Lesson plan

Voting Rights: Women's Suffrage Movement

Use this civics lesson, which explores the suffrage movement for women, to teach your students about the importance of voting rights for all citizens.
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  • Students will be able to write about the history of the suffrage movement and explain the important civic duty of voting.
(5 minutes)
  • Divide students into two groups, in a convenient way, such as dividing the room in half, or by asking students to count off by ones and twos.
  • Inform students that today they will be exercising their civic duty of voting. They will be asked to vote for what field trip they want to go on this year. Write on a piece of chart paper three possible field trip destinations that work for your area (examples include museums, libraries, or regional parks).
  • Give both groups a minute to ponder on which field trip they will vote for. Remind them that they may only vote for one option.
  • Tell students that the "polling station" is open and that students are to come up and vote for a field trip destination by marking a tally next to their choice.
  • Explain that only one group will vote today. The other group does not have the right to vote.
  • Invite students from group one to come up and mark their choice.
  • Announce the results of the field trip vote.
(15 minutes)
  • Write each of the following questions on separate pieces of chart paper, leaving plenty of space below for students to contribute their answers.
    • "How did it feel to be able to vote today?"
    • "How did it feel to not be able to vote today?"
  • Pass out a sticky note to each student. Read each question aloud and give students a minute to reflect on their response. Then tell them to write their response on the sticky note, and paste it below the question they answer.
  • Engage the students in a brief discussion regarding the importance of voting, and the injustice for some groups to not be able to vote. Add any pertinent information that arose from the discussion to the chart paper with their sticky notes.
  • Tell students that this was the case for many different groups of people in history, including women, Native Americans, the poor (i.e., people who did not own property), and African Americans.
  • Inform students that today they will learn about the suffrage movement, or the movement to change the law to allow women to vote. Suffrage means the right to vote and participate in politics.
  • Tell students that many women were involved in the abolitionist movement (ending slavery) in the mid-1800s, but became disenfranchised or disengaged when they realized they could neither hold any leadership position in the U.S. government nor vote in elections. Many women began to protest and campaign for the right to vote.
  • Explain that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. constitution was established in 1920, finally allowing women to vote.
  • Show the School House Rock: Suffrage Right to Vote video to the students and answer any questions that arise from the video.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out the Suffrage worksheet to each student. Read aloud the text to the student, inviting them to follow along.
  • Ask students if they have any questions regarding the information they gathered through the text.
  • Consider the first couple questions on the worksheet and have students turn to a partner to discuss possible answers.
  • Call on a few students to share their ideas, and then encourage them to answer the questions themselves.
(20 minutes)
  • Tell students they will write a speech (on the second page of the worksheet) as if they were at the Seneca Falls Convention, and they are to convince the audience that women should have the right to vote.
  • Instruct early finishers to sketch a poster for the suffrage movement on the third page of the worksheet.


  • Challenge students to research one of the suffragettes who fought for women's right to vote in other countries. Have students write an expository essay on this topic.


  • Provide visuals (see related media) of the suffrage movement to give students a more complete idea of the event.
  • Read aloud a book on the women's suffrage movement such as You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? to give students more information to understand the history (see related media).
(5 minutes)
  • Invite students to read their speeches to a partner and listen in to gauge student understanding of the women's suffrage movement.
(5 minutes)
  • Distribute a piece of scratch paper to each student. Have them write one thing they learned during today's lesson, or one fact that stood out to them.
  • Have students crumple up the paper they wrote on. Gather students to an open area, such as a carpet, and have students stand in a circle with their crumpled paper and throw it in the middle.
  • Invite students to grab a piece of paper and take turns reading aloud the learnings of the lesson.

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