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Teaching About 9/11

found in: social studies; preK-2; 3-5; 6-8; 9-12

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, terrorists linked to al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger planes. Two were flown into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers tried to overpower the hijackers. Its target may have been the Capitol or the White House. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2997 and injuries to more than 6000.

The following lessons and resources will help provide context for examining events before, during, and after the attacks.

Lesson Plans:

Firemen? No Firefighters  ( PDF, 525 KB, 3 pgs.) (Grades K-2) After viewing a photograph of a female firefighter on 9/11, students discuss their thoughts of what they would like to be when they grow up and what types of jobs are usually associated with men or women.

A Fireboat and Its Heroic Adventures ( PDF, 120 KB, 3 pgs.) (Grades 3-5) Students read Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman and discuss the boat’s history and the heroic actions of its crews.

Looking Back: What Happened Before September 11 ( PDF, 106 KB, 3 pgs.) (Grades 7-8) Students learn that September 11th was not an isolated event, understand the formation of al-Qaeda, and recognize Osama bin Laden’s role in terror attacks.

Musical Tributes ( PDF 2 pgs, 67 KB) (Grades 9-12) Students explore how music can affect people during times of emotional turmoil. The following essay could be to support the lesson. 9/11 and Springsteen is a consideration of Bruce Springsteen’s music and historical events.

Lesson Collections:

9/11 Memorial & Museum K-12 lessons and teaching guides.

How To Teach The Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks To Young People Nine lessons for grades 3-12.

9/11 Anniversary Teaching Guide K-12 lessons and activities.

Background Resources:

Teaching And Learning About 9/11 With The New York Times  The New York Times archive of reporting and multimedia.

September 11 Digital Archive more than 150,000 digital items: emails, first-hand stories, and images

Approaches to Teaching:

How To Teach 9/11 To Students With No Memory Of It Addresses the change from teaching as current event to teaching as history.

Teaching Sept. 11 To Students Who Were Born After The Attacks Happened Stresses the need for teaching the event and its aftermath in all its complexity.

Making 9/11 Relevant to Young Learners Examines how teachers can make 9/11 relevant to young learners, how textbook treatments have changed, and how much of what they teach is mandated by state standards.

For Muslim Students, Life Changed After Sept. 11 Discusses how the events of 9/11 affected life for Muslim students.


9/11 Memorial and Museum The official memorial website.

A Virtual Visit to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Teaching resources and lessons. Includes three interactive timelines: 1993 WTC Bombing Timeline, September 11 Attack Timeline, and Recovery At Ground Zero Timeline. NOTE: ADVISORY: EDSITEment staff has chosen richly contextual, nonviolent content for student interactivity; however, the complete timeline follows the day’s events closely. Teachers and parents are asked to use discretion in guiding student navigation through the images, videos, and audio recordings available.


Remembering 9/11 With Indelible Pictures 27 images. Includes a viewer advisory.

The Falling Man An Esquire Magazine article that examines the power of the image.

The Story Behind the Haunting 9/11 Photo of a Man Falling From the Twin Towers  Video (4:17) Interview with Richard Drew, the photographer who took the photograph.


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