Wednesday, March 05, 2008

About Women

Next week’s read-aloud at the shelter in Anacostia is supposed to use Women’s History Month as its theme. I’m having a hard time coming up with an activity for this one.

Our kids range in age from 3 to 9 and don’t have long attention spans. We have generally used simple themes, like snow and valentines. Three-year-olds don’t even know what history is, for goodness sake!

With the help of Arlington Country Library, I do have 7 books which talk about prominent women in fairly simple language.

But then we are supposed to do something related to the theme as an activity. For example, when we talked about snow, we made snowflakes. On Valentines Day we made valentines and decorated cookies.

An Internet search for ideas turned up an interesting story about a courageous young woman named Bessie Coleman, who was the first African American woman to obtain a pilot’s license. She was born in 1892 in a small town in Texas. She actually learned French and went to France to study aviation after she was turned down repeatedly in this country. After only 7 months, she obtained her license and returned to the US where she became a barnstormer and an early advocate for women’s rights. She died in a tragic accident when she was but 34 years old.

Maybe the kids can draw Bessie’s plane or make a paper airplane to commemorate this young woman who made history.

If you have other ideas, please pass them along!


Blogger Kate said...

I think this is a wonderful example for the kids. And they could choose to draw or make a plane! Also, it is probably not something any of them or their parents know about so will give them another reason to be proud of their heritage. Also I think it is something and someone they will always remember!

12:06 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Too many alsos.................Really need to edit before I "publish."


12:07 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

How about Sharon Hannon's book, Women Explorers? There are pics of women riding on huge furry camels and doing all kinds of really crazy superhero things. The essays are short, too. Want to borrow my copy?

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When O'Hare Airport was built, the City of Chicago named the street leading into the airport "Bessie Coleman Drive." Now I know why. You could always perform your airplane tap dance for the children after you read them the book!

8:38 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kate -- I think they will like this story, which I will tell instead of reading it.

Reya -- I will definitely use Sharon's book, which I have on my coffee table. Thanks for the reminder!

Anon -- So interesting that the City of Chicago chose to honor this young black woman. Thanks, but I think I'll leave my tap shoes at home...

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think children from 3-7/9 have any idea that women are different? I'm just thinking of what will be going on in their head: why are we talking about women, why are they different, don't men get a "history" month? Same thing with black history month.

Look at kids 3-6/7-- they don't distinguish between boy/girl/black/white when they are playing-- they'll play with anyone!! Why put that seed in their head that someone is different??

I'm a woman who grew up in the ERA 70's, but why start in on them at this age? They'll get it soon enough.

Thanks for the Bessie Coleman story-- awesome!!

9:23 AM  
Blogger kimy said...

if you are serious about wanting some suggestions: faith ringgold's books for children are terrific. especially the one called 'dinner at aunt connie's house' which provides wonderful brief biographies of around 12 prominent african american women. it's ideal for the age group you have. even tasha at 2 1/2 loves this story, in fact it is one of our most read naptime stories. you can read about faith's books and get links at the book mouse

sounds like a great activity. I'm very impressed by your volunteer work. thank you for making the world a better place!

10:54 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- I could not agree with you more. The topic was given to me as a theme, so I am just trying to make the most of it.

However, since these children come from situations where domestic violence has been a problem, hearing that women can succeed is a good message.

Kimy -- The book looks great! I'm picking up a copy at my local library this afternoon. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

My second graders are doing reports on African Americans this month and one little girl was entranced with the book, Fly Bessie, Fly! about Bessie Coleman. I was so surprised to see her here on your blog!

6:29 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I forgot that Bessie was little known - we have a conference room named after her. Actually, I think it's an entire suite of conference rooms. (Most of the rest just have numbers.)

The kids would enjoy paper airplanes or check out this site
with links to aviation crafts. You could also make "Gingerwoman" chains. Or brainstorm about "important women" in their lives and make something for them.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I'm picking up Fly Bessie, Fly! today at the library. Thanks for letting me know about this book.

Kristin -- I can understand why there is a conference room named for Bessie Coleman, knowing where you work.

Thanks for the suggestions. I will miss you and Jamy at next week's read-aloud!

8:18 AM  

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