We Remember 9/11

September 11th can be a scary topic for little learners.  It’s easy to say “they are too young for this,” or “they don’t need to know this yet,” but history is doomed to repeat ourselves if we don’t educate–even our youngest–about events in our past.  Let’s take a look at ways to learn about and remember 9/11 in a developmentally appropriate way for K-2 students.

Has it really been 13 years since 9/11?  Has it really been 13 years since I was sitting in a psychology class as a senior in high school when we heard a kid running down the hall screaming, “Turn on the TV! It’s awful!”  …and has it really been 7 years since I’ve had a class of first graders that was even alive during that awful event?  Un.Be.Lievable.

We honored September 11th this week and today in our classroom.  First, I should add that I always send an email to my parents before our talk letting them know what we will discuss and when and to let me know if they have any problems with that.  In ten years, I’ve never had a parent complain.  And year after year, I get thank you notes from parents about how thankful they are that their kids are learning our history so young.

Friday, we talked about what it means to be a good citizen in our classroom, community and country.
This is all part of our first Unit on Responsibilities.  We read this book about being a good citizen.

We charted our “research” on our flag anchor chart.

Then, we wrote an opinion piece on why they are good citizens.  We made American flags to display with them.  They have been a beautiful patriotic reminder of the pride we have in our country!  Especially this week!

 {{Ummm…yeah, we did these on September 5th…and yeah, my August calendar was still up and I didn’t realize it until I saw these pics…It’s been busy in my world and my brain is FRIED, can you tell??}}

This morning, we read one of my favorite “9/11” books, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. It’s based on a true story about a man who actually walked across the Twin Towers on a tight rope back in 1974.  And the end always gets me choked up talking about the towers not being there anymore.

I also showed just a few select pictures of the twin towers after they were hit using this photographic slideshow…

Here’s a sample page from the powerpoint “book…”

The kids naturally asked lots of questions…and I tried to answer them all as factually {because I think that’s super important}, but as simply as possible.  After much discussion about “Who did this?” and “Why did this happen?” and “Where did the towers go?” I had one little sweetheart who, after looking at the picture, said, “That’s really cool, but sad at the same time.”

Stop. My. Heart.

Ya’ll, I felt like my grandparents at that moment in time. I have vivid memories of my grandfather trying to relay the gravity of his World War II experiences to me and just not getting it. I didn’t ever make fun of it, but it was always just “an event in history that I didn’t experience.”

And that is exactly what 9/11 is to my firsties.  And that kinda breaks my heart.  So, yes, I went on a mini-soap box with my first graders about how “not cool about 9/11” I felt as I was watching, and the tears that flowed in my senior psych class and the shakiness in Matt Lauer and Katie Couric’s voices as we all watched together.  And I felt like my grandfather must have when I was little.   Oh, my heavens, did I have a lesson on perspective today!

Check out this slideshow along with an easy booklet for young readers on September 11th!

We ended our discussion with the flag’s symbol of pride and how no matter what happens, America will still survive because of the good citizens we have in our country!  I feel proud and blessed to be an American…and as long as I’m teaching, I’ll be doing my part to pass along that pride to my little first grade citizens!

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