Women’s History Month in March is dedicated to commemorating and encouraging the study of the trailblazing women who have played a vital role in shaping society. Whether you’re looking to celebrate female history-makers — or want to dive deeper into women’s history during a social studies unit — check out these engaging ideas for students of all ages.
7 Ways to Celebrate Women’s History Month with Your Students
This list of Women’s History Month ideas can serve as a good starting point for your March lessons and beyond.
1. Start off with a mini lesson on the origins of Women’s History Month.
Every March, people in the U.S. celebrate the achievements and history of women as part of Women’s History Month. But how did this celebration come to be? Before diving into any themed lessons or activities, it might be helpful to set the stage and dig deeper into the “why” behind Women’s History Month. Here are some quick facts you can use as a starting point to create a mini lesson:
- The first Women’s History Day was held in 1909 in New York City to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a garment worker’s strike.
- In 1978, the day became a week when educators in California decided to draw attention to the fact that women’s history wasn’t included in the K-12 curriculum at the time.
- In 1987, it became a month-long celebration when activists successfully lobbied congress to declare the March as Women’s History Month.
Or, you can have students read some brief background information on Women’s History Month and discuss it in class together.
2. Send your students on a virtual scavenger hunt.
Expand your students’ knowledge by having them learn about the contributions of women through an online scavenger hunt. Ask students a series of questions and provide the links to articles and websites where they can find the answers. (Websites like the National Women’s History Museum, National Geographic, and PBS are filled with biographical facts on influential women and can help your students practice their Internet literacy and searching skills.) You can do one question a day for the whole month — or dedicate an entire lesson to this.
If you’d like, you can also use the scavenger hunt to dive deeper into a particular topic or theme in women’s history, such as “Valiant Women of Today’s Vote” (Stacey Abrams, Antonia Hernández, María Teresa Kumar), “Women in STEM” (Grace Hopper, Mary G. Ross, Kalpana Chawla, Dr. Gladys West), and “Glass Ceiling Breakers” (Kamala Harris, Sandra Day O’Connor, Edith Wharton, Shirley Chisholm, Aretha Franklin).
FURTHER READING: Women’s History Month Activities for March and Beyond
3. Read about inspiring women and girls from around the world.
Books and biographies are not only engaging and an effective way to present or enhance a lesson, but they can also affirm and inspire. When it comes to finding Women’s History Month books your students will love, who better to ask than teachers themselves? Here are some of top recommendations from the TpTcommunity that you might consider adding to your own classroom library:
- Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown
- Bunheads by Misty Copeland
- Winners Never Quit by Mia Hamm
- Pocket Full of Colors by Amy Gugliemlo and Jacqueline Tourville
- Shark Lady by Jess Keating
- Ada’s Ideas by Fiona Robinson
- Dinosaur Lady by Linda Skeers
- I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
For elementary school readers, you can do a read-aloud as a class and use books to introduce and discuss concepts like gender inequality using questions like: “What challenges did this person face? Was it fair that they had to face these challenges?” You can extend the assignment by having students write a book report.
4. Dive deeper into “her-story” with podcasts and videos.
For middle and high schoolers, in particular, using video and podcasts can help contextualize and deepen learning. This list of podcasts and videos are a great starting point to highlight more female history makers in your lessons:
- These 10 TED Talks by women will change the way your students think about women’s role in the world.
- Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls explores the lives of women, encouraging listeners to ask questions and explore their interests.
- The #HerStory Podcast tells the stories of 50 historical women, not through names and dates of textbooks, but through the voices of contemporary women.
- What’sHerName tells the stories of fascinating women you’ve never heard of (but should have).
- Not Done: Women Remaking America is a documentary series from PBS that examines how women have helped shape America over the past 150 years.
Before pressing play, however, be sure to set a goal to help keep students accountable and attentive, and encourage students to practice taking notes as they listen or watch. Afterward, you can break out into small groups (or virtual breakout rooms) to discuss and/or have students write a short reflection piece.
4. Reflect on women’s suffrage and what it means to be able to vote.
In 2020, women in the U.S. celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which secured American women’s right to vote. As a warm-up activity during Women’s History Month (or during your social studies unit on elections), you could have students vote on a way to celebrate this day. Afterward, discuss why it was important that everyone got to vote and talk about what it means to be able to vote or participate in democracy.
6. Discuss recent efforts to close the gender wage gap.
Have students independently read an article on recent efforts to close the wage gap — such as the Equal Pay Pledge or the U.S. Women’s soccer team’s lawsuit — and have them write down their comments and questions. Then, break out into small groups (or breakout rooms, if you’re remote) to discuss. To extend the assignment, you can have students research and write an argument essay based on gender equality and equal pay.
Bonus Idea: Thank a woman who’s made a difference.
Women’s History Month is also an opportunity for students to recognize the contributions of the women in their everyday lives. Have students write a thank you note, text, email, or social media message to a woman who has inspired them or who has been a role model for them.
This blog, originally published in 2021, has been updated for 2022.