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March into Women's History Month

Janelle Cox

March into Women's History MonthEvery March, schools across the nation recognize Women's History Month.

This month, we explore the many contributions and accomplishments of women in American History. First ladies, authors, and abolitionists are just a few of the great American women that students will explore. Here are a few great ideas for topics and activities that can keep women's history in the forefront of your students' minds this month.

Rosa Parks' Role in Civil Rights

Throughout history, there have been many women that have made an impact on our nation, but none as much as Rosa Parks. She is known as the "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement" because of her bravery, which led to the end of segregation laws. She inspired a generation to fight for their civil rights, and for that, she is now a house hold name.

With Black History Month just behind us, revisiting the life and accomplishments of Rosa Parks will be an easy transition. Discuss with students Parks's decision to break the segregation laws by refusing to get up from her seat. Have students take turns role playing an interview of Rosa Parks so they can hear why she made that life-changing decision in her own words. Then, have students pretend "they too" were on the same bus with Parks that Thursday evening in 1955. Discuss what happened, how they felt, if they did anything to help Parks, and so on. Then, have students write down the events that took place on the bus from their own perspective.

First Lady of the Air: Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was one of the most famous aviators of the world; setting records and breaking them. In 1932 she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (and eventually the Pacific). Introduce students to her fascinating life story by reading "Who Was Amelia Earhart?" by Kate Boehm Jerome. In this story, students will learn about her childhood in Kansas, her life as a pilot, and her tragic disappearance in 1937. For this activity, distribute copies of the book. Then, divide students into groups of two, and have them pretend they are newspaper reporters reporting on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. They can use the photocopied pages to get their information. Then they can they create their article using the Microsoft word newspaper template.

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Biographies of Women in History

During the month of March, have students choose one woman of interest to research. Suggested women may be Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Betsy Ross, or Hillary Clinton. In their research they must answer the following two questions:

1. What was the childhood like of the woman you are researching?

2. Why is the woman an important part of history?

At the end of month, when the project is due, have a Women's History Month party. Each student must choose one woman in their life to invite to the party. At the party, students will "honor" their special guest by introducing them to the class and reading their research projects aloud. After they read their biographies, they must tell why they chose their "guest of honor," and why they are special to them.

Celebrating Author Maya Angelou

American writer Maya Angelou is best known for her poetry and famous quotes. To get students acquainted with her work, read the book "Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou," by Dr. Edwin Graves Wilson. Students will get a chance to learn about her past through her poems, like "Harlem Hopscotch" and "Me and My Work." Discuss her life as a civil rights activist, single mother, and poet. Once students grasp her life story, have them write their own biography poem. Before they begin, have them fill in the following blanks.

Biography Poem Graphic Organizer

Put the following sentence-starters in a simple graphic organizer and print it for your students:

  • Born in …
  • Child of …
  • Live in …
  • Personal traits …
  • Best known for …

Additional ideas may include studies at___; works at___; always___; or never___. This graphic organizer will help students organize the information they want to add to their poem. Once they complete their poem have students share it with the rest of the class.

Reading About Important Women in History

To create further interest in Women's History Month read these informative books.

  • Amelia Earhart: Young Air Pioneer, written by Jane Moore Howe
  • Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman, written by Kathleen Krull
  • Martha Washington: America's First Lady, written by Jean Brown Wagoner
  • Who Was Harriet Tubman?, written by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Do you have a great idea or activity that will help other teachers explore the contributions and achievements of great American Woman in History? Share it with us!