Remembering 9/11

This week we are remembering 9/11. Every year when I talk to my kiddos about the importance of this day, I can't make it through without choking up and shedding some tears. Rather than be embarrassed or try to hide my emotion, I let it come out so that the children can see how affected I am. It is amazing to watch little ones who normally wiggle around like puppies at carpet, go completely still when they see that I am getting emotional. Somehow that helps to bring home the lesson and they hang on every word.

Source: via Kay on Pinterest

I tell them how I found about the Twin Towers being hit on a day when my oldest daughter had a doctor's appointment at our local military hospital. And how as I sat watching the live coverage I decided to stay away from post that day, just in case. My husband came home to pick something up that morning and as we struggled to comprehend the incredible scope of the attacks and loss of life he raced back to work, thinking there would be an alert. As he approached the base there was a huge line up of traffic - the post had been shut down completely for fear that there would be other attacks. He turned around and came back home after calling his platoon sergeant to let him know he was stuck off post. How crazy is the world when a soldier can't get back to his duty station?

So I sat with my husband and my daughter and I cried that whole day. I think I cried for a week straight, as I heard incredible stories of courage and heroism and loss. How do we convey that to our students? How do we get across the incredible gravity of the day without scaring them? How do we show them that 9/11 made us a better country? A country that came together that day and in the days that followed, all of us filled with a sense of pride of being an American, part of a country that would not be cowed or terrorized.

This year I am using an amazing book and song by Debbie Clement of Rainbows Within Reach. I was lucky enough to win it on her blog just a few weeks ago and as soon as I played the song "Red, White and Blue" I knew it would be perfect for our 9/11 assembly. The book is full of gorgeous  illustrations that Debbie made from fabric quilts! There are sign language movements to go along with the song. As soon as I played it for my kiddos they fell in love too and readily set to learning it for the assembly. Debbie also has the song available for immediate digital download just in case you're thinking it's too late for this year : "Red, White and Blue" digital download. The song would also be great for Memorial Day or any Veteran's Day program etc.

In addition to performing the song for the assembly, we will be making our own quilt too! I've never tried my hand at quilt making (even with paper), or a project that is this large in scale, but I am crossing my fingers that it turns out well - I will share pictures later in the week!

Here are some other Pinterest-inspired activities we will be doing:

Susan over at Thank God Its First Grade has a "I'm proud to be an American" writing freebie on her blog that we will be using too! 

Brain Pop Jr also has this video about 9/11:

I watched it through and its a bit high for kinders or firsties, but would be perfect for older grades. I plan to share it with my firsties anyways, I think they will be able to grasp the basics at least.

We'll also be making red, white and blue stained glass hearts. I don't have a picture to share yet, but I'll get one up as soon as we make them. They are super easy to make - just give the kids squares of red, white and blue tissue paper. Have them brush glue onto a heart outline on plain copy paper and then lay the tissue paper down. Once it's dry they cut out the heart, you brush a little bit of oil on the back of the paper to make it semi-transparent, and hang in the window to allow the light to come through - always turns out gorgeous!

I also found a link that shows the sign language to go along with the Preamble to the Constitution and we will be learning that. Many of my firsties have already memorized the Preamble just from saying it every morning during our Wakin' and Shakin' assembly but the motions should help those that are having trouble remembering it all!

Finally, I'm sharing some patriotic quotes and a poem that I especially like, as well as my Tagxedo for America, click the picture to grab it for free!

 How do you plan to remember 9/11? Erica Bohrer's First Grade has a linky party for 9/11 ideas - check out all the links for some ideas you can incorporate into your classroom!

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