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Women’s Empowerment (Learning How to Lift as We Climb)

March 8, 2017

Nichole Aguirre and Nekia Becerra

(edited by Alicia L. Moore, Ph.D)

Objective: In recognition of International Women’s Day, students will understand the contributions and impact that women make to and on our society.[1]

Grade Levels

  • Pre-K – 2nd Grade
  • 3rd Grade – 5th Grade

Essential Questions

  • Why do women matter?
  • Why do women’s rights matter?
  • What will you do to change your community?


  1. Empowerment: to permit; enable
  2. Women’s rights: economic, legal, and social rights equal to those accorded to men, claimed by and for women
  3. Resilience: the capacity to withstand and recover quickly from difficulty, sickness, and/or other difficulties
  4. Equality: the condition, fact, or quality of being equal
  5. Discrimination: unjust or unfair treatment of people based upon their differences or distinguishing characteristics (e.g., race, age, ethnicity, appearance, gender, disability, etc.).
  6. Protest: an objection, disagreement or complaint
  7. Shero: A female hero; A woman who support girls, women and causes that benefit all people (Adapted from

The vocabulary words were defined in children’s terms using the Kids Wordsmyth website.

Lesson Plan (Grades PK-2nd)


  • Talking piece (A small stuffed animal appropriate for PK – 2nd)
  • Book or Video: Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple
    Youtube URL
  • Frida by Jonah Winter
  • A square sheet of cardstock for each student
  • Markers or crayons
  • Yarn or string

Lesson Plan

  1. Gather students in a circle and explain circle expectations (tell them that eyes are watching, ears are listening, bodies are calm, and voices are quiet):
    1. Explain to them that when they have their “Talking Piece” (stuffed animal) in their hand, they can speak. If they do not have it in their hand, then they are listening.
    2. Practice speaking and passing the “Talking Piece” around the circle.
  2. Lecture Blast: Tell them that in our country, women have not always had the same rights, the choice to do whatever they like, as men in our country have had. At one point, women had to fight for the same rights. They organized and protested. (Protests are a way to show you disagree with something and/or the way that someone or some people are being treated.) Women did not like that they were not able to do the same thing that men/boys were allowed to do, simply because they are females.
  3. Have them turn to the student sitting next to them and discuss: How does it make you feel when you hear that women and girls weren’t allowed to do the same things as men or boys, simply because they are girls? Have a few students share out their response(s).
  4. Student Work: either read Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple’s Not All Princesses Dress In Pink to them or watch the story here. (If this book does not work for your students, substitute another empowering book for young girls.)
  5. Class Discussion:
    1. What did you learn from this story?
    2. What do you remember the most about the story?
    3. What was your favorite part of the story? Why?
    4. Would you like if someone made you wear a color you didn’t like? Would you like it if you could not play on the playground because you are in elementary school?
    5. How does it make you feel when someone makes you do something you don’t like or when they take away your right to choose?
  6. Explain the importance of (1) fighting for what is right (tell them that sometimes, in order for changes to happen, you have to protest) and (2) working together as one to help make change happen.


  1. Give each child a square sheet of paper and tell them draw or write about how they will change the world based on any injustice that they choose. If need be, take some time to make sure that they understand what an injustice is and how they can be changed. (Depending upon your classroom, remind them that boys and girls are equal and can do whatever they want to do.)
  2. Closure: Allow students to share what they will do or how they will help.
  3. Tie each square together in the corners to create a unity quilt and display it in a place where others outside your classroom can see how your students will change the world.

Extension Activity

  1. Silhouette Wall: Have students stand in front of the projector and trace their side profile on black paper. For younger students, teachers should trace their profiles. Cut out the profiles and glue it onto a white poster board.
    1. Have each student write a statement about how they will contribute to our society in a powerful and meaningful way.
    2. Hang the silhouettes and the statements in the hallway outside of the classroom.
    3. Invite parents to see how the class is working together to make positive changes in the communities, and ultimately, our society.

Lesson Plan (Grades 3rd-5th)

Things To Do Before The Lesson

  1. Move the chairs in your classroom into a circle to level the power dynamics, create an inclusive environment, and symbolize a safe place for the community of learners.
  2. Reflect on the women in your life (sheroes) who made an impact. (As the teacher, prepare to share in the instance that the group discussion needs an example or structure.)
  3. Have Always: #LikeAGirl – Unstoppable


  • Computer w/ Projector
  • Pencils
  • Sticky Notes
  • Chart Paper – Optional for sorting Sticky Notes
  • White Board
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Card Stock
  • iPads (Optional)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Sticky Notes
  • Crayons
  • Markers

Lesson Plan

  1. Establish Norms (You may use your classroom rules/expectations in place of this.)
    1. The students should develop a list of norms to follow during the circle.
    2. Students should develop and agree upon group norms.
    3. Remind students of the norms throughout the circle discussion.
  2. Pose this question to the group: How do women contribute to our society?
    1. Allow students time to think of ways that women contribute to society.
    2. Have the students record each response on a sticky note.
    3. Students should post their notes on the board.
    4. When all of the students have finished, have them work together to sort the sticky notes into themes.
    5. Discuss vocabulary words during this debrief time: Empowerment, Women’s rights, Resilience, Equality, Discrimination, Protest, Shero
  3. Debrief Sticky Note Activity: Discuss the common themes and probe further.
    1. Which contributions appeared the most and why?
    2. What would things be like if women didn’t make these contributions?
    3. Did anyone write about the contributions of women in their personal life (people they know personally)?
    4. How would your life be different without the women who have contributed/impacted your life?
  4. Show Always: #LikeAGirl – Unstoppable
    1. Have a broad and open discussion about the video.
  5. A Call to Action: Have the girls think of ways they can contribute to our society. Frame it so that they think of things that would require them to participate in designing/creating. Ask the boys to be supportive and contribute to this discussion in impactful ways.
    1. The students can think about how they can change their communities for the better.
    2. The boys can learn about being allies (supporter; united for a common cause).
  6. Assessment: Students can do any of the following to demonstrate their learning:
    1. Write a poem.
    2. Write a blog post.
    3. Write a letter to share what they plan to do.
    4. Record a voice memo.
    5. Create a short video using iMovie on an iPad.

Extension Activities:

  1. Allow students to complete an independent study on women who fight or fought for equality. Make sure to provide an expanded list of diverse women (in terms of race, ability, ethnicity, careers, talents, etc.).
    1. For example: Malala Yousafazi, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Juliette Hampton Morgan, to name just a few
    2. Students can share their learning via a Gallery Walk with the campus and community members.
  2. Form a book study group and read Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl’s Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future!
  3. Silhouette Wall: Have students stand in front of the projector and trace their side profile on black paper. Cut out the profile and glue it onto a white poster board.
    1. Have each student write a statement about how they will contribute to our society in a meaningful way.
    2. Hang the silhouettes and statements on a wall outside of the classroom and have a mini-museum day.

Culminating Activity for All Grade Levels:

  1. Summarize ways in which girls and women have been discriminated against.
  2. Margaret Mead once said, “It is said that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens cannot change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” What does that mean and how can we use it in our classroom to change our school? The community? The world? Who should fight for/support women and girls in our society? (Answer: Everyone.) Discuss/Review men and boys and their roles as allies for women’s rights.

[1] For more information, see International Women’s Day

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