Teaching women’s history month in middle school does not need to be challenging. Check out the resources mentioned in this blog post.
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What is Women’s History Month? Why is it Important?
While the fight for the equality of women started as early as the 1900s, Women’s History Month was originally a week-long celebration in Sonoma County, California. It was championed by Austrian-born American historical and women’s history author Gerda Lerner in 1978.
As women had long since been under-recognized for their contributions to society, the week was meant to recognize and celebrate women’s contributions to history, society, and culture. In 1987, March was officially designated to be known as Women’s History Month in the United States.
While women’s contributions should be recognized 365 days a year, the focus of Women’s History Month is on the girls and women, past and present, who fought and continue to fight for the equality of women, continuously striving to fight the status quo and improve the lives of women.
Women’s History Month is celebrated every March in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. International Women’s Day falls on March 8th in Canada; In 1992, the Government of Canada designated October as Women’s History Month.
How Can I Celebrate Women’s History Month?
Reading books by female authors is a great way to celebrate women in history in the classroom. Your school library or local library should have a display of female-authored books and/or biographies on famous women in history. Female authors aren’t the only way to discover women in the publishing world; there are also books illustrated by women, published by women, and narrated by women.
Other ways to celebrate include:
- Listening to music by female musicians and bands. Students could compile a list of their own female musicians and bands for the class.
- Students could research women in their own family history.
- Students can take the Women in History course, a free program geared towards grade 6 – 12 students, to learn about key figures, events, and milestones in history that celebrate Canadian women.
- Research influential women in your community or country who have made contributions to society.
- Visit the online National Women’s History Museum – find something your class might be interested in.
- View the timeline of the history of women in Canada to see famous and influential women in Canadian history.
- Visit the Women of Impact in Canada page on the Government of Canada’s website to get an in-depth look at famous women in Canadian history. This includes women in STEM, human rights, arts, politics, and trailblazers. It also includes an interactive map and a learning toolkit.
- Show some videos related to Women’s History Month in your classroom
- Learn about the “pink tax” – an unofficial tax placed on women’s personal care products.
“Pink Tax” Lesson
Have you ever heard of the “pink tax”?
This term refers to how products marketed toward women generally cost significantly more than those that are marketed to men. Did you know items are priced differently based on their genre target market?
Help your students develop a deeper understanding of media literacy and consumer awareness with this lesson on how consumer product prices are different for men and women. This lesson also shows students the different techniques marketers use to get consumers to purchase products.
Find out more about gender based pricing and the “pink tax” in this lesson – Media Literacy: Consumer Awareness Lesson – Gender Price Differences.
Women’s History Month Videos
Use these videos with your students to help them develop their knowledge of Women’s History Month.
- What is a Woman? – Women’s History Month Commercial
- March is Women’s History Month. Watch how it progressed through the years
- A global history of women’s rights, in 3 minutes
How To Use Women’s History Month Books in the Classroom
- Stations – Gather a few of the books mentioned in this blog post (or others you have in your collection) and have students rotate through each station and complete a graphic organizer about their learning. Here are some examples of graphic organizers – Set 1 or Set 2.
- Read Alouds – Incorporate these books into your read-aloud schedule not just for March but throughout the year.
- Non-Fiction Event Study – Look at the different events covered by these books. Have students read through some picture books and then create a presentation about the real-life event(s) that inspired the novel to share with their peers. Use this Non-Fiction Book Report to have students demonstrate their learning.
- Biography Study – Have students select an important and/or influential person to learn about. Then have them complete this Biography Symbolism Assignment to showcase their learning to the class. Students will read a biography, memoir, or autobiography and then create a life map outlining the important events in their chosen person’s life. After creating the life map students will provide a written explanation and oral presentation of their life map.
Women’s History Month Books
I have linked the Women’s History Month books to Amazon, but you can also look for them at your local library or look for them at a female-owned bookstore.
This illustrated picture book is an overview of the four female African-American mathematicians at NASA and how they worked in the shadows, providing calculations for men to go into space, ultimately overcoming racial and gender barriers and proving that women, too, can work in a challenging STEM-based career.
Learn more about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life as she grew up in a time when women were not expected to do big things in life. Not satisfied with the conventional role for women in society, Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to become more and pave the path for women to have careers.
This book tells the story of Sylvia Mendez and her family’s fight to end segregated education in California in the 1940s after Sylvia was denied enrollment to a “White’s only” school.
So many women in Canada have made huge strides in history to pave the path for other women in the arts, education, politics, sports, activism, and more. This compilation takes a look at these women and is sure to inspire further research.
This book highlights 10 Black women in Canadian history who are little-known but who made a significant impact in their communities and made life better for others in Canada.
This is the story of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who, with strength and courage, fought against the evils of WWII, rescuing 2,500 Jewish children in Poland from the Warsaw Ghetto, hoping to reunite them with their parents when the war was over.
Learn more about the women who shaped Canada whose stories have not been told. These are the overlooked women of history who have done brave and amazing things and are women you might not have heard of but should know.
This is the story of Esther Abraham, who escaped 1930s Poland with her father to Cuba to start a better life, escaping from the Nazis and the impending WWII. This is based on the family history of Cuban-American anthropologist Ruth Behar.
Group 9 was NASA’s first mixed-gender class. This graphic novel is about the women of Group 9, including Mary Cleave and Valentina Tereshkova, and how they trailblazed the path for women in space.
This book will give readers an understanding of Amelia Earhart’s life before her last flight in 1937, from her childhood until her mysterious disappearance.
Female-Owned Bookstore Links
- 10 Woman-Owned Bookstores To Support For Women’s History Month
- Get To Know These Female-Owned Independent Bookstores
- 8 Online Bookshops Owned by Black Women
- Women-owned independent bookstores in Ontario
- Discover 9 rare bookselling businesses owned by women
Other Holidays and Celebrations Resources
This Article of the Week Non-Fiction Articles Holidays Bundle contains 13 non-fiction articles and post-reading activities to assist with reading comprehension and cross-curricular learning.
- 13 high-interest non-fiction articles
- 3 post-reading activities per article
- 7 Reading Strategies graphic organizers
- 5 Summarizing graphic organizers
- Chinese New Year
- Groundhog Day
- Valentine’s Day
- Daylight Savings
- St. Patrick’s Day
- April Fools’ Day
- Earth Day