March is Women's History Month. Although the annual event traces its beginnings to the first International Women's Day in 1911, it owes its current popularity to the Sonoma (California) school district. In 1978, that district participated in Women's History Week, an event designed to promote the teaching of women's history. Today, schools across the country expand their curriculums during the month of March to honor the American woman and her place in history. The lessons below will help your students recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of American women throughout history. Included: Ten original and online lessons you can use to introduce your students to the spirit and potential of American woman.
The first International Women's Day was held on March 19, 1911. Organized by Klara Zetkin, a German socialist, the day featured strikes and marches in support of the rights of women workers worldwide. In the United States, International Women's Day continued to be celebrated annually throughout the 1910s and 1920s. Its popularity waned, however, over the next several decades, reviving only slightly with the rise of the women's movement during the 1960s.
During the 1970s, historians began to question why history books largely ignored women's contributions to society. In 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women, recognizing that concern, persuaded a local school district to hold a Women's History Week to promote the teaching of women's history. The group scheduled the event for the week of March 8 in an effort to connect the week to International Women's Day. The week's activities were so popular that other schools soon began planning special Women's History Week programs as well. In 1981, responding to the growing popularity of the event, Congress passed a resolution making Women's History Week a national celebration. In 1987, Congress declared the entire month of March National Women's History Month.
The National Women's History Project highlights the lives of American women and showcases their accomplishments. The lessons below will help you achieve that goal with your students.
Click on any activity headline to link to a complete teaching resource! (Appropriate grade levels for each activity are indicated in parentheses.) See the bottom of the page for a list of additional online lessons.
They Also Serve
Explore with students the roles women played during World War II; then students design a recruiting poster telling women of the ways in which they can serve their country today. (Grades 3-8)
Closing the Salary Gap
Has the gender salary gap closed? Students explore careers in their community and compare the average salaries for men and women working in those careers. (Grades 6-12)
Follow the Drinking Gourd
Students create an art project based on "Follow the Drinking Gourd," a song used to guide slaves to freedom during the Civil War. (Grades 3-12)
Who Did That?
Not all remarkable women lived in the past! Can your students identify the accomplishments of today's remarkable women? (Grades Pre-K-2)
This Is My Life
What will your students lives be like in the future? Encourage them to create a time line of their lives that extends 50 years into the future. (Grades K-12)
Still looking for lessons? We searched the Net and uncovered the five lessons below. (Approximate grade levels for the activities appear in parentheses.)
Women's History Hotlist
The Franklin Institute Online provides this list of links to resources about women.
American Women's History: A Research Guide
The Middle Tennessee State University Library resource provides citations to print and Internet reference sources and primary source collections about women's history.
Internet Women's History Sourcebook
This section of the Internet History Sourcebook provides online documents about the history of women from human beginnings to the present.
Women's History Month
The History Channel offers profiles and biographies of famous women as well resources about woman suffrage.
American Women's History
This site offers links to women's resources by state and region.
The Library of Congress provides this introduction to its collection of primary resources related to women's history
Article by Linda Starr
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Last updated 03/12/2012