Women's History Activities (Grades 7-12)

1. Women's history news reports: After reading biographies or general histories about women in the United States, have students write news releases for radio or television to report the facts of a specific, important event in which women were the major players. Pretending that the event has just happened, include all of the important details: who, what, when, where, and why. Don't forget to include a snappy headline or lead-in for the story, too!

2. Research on women and work: After students conduct research on one of the following topics, have them report to the class about their findings on women and work in other time periods of U.S. history.

  • The varied tasks which were women's responsibilities in the early colonies (be certain to include American Indians, European Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics).

  • Immigrant women in the 19th century: Where were they from? Why did they come here? What kinds of work did they do when they got here? What were their living conditions like?

  • The lives of American Indian women of a tribe that lived near your community 200 years ago. The lives and work of American Indian women today.

  • The work of migrant women, now and in earlier time periods.

  • Mexican women of "the West," before Europeans arrived and afterward.

  • Women workers in the textile and garment industries, from the 1850s to the present.

  • Women's roles and contributions during a time when our country was at war.

    3. Poster design contest: Organize a National Women's History Month poster design contest in conjunction with your parent-teacher organization. Display the entries in a public area of the school. Topic ideas:

  • "Missing Persons," individuals or groups of women whose contributions are often ignored in the telling of U.S. history.
  • "Women Then and Now," featuring the social, economic, political and family changes in women's lives.
  • "Did You Know...," introducing interesting historic facts about women.

    4. Textbook review: Have students carefully examine the history textbooks used in your school, listing each woman either mentioned in the text or illustrated by photo or drawing. How many women are mentioned? What events or activities were they associated with? How many sentences are associated with each woman? Are women of different ethnicities portrayed? Contrast the findings with the textbook's treatment of men. Write to the publisher about these findings. Include recommendations of specific women to add to future editions, and ask for the publisher's response.

    5. Family Histories: Brainstorm with your class to list questions they would like to ask an aunt, their mother, or the woman who raised them, about her life. Help them organize the questions into topics or clusters, developing an appropriate questionnaire. Guide the discussion toward including questions related to the impact of historic events on the woman's life, moves made by her family, family expectations for females and males, attitudes about women's public lives, etc. Discuss oral history interviewing strategies to avoid "yes/no" answers, and different forms of biographies for reporting the findings. Use the biographies to discuss similarities and differences between women's life experiences.

    6. Political slogans: Numerous bumper-strip/button slogans have been associated with the women's movement. What have these messages meant? Who might agree or disagree with each? Are the issues represented new ones or have they had a long history? Examples: "Every Mother is a Working Mother," "Women Hold up Half the Sky," "Uppity Women Unite," "Sisterhood is Powerful," "A Woman's Place is... Everywhere," "Write Women Back into History," "Keep Your Laws Off My Body," "Take Back the Night."

    Courtesy of the National Women's History Project.
    For more information about this organization, please contact the National Women's History Project, 7738 Bell Road, Windsor, CA 95492. (707) 838-6000.

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