Teaching Girls About Women – What Woman Is

Sometimes life collides in several places at the same time, creating a series of thoughts or actions that can change us forever. This is the story of such a change for me – how I realised that womanhood is a gift, and how I grew to love being a woman.

I don’t recall ever hating being a girl. I was ‘lucky’ in that I was raised fairly free of the limitations of feminity. We were always dressed in beautiful, home-made, pastel coloured dresses with lace trimming that I hated as soon as I hit puberty, but we were never discouraged from climbing trees, or riding bikes, or participating in sports. The only ‘it’s okay, you’re a girl’ thing that I remember from my childhood is an inability to do well at mathematics, and being told that it was because I am a girl. I didn’t go on to do a doctorate in maths. In fact, I still suck at it. Whether that’s just a quirk of being me, or some latent reaction to being told I couldn’t, I will never know. I can do my budgets, bake my cakes, work out the tire pressure for my car. I do okay. I never really needed to know what a is equal to anyway.What Woman IsRead more: Teaching Girls About Women – What Woman Is

Frida Kahlo’s Mexico

Since we’ve been learning about Frida Kahlo, I thought we’d put some geography on the ‘lesson plan’ and learn about Mexico. Frida Kahlo was very proud of her place of birth and while she travelled with her husband Diego and lived in some of the major cities in the USA and travelled to Paris, France, her heart was always in Mexico.

She dressed in the peasant wardrobe of one of the local regions, and even when she moved in ‘high society’ of the time, she preferred the more rustic wardrobe of her national dress – not necessarily because of the fashion but because of the pride she felt in portraying her homeland.

Frida Kahlo's Mexico

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Frida Kahlo Inspired Clay Bead Necklaces

The next craft project for our Frida Kahlo learning was to make a bold and colourful beaded necklace from oven baked clay. How do these beads tie in with our Frida Kahlo based theme? Well, we’ve taken creative licence, for sure. What we know is that Frida Kahlo liked wearing bright, bold colours, and liked bringing the essence of Mexico to the world. Have a look on Google for Mexican art and you’ll see a lot of prime colours (we added green) and a lot of delicate patterns. That’s what we were going for with these bead necklaces.  If you look at images of our current heroine, you’ll see that she often wore big, bulky neck adornments too, so I reckon she’d have approved of our finished product.

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Frida Kahlo Inspired Mexican Folk Art Pendants

Supporting our Frida Kahlo learning, we’ve been looking at Mexican folk art. A simple Google of the term brings up pages and pages or examples, so we identified a few things that  were clear to us when looking at Mexican art:

  1. It is bright and colourful
  2. There’s incredible attention to details
  3. They use a lot of dots
  4. There are a lot of skulls used in art.

Using this information as a basis, we made ourselves some Frida Kahlo and Mexican folk art inspired air drying clay pendants and I’ve got to say, I don’t normally count myself as terribly artsy, but I’m really happy with how these turned out.

air dry clay pendant

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Frida Kahlo Inspired Paper Flower Headbands

We’re learning about Frida Kahlo at the moment and two of the things that stands out about Ms. Kahlo are the fact that she was fiercely patriotic and proud of her heritage, and the bold, bright colours she wore. 

Often wearing flowers and using them in her paintings as a celebration of her national heritage, their symbolism of fertility and fecundity was also pertinent to Kahlo who was unable to have children herself as a result of the accident in her teenage years. 1

Frida Kahlo contracted Polio as a child, and this left her with one leg thinner than the other, so much so that she was quite self-conscious about it. This also played a part in her wardrobe choices into adulthood. Frida might have hobnobbed with the high-society of New York and San Francisco and even, later, Paris, but she never adopted the ‘flapper’ style dresses that were popular at the time, choosing to stick with the long skirts and maxi dresses of the matriarchal Tehuantepec society of her Mexican heritage.

I find my children concentrate better when their hands are busy, so we were able to chat about Frida Kahlo, patriotism, disease, and the obstacles that come up in people’s lives while we folded tissue paper into carnations for Frida Kahlo inspired headbands. 

To make the headbands, you require a rectangle of tissue paper per flower, some sellotape to hold it together and – I had hoped to use elasticated headbands, but I couldn’t find any locally – pipe cleaners  with hairclips.

To make the flowers, fold the tissue paper lengthwise to make a long narrow strip, then fold it in half down the middle. Starting at the closed end fold the paper about an inch, then flip the unfolded bit underneath and fold an inch again. Repeat over and over, creating a zigzag out of the paper. When it’s all used up, pinch the bottom closed bit together and use a bit of tape to hold it all together (you could also sew a stitch in it, but we don’t have the patience for that just now!)

Pull apart the top part of the zigzagged tissue carefully (tissue paper tears easily) to create a fan, then gently separate the layers, pulling them as far out as they’ll go, creating your paper flower.

For the ‘headband’ we twisted together two pipecleaners, making a loop at the end of each (the ends can be quite sharp, so bending it inwards should help protect little skulls from being stabbed!) Once it’s all twisted together, create a gap between the twists, and place your flower in it, then twist it back together again.

Put a hairclip or pin through each end – through the loops – and use those to clip the ‘hairband’ into the hair. 

Click on the image below for more on Frida Kahlo and other inspirational women in history

Women Who Did

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  1. Davies, L. 2010, March 2, Frida Kahlo and Flowers, http://www.anothermag.com/fashion-beauty/1812/frida-kahlo-and-flowers

Amelia Earhart Study Unit {Women Who Did}

I decided this year to utilise some of the many books we have and use famous – or should-be-famous – women from history as our educational starting points. A friend gave me a guidebook for a mothers and daughters circle called The Heroine’s Club a few years ago, and I’ve decided to use that as the foundation for our studies. Our first woman from history is Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic.

Who Was Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Earhart Study Unit Pic

Many people know the name Amelia Earhart and even know that she was the first woman to cross the Atlantic by plane. But here are a few other things you may not have known about Amelia Earhart:

  • Amelia was homeschooled until high school
  • She suffered from chronic sinusitis
  • She worked as a nurses’ aid during the Second World War
  • Amelia took her first flight in an airoplane at 23 years old. She started lessons 5 days later.
  • Amelia was the 16th woman in the US to be issued a pilot’s licence.
  • She gained her pilots licence less than a year later.
  • Involved in creating the first commercial airline in the world.
  • Amelia set 7 women’s speed and distance aviation records, including a world altitude record.
  • Amelia also created a functional sporty fashion line.

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“Women Who Did” Series On Remarkable Women In History

I strongly dislike ‘introducing’ a new series, as life inevitably happens, and we have to stop, or change direction. Just as I’m getting into the swing of a new theme, the kids decide they don’t love it, and we have to do something different – and since we’re all about being child-led in our home education, that can be a bit of a problem, but here I am, none-the-less, introducing a new series here on the blog. It’s called Women Who Did and it’s all about the women who’ve come before us and made our world and our lives what it is today, whether we knew about it or not .

Why Women Who Did? 

A few years ago I saw a bracelet come up in my timeline on Facebook, and it ‘spoke’ to me. I bought it that day and have worn it every day since. It catches my eye often and it gives me strength when I need it. I’ve since written it’s message on my wall where I can see it every day, and my girls will brush a thumb over it from time to time, when they too, need strength.

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