Since July, I have been thinking about how to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with my students. They are only 8 years old, and they have not idea of the way the world stopped that day for so many of us. Besides that, they are still too young to be exposed to many of the details of the day. However, for myself, I knew I couldn't just ignore the day.
Last weekend, I was reading an article in the paper that mentioned the total number of people lost that day. I thought that that was what I wanted to have my kids realize--the number of people lost that day. So...after a great brainstorming session with my fellow 3rd grade teachers, we made a plan of how to show our students the nearly 3000 people lost that day.
What we did was this...We divided the number of people who died that day by our students and teachers. Each student would then be responsible for coming up with a set number of positive, patriotic words. (For our students, it was 25 a piece.) We helped the students generate their lists by listening to patriotic music, reading patriotic books, watching the Brainpop 9/11 video, books about 9/11 like The Little Chapel that Stood...
Finally, we had the students write their words onto two tall "towers" of roll paper. Kids were assigned a color to write in, and we had a key to show that the colors helped to show the number who died in NYC, the Pentagon, Shanksville, and Emergency Personnel. The towers were filled with patriotic words (brave, liberty, freedom, heroes were commonly used).
Our fabulous PE teachers let us hang these huge papers in the gym so that all kids would be able to see them. Our custodian helped us to hang them because they were so big. It was unbelievable even to us teachers as to how full these towers were with words. We hope that our kids have a better understanding of the impact that this event had on our country, and how the events of that day united us as Americans.
I have pictures of our towers, but they are at school. I will post them later. I think they were a very appropriate way for us to present this event to our young students, and I hope that it made an impact on them. It certainly made an impact on me.