March is Womens History Month
We celebrate women’s history to honor the struggles and achievements of those that came before us, and to give examples to our future changemakers. It is important to highlight where we came from to make a better future. Women did not always have the right to vote, but people like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton helped to change that. In some places, girls are not able to go to school. People like Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize laureate, have taken brave stances to change the future for children’s education.
Continue reading to explore the stories of other trailblazing women.
Celia Cruz was a Cuban-American singer and performer who first became known for her radio voice and later became known for her big bright attire and an even bigger personality. She was instrumental in the formation of Salsa as a genre of music. She travelled, collaborated and performed with many famous people and has been honored with a variety of awards. She now has items on display in the Smithsonian, has a commemorative postage stamp, and several lifetime achievement awards, and honorary Doctorate degrees. She felt she fulfilled her father’s dream of her becoming a teacher by sharing her love of music and her culture with several generations of people.
Check out more of her history here:
To try Salsa dancing, start here with Beginner Salsa Steps:
Watch Celia Cruz in concert:
Make your own musical instruments and dance along!
Egg Shaker Maracas
You will need 4 plastic spoons, 2 plastic eggs, tape, and egg filler (beans, rice, beads, etc.)
- Add some of your filler to the eggs (do not completely fill)
- Shut the eggs and seal with tape.
- Place the egg in between two of the spoons and wrap the spoons with tape, to keep the egg is place.
- Shake away! Try to follow the rhythm of the music.
You will need:
A stick (pencil, craft stick, dowel, or something else for a child to hold)
String (yarn, ribbon, chenille stem, or other material on which to string items)
Items to thread onto the yarn (jingle bells, buttons, beads, etc.) You may want a large-eyed needle to help thread the items onto the yarn. Photo: Jingle stick supplies
- Tie (or otherwise fasten) one end of the string to the stick.
- Thread the items onto the string. Use this as a chance for children to improve their fine motor skills and allow them to explore which fit easier and which are more difficult.
- Tie the other end of the string to the stick. Allow for some space for the items to move along the string to produce sound.
- Jingle away! Try to follow the rhythm of the music.
Misty Copeland makes history as the first African American Female Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Beginning later than most professional ballerinas, she took the first step towards her journey to ballet at the age of 13 while taking lessons at the Boys & Girls Club in San Pedro, California. One of six children being raised by a single parent, she grew up extremely shy and withdrawn until she was introduced to ballet. As the only Black dancer at ABT, she struggled to belong but her extraordinary talent and perseverance propelled her towards unexpected triumph. Misty uses her incredible story to continuously motivate young dancers of color. She has written an autobiography and authored children’s books. Among many accolades, she has been honored by the Congressional Black Caucus has a performance trailblazer and champion of arts in education.
Watch a video to learn more about her as today’s changemaker:
Books for young readers by Misty Copeland:
Activity: Ballet is a type of dance using leaps, turns, poses, and steps. Music and scenery are added to create a story. Look through the images of Misty Copeland performing in the ballet and describe the scene. What could be happening in the story? What story could you tell by using your own costumes and music?
Zaha Hadid was an Iraqi-born, British architect who made her name internationally known among a field dominated by men. She studied in Lebanon earning a degree in mathematics and left for London to study at the Architectural Association School. Hadid established her own firm in London in 1979 where she also designed products from furniture and lighting to jewelry and shoes. She showed that there could be art in architecture, with many shapes and visually striking aspects in her designs. At first, Hadid’s designs did not go further than the sketching stage as they were viewed as too radical. The building to put her past that was the Vitra Fire Station in Germany. Construction was complete in 1993 and was filled with angular shapes and composite materials.
Vitra Fire Station
Among her achievements are many honors and prestigious awards. She was the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. She made it to Forbes List of “World’s Most Powerful Women,” and Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” She was named UNESCO’s “Artist For Peace,” made Dame Commander order of the British Empire in 2012, and awarded the Royal Gold Medal in 2016 (the first woman to be awarded.)
Here are some of Hadid’s designs that have come to fruition. They are described as futuristic, dazzling, emotionally powerful, inventive and beautiful.
Olympic Aquatic Center in London
Heydar Aliyev Center Museum in Baku, Azerbaijan
Port House, Antwerp, Belgium
Broad Art Museum in Michigan
Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou, China
Sally Ride was the first American woman in space, flying in the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. Sally Ride grew up in California in the 1950’s and 60’s, dreaming of being a tennis player. She became a talented player after much practice, and attempted a career as a player. She ultimately decided that attending college was the better option for her and enrolled at Stanford University. There she earned degrees in physics and English in 1973, and then earned both a Master’s degree (1975) and Doctorate in physics (1978.) At the same time, NASA was looking for young people to be “mission specialists” and Sally applied. She was one of five women to be selected and train as an astronaut. She became a crew member of the space shuttle Challenger, and 5 years after joining NASA she became the first American woman (and youngest American) in space. Her job included launching communication satellites and operated the mechanical arm on the shuttle. She went on one more shuttle mission after that, making observations of Earth and refueling techniques for the shuttles. Dr. Ride went on to be a special assistant to a NASA administrator, served as the Director of the California Space Science Institute, and became a professor at the University of California, San Diego. She was passionate about encouraging girls to pursue science interests and wrote several children’s books. She passed away in 2012 after a fight with cancer and posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Juliette Gordon Low
Juliette Gordon Low is credited with founding the Girl Scouts of the USA. Juliette grew up within a wealthy family in Georgia in the 1870’s. She always had an interest in activities that were deemed unacceptable for girls, such as horseback riding, hiking, and playing tennis. Wanting to be independent, she moved to New York as a young woman to pursue painting, which was considered appropriate for women. She did marry as was expected of her, but after her husband passed away, she began travelling. After a meeting with the founder of the Boy Scouts, she realized girls could have their own group to learn some of the same skills the boys were exploring. She put together several troops of varying income in both Scotland and London. The girls showed a spectacular increase in self-esteem and Juliette knew she had to start the same activities in the U.S. The girls were first known as “Girl Guides” with 18 registered. In 1913 the groups were renamed “Girl Scouts” and remains one of the most influential organizations for girls in the world. Juliette Gordon Low has received several honors regarding the creation of girl scouting, including a commemorative postage stamp, an induction to the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Check out these books to encourage and empower girls and women:
“Beautiful” by Stacy McAnulty, for grades K-2
“She Persisted” by Chelsea Clinton, for grades PreK-3
“What Would She Do?” by Kay Woodward, for grades 6-8
For more stories and activities, look here: