I’ll never forget my first September 11th as a teacher. At the time, the general consensus was that 9/11 was something to address briefly only if it was brought up. Of course, one of my fifth graders asked about it immediately after we had our “moment of silence in honor of 9/11.” As I sat there trying to think of a response, my students started chiming in with what they thought 9/11 was.
“It’s when that shooting happened at Sandy Hook,” one said.
“It’s when the high school was attacked,” said another.
And I realized that, while I had extremely vivid memories of 9/11, none of them had been born yet. They either didn’t know or didn’t remember what it was. I gave them the best explanation that I could think of, sticking to 3 main points as recommended by The 911Lesson:
Before you were born, there was an event in the United States called 9/11. It impacted the entire country.
There were many heroes that day and in the days after. We honor them.
Although we were faced with tragedy, we emerged with triumph. We remember 9/11 by helping other people.
Now that my kids are starting to get older, I’m starting to think about how to have the conversation with them.
Ways to Learn About 9/11 with Kids:
Unsure where to start? The 9/11 Memorial has an amazing guide on talking to kids about terrorism, as well as a fantastic FAQ section that’s in very kid friendly language.
Here are some more of the resources my fellow teachers and I used- and what I’m planning to use with my kids.
Read a Book:
Common Sense Media has some fantastic book suggestions for kids ages 3+. One of my favorites for our youngest learners was “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers.” For middle grades, Nora Raleigh Baskin’s “Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story” or Alan Gratz’s “Ground Zero” are excellent as well.
Also, your local librarian likely has some great resources for book suggestions.
Watch a Video:
The 9/11 Game Changers explores 9/11 from the perspective of kids who want to remember the lives of first responders. Excellent first introduction for older kids.
BrainPop has a great video for ages 10+ that’s highly informational.
For younger kids, Daniel Tiger’s Look for the Helpers is a great resource. It addresses how to cope with feelings of fear for very young children.
Participate in a 9/11 Day of Service:
Did you know that in 2009 the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama joined together to legislation that formally designated September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance? Here are some ways you can participate:
- Consider making a donation in honor of Fallen Heroes to the Never Forget Fund.
- Write a Letter to Soldiers with Operation Gratitude.
- Donate food to the local food bank.
- Honor first responders by climbing 110 flights of stairs
- Make cards for those at the local senior center
- Help a Neighbor
- Check in on a friend
Visit a 9/11 Memorial or Attend an Event:
There are 9/11 Memorial Events happening across Connecticut. Help remember those lost and honor heroes:
On behalf of the Avon Volunteer Fire Department, you are cordially invited to our 9/11 Memorial Service at the Avon Town Green. It has been 22 years since that fateful day. We will convene to Remember, Reflect and Recommit ourselves.
Derby: 9/11 Remembrance on the Green:
9/11 remembrance with guest speaker.
Middlefield: Middlefield Volunteer Fire Co Memorial Ceremony:
The Middlefield Vol. Fire Company Annual 9/11 Ceremony will be held at the Middlefield Fire Company 9/11 Memorial, located in front of the Middlefield Fire House. Please join us for a ceremony to remember, reflect, and honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001
Stamford: September 11 Remembrance Ceremony:
Please join us on Monday, September 11, 2023, at 7 PM for our annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony. All are welcome to attend.
Westport: Sherwood Island State Park and 9/11 Memorial:
Pay tribute to lives lost at Connecticut’s Living 9/11 Memorial.
~ First Contributed by Livy, Mother of Two, on September 9, 2021. Updated by Kate Schneider on September 9, 2023.