Saturday, September 6, 2014

Planning for Patriot Day {September 11th}

Every year as September 11th {also known as Patriot Day} approaches, I find myself pondering how I can appropriately honor the date as a teacher of young children.  The tragedy that occurred on September 11th, 2001, is something that is beyond the comprehension of a 5 year-old brain...yet as a teacher, I feel that it's important to somehow "teach" or honor the date in a special way.  I knew I could not spend the day recounting the graphic details of the tragic events of that day.  {It's obviously MUCH too much for a little person!} However, I felt that I could honor the lives lost, the firefighters, police officers, and countless other brave heroes of that day by teaching my students about the incredible country in which we live. 

I have been collecting my thoughts and ideas and have been working to develop a plan for next week. Initially, I was planning to blog about this AFTER I taught about it...but the more I thought about it, I realized it may be MORE helpful to others, perhaps to YOU, if I shared my ideas BEFORE the date too! That way, if any of YOU are looking for ideas to honor the date... perhaps you can find some ideas/resources here.

To get started, I began by looking at my kindergarten social studies standards.  I teach in Indiana, so I am responsible for teaching the following social studies standard that I knew would be a perfect fit for next week's lessons:

Students learn that they are citizens of their school, community and the United States; identify symbols of the nation.

Foundations of Government 

K.2.2 Identify and explain that the President of the United States is the leader of our country and that the American flag is a symbol of the United States. 

I don’t have my lesson plans finalized yet…but I do have a collection of nice resources that I can share with you!  Here is a glimpse of what I have planned so far!  {Hope you can use some of these ideas and resources!}

"Setting the Stage 2 Engage!"  

My dear friend, Hope King (Elementary Shenanigans), wrote an INCREDIBLE ebook called "Set the Stage 2 Engage" this summer highlighting the importance of setting up your classroom (environment, atmosphere. etc) in order to ensure maximum student engagement.  
{She also taught an EPIC session at the SDE Vegas conference on this, which blew me away!!!} So, I knew my next step was figuring out a way to "flip" our regular classroom environment into something that would be theme related and GRAB the attention of my kiddos the second they walk in the door.  My goal is to have them turn the corner in our hall and say, "WOW!  What are we doing today?!  It's got to be something GREAT!" The theme of "Patriot Day" wasn't quite as easy to brainstorm decorations for as last week's SUPERHERO Day (Click HERE to view our "flipped" SUPERHERO classroom!)...but I knew I could do something cool and attention getting!  So, I did some bargain hunting and found some of these goodies:


Plastic table covers/backdrops are inexpensive and go A LONG WAY in decorating the walls of your classroom and hall!  Be creative!!!

Dollar Store/Craft Store two sided stars can be used on windows, walls and as hanging decorations for just a few bucks!

Bulletin board paper from your supply closet can be used to make just about ANYTHING!   I made some three-foot USA letters out of poster board (similar to the ones above) and plan to put them in my classroom windows too. I'm also picturing a GIANT flag like this...

OH! And if you know me, a theme day is NEVER complete without a fun costume!

 I will be wearing this striking suit:
{YES!  It IS a boy’s youth costume…but it was CHEAPER!  Hey! I’m a bargain hunter!}

And my side-kick, Mrs. Kidd, will be sportin' this beauty:

{Oh yah.   We rock the costumes!   You'll have to wait 'til next weekend to see our actual-factual photos! And yes..."Someone" might have a specific portion of her TPT earnings earmarked to purchase crazy costumes.  #iamnotcrazy #iamENGAGING }

Be sure to stop by my blog NEXT weekend to actually SEE what it all ended up looking like!

Awesome Patriotic Resources!

Well, I KNOW y'all already know how incredibly EPIC the legendary Mrs. Deanna Jump is! {And if you don't...go ahead and climb on out from under that rock!  #JK}  

But seriously, if there happens to be anyone who doesn't know about this sweet, southern inspiration...check her out by clicking HERE...RIGHT NOW!  DO NOT DELAY! {Poof!  Instant inspiration for any K teacher! #thankmelater}  Of course, Deanna had the PERFECT resource for scaffolding my plans... and here it is:

Using this baby, and a few other resources that I will list at the end of this post, my plans are coming together in an EPICALLY AMERICAN way! Here are some highlights of my planned activities:

In an age-appropriate way, I am going to talk to the kiddos about why September 11th is an important day in our country.   I plan to use this PowerPoint presentation as part of my introduction.  It is great for young children…not “too” many details.

Then I am planning to share how we can honor this day by thinking about and being thankful for our great country and the community heroes that serve and protect us. 

I plan to highlight how important it is to recognize and show appreciation for our service men and women and community heroes.  Here are a few resources that I plan to use!

This is a nice little freebie which includes lots of neat coloring pages about American heroes.  LOVE the “Not all superheroes wear capes” page!  Perfect  9/11 connection!

Check out this FREEBIE by the awesome Eric Bohrer!  It includes both writing and picture templates for making thank-you notes for our community heroes!

Then I plan to connect to our social studies learning standards and teach about the American symbols.

 This video is an excellent mini-movie which tells all about the American Symbols.  Check it out!

Here are a few of the EPICALLY AMERICAN activities that I plan to use too…

Statue of Liberty Activities 
1.   “Why is the Statue of Liberty Green” Science Experiment {Deanna Jump’s America Math and Literacy Fun Unit} 
2.   “Is our class as long as the Statue of Liberty’s feet” math and measuring activity.  LOOKS like so much fun…AND will make an awesome visual display outside your classroom!  {Deanna Jump’s America Math and Literacy Fun Unit}
3.   Directed drawing activity of the Statue of Liberty {Deanna Jump’s America Math and Literacy Fun Unit}   These turn out sooo cute!  Check out just one example!  

Bald Eagle Activities 
1. Bald Eagle Craft-ivity and Info Chart Activity {Deanna Jump’s American Math and Literacy Fun Unit}  
2.  Bald Eagle Cams (Watch 5 bald eagle cams hosted by National Geographic!) 

Here are some other great activities that I plan to use to review all the things we learned about American Symbols:

1.   Make an American Symbols Booklet (Elizabeth Hall) 

2.   Make and read an American Symbols emergent reader. {Deanna Jump’s America Math and Literacy Fun Unit}

3.   Play the “American Symbols Interactive Pocket Chart Game” by  GrowingKinders

4.   How about playing a "Four Corners" type of P.E. game…but use American symbol posters in each corner for your “calling spots??”  Sounds fun!

And what thematic study would be complete without a yummy snack??  I’m thinking about trying one of these…

I’m looking forward to making 9/11 {Patriot Day} a special and meaningful day for my kinders.   If you do something special to honor this day, please share it with us in the comments below!


  1. Oh, my, word! Thank you for putting together such a WONDERFUL post with FUN-FILLED (i.e., engaging)-YET-RELEVANT activities for primary kiddos. All the freebies you link to, the videos, and actual products that were completely unbeknownst to me are priceless! Our first Social Studies unit in our text is citizenship, and covers many topics like US Symbols, so I always kick that unit off with Patriot Day...and always feel like I have to almost ignore the reason for the observed day because of the age of my kiddos. Thanks for giving me the freedom :), to include minor details (our country's greatness & community heroes), and especially that PowerPoint (how have I never stumbled across this!) to evoke some small discussions that coverl the importance & honor of the day without going into too much detailed information that primary kids don't need to know yet. I have your post Pinned & many of the activities now ready for my week. This was great!

  2. Thank you! I'm the librarian at our school, and I do a Patriot Day lesson every year, but I've struggled to find something that isn't too deep for the younger classes. I'm excited to try these this week.