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Activities to Help Discuss 9/11 with Young Children

With the approach of September 11 each year, many teachers are unsure if and how to discuss or to answer young children’s questions about this tragic event. Talking with children about tragedy and death is always difficult, but with this activity from After the Crisis: Using Storybooks to Help Children Cope, the discussion will become slightly easier.

The literature-based activities in After the Crisis can help children who have lived through a trauma or help them understand tragic events that have occurred in the past. Each activity is used in conjunction with one of the children’s books selected by After the Crisis authors, Cathy Grace and Elizabeth F. Shores. The authors also offer discussion starters, writing and art activities to help children reflect upon difficult topics such as tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, and mass-casualty incidents.

The following activities should be used in conjunction with Tough Topics: Death by Patricia Murphy, which is part of a series that discusses situations in which children suffer and examines the emotions they may experience.

Discussion Starters:

  • Do you have a story about someone who died?
  • Was he or she sick for a long time?
  • Did you get to say goodbye to him or her? How?
  • Did you go to the funeral? What was it like?
  • Do you sometimes feel very sad, similar to the girl in the picture?
  • What helps you feel better?

Our suggestion:  Include questions in your discussion, such as: “Have you talked with your parents about what happened?” or “Do you know why there were so many American heroes on September 11, 2001?”

Art Center Options:

  • Draw a picture of your family or friends who are alive.
  • Draw a picture of a person who died.
  • Draw a picture of a funeral or cemetery if you have been to one.
  • Cut out photographs from magazines and glue them to papers to make a picture about someone who died.
  • Make a sympathy card for the family of the person who died.

Our suggestion: Make a sympathy card for one of the family members affected by the events on 9/11. Create a collage of why you are thankful for all the heroes that rose to action on 9/11.

Writing Center Options:

  • Dictate or write a sentence or story about your picture
  • Dictate or write a list of things you liked about someone who has died.
  • Dictate or write a message for a sympathy card.

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