According to History.com, the “celebration of Women’s History Month grew out of a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history and society organized by the school district of Sonoma, California, in 1978.” In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8th Women’s History Week, and it only grew from there. We also observe International Women’s Day on March 8th thanks to women activists all over the world who have been organizing for over one hundred years.
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity, where we’re asked to truly embrace equity as a must-have in society, not just a nice-to-have.
Over the course of a month, there’s a lot of ground to cover. We’ve gathered seven ways you can honor Women’s History Month in your classroom that will leave your students feeling empowered and inspired.
Create a Wax Museum with your students
Immersive class projects are not only effective in learning, they’re also so fun! For the Wax Museum activity, students get to choose who to research, dress up as their historical figure, and set up a creative symposium-style presentation for the whole class to see! Not only will they learn about incredible women in history, but they’ll sharpen their researching skills, too!
Fill your classroom with books about women, for women
No one knows women’s history like women. Throughout the month of March, encourage your students to read books about women, by women. In addition to learning about prominent female figures in history, it will expose your students to the big, wide world of women writers! Put together a recommended reading list, or stock your library with these books to get started.
Decorate your bulletin board with inspirational women
Need some themed bulletin board inspiration? These Women’s History Month boards are perfect for honoring the month in a creative way. They’re also easy to adapt to your area of education; music teachers can focus on women in music, science teachers can highlight women in STEM, etc..
You can also make them engaging and interactive by creating a “guess who” style bulletin board, having each student or a team of students choose one inspirational woman from history to research and share on the board. Once the students gather their research, they can design a cover with a few facts about the woman they chose. Under the cover, a picture and the name of the woman will be revealed, offering an interactive experience.
Or, make any bulletin board honoring inspirational women, but recruit your students to be involved and help bring the board to life. Students love helping and lending a hand, and it helps their teachers already overflowing plate!
Facilitate a mock election
A major point of discussion during Women’s History Month is women’s suffrage. To get the conversation started on why this is so important, create a mock election. No need to bring politics into it, the issue being voted on can be simple: which dessert do you prefer— cake or ice cream? After each child has voted, count the ballots, declare a winner, and explain how it wouldn’t have been a fair election if certain students couldn’t vote. Refrain from actually excluding students in this mock election— while it’s a powerful demonstration, it can still make kids feel othered. They’ll understand when they see the voting process in action.
Show a documentary or nonfiction film in class
There are some women so amazing, it’s hard to comprehend without seeing their accomplishments in front of you. This is where documentaries come into play. There’s a never-ending list of empowering, educational documentaries for every education level, but for the youngest of students, you may have to show a fictional movie with a strong female lead to provide the context. Plus, who doesn’t love movie day?
Take a virtual field trip
Field trips are always exciting, and this one is perfect! Visit the National Women’s History Museum without ever leaving your classroom. Check out the virtual exhibits featuring inspiring and trailblazing women, both past and present.
Listen to podcasts
Podcasts are growing in popularity daily. Take the opportunity to show students the benefits of podcasts by introducing them to educational ones! They love being a part of this “trendy” learning experience, and it has so much to offer. There are a ton of captivating podcasts about remarkable women in history. After listening to one, or a few, challenge your students to make a podcast featuring an inspiring woman in their own lives.