I remember that morning clearly. I was working from home because I had been put on bed-rest with my third son. It was still somewhat hot in Texas and my two older sons were at their respective preschool and daycare. I had my computer desk in my living room and would watch the news daily as I worked.
The first plane hit. Honestly, I really kind of shook it off. Planes have accidents and although I did pray no one was hurt and for those in the plane and … my heart stopped as the second plane hit the other tower.
How many of our children remember that day? Unless you are graduating a high schooler this year there is a very good chance 9/11 is simply something “that happened” in their minds. History—like the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Do you remember that day? I do…details as it happened that I actually absorbed? Um, not so much.
How do we teach what was seen and heard on 9/11/01?
Let’s start with chronology online free sources:
- CNN September 11: Chronology of Terror
- Interactive Timeline Complete with Images and Videos from the 9/11 Memorial Site
This is a particularly interesting site as it compares and contrasts the various media reports as well as conspiracy theories. There is much potential here for debate, scholarly essays and further research for your teens.
9/11 Facts Timeline: Ten-Page Summary: Verifiable Media Timeline of 9/11
I encourage you to take one date at a time or a time period and take the opportunity to challenge your kid to think outside of the box. With multiple sources available you may find ample conversational material as well.
- Write a fictitious letter to the president, the families of those killed in the attack, the city department heads, military members, etc.
- Explain in your own words how terrifying it must have been for those who could not escape the buildings.
- Explain in your own words how each family must have felt waiting to hear from their loved ones trapped in the building.
- Watch President Bush’s Address to the Nation televised the evening of the attacks. Give your reaction.
- Who is your hero? What makes them your hero?
- Write a real letter to a soldier oversees: Overview of MANY organizations to choose from.
- Light a candle on 9/11 in memory of those who died.
- Draw a picture of your own hero. Many different mediums can be used for this project: paint, crayons, pastels, magazine/paper (mosaics), etc.
- Make a playdough map of New York, complete with the Statue of Liberty, etc. Use some sort of markers (candles, black paper squares…) to show where the Twin Towers stood.
While the above suggestions may be too intense for younger children you may find the following resources helpful as they rank according to age:
PBS America Responds
Constitutional Rights Foundation
What is a Hero?
How We’ve Changed Since 9/11
Basic facts about New York & History
Books/Videos on the Subject
Extensive List of 9/11 books for kids