Character Education Home Articles  Illustrations/Activities/Ideas  Lessons Intercom Insights  Links Membership  Hot Stuff

Click Here for Subscription Information! 

Commemorating 9-11

Lest we forget the lessons of the September 11 attack on the Trade Centers, it’s wise for us to commemorate this event and underscore its lessons. Below we’ve given a simple approach that an individual class might take. Following, we provide links to Websites for further ideas. 

A Brief  Classroom Commemoration

Supplies needed: Ask students a week ahead of time to start bringing names and addresses of friends or family who serve in the armed forces, serve as firemen, serve as police officers. Also, have them each bring a stamped envelope. You might want to bring extra envelopes and/or stationary for those who forget.

1. Allow Them to Reflect

a. Ask your students where they were when they first heard that the trade centers had been attacked. Let them share how they felt at the time. (You might want to avoid a video presentation of the bombings, since some may have lost loved ones or have such intense associated emotions that you only succeed in stirring up turmoil. They’ve probably viewed the clips on the TV all week anyway.)

b. Tell them that as terrible as this tragedy was, good can still come of it, if we learn from it. Ask them what we have learned or should have learn from this tragedy. They may come up with ideas like...

1) Be kind to people you love today, since we're never promised another day with them.
2) We need to respect and encourage our firefighters and emergency teams, since they put their lives on the line daily.
3) We need to respect and encourage our military, since they risk their
lives to protect our country.

2. Let them do something practical to help.

Say, “Often we feel kind of helpless in the face of a tragedy so large. We’d like to do something to help, but we just don’t know how to help. I’d like to make a suggestion. Let’s each write a note of encouragement to the people we’ve collected the addresses of. At first, you might think this insignificant. But we underestimate the power of a simple, kind, word of encouragement. Many firemen, police and soldiers think they’re taken for granted and forgotten. They risk their lives daily for us, while we forget their sacrifice. A simple note can keep them going, knowing that people do care.

Mother Theresa impacted this world in a way that few have before or since. She once said this about the importance of kind words:  

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. (Mother Teresa) (See other possible quotes under the character trait “Kindness.”)

So, what I’m encouraging you to do here isn’t trivial. One of your sincere, heartfelt notes just might keep the recipient from giving up in a time of discouragement.

I’d like you to get in groups of five and each write a letter to one of the people on our list. Although you’re writing it individually, you might get ideas from your group from what they’re saying and how they word it. Scribble out your ideas on a blank sheet, get ideas for improvement from the others, then write your final draft neatly. Pass it forward in the envelope, unsealed, and I’ll seal and mail them all. (Use your own digression. Not sealing it would give you the opportunity to look them over, just in case someone wrote something silly or inappropriate.)

Today, you made a difference in your world! Thanks!

Other Ideas from the Web


1. Sixteen extensive, free lessons, offered for various age levels, from the “Families and Work Institute” http://www.familiesandwork.org/911ah/911ashistory.html

2. Lesson Plans from the American Red Cross and the National Education Association http://www.neahin.org/programs/schoolsafety/resources/lessonhome.htm

3. Lesson Plans and Resources by Scholastic http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/indepth/911/teachers/index.htm


1. Links to lessons recommended by the History News Network

2. Great set of helpful links offered by the North Canton, Ohio Schools


3. The National Association of School Psychologists http://www.nasponline.org/NEAT/911memorial.html

has a great set of general resources and links to sites with lessons to use on the anniversary of 911. (For lessons, click down to the “One Year Later Materials” following the “General Resources”)

5. More Links to Lessons and Resources http://www.busyteacherscafe.com/teacherlinks/911.htm

6. Helpful Set of Links from the Newark, NJ Public Library http://www.npl.org/Pages/InternetResources/SubjectGuides/september11.html 


Like these quotes and stories? Click Here for Subscription Information!