Understanding September 11
More than 30 lesson plans, activities, news stories, videos and book lists to help students comprehend the 9/11 attacks and their lasting impact on the United States and the world.
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
Use this collection of September 11-themed teaching resources to share with students the importance of September 11, 2001, how it impacted individuals and the nation, and why it was a transformative moment in U.S. history. As President Obama told Kids Press Corps reporters in an exclusive interview, "I think it's important for us to realize that, as terrible as that day was, it brought America together and it reminded us that we're all one people."
Lesson Plans and Discussion Guides
These lesson plans help students understand and reflect on September 11 with age-appropriate discussion of the attacks and examination of their continuing impact.
Encountering History: A 9/11 Lesson Plan for Grades 6–8 and Grades 9–12
Encourage students to understand the events of September 11 through the experiences of those who witnessed them, whether in person or through the media. Students will research the attacks, study journalistic techniques, conduct an interview, and reflect on ways in which 9/11 changed our society.
Ten Years Later: Remembering September 11th With an Oral History Project
Classroom Solutions teacher advisor Jeremy Rinkel shares his three-phase lesson plan that takes students from class discussion to group research and finally, to individual projects. The project portion is further broken down to accommodate students with varying degrees of technical skills.
Critical Issues in the Post-9/11 World: A Discussion Guide for Grades 9–12
Examine the aftermath of the attacks by discussing what new policies went into effect after September 11 and how we balance civil liberties with the need to be protected from terrorist threats. The discussion begins with a reading of “The 9/11 Dilemma: Freedom vs. Security” from Upfront magazine.
Teaching 9/11: Using Task Rotation for Analyzing Artifacts and Primary Sources
From middle school teacher advisor Addie Albano, this differentiated teaching strategy allows students to show what they have learned about the events of 9/11 with activities that focus on Mastery, Understanding, Self-Expressive, and Interpersonal learning styles.
Explaining September 11 Through First-Person Accounts
For students who may be too young to have experienced 9/11, first-person accounts can be a powerful means of explaining what happened on that day.
In journalist Suzanne McCabe's moving article, she describes watching the collapse of the World Trade Center, while knowing her brother would have just arrived there to begin his workday.
Teens Speak Out
What was it like to be a kid on 9/11? This article shares the perspective of several teens who witnessed the September 11 attacks.
"I was 11 on September 11"
Emily Sussell, now a college student, was a sixth-grader in New York City on 9/11. In these three grade-specific articles, she shares her eyewitness account of that horrifying day.
10 Tips for Talking With Students About Tragedy
Dr. Robin Goodman, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of Caring for Kids after Trauma and Death: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, has practical advice on ways to handle difficult conversations in the classroom and deal with students' questions when they arise.
News for Kids
Explore the special 9/11 report from Scholastic News Online, a collection of news resources for kids, as well as 9/11 coverage from Scholastic classroom magazines.
- "America Reacts" shares people's mixed emotions on hearing that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
- "Growing Up After 9/11" profiles Brook Peters, a New York City teenager who made a documentary about the experiences of his lower Manhattan classmates, who were kindergarteners on 9/11.
- "Detecting Danger" discusses the science behind the new airport scanners that have been installed since 9/11.
- "War Dogs" features the raid that led to the demise of Osama bin Laden and included a four-legged hero—a dog!
- "The 9/11 Dilemma: Freedom vs. Security," discusses the question of finding the right balance between protecting the nation and preserving civil liberties
- "Stitches of Hope," about a community art project to repair a flag damaged on 9/11 with remnants of other flags
- Maps of the 9/11 attack sites, maps of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and news coverage of the 10th anniversary commemorations.
9/11 Book Lists
Help students understand 9/11 through fiction and nonfiction titles on a variety of subjects, from animal rescuers who worked the World Trade Center site to Muslim life in post-9/11 America.
- September 11-Related Books for Elementary School Students
- September 11-Related Books for Middle School Students
- September 11-Related Books for High School Students
Enliven your class discussion by sharing videos that explain 9/11 with age-appropriate descriptions and imagery.
- Scholastic News Interactive video on 9/11 (grades 6–8)
- Upfront video about Emily Sussell, who was 11 and in lower Manhattan on 9/11 (grades 9–12).
- Exclusive Kids Press Corps interview with President Obama. The president explains how he talks to his school-age daughters about September 11, as well as the spirit of unity among Americans after the attacks.
September 11 Background Information
- Brief history of the attacks of September 11, 2001, from Grolier Online
- Osama bin Laden Biography (1957-2011), from Grolier Online
- In-depth account of the 9/11 attacks, from History.com
- History of the New York City Fire Department for younger students interested in learning about the heroes of September 11, from nyc.gov
- Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience from Time magazine and HBO shares personal stories of September 11, as told by President George W. Bush, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, New York City firemen, and many other individuals.
Help students understand the concept of service by creating service projects, supporting causes, and reaching out with these lesson plans and an educator's guide.
Lesson 1: The Spirit of Service
Understand the idea of service and connect it with the spirit of unity that existed in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Lesson 2: A Cause to Believe In
Select one or more causes or organizations to support through a 9/11 Day of Service project. Projects can last one day, one week, or an entire semester.
Lesson 3: Proud to Be of Service
Plan and execute at least one 9/11 Day of Service project.