Women’s History Through Art and Dance: 5 Ways to Celebrate and Express Creativity

Disclaimer: The U.S. Department of Education does not mandate or prescribe particular curricula or lesson plans. This information is provided for the visitor’s convenience and is included here as an example of the many resources that parents and educators may find helpful and use at their option. See the full FREE disclaimer.

March is Women’s History Month and Youth Art Month. In March, or any time of year, celebrate women’s contributions to the arts with some hands-on activities for kids – girls and boys. Learn, reflect and create!

1. Study women’s perspectives at an art museum or gallery: Tour the galleries of an art museum this month – in person or online –and focus on the works of women artists. Check out the National Museum of Women in the Arts website. Ask your kids what subjects, themes and ideas the women artists expressed in their work. Call or check the museum’s website in advance  of your visit to see if there are any special Women’s History Month events, activities or exhibits. For more advanced students of art history, encourage them to learn more about the artists and the other women artists who influenced them. What threads of tradition, influence and community can they trace between the works of women artists over time in art history?

portrait of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

2. Recreate portraits of bold, noteworthy women: Browse photographs or painted portraits of famous women who made history – like women’s rights leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, aviator Amelia Earhart, artist Frida Kahlo, singer Marian Anderson, activist Rosa Parks or architect Maya Lin. Get creative about your re-creation! Have your boys or girls of any age paint or draw their own versions of the portrait. Recreate a photograph with your girls dressed up and posing as the famous woman. If you’re recreating an older photograph, and you or your kids are handy with free or included camera apps or image software, use settings and filters to give your new image the color tones of the original image.

 

3. Make your own quilt block inspired by quilts and women’s textile arts: Does your family have any heirloom quilts or other handmade textile treasures? Did you know that art and history museums display quilts made by individual artists and communities of quilters? Learn more about the heritage of American quilts with the National Quilt Collection, the common thread of quilt grids on the National Museum of Women in the Arts blog, and more with resources on quilts in FREE. With younger children, make a quilt-like or patchwork collage with fabric scraps or colorful papers on foam board or cardboard. If your kids are a little older and interested, see if there’s an opportunity to learn how to sew and quilt from a family member – even you if you know how – or a friend, or through an arts program at your school or community center. Quilting is a great way to apply mathematics skills, too – measuring, graphing designs, calculating fractional parts of a whole square and drawing geometric shapes. Search in FREE for math activities based on quilts.

colorful quilt with triangles

Detail of Anna Williams, Quilt, 1995

4. Explore and express yourself with modern dance: Learn more about the mother of modern dance, Martha Graham, with A Dancer’s Journal activity from the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge and the Library of Congress’s Martha Graham Collection. Search online for videos of dance performances, too, for inspiration. Then get moving and encourage your kids to choreograph and perform their own modern dance.

painting of Queen Zenobia and her soldiers

Queen Zenobia Addressing Her Soldiers, 1725/1730

5. Write some historical fiction in the voice of a heroine from a portrait: Research, reflect and daydream a little about a heroine you find in a work of art. Imagine you are in her shoes. Younger children could write and illustrate an original, simple picture book. Older children could write fictional diary entries, and teens could create a Facebook or Twitter profile and status updates or tweets for Queen Zenobia of Palmyra or another woman depicted in art with ideas from the National Gallery of Art time travel children’s videos.

 

 

These are just a few of the many ways to celebrate great women artists and artists’ depictions of courageous, bold women in history. From their artistic legacies, spark some creativity and hands-on fun in various art media and genres. Bring out the artists in your kids!