"How can we teach children about September 11, 2001? How do you explain the World Trade Center, Flight 93 and Pentagon attacks? How do you discuss war and terrorism with kids? How do youcommemorate what they never experienced? Here are free lesson plans to help.
* Scholastic has a free printable unit filled with activities, titled "9/11/2011: The Day that Changed America." There are dozens of social studies, history, government and civics lessons, including primary sources, timelines, graphs, charts and maps. There are critical thinking and writing lessons, memorial activities, movie and book connections. There are September 11 units for preschool up to grade 8.
* Education World presents a compendium of activities for teaching about tragedy, terrorism and tolerance. There are resources on Islam and its perspective, too. Lessons cover not just the who, what, when, where and how of the September 11 attacks, but the why, as well. Children learn why the U.S. was attacked, what we can do about it, what's been done, and why we must not forget.
* PBS has a collection of lessons geared primarily at students in middle school and high school. These lessons explore 9/11 in the larger world context and how the September 11 attacks affected the whole world.
* ABC Teach this site has a package of printable lesson plans for younger children. There are coloring pages, writing prompts and vocabulary puzzles. These activities help children who were not born or too young to remember 9/11. Sometimes it's difficult for those who did not experience an event to understand why it's so important to those who did. Children see destruction and violence on television and video games all the time. 9/11 can seem unreal.
* 9/11 Memorial is museum, repository and exhibition built at the site of the World Trade Center. This website offers virtual tours, photo walls, and features twin pools at ground zero, inscribed with the names of the victims. If children can't visit the 9/11 Memorial, a virtual classroom tour will help them explore. Here is the 9/11 Memorial lesson plans page, too.
* Make a Memorial drawing quilt. Ask children to draw or color a picture reflecting the 9/11 attacks. Don't set boundaries. Let kids express feelings in any way that they need to. Collect the drawings and tape them together to form a September 11 "quilt." The quilt may be a thank-you for National Guard or public safety officers, too. Send it to a victim, rescue worker or veteran memorial group or display in your school.
Coloring may seem like a superficial way to commemorate a disaster. For children, it's vitally therapeutic. Drawing helps children access and express emotions. When a child hears sad news, drawing is one of his first reactions. Children usually haven't learned how to share feelings in words, written or spoken, yet.
Coloring, for a child, is like journaling or even talking for an adult. Children often draw cards for people who are suffering, to show empathy. There is so little anyone can do about tragedy, especially a child and an event that happened 10 years ago. Simple activities like making a picture can heal everyone.
America's motto is "Remember, Remember the 11th of September." And well we should. Even though it happened when the new century was brand new, it will be remembered as one of the top five most horrific events of that period." ------ Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben writes from 23 years parenting four children and 25 years teaching K-8, special needs, adult education and home-school.