Teaching about the events of September 11th can be challenging because it stirs up so many emotions from our nation’s past and present. As always, I look to books to be my guide on approaching these difficult topics. I don’t want to shy away from them. I want to expose my students to the content, and give them the necessary tools to understand + question.
So today, I wanted to share with you 5 books + activities that I use each year during the week of September 11th.
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I start the week of September 11th with this book. Many of our students have never heard of the twin towers. They weren’t alive when that tragic day happened, and most aren’t aware of it at all. I love that this book shows the towers in a beautiful light through the inspiring true story of Phillip Petit and his perseverance! With the story having such a clear climax, it’s the perfect opportunity to teach about plot.
This is a book every student should hear around September 11th. It is the heroic true story of Welles Crowther, who willingly went back into the burning and collapsing towers to carry others to safety. As a follow up activity, students create a “Bandana of Bravery” with what makes a hero. We deliver these to our local fire station during the week of September 11th!
I adore this story of Harvey the fireboat. It brings light to a moment of darkness when students see the heroes who fixed up and re-commissioned The Harvey during a time of desperate need. We follow this read aloud with a timeline of events, and a newspaper writing project.
This true story will move you to tears, warm your heart, and leave you in awe at how a small nation can make such a big sacrifice. I love extending our learning with the article about the Maasai people.
After such a heavy topic, and challenging our students to ask questions and learn more about the world around them, I like using this book to finish the week. Written and illustrated by first grade students, the story reminds us how we can all contribute to making things a little better each day.
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