March was Womyn’s Herstory Month! Yes, every day is women’s day etc etc.. … and yet, we are also loved celebrating women and putting women (besides ourselves!) even more at the forefront.
Full disclosure: We are both huge book people so our list of books about empowered and empowering women could go on for a while. Below are a few fantastic anthologies that we turn to often in our classroom and have used for many different projects throughout the year. We put these in the front of our room and hype them up extra for this month (along with books from March Book Madness especially Ada Twist, Scientist, The Most Magnificent Thing, I Dissent, The Water Princess, and Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist).
For another list of inspiring and idiosyncratic women, see this list of “Six Inspiring Books About Real-Life Heroines”! Or check out our Explorer Classroom series—a free opportunity to bring scientists and explorers to your classroom in a virtual expedition!
Through these read-alouds (which the students have been loving and asking for more of!), we’ve enjoyed the way we can tie this into conversations about maps in social studies!
In Reading, we’ve been working on “thick” and “thin” questions (thin questions you can look at text and simply identify the answer, whereas thick ones require some thinking).
We especially loved some of their questions about Annette Kellerman (1886-1975) from Shaking Things Up, who caused a scandal when she wore a one-piece bathing suit to a public beach. We discussed why bathing suits even needed to be designed for women, and why women would be told wear corsets in the first place. (This conversation became very fixated on corsets at one point!)
We also started a new read-aloud, Hello, Universe! We got to a scene where the main character’s dad scolds him and says, “Boys don’t play piano!” and our room erupted in silent signals meaning “agree” or “disagree“. Our students had a lot of opinions about this (especially a few of our boys who play piano!), and we had passionate reflections after that read-aloud block as to how gender should never dictate what any human has access to.
In Writing, we have been wrapping up writing about people from history. (Most of them are women, although not all.) We are now writing about someone we love (many of whom are women!), which has been such a great way for our students to see mirrors of themselves, or windows into someone else’s life experiences.
On International Women’s Day, we started our day by writing letters to amazing women in our life and telling them why we appreciate them. Students wrote to teachers, babysitters, moms, aunts, grandmas, and even famous women we had read about. (Dominique Dawes—reppin’ nearby Silver Spring, Maryland—got quite a detailed letter from one of our students! It included a very self-aware: “I know you are busy but please please reply! K, thanks!”)
We also went to one of our favorite bookstores (and places!) in DC, Politics and Prose! We loved getting to see Patricia Valdez, who is an amazing scientist and author, who wrote the fantastic book Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles. We were all enraptured learning about Procter (1897-1931), and the way in which she took such thoughtful care of reptiles, learned so much outside college, and designed such intentional spaces for them to live. Her design of the London Zoo reptile house is something we all decided we must see! (And it is in a Harry Potter movie, so of course we found that oh-so-exciting).
All in all, it has been a blast to put an extra spotlight on womyn and we could go on forever, of course, with all of the endless ways a human could be an inspirational woman. As we wrap up Womens History Month, we take the energy that our students have about finding new role models and guideposts in their lives, and carry it with us as we strive to be the best we can be, too!
We feel so wonderfully saturated with inspirational women this month—maybe we’ll go to bed listening to Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls new podcast! And one more book we love below (we warned you)!