Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Teaching 9/11

Teaching about holidays is one of our homeschool gaps. Besides Christmas and Easter we haven't discussed or taught our kids much beyond mentioning "oh, yeah, today's Valentine's Day" or "what do you want to dress up as for Halloween?" I really want to remedy that. I got discouraged last year when I picked up the Hurray for Today book and found a lack of actual facts, invented facts, and a completely anti-God viewpoint. This year when I was looking through the dollar deals I found The Scholastic Big Book Of Holidays Around The Year. Their brief explanation of the different faiths that holidays come from is respectful and much better than pretending that none of these holidays came from any religious observance.

The book is written for teachers of regular sized classrooms, and is adaptable for any elementary aged child. It gives a brief summary of the origins of each holiday, the meaning of it's symbols, and some activity ideas as well as several books recommendations. They cover all the major holidays, all of the national and minor holidays, and even add in some that I had never heard of, including celebrating the birth of Confucius and Hispanic Heritage Month. We're not going to do every single holiday in the book this year. But we will be using it through the year, possibly for several years in a row.

The first holiday we will cover (skipping over Labor Day and Kite Festival) is September 11. I was initially surprised that it was included in this book, but I think it very right that they did. The events on September 11, 2001 are not something I had told my kids about before. But I think the kids are ready to hear the general details now. First I told them that 12 years ago some bad people hurt a lot of people in New York City and that I was going to show them a video about it. I showed them the Brain Pop video explaining what happened and why. I think it was an excellent, child appropriate video. (I previewed it ahead of time.) After we watched it was talked a little bit about it and I told them how I found out about it when it was happening.

While searching online for resources for teaching about 9/11 I found a teacher's website that put an emphasis on appreciating the volunteers and rescue workers.That gave me the idea to make cards thanking our local firefighters for their service. I don't know when we'll get them to our local station; probably this weekend.

Then Builder Boy made a video thanking all the firemen (and women) in America for keeping us safe. (He improvised it all on his own.) So to all the "fire rescuers" (as Early Bird puts it,) 

Thank You for your service and sacrifice. Thank you for working so hard to keep us safe. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

More resources:
The e-book is available at the Scholastic website and as of September 11th was still $1.


  1. *cry* I want to check out the book, but PayPal is declining my charge card for exactly no reason. I'm exceedingly unhappy.

    Kudos to you for tackling this subject. It seems like such a hard one, particularly with the controversy surrounding the events, and the current events seemingly encouraging religious discrimination. How do you avoid things like this, where there are so many ways the teaching can go pear-shaped?

  2. I was expecting some hard questions from Builder Boy that never came. I expect that he'll process what he learned today through thinking (he internalizes a lot) and playing and then we'll need to talk some more.

    The video was very fair in it's explanation of Islam. We are Christian; the boys know that there are those who don't believe what we believe, but that's it so far when it comes to other religions. To avoid things going "pear-shaped" I pre-read/view everything and I'll leave stuff out or pick something else if it's not right for us. Or, if it's a very small part of whatever it is we're learning about, I read what it says, but then I'll stop and counter it or explain. It helps that Builder Boy is well indoctrinated ;) with our beliefs.

  3. I just watched the video. It's very good. I am not ashamed to say that it moved me to tears. Maybe it's because over 360 FD/EMS personnel gave their lives. We share a bond that is hard to explain. Also, had this been the early to mid 1980's and SF or Oakland, instead of NYC, Paul and Anna could have lost both of us. We always knew that we could die while working FD or EMS, but before 9/11 the largest number of Firefighters lost in a single incident was under 25. We never imagined that anything this horrible could happen. I thank God that Carla and I always can home..... I also think of my grandfather, who was a Chief at San Rafael FD, who died on duty of a heart attack. He could never have imagined the challenges that FDNY faced that day, or the losses.....

    Anyway, great choice of videos!


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