Awesome Women in History

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This activity explores several admirable women from American history. The craft at the end is an easy and cheap way for the girls to bring home a reminder of what they learned.

Category: Developing Talents, Living and Learning the Gospel

Duration: 1 session
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Supplies:
  • Printouts of the 18 short biographies at the bottom of this page. I got the original information from the National Women’s Hall of Fame, but edited them into vocabulary that kids can understand.
  • This WomeninHistory PDF printed on vellum paper – one copy for each girl. You can also use regular paper to save money – the candle light just won’t shine through as much. Vellum paper is the translucent paper sometimes used in wedding invitations.
  • One votive candle holder for each girl (cube shaped works best). Our votives were about 3″ x 3″ on each side and the pictures supplied here reflect that.
  • Clear tape (We used regular scotch tape but double sided tape would look even better!). Do not use mod podge or glue! I tried this when testing the activity and the vellum got very wrinkly. Not recommended.
  • Tea light for each girl (we used battery powered but real are cheaper)

Preparation:

  • Print each biography once only. Print the pictures for the vellum paper once for each girl. So, you will have just one copy of each biography but multiple copies of the pictures file.
Activity:
Let Your Light Shine
1. Read 3 Nephi 12:16 together (“Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”)
2. Ask what it means to “let your light so shine.” What types of things might you do to let your light shine? Do you think everyone makes their light shine in the same way?
3. List several ways that real light is produced (the sun, a candle, light bulb, glow worm, etc.). Talk about how, just like real light is created in many ways, the “light” that this scripture refers to can also be created in many ways. This is one of the reasons that our Heavenly Parents made us all to be different – we all have something different to contribute to the world.
4. Explain that we’re going to explore several women from American history that “let their light shine” in different ways. Their job is to read the short biography and know it well enough to tell the other girls about how that person let their light shine, and how the thing they did would “glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
5. Have the girls choose a quiet spot in the room to read their biography or biographies. You may want to give them a pencil to jot down a sentence if they want to. Encourage them to ask you what some of the words mean if they don’t know!
6. After all the girls seem to be finished, give each one their vellum pages. While each girl is presenting, have the others look at their pictures of the women to help them remember what each one did, and to keep in mind which four they like the best.
7. After talking about the women, if you have more than 15 minutes left to go, use this time for them to share which were their favorites, and also how they might let their light shine, both now and in the future when they are adults.
8. To make the craft, have them cut out the pictures of the four women they most admire, and tapethem onto the outside of the votive. It probably won’t take them more than about ten minutes to do this short craft, but when they take it home they will be reminded of the many ways they can let their light shine.
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More Ideas:
  • To customize this project to your girls’ interests or your recent activities, browse the biographies in the Women’s National Hall of Fame and prayerfully select about 20 admirable women to print the short biographies on the page. If you’ve been exploring a certain theme lately, you can click “Achievements” to narrow your search to a specific category. For instance, if you’re planning on doing a service project soon, you could select “Philanthropy” to just select women who are honored for their service. Or, if you just did a science-themed activity a few weeks ago, you could focus on women scientists. You can also specify the time frame when they were born, so if you’re nearing Pioneer Day or did an activity about Pioneers recently, you could also do pioneer women! If you have the time, I highly recommend customizing this activity!
Eighteen Awesome Women in History:
Jane Addams

Jane Addams

Birth: 1860 – 1935 Born In: Illinois

Jane Adams wanted to help poor people in Chicago. She created a house, called the Hull House, where poor people could become more educated or get help if they needed it. It was the first ever “settlement house” in America. Today we call these community centers. Jane also fought for child labor laws, which meant that children could no longer be forced to work in factories. She founded a group call the Founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and she won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1931.


Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony

Birth: 1820 – 1906 Born In: Massachusetts

Susan and her friend Elizabeth Stanton worked hard to allow women to have the right to vote in America. Her words “Men their rights and nothing more; women their rights and nothing less,” expressed the ongoing struggle for equal rights of men and women. She never got to see women get the right to vote – she died fourteen years before the law was passed that women could vote. But her hard work paved the way for it to happen.


Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune

Birth: 1875 – 1955 Born In: South Carolina

Mary was an African American teacher who, with only $1.50 to her name, began a school to help educate young African American women. After turning it into a college, she became a powerful leader, and worked to end discrimination and make life better for African Americans.


Helen Brooke Taussig

Helen Brooke Taussig

Birth: 1896 – 1986 Born In: Massachusetts

Helen was the Chief of the heart clinic at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. While she was there, she developed a heart operation in 1944 which solved the often fatal “blue baby” problem – a problem that was caused by a defect in a newborn’s heart. This has saved countless infants’ lives.


Mildred

Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias

Birth: 1914 – 1956 Born In: Texas

Babe is one of America’s most amazing athletes. Zaharias won track and field gold medals at the 1932 Olympics. She later became a golf champion and founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Zaharias inspired generations of women to develop athletic skills.


Belva Lockwood

Belva Lockwood

Birth: 1830 – 1917

Belva was the first woman to practice law and argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court  in 1879. She became a lawyer when she was 40 and used her knowledge to help secure women’s right to vote, equal pay, and world peace. She helped open the legal profession to women.


Jacqueline Cochran

Jacqueline Cochran

Birth: 1906 – 1980

Jacqueline was the first woman aviator to break the sound barrier. This means she had to fly a plane fast enough that it traveled faster than the speed of sound! A leader and pilot, she held many speed, distance and altitude records in an airplane. She led the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots during World War II, becoming the first woman to pilot a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean.


Mary Lyon

Mary Lyon

Birth: 1797 – 1849

Mary founded the first college for women, Mount Holyoke (1837). Many future colleges modeled their colleges after hers, because she created such an amazing program. She made sure that her school did not go into debt even when many other colleges did. She encouraged women to get educated in many different areas, instead of only learning about teaching and homemaking.


Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley

Birth: 1860 – 1926 Born In: Ohio

Annie Oakley was probably the nation’s finest markswoman – she was excellent at hitting targets with her gun. She was a performer for many years with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Oakley was a big supporter of other women’s opportunities and raised funds to send needy women to college and nursing school.


Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin

Birth: 1880 – 1973 Born In: Montana

Jeannette was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She served two separate terms for Montana, and was the only U.S. Representative to vote against America’s entry into both World Wars. She was a pacifist all her life, meaning that she worked for peace until her death.


Gloria Yerkovich

Gloria Yerkovich

Birth: 1942 – Born In: Unknown

After Gloria’s daughter was abducted, Gloria founded CHILDFIND, a nationwide organization which helps locate missing children. (Don’t worry, she and her daughter were reunited!) Her idea was copied to create the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which helps thousands of children in America each year.


Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

Birth: 1906 – 1992 Born In: New York

Grace was a mathematics genius and computer pioneer. She created computer programming technology that forever changed how computers work and how they process information. In 1952, Hopper created the first “compiler,” which is a program that takes instructions written by a programmer, and turns them into codes that can be read by a computer. These days compilers are very important to people who create computer programs. Hopper was also the first woman to hold the rank of Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy.


Susette La Flesche

Susette La Flesche

Birth: 1854 – 1903 Born In: Nebraska

Susette was a member of the Omaha Tribe. She worked hard every day for Native American rights. She was the first Native American published lecturer, artist and author. Through her writing she helped to convince others of the importance of rights and equality for Native Americans.


Nettie Stevens

Nettie Stevens

Birth: 1861 – 1912 Born In: Vermont

For Nettie, we didn’t know how people got their gender. People just weren’t sure what cause some babies to be boys, and some to be girls. Nettie Stevens was the research biologist who discovered that the “X” and “Y” chromosomes determined the gender of humans. Stevens was also a great biology professor at Bryn Mawr College throughout her career.


Ann Bancroft

Ann Bancroft

Birth: 1955 – Born In: Minnesota

Ann Bancroft is an amazing explorer. She was the first woman to travel across the ice to the North and South Poles. She was also the first woman to travel across Greenland on skis, and in 1993, was leader of the American Women’s Expedition, a group of four who skied more than 600 miles to the South Pole.  A teacher who triumphed over her own struggle with dyslexia, Bancroft also coached many sports.


Maya Y. Lin

Maya Y. Lin

Birth: 1959 – Born In: Ohio

Lin is a Chinese American architectural designer. That means she designs buildings, rooms, and monuments. Monuments are her favorite thing to design. She became famous at the age of 21 when she created the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. She also designed the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, AL and The Wave Field at the University of Michigan.


Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt

Birth: 1844 – 1926 Born In: Pennsylvania

Mary was a famous American painter. She painted beautiful and entrancing pictures of family life, women, children, and gardens. She especially liked to paint pictures of mothers and children bonding. Her paintings have inspired thousands of other painters around the world.


Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison

Birth: 1956 –

Mae is a physician, engineer and astronaut. She was the first African American woman astronaut in space, traveling on the Endeavor in 1992. Today she works hard to bring technology to poor people in countries that don’t have much technology yet, and could benefit from it. She says that space “is the birthright of everyone who is on this planet. We need to get every group of people in the world involved.” She also spends lots of time encouraging women and minorities to become interested in science.


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