The month of March is Women’s History Month, a time when we get to recognize and highlight the achievements of women throughout history. In addition, International Women’s Day is March 8th which is celebrated around the world. So this is the perfect time to dive into the fascinating world of women’s history within the classroom.
Since there are so many historical female figures to learn about, such as Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Florence Nightingale, and hundreds more to choose from, this can make it difficult to choose which women to discuss in class.
So, to help here are some ideas for Women’s History Month lessons educators can incorporate.
Women’s History Lesson Themes
Female Explorers & Adventurers
- Take a lesson from Sally Ride, Mae Jemison, Jeanne Baret and so many more. Explore how far female explorers around the world have traveled– whether it’s to outer space, the deepest part of the ocean, or across the globe.
- A fun activity is to have each student pick a female explorer and design their own poster of her. They can do this in any medium so long as it includes highlights of her discoveries and accomplishments. Another idea may be to draw a map of all the locations the explorer traveled.
Female Scientists, Athletes, & Politicians
- Explore female scientists and their creations from around the world. You can narrow this down by focusing on a specific era or by region.
- Tour the accomplishments of women in history by creating a class scrapbook. To start, you first need to decide the theme of the scrapbook– women in science, sports, politics? Then order the pages in chronological order starting from the decade of your choice. Or organize the pages by alphabetical order. Each student chooses a historical figure to research and to create a page for. Each page should include biographical data, a photograph or other representation, and a summary of the famous woman’s contribution to history. Keep the scrapbook in your classroom or the school library as a reference book for future use.
Gender Roles & Stereotypes
- Use this opportunity to talk about gender roles and stereotypes and the role of power and justice. Discuss and break down topics like “Why do we have a month dedicated to women’s history?”.
- For younger students, consider using word searches or crosswords to introduce certain vocabulary and their effects. Use these words to establish a theme and allow students to discover how words like “equal rights,” “justice,” and “stereotypes” apply to women.
- For older students, use modern texts such as “The Hunger Games” to explore gender roles and equality.
- Take it a step further and do a fun activity such as interviewing someone from another era. Have your students research women who lived in historical periods. Then have them come in dressed and act like the character as other students interview them about their chosen figure. Or even better, you come to class dressed and prepared as a historical figure to be interviewed by your students.
Critical Thinking & Reflections
- Encourage your students to critically think and analyze moments in history and reflect upon their meaning and impact on current society.
- When designing Women’s History Month lessons, consider juxtaposing male and female reflections of the same moment in history. Students can also analyze dialogue from a novel, the depiction of men and women in pieces of art, or a scene in a movie.
- Create a “Words of Wisdom” bulletin board inspired by quotes of women throughout history. Have a class discussion on the meaning behind the words. How does that quote reflect the life of the woman who spoke it? What does it mean to you? Then, add a new phrase every day for the rest of the month.
With so many different women, subjects, and topics to highlight, it’s easy for Women’s History Month lessons to seem intimidating. Focus on specific topics or types of female historical figures. (i.e. writers, explorers, scientists, suffragists.) This can make it easier for students to really get to study in-depth topics and influential women.
If you’re not able to make big lesson plan changes then try incorporating it little by little. For the rest of the month, take the first 5 minutes of class to talk about the life and accomplishments of different female figures in history.
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