Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Teaching young children about 9/11/01 September 7, 2011

Even though we don’t have cable television anymore, hearing about the September 11th attacks is practically unavoidable, as it should be.  For those of us who lived through them, it was a scary and confusing time.  For those who are just hearing about it now, it can be just as scary and confusing!  Our children’s first major exposure to the facts about 9/11/01 happened this summer when we visited New York and saw the twin towers memorial under construction, the altered skyline, and the memorials under construction on the New Jersey side.  Ever since then, Jedi has been very curious about what happened.

However, teaching about the events in a way that is not scary to the children is a large task…especially when two of those children are special needs children who see the world in a very different light.  I spent several hours pouring over materials and previewing videos, and then being disappointed when almost everything I found would have been too scary or graphic for young children.  I was going to teach about September 11th, no matter what I found though.  😉  Here is a review of our activities from this week…

Our unit this week covered a variety of themes in order to incorporate all three of our children.


The first theme was flags/patriotism:

In the preschool area, I painted some popsicle sticks to make a United States flag puzzle for the girls to put together.


Monkey putting together the flag puzzle.


Jedi began learning about the meaning behind the Pledge of Allegiance. I found a picture rubric illustrating each word of the pledge. Here, Jedi's also working on the definitions of major words in the pledge (such as "allegiance", "pledge", and "liberty")


The second theme was heroes, both local and those involved with saving lives on 9/11:

Bug and Monkey using watercolor paints to paint pictures for local fire fighters.


Still painting...


Jedi writing a thank you note to a local fire fighter


The packet we sent to the local fire department thanking them for keeping the community safe.


The third theme was diversity & tolerance:

Cultural diversity and tolerance is something our family really believes is important...especially since Monkey has a different birth culture than the rest of us. We discussed that one of the bad things that came out of 9/11 is a decreased tolerance for people of particular religions and cultures. We talked about how every person has value and is important, and how diversity is a good thing. We also talked about how tolerance and compassion is important in making peace.


The fourth theme was the actual events that took place:

The most kid-friendly coverage of the events of September 11th that we found was done by Nick News this year. The episode explained the events in a non-graphic, sensitive, and easy-to-understand way, focusing on answering questions children might have about the events. The video can be found here:


Finally, we are planning on planting an oak tree in our backyard–an Oak Tree has been named the official national tree of the United States. 🙂




One Response to “Teaching young children about 9/11/01”

  1. Julie Says:

    Thank you so much for these ideas. I lived through 9-11 in NYC, and both my (now) husband’s and my life have been profoundly affected by it. Now that we have children, I feel a need to begin to tell my children the story of this day and why it is so important, but no idea how to begin. How do you tell this story without freaking your young children out? These are wonderful ideas, and the Nick video is a great starting point. Thank you.

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