Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter
Eleanor Roosevelt: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: Two days


A topic of great interest to Eleanor Roosevelt was the plight of working women.  World War II change the world of working women through the image of Rosie the Riveter and the idea of women supporting the war effort through industry.  Eleanor Roosevelt was engaged in this topic before the rest of the nation even thought about the topic.  In 1934 she traveled to Puerto Rico and upon her return called for a boycott of needlework created by women in sweatshops; in 1942 she traveled to Britain to observe the role of women in the war effort.


In this lesson student will gain an understanding of the power of symbols.

Materials Required:

TV, VCR or DVD, computer with projector and access to the Internet; a segment of Leave It To Beaver (which can be rented at Blockbuster Video); optional – CD player.


1. The day before this lesson announce to the class that tomorrow’s lesson with be a multimedia experience in which you will not talk and you wish for them to also not talk.

2.  On the day of the lesson write on the board the following: “Sshh, please be seated and enjoy the multimedia experience.”  Place on the desk of each student a sheet of paper and pencil.

3. Show the episode of Leave It to Beaver.

4. Distribute the handout labeled “What did I learn?” in the document segment of this lesson plan and give students approximately ten to fifteen minutes to fill out the handout.

5. Show a PowerPoint presentation fading various easily recognized symbols and images making sure that no words are attached.  The following are some examples that might be used:

  • Uncle Sam
  • Smokey the Bear
  • Flags of various nations
  • The Olympic flag
  • Skull and cross bones
  • Images from 911
  • Images of the Red Cross
  • Handicapped parking signs

6.  If a CD player is available play, quietly in the background, a CD with patriotic music or a CD with protest music from the 1960’s (i.e. Blowing in the Wind).

6. Distribute the handout labeled “What did I learn?” in the document segment of this lesson plan and give students approximately ten to fifteen minutes to fill out the handout.

7. Show the brief video regarding Rosie the Riveter which can be found at the following Library of Congress website:

8. At the end of the lesson collect the completed handouts given to the students.

9.  The following day have a class discussion based on what the students wrote, but also using the following questions

  • What do you think I wanted you to learn when I showed you the episode of Leave It to Beaver?
  • What did you learn from watching Leave It to Beaver?
  • In Leave It to Beaver what is the role of women in society?
  • What do you think I wanted you to learn by watching the PowerPoint presentation?
  • What did you learn by watching the PowerPoint presentation?
  • What are other symbols in your life?  (Point out any symbols that might be distributed in the classroom, especially any on students’ clothing)
  • In the PowerPoint did any of the symbols cause you to have an emotional reaction?
  • How important are symbols?
  • What d you think I wanted you to learn by watching the video on Rosie the Riveter?
  • What did you learn by watching the video?
  • How has the role of women changed since World War II?

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson, locate individuals who were alive during World War II and bring them to class to be interviewed by the class about their experiences and memories of that time. 

Sources & Resources:

Rosie the Riveter: 
   Colman, Penny.  Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II.  New York: Random House, 1995. 
   Litoff, Judy Barrett.  American Women in a World at War II.  Lanham: SR Books, 1996. 
   Litoff, Judy Barrett.  Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Home Front.  Lanham: SR Books, 1996. 
   Reid, Constance Bowman, Allen, Clara Marie, and Gilbert, Sandra M. Slacks and Calluses: Our Summer in a Bomber Factory.  Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 1999. 
   Yellin, Emily.  Our Mothers’ War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II.  New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2004. 

Eleanor Roosevelt:
Freedman, Russell. Eleanor Roosevelt, a Life of Discovery. New York: Clarkion Books,       1993.   (Newberry Award)
Rosenburg, Pam. Eleanor Roosevelt. New York: Compass Point Books, 2003.
Winget, Mary. Eleanor Roosevelt. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 2003.
   Embridge, David (ed.). My Day: The Best of Eleanor Roosevelt’s Newspaper columns, 1936-1962. New York: first Da Capo Press, 2001.  
   Feinberg, Barbara Silberdick.  Eleanor Roosevelt, a Very Special Lady. Brookfield: The Millbrook Press, 2003. 
   Mattern, Joanne. Eleanor Roosevelt, More Than a First Lady.  New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2003. 
   Roosevelt, Eleanor. The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt.  New york: Harper & Brothers, 1961. 
   Roosevelt, Eleanor. You Learn By Living. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960.
Copyright Law:
Eleanor Roosevelt: 
Rosie the Riveter: 

This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University.