As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 neared, I found myself unsure of how to approach this sensitive topic with my young students. Thankfully, Amanda Davis and her debut picture book, 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag, provided the perfect solution.
In 30,000 Stitches, Amanda Davis delicately recounts the events of 9/11 in broad strokes, before transitioning to the heart of the story, the hope and healing that followed as thousands came together to repair the National 9/11 Flag, stitch by stitch, over a 120,000 mile journey, across all 50 states.
With the strong message of hope and unity I knew I wanted to plan an activity that brought the students together to create something they couldn’t on their own. I wanted to emulate the many hands that went into repairing the National 9/11 flag, while teaching valuable lessons in teamwork and gratitude.
After a discussion about community helpers, including police officers, firefighters, EMTs, doctors and nurses, we brainstormed sentence ideas to display our gratitude for the services they provide our community. Some examples remained general, while others were written to specific family members who serve in these roles.
To give more options and to help the students see their own place as community helpers, we brainstormed a list of things they could do to improve our community themselves.
With the brainstorming complete, the many hands got busy, writing out their sentences of gratitude on red, white, and blue strips of paper and “sewing” them together ring by ring.
With each piece, like each stitch of the 9/11 flag, our gratitude flag grew until finally it was complete.
If you want to know even more about 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag, you can check out my interview with Amanda here, on The Backstory blog.