’s Water Festival

Thingyan in High Point, NC– Videos of Water Festival in High Point, NC

Dragon Boat Festival– Information on Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival in Cary– Information on Dragon Boat Festival in Cary

Karen Cultural Dress– Pictures of Karen Cultural Dress

Fresh off the Boat– Video of Trailer

Fresh off the Boat- Video of “Clean Slate”

Carolina Asia Center Book Sets

Optional: “C is for China” by Sungwan So

Optional: “A House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China” by Ed Young

Optional: “M is for Myanmar” by Elizabeth Rush

Optional: “Bamboo People” by Mitali Perkins

Optional: China Culture Kit, contact Carolina Navigators

Optional: Myanmar Culture Kit, contact Carolina Navigators