Racine first-graders learn about what happened on Sept. 11th, 2001

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RACINE -- 11 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there's a new generation of kids who are too young to remember that day, but old enough to learn about it in a classroom. FOX6 News sat in with a first-grade class Tuesday as a teacher tried to explain September 11th, 2001.

Kelly Powell explained 9/11 to Racine Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary School first-graders through a children's book. The Jefferson Lighthouse teacher admits it's hard to do that day justice when trying to break it down for six and seven year olds.

"I think there's a balance between knowing this was something very important in our nation's history, yet not scaring anyone," Powell said.

Adding to the challenge was that some students had never heard of the September 11th terrorist attacks, while others already knew what happened.

"The whole first-grade team informally talked to each other about 'how did it go in your room?' Some of the classrooms had done this earlier in the morning and 'how did it go' and 'what did you do if someone did know a lot?'" Powell said.

Jefferson Lighthouse Principal Rosalie Daca agreed a sort of balance was necessary in conveying the story to the children.

"It is a very fine line. We don't want to sensationalize it and we wanna give it the respect it deserves, so we don't forget, but you do have to be very careful with the depth of conversation you get into with these age kids," Daca said.

After finishing the book, Powell had the kids color their own Uncle Sam-style hats. She also wanted to show them an actual photo from September 11th, 2001 -- something she said she struggled with.

"There's black smoke coming out, then there is a plane approaching the second one. In this picture, you don't see a lot of fire. To me, it doesn't represent as scary as it was that day," Powell said.

Powell hopes her lesson helped kids fill in the blanks without causing any bad dreams.

"You don't want anyone in a classroom to be afraid or frightened," Powell said.

Daca said she let teachers decide on their own how to handle 9/11, with older students going a little more in depth as far as details from that day. Powell says each year, it seems like her first-graders as a whole know less about 9/11 than the class before.

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