Oral History: A 5th Grade Lesson

Lesson Type(s) Grade(s) Description

Language Arts, Social Studies


Create an oral history of 9/11 from people you know.

Activity Prep Materials Heart Badges


9/11 Books (see List), Pencils, Lined paper



EXPLAIN: Today, we’re learning about what happened on September 11th, 2001, and we’re going to create our own oral history.


  • What do you know already about 9/11?
  • Have you spoken about it to a family member before?

INSTRUCT: Write down 3 questions you have about 9/11.


WATCH: GGC Cape Kids Video.

GROUP: Students into groups of 4-6.

  • NOTE: If you are doing this at home, small groups aren’t necessary.

DISTRIBUTE: A book about 9/11 to each group.


  1. Choose a reader to read the book out loud to your group.
  2. Discuss what the book is about together.
  3. Report out from your group.

EXPLAIN: This discussion may have answered some questions and prompted new questions. In fact, many adult Americans today still remember where they were on 9/11 even if they were nowhere close to New York City or Washington, DC. We’re going to work on an oral history project where you get to interview adults about their experiences with 9/11.

DEFINE: Oral history is using sound or video recordings of people who experience or lived through a part of history in order to study that time.


  • What are some questions that you have about 9/11?
  • What would you want to know from an adult in your life about their experience with 9/11?

INSTRUCT: Write down at least 10 questions for your interview.

EXPLAIN: Tonight, we will go home and interview an adult in your household about 9/11. Choose an adult that was at least 5 years old in 2001. Write down or record your interview.


DISCUSS: How do you think another person’s firsthand perspective will change how you understand 9/11?



  • How did the interview change your perspective on 9/11?
  • What did you learn about that you expected to learn about?
  • What did you learn that was unexpected.

INSTRUCT: Email your interview/interview text to info@globalgamechangers.org

EXPLAIN: Your oral histories will become part of the Virtual Museum, and will allow other kids to get a firsthand perspective on 9/11!