Remembering 9/11: Tools to teach kids about Sept. 11

How do you teach your kids, many of whom were not even born yet, about what happened on 9/11? For some parents, every September they relive where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania.

But for children who did not experience it first-hand, it’s something they read out of a history book.

Here are some ways parents can teach their children about the day that changed America.

1. Visit the websites of the various 9/11 memorials

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum based in New York City near ground zero has lesson plans that not only talk about the Attacks on America but also the World Trade Center complex. The curricula are for grades 3 through 12 and discuss the events of the day, what led up to the attacks and how America responded.

Click here for the lesson plans.

The Flight 93 National Memorial has a distance-learning program. Click here for more information. You can also visit the park virtually. The group Friends of Flight 93 also has virtual education activities available.

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial has images of the 184 people, including children, who were killed when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the military stronghold. You can also take a closer look at the design of the memorial, as well as the memorial itself.

2. Hear from the people whose lives were changed

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum has videos of the survivors of the attacks, Action News Jax reported. Those who shared their stories come from all walks of life. There is a woman who was a high school student at a school that was located next to the World Trade Center. There is the story of a New York City firefighter who was one of the first responders. There is also the story of an Army officer who was in the Pentagon at the time of the impact, who helped evacuees and searched for survivors.

3. Activities to remember those who were lost

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum has lists of activities that are reminiscent of ways people showed support in the days after the attacks.

Museum officials suggest making paper cranes because “Chains of colorful paper cranes were a familiar sight across Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11. Shortly after the attacks, a replica of the Statue of Liberty appeared outside a firehouse in midtown Manhattan. It was soon covered from torch to toe with tributes, including paper cranes, uniform patches, flags, notes, souvenirs, and other mementos from passersby,” Action News Jax reported.

Click here for instructions.

Draw or write a letter to thank a hero. Then post the messages on social media with the tag @911Memorial or @Sept11Memorial and use the hashtag #DearHero.

Finally, create a survivor tree leaf to remember those who were lost. The story comes from a tree that was damaged but not killed by the attack on the World Trade Center. Workers replanted the tree in a nearby park where it grew until it was moved to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza in 2010. It still continues to grow. Children can create leaves, adding messages of hope, and tape them to their window or door. Share the creations online using #911MuseumEd.

4. Kid-appropriate videos and books

The education website BrainPOP has a video, quiz and worksheets that help explain what happened on 9/11. Supplemental videos include airport security, war and mourning.

Scholastic has a website with various guides and plans covering Sept. 11. There are book lists, videos, first-person accounts and a section about discussing trauma and violence.

HBO also produced a documentary in 2019 called “What Happened on September 11,” which was made for introducing the events of 2001 to children.

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