March is Women’s History Month, when we honor the contributions and achievements of women from around the world. International Women’s Day is celebrated globally on March 8th to celebrate the “social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.” (InternationalWomensDay.com)
And we like to celebrate Women’s History Month through kid-friendly yoga poses! Because linking animals to yoga poses is a great way to incorporate yoga into lessons, I thought it would be fun to read these five picture books featuring true stories of women who dedicated their lives to the care and protection of animals. After reading and discussing the books, act out the corresponding animal yoga poses to bring movement to your learning experience.
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5 Books to Celebrate Women’s History Month
These non-fiction picture books below are all suitable for ages 5 and up, but the lesson could be adapted for younger children.
A Passion for Elephants: The Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss
by Toni Buzzeo and Holly Berry
Cynthia Moss has dedicated her life to learning about the world’s most enormous land animal, the African elephant. She has worked fiercely to protect elephants from ivory poachers, and she speaks globally about the importance of saving elephants.
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
by Jess Keating and Marta Alvarez Miguens
Eugenie Clark dedicated her life to proving that sharks aren’t scary and that women can be scientists. She became known as “Shark Lady” for her incredible work educating people about sharks, and she was the first person to train sharks.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
by Tulia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley
Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism at a young age. She grew up to become a quirky scientist who used her visual thinking to create more animal-friendly machines for raising cattle.
Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles
by Patricia Valdez and Felicita Sala
As a young girl, Joan Procter’s biggest passions were snakes, turtles, and crocodiles. When she grew up, she worked at a natural history museum to continue her studies on reptiles, where she helped create an enclosure for Komodo dragons.
Mrs. Harkness and the Panda
by Alicia Potter and Melissa Sweet
Ruth Harkness took over her explorer husband’s quest to bring a panda back to America. She took a dangerous and exhilarating trip to China to find a panda. She brought home “Su Lin” to find a home in the Chicago Zoo.
5 Yoga Poses to celebrate the women who dedicated their lives to protecting animals
This list of animal yoga poses is sequenced specifically to flow from one pose to the next. Each of the animal postures encourages us to celebrate the incredible work of these five women through movement.
Don’t worry about getting the poses perfectly aligned; just give it a go and have fun. Once you’re ready to practice yoga, simply clear a space and practice barefoot on a non-slip surface. Practicing on a yoga mat is ideal if you have one.
1. Pretend to be an elephant to honor Cynthia Moss’s work.
How to practice Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend: Stand tall with legs hip-width apart, feet facing forward, and straighten your arms alongside your body. Step your feet out wide, bend your upper body, clasp your hands together, and pretend to be an elephant with its trunk hanging between its legs.
2. Pretend to be a shark to honor Eugenie Clark’s work.
How to practice Dolphin Pose: On your hands and knees, bend your elbows and rest your forearms on the ground with your palms flat. Lift your knees to straighten your legs and look forward. Pretend to be a great white shark darting through the water.
3. Pretend to be a cow to honor Temple Grandin’s work.
How to practice Cow Pose: On all fours, look up, open your chest, and arch your back. Pretend to be a cow grazing on grass.
4. Pretend to be a Komodo dragon to honor Joan Procter’s work.
How to practice Lizard Pose: From Downward-Facing Dog Pose, shift forward to bring your shoulders over your wrists. Gently place your right foot on the outside of your right hand, with your right foot facing forward. Stay in this deep lunge for a moment. If you’re able, drop your elbows to the ground for a deeper stretch. Reverse the steps to come out of the pose. Switch sides and repeat the steps. Pretend to be a Komodo dragon sunning itself on a rock.
5. Pretend to be a panda to honor Ruth Harkness’s work.
How to practice Happy Baby Pose: Lie on your back with your chin tucked in, hug your knees into your chest, then grab the outer part of your feet with both of your hands, and rock like a happy baby. Pretend to be a panda lying on its back.
Happy Women’s History Month!