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Lessons for Women's History Month

The Jane Goodall Lesson Plan for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, March’s lesson focuses on the life and achievements of Jane Goodall.

In 1960, Goodall’s patient observations of chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park in Africa led to a groundbreaking discovery: Chimpanzees make and use tools! At the time, humans held the erroneous belief that no other animals were capable of making tools and used this belief to distinguish themselves from other animals. Upon learning of Goodall’s discovery, famed archeologist Louis Leakey stated, “Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.” Since then, it has been found that several species, including the crow, create and use tools.

Even after this amazing discovery, Goodall continued to learn about our closest animal relatives, revealing that chimpanzees have culture, communication, rich emotional lives, and even politics. Her collected evidence has helped us better understand animals and appreciate the inherent value of their lives. She realizes that her discoveries have moral implications, saying, “How should we relate to beings who look into mirrors and see themselves as individuals, who mourn companions and may die of grief, who have a consciousness of ‘self’? Don’t they deserve to be treated with the same sort of consideration we accord to other highly sensitive beings: ourselves?”

Goodall now campaigns tirelessly in behalf of animals. Her book The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love, which she wrote with Marc Bekoff, encourages people to make compassionate choices that benefit animals and the environment.

This lesson is supplied by the Baltimore Curriculum Project. View the lesson here. Scroll down to the section labeled “Science Lesson 26—Jane Goodall.”

Although originally written for kindergarteners, this lesson can be adapted for grades 1 through 5.

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