Women's History on the Table

Women's History on the Table lesson plan

Honor women who helped to shape our world. Create a place for great leaders at history’s table.

  • 1.

    More than half of the world’s population is women. But is most history about women? Today, both men and women are trying to correct this imbalance of information. Judy Chicago is one of many artists who address the issue of women’s places in history. For 5 years, she created a large-scale artwork entitled The Dinner Party. Find pictures of her installation. She made 39 place settings from ceramics, painted china, and needlework.

  • 2.

    Students can construct a similar installation with women around the world. In small groups, develop a list of women to honor at the dinner table. Compare lists to avoid duplication. Cite reasons why each person should be included. For example, some students may choose Mary McLeod Bethune, who worked to bring education to Southern, African American women. Dorothy Harrison Eustis founded the Seeing Eye in New Jersey to train guide dogs for people with visual impairments.

  • 3.

    After choosing the honorees, sketch each woman’s plate and placemat with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils on white paper. Use bold images to express their contributions, such as a black-on-black pot and some words in Tewa for the place setting for potter Maria Martinez from the San Ildefonso Pueblo.

  • 4.

    On plain white paper plates and paper, draw designs using Crayola Washable Markers and Multicultural Markers. Position each plate on a placemat. Attach two with a Crayola Glue Stick.

Standards

  • LA: Read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
  • LA: Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • SS: Identify and describe ways family, groups, and community influence the individual's daily life and personal choices.
  • SS: Explore factors that contribute to one's personal identity such as interests, capabilities, and perceptions.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.
  • VA: Integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in artwork.

Adaptations

  • Have a variety of books available in the classroom focused on famous women in history. A few suggestions would include: 13 Women Artists Children Should Know by Bettina Shuemann; Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue (Women of Action) by Kathryn J. Atwood; Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull; They Stood Alone!: 25 Men and Women Who Made a Difference by Sandra McLeod Humphrey
  • Encourage students to organize an installation of their artwork in the school building. Invite parents and other students to view the exhibit. Challenge viewers to add other women's names and create a table setting for the new additions.
  • Invite students to investigate other work by Judy Chicago such as her Holocaust project and Powerplay. Discuss any similarities in techniques found in her artwork.
  • There have been a number of spin-offs from Judy Chicago's work including the 999 names of other women for the floor of a permanent installation at the Brooklyn Museum. Women were encouraged to design small quilts to honor their own lists of women to be honored. Encourage students to consider what qualities they would consider if making an honor quilt.