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Creative Ways of Honoring September 11th with Kids

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It’s important for so many of us to find age-appropriate ways of remembering September 11th with kids.

September 11th, also known as Patriot Day, is a National Day of Service and Remembrance in memory of those killed during the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City. It is not a federal holiday so schools and businesses typically operate on a normal schedule, but many of us want to share a time of remembrance with our kids.

Most adults remember exactly where they were when the planes hit the towers and the news broke.

I was teaching math when the teacher next door to my 6th-grade classroom leaned in and told me to turn on the television. I remember feeling confused, scared, and horrified as the second plane hit the tower. Of course, very quickly, word came down from the administration that televisions had to be turned OFF! This news was frightening, and many of our students attending this middle school in Maryland had parents working at the Pentagon that day.

The events of September 11th are so vivid for me, but my children weren’t even born. They have no memories associated with the tragic events that unfolded on September 11, 2001, other than what I have shared.

But I want them to understand the events of that day.

Find videos, books, activities, and other wys of remembering September 11th with kids.

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Observances on September 11th

Read a few of the past official Presidential Proclamations made on Patriot Day. Each one is a little bit unique, but they all contain this section (the president’s name varies):

NOW, THEREFORE, I, [PRESIDENT NAME], President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2015, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of the individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. I invite the Governors of the United States and its Territories and interested organizations and individuals to join in this observance. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of those our Nation lost, to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services, and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor the innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Consider observing the moment of silence at 8:46 AM with your kids. Teach them the significance of the time and what it means to you to be silent at that moment. If you have a flag, display it in honor of this day and look into observances being held in your local area.

Videos of September 11th for Kids and Teens

There are a ton of YouTube videos about the events on September 11, 2001. The following are the most child-friendly that I discovered, though you will want to preview the images for your kids.

Teaching about September 11th

This 9/11 Memorial website has an entire section focused on teaching and learning ideas focused on the events of September 11th.

Check out this Everyday Heroes lesson for your elementary schoolers.

Scholastic has a lot of great background information in language easy for kids to understand.

Preschool activities on the Letter F for Flag can be found online.

Have a discussion about primary vs. secondary sources. This presentation on Prezi by Melissa Wright includes a variety of primary and secondary sources for you to discuss with your kids. The 9/11 digital archive contains an overwhelming amount of information, but you could find more to add to your discussion for sure.

Education World has a list of ideas for classroom teachers that you can borrow for your home.

Share the events of September 11th with your kids as a way of honoring the holiday.

Books about September 11th

Picture Books

1. 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez is the true story of a gift bestowed upon an American Diplomat by the Maasai people of Kenya.

2. Fireboat written and illustrated by Maira Kalman is the true story of a New York icon who helped in a time of need.

3. America is Under Attack by Don Brown is a non-fiction, straight-forward, and honest chronological account of the events of September 11, 2001.

4. Survivor Tree written by Cheryl Somers Aubin and illustrated by Sheila Harrington is a story of
hope and healing represented by the true story of a Callery Pear Tree.

5. The Man Who Walked Between the Towers written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein is another true story of a tightrope walker who spent an hour between the two towers in 1974. The book ends with a mention of the absence of these towers today. We own this book and adore it. There is actually a full-length movie, released in 2015, about this historic event.

Books for Upper Elementary/Middle

1. What were the Two Towers by Jim O’Connor is part of a kid-friendly series explaining historical people and event.

2. Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhoades is the story of three friends in fifth grade as they discover how the historic events of 9/11 have impacted them and their community at large. One friend has a father suffering from chronic illness as a result of the events, one friend is Muslim, and another has a father who served in Iraq. This book takes a look at the historical event and its impacts on the social community.

3. Nine, Ten by Nora Raleigh Baskin takes a look at the days leading up to September 11th and the impact of the event on the lives of four middle school students.

4. Eleven by Tom Rogers is the story of a boy who turns 11 on September 11.

The events of September 11th are important to discuss with your kids so use some of these books, videos, and ideas.

Books for Teens

1. All We Have Left by Wendy Mills is a coming-of-age story about two girls whose lives intersect on September 11, 2001.

2. The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner is the story of two teenagers who meet after the towers fall, one of whom has forgotten who she is.

3. The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon is the most accessible adaptation of the 9/11 report for all Americans.

4. The Red Bandana: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy. by Tom Rinaldi is the story of one young man’s heroic actions in the towers on 9/11. This book has a Young Readers Version as well.

5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is a story of one boy’s healing journey after the events 9/11.

Crafts to make on September 11th

It’s hard to “celebrate” September 11th because the images and memories in my mind are very somber. Yet part of what we remember are the stories of heroism and courage. In our house, we will focus on this aspect while enjoying crafts and food as part of a celebration of heroism in America.

Patriotic Lanterns are an easy way to decorate the house or yard.

These wind twirlers can be made from some paint and empty paper towel tubes.

Of course, this July 4th shirt we created could easily be worn on Patriot Day.

This duct tape flag is a great idea for older kids and can be displayed on the front door. Or they could try this clothespin wreath for the door!

This flag Mosiac using magazines presents a unique challenge.

These patriotic luminaries would look great on the porch, in the kitchen, or on your deck.

Patriotic Pebbles are a delight for all ages! Who doesn’t enjoy some rock painting?

Have some fun with Patriotic Chalk Pastel art – from fireworks to the flag!

Patriotic Food for September 11th

Patriotic Pies in a Jar is a great dessert idea and can be varied easily with different shapes and pie flavors.

This American Flag Cheesecake is another dessert idea that the kids can help decorate.

I am partial to this Red, White, and Blue Poke cake because it is pretty easy and delicious.  I make it every July 4th and it works perfectly for Patriot Day as well.

Find some creative and fun good Ideas for Patriot Day, September 11th.

Not sure if you can find red and blue M&M’s this time of year (might have to resort to online ordering), but this patriotic popcorn looks like a yummy snack!

Try these Firecracker Hot Dogs.  My kids would really remember this hot dog lunch!

This easy taco salad dip can work for a patriotic dinner display.

My kids love deviled eggs. Wonder how they’d feel about these red, white, and blue ones?

Finally, top off a meal with this Patriotic Punch for the kids.

Final Thoughts about Honoring September 11th with Kids

Teaching kids the importance of historical dates is something we all do, but you do have to keep in mind the ages of your child and their personal temperaments. Remember that there are many years in your child’s life to talk about the events of this day so you can always wait if you think something might upset them at this time.

Remember to share your own memories about the day with your kids. Tell them what you remember and where you were when everything happened. They’ll appreciate your personal story of the day.

More Posts to Explore:

These middle school biographies are perfect to inspire your teen or tween.

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