Ideas for discussing September 11th attacks with elementary and middle school students.

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You can may recall exactly what you were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was in junior high at the time, and distinctly remember turning on the radio and hearing the announcers talk in great despair about an attack on America. I ran to my parent’s bedroom and told them this confusing news. My parents rushed to turn the TV on, just in time to watch the second plane crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center. School was hardly academic that day; we listened to news updates, and the teachers consoled students in distress that had loved ones with unknown whereabouts. I vividly remember on our drive home that afternoon, individuals standing on an overpass proudly waving American flags. Cars honked in acknowledgment. My family gathered around the television that evening to listen to President Bush address the nation. From that point on, everywhere I looked, it seemed that American flags flew proudly along nearly every street. There was a new sense of unity in our nation in the midst of tragedy. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 2 decades since the September 11th attacks.

While this day may still feel fresh and raw for us, it's important to remember that most of our students were not yet born when the attacks occurred. While it may seem most appropriate to teach this event on the anniversary of the attacks, this is not necessary. Don’t feel like if you missed the date, you will have to just wait until next year. You can talk about historical events at any point during the year.

I've compiled some ideas and suggestions for conducting a classroom discussion around the topic of September 11, 2001 broken down by grade level.

Grades K-2