September 11: Patriot Day

September 11: Patriot Day

I can outline the events of September 11, 2001, and list the traits of heroes.

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September 11: Patriot Day

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With this lesson, your students will understand the importance of the historical events that took place on September 11, 2001. The lesson focuses on the heroic acts of first responders and volunteers who bravely risked their lives to save others. They will discuss the topic of heroes and use a graphic organizer to list the traits of a hero. Finally, students evaluate the various 9/11 memorials in New York City and elsewhere.



Learning objective

Students will be able to describe the 9/11 attacks as well as the actions of first responders.


Begin with a K-W-L chart in which students write what they know and what they want to know about September 11, or Patriot Day. At the end of the lesson, students can complete the last section and share what they learned. Next, show the map of the United States and ask if anyone can locate New York. Have a student drag the star to the correct location. Go over what the World Trade Center and Twin Towers are and describe the events that took place on September 11, 2001.


Tell students how first responders and other volunteers immediately took action to help those in need. After this, explain that terrorists perpetrated this act and provide student-friendly definitions for unknown words like “terrorist” and “hijack.” Although there are some people who use violence and fear, there are even more good people in the world who can act heroically.

Have students share their favorite superheroes, then use the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast two popular superheroes. Explain that local heroes exist and ask students to think about how real-life heroes compare to their favorite superheroes. Students then fill in the web with the character traits of a hero,

Finally, explain what a memorial is and ask if students have ever visited any famous memorials. Click the link to watch the video about the 9/11 Memorial and observe the images. Why do they think this particular design was chosen? Share some more September 11 memorials and have students observe.


Students brainstorm some ways we can pay tribute to the victims of 9/11. Then return to the K-W-L chart and have students share what they’ve learned.


This topic can be sensitive for students and teachers alike, provoking strong emotions. Make your classroom a supportive space for sharing knowledge, questions, and feelings. Emphasize that just as people tried to help each other in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the classroom is also a place where students can help each other and work to make the world a better place.

You can also check out our social-emotional lessons, including this one about acceptance.

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