Experiential learning resources for the innovative educator
So you’re looking for activities for women’s history month, but wonder how you can make them experiential? Women’s history project based learning is the way to go!
There are so many history project based learning activities for Women’s History Month, and I will offer some of those ideas right here in this blog post.
The women’s history project based learning ideas offered here will cover the basics, not the specifics, so I encourage you to go back over some of my project-based learning blog posts for more details on PBL implementation and my PBL resources for guiding materials and ready-made plans.
You can also grab my free project-based learning tools mini-bundle to help you get started and/or to help manage and facilitate these experiences.
Project-based learning is unique and differs from a “project” in a few important ways.
Project-based learning emphasizes the acquisition of content knowledge and skills through sustained inquiry on topics and issues that are relevant, meaningful, and authentic.
Students immerse themselves in community ideas and issues, utilize community resources, and deeply examine topics that are relevant and meaningful to students and/or the community.
Students gather information from community experts, create innovative final products, and share their final products authentically.
Each of the following project-based learning activities for Women’s History Month focuses on these essential PBL elements.
Each women’s history project based learning idea starts with a driving question. Again, the ideas are not detailed, but the driving question can help inspire and guide your own classroom or homeschool PBL experience.
10 Inspiring History Project-based Learning Activities for Women's History Month
1. Women’s Rights Movement Historical Photo Gallery
How can we use visual arts as a tool to share, preserve, and remember significant moments in women’s history?
Have students browse notable historical photographs associated with women’s rights movements, choose one photo, and recreate that photo with their own set, props, costumes, and models.
Have students research the context of the original photo and write a one-page description of the photo and its significance in the women’s rights movement. Compile the photos and descriptions into a gallery and invite community members to view student work.
2. Inspiring a New Generation of Women in Science
How can the stories of historical and contemporary female scientists inspire young girls to participate in and enjoy science today?
Have each student study one woman who has made an incredible contribution to science and how that contribution has shaped our lives as we know them today.
THEN have students identify a modern-day female scientist that is currently conducting research related to or relevant to the historical scientists that they have already studied.
Students will work alongside that scientist if possible, learn about their lives and their research, and then develop a children’s book that highlights the lives and contributions to science and society by the two women.
Organize a “storytime” event for students to read their books to a young audience. Consider collaborating with the local library or even a science museum or center if that is an option.
3. Using Music to Explore Women’s History
What can we learn about women’s history through music?
My students love dissecting the meaning of songs in general, and focusing on songs related to specific themes, such as women’s history, is a bonus.
Experiential learning is very personalized and there seems to be little that is more personal to a teenager than music. Allow your students to explore music written during the women’s rights movement or music that is related to women’s topics or issues in some way.
Have each student choose one song to interpret, create a theme poster about their interpretation, and arrange to have their posters displayed in a relevant space such as a community music venue during Women’s History Month.
I highly recommend checking out Rise Up: Songs from the Women's Movement, a PBS documentary.
Song Interpretation Project-Based Learning Resource
4. Trends in Women’s Issues and Impact Plans
How can I use historical and current data to predict future trends about community issues related to women, and use those trends to develop personal impact plans?
Have students explore statistics around women’s issues. Each student can choose a statistic of focus, research that statistic, and examine how the data has evolved over time.
For example, one student might look at childbirth mortality rates over time in a specific geographical location, such as their own country or city. They will develop graphs and compile their findings onto a digital timeline.
Based on the data, students can make predictions about future numbers and trends and develop a plan of action to either reverse an upward or downward trend or maintain the current trajectory (depending on the context of the data). Once they have a plan of action they can put that action plan to work.
Community Action Project: Trending Issues Resource
5. Women’s History Statistics Mapping Project
How can we use mapping to illustrate the geographical variations of statistics related to women?
This concept is similar to the timeline example above but rather than focus on the trends of one geographical location, students will focus on the variations of data across the globe.
Use the same example as above to envision what this might look like. Rather than look at how childbirth mortality rates have changed over time in a particular country over time, students would look at childbirth mortality rates across the globe at a specific time, such as the year 2020. They might even compare data sets from different years to see how the numbers have changed or shifted. Students will map their findings.
Students will then examine that data to determine policies, specific historical events, culture, etc. to help explain the data.
6. Women’s History Storytelling Event
How can we use the art of storytelling to illuminate the contributions of community members that play a quiet but essential role in women’s rights, issues, and history?
There are some particular events that come to mind when planning learning activities for Women’s History Month such as the women’s suffrage movement, or specific notable figures such as Rosie the Riveter.
But what about those less infamous women? What about our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, neighbors, local business owners, etcetera, those that subtly inspire or make waves in the background?
Have your students research and identify a particular community member that quietly plays a role in women’s rights, issues, and/or history in your community. Have your students interview these women and invite them to an in-person or digital storytelling event to share their experiences with the community.
7. Exploring Women’s History Through Current Events
How can we use historical events as a lens to better understand significant events happening here and now as they relate to topics about women?
Have your students explore current events as they relate to women’s topics. Students will then examine the series of events that led to the particular current event. Encourage students to dig deep and go way back.
For example, Germany recently got its first gender-equal cabinet with 8 women and 8 men. Yes, the incoming Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, promised more women in the cabinet, but that is only one part of the history that led to this moment.
Ask students to pinpoint a handful of major historical events that led to the current event and write a “news article” on each of those events as if students were there in those places and at those times in history. The end result will be a series of news articles that lay the path for the current event that they chose to study.
Consider having students create their articles using an online publishing tool so that they can share their final products with a relevant audience.
8. Illuminating History with Generations of Women
How can we learn about women’s history from our ancestors and what lessons can we carry with us from the experiences of generations past?
Have students choose one woman from their family or community that is part of a different generation than their own - great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers, great-aunts, aunts, neighbors, mentors, teachers, etc.
Have students spend time with that person learning more about what it means to be a woman from that generation. The interviewee can talk about significant or pivotal moments or events that they remember or were a part of. They can talk about their own personal experiences as they relate to being a woman from said generation.
The student and interviewee can discuss how those memories and significant moments or events have helped shape the world for incoming generations of females. They can talk about the lessons that can be learned from past generations and how those lessons can be applied moving forward.
Then have the students conduct a more formal interview with their chosen interviewee asking the same or similar questions using the StoryCorps app.
You might consider hosting a podcast as a platform for interviews instead.
9. Service-Learning for a Community Organization
In what ways can we serve local women’s advocacy organizations to meet current needs?
Search for community organizations of interest that advocate for women’s rights, safety, health, happiness, etc. You or your students can communicate with one organization to strike up a collaboration. Learn about the needs of the organization and develop a service-learning experience for or with your students to help the organization fill or meet that need.
My students organized a clothing drive for trafficking survivors with the organization Breaking Free. It was eye-opening and life-changing for my students and myself.
10. Women’s History Month: Yay or Nay?
Should there be a designated month for teaching and celebrating women’s history?
There is a common sentiment that women’s history shouldn’t be celebrated in March alone. Why should we only learn about and from women’s history one month per year?
Have your students focus on the question of whether there should be a Women’s History Month at all. Your students can research the pros and cons of dedicating one month to women’s history vs. celebrating year-round by connecting and communicating with community experts, examining ongoing research studies on this concept/question, and even conducting surveys of their own.
Then have students develop a proposal for or against having a Women’s History Month. They can share their proposals with the class, you can format the presentation as a class debate, and/or students can share or submit their proposals to relevant community members.
Again, these women’s history project-based learning ideas are simply suggestions. I hope you were inspired by some options and start planning right now!
Check out these ready-made resources specific to women’s studies:
If you’re looking for more information check out these blog posts:
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Observe. Question. Explore. Share.
To provide innovative educational resources for educators, parents, and students, that go beyond lecture and worksheets.
Sara Segar, experiential life-science educator and advisor, curriculum writer, and mother of two.