LearningTip #40: Newspaper Activities Support Children's Learning
In Many Ways

By Joyce Melton Pagés, Ed.D.
Educator, President of KidBibs


KidBibs Virtual Bookstore

For the convenience of our readers, KidBibs offers the following related resources through Amazon.com.

The Young Journalist's Book: How to Write and Produce Your Own Newspaper
by Nancy Bentley, et. al.

Deadline! From News to Newspaper
by Gail Gibbons

The Furry News: How to Make a Newspaper
by Loreen Leedy

The Paper Chase (Junior African Writers Series)
by Diane Stewart

The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey

Karen's Newspaper
by Ann M. Martin

Karen's Paper Route
by Ann M. Martin

The Newspaper Kids #1
by Juanita Phillips

The Newspaper Kids #2:
Mandy Miami and the Miracle Motel

by Juanita Phillips

Newspaper Kids #3: Pegleg Paddy's Puppy Factory
by Juanita Phillips

It's as simple as the newspaper that you find on your driveway in the morning.  That same newspaper in a classroom or home can support the child's language, literacy, critical thinking, and character development.  Further, it can stimulate an interest in current events, support the development of civic understanding, stimulate independent reading, and support the pursuit of interests and hobbies.  Newspapers can reinforce, enrich, and extend content taught in every subject.  Finally, through the use of newspapers, students find relevance in the content that they are learning at school.   The real-world connection supported by the use of newspapers helps students understand the importance of the information that they are learning.  Newspapers provide wonderful resources to supplement textbooks, tradebooks and other instructional resources. 

The following sections include newspaper activities, children's books, and newspaper-related internet resources that:

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support language and literacy development for young children

* teach children about the newspaper and the news media
* explain how to develop a class newspaper
* stimulate an interest in learning about current events
* support learning across the curriculum
* promote higher level thinking
* stimulate independent reading and writing
* support character development

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Support Language and Literacy Development for Young Children

  1. Young children benefit from learning about print in their world. Introduce them to books, newspapers, magazines, letters, catalogues, phone directories, road maps, encyclopedias, etc.  Let them explore each of these types of material.  They can discover what's included in the materials, learn how the materials are organized, and develop an interest in different types of print materials.  Mini-lessons can highlight the function of each type of material.

  2. Have young children search for different letters of the alphabet.   Throughout the various sections of the newspaper children will find type written in different sizes, colors, fonts (type faces), and styles (bold, italic, etc.).  When they cut out letters of the alphabet, they discover the many ways that a letter can be written and still be that letter.  These letters can be glued to paper to make an ABC poster or stapled together to make a book.

  3. Introduce children to some simple concepts related to newspapers:   headlines and articles.  Show them that the headline is like the title of a book:  it is written in larger type and tells what the article is about.  Cut out and laminate articles; separate the headline from each article.  Have the child sort the "pieces" into two piles:  headlines and articles.

  4. Introduce children to the differences between articles and advertisements.  Show them both and have the children generate the characteristics of each.  Point out the drawings, prices (with dollar sign), and borders that often surround ads.  Talk about the purposes of newspaper articles and ads: articles are intended to inform while advertisements are intended to influence us to buy something.

  5. Read short, appropriate articles to students.  This develops their schema for informational writing, broadens vocabulary, and helps them understand the variety of topics that could be included in their newspaper.

  6. Children can use the pictures in the newspaper, the advertising supplements, and magazines to make an alphabet book.  Have the children peruse the newspaper for things that start with the letter/sound that they are supposed to focus on.  They can mount these objects on the appropriate page and bind them together in alphabet book form.

  7. Introduce the children to comic strips.  Show them that the people in comic strips are characters and the words the characters say are written in the "bubbles."  This introduces the concept of dialogue.

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Teach Children About the Newspaper and the News Media

1.  Teach children about local, national, and international news. Find examples of local, national, and international news articles.  Use a map to broaden students' understanding of these concepts.  Click here for an AskERIC lesson plan on distinguishing between local and national news

2.  Teach children about newspapers--writing, printing, delivering, etc.   The following children's book which is linked to Amazon.com might help:

Deadline!  From News to Newspaper by Gail Gibbons

3.   Distinguish between articles and advertising. Discuss the characteristics of articles and advertising.   Help them recognize articles and ads; let them practice with newspapers.   Discuss the goals of the authors who write articles and the the goals of the businesses who purchase advertising.  Discuss how the advertising pays for the newspaper which delivers news to the reader.  Cut out and laminate articles and ads.  Have the children sort them into article and ad piles.

4. Help children discover the various sections of a newspaper: news, editorial, lifestyle, sports, classified ads, etc.  Discuss the characteristics of each and have children identify the sections in different newspapers.  Cut out and laminate examples of items from these sections.  Have the children sort them into these categories.

5.   Distinguish between news articles and features.  What is the purpose of each type of writing?  How do the styles differ? Etc.   Have students peruse the newspaper and identify examples of news articles and features.  Have them explain the clues they used to recognize each.

6.   Discuss the different jobs involved in putting together the newspaper:  publisher, editor, reporters, photographers, artist, layout, paste-up, press/printing, circulation, sales, advertising, etc.  Discuss how they all must work together to deliver the news to the reader.  Discuss how the failure of one person/department in this process (whether it's writing, advertising, delivering, etc.) means that people don't get the news that they deserve.

7. Discuss parts of a news article:   the headline which is the title of the story meant to attract the reader, the lead paragraph which tells the important information about the news story, and the body which gives the supporting information and detail for the lead.  Have students write a news article for an event in the home, school, or community.  OR have students write a news article about an event/incident that occurs in a children's story or book.  Click here for an AskERIC lesson plan on Organization of a Newspaper and the Parts of a News Article.

8. Teach children how to read a newspaper.  Click here for an AskERIC lesson plan on Reading a Newspaper.

9.  Conduct a Newspaper Scavenger Hunt.   Make up questions about articles/features [in a section, several sections, or an entire newspaper----whatever is appropriate for the child(ren)].  Pair the children up or put them in small groups to find the answers to the questions.  This requires students to identify the appropriate section, read the headlines to find the appropriate article, and read the article/feature to find the answer to the question.  The Scavenger Hunt format makes this fun!

10. Discuss how writers write--generating ideas, brainstorming questions, using a variety of sources to obtain and confirm information, producing the first draft, revising, editing, and publishing.  Tie this process to the process which is used in the classroom.  Help students understand how the writer tries to meet the needs of his/her readers.  Bring in concepts related to their purpose for writing, awareness of audience, etc.  Show how the byline identifies the writer of a newspaper article.

11. Examine how the internet, TV, and other technologies have affected the role of the newspaper in informing the citizenry. Cruise the News might provide some pointers for discussing these issues.

12. Tour a virtual newsroom and find instructional resources at The Write Site, an interactive language arts and journalism project for middle schools developed by the Think TV Network of Dayton, Ohio.

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Develop a Class Newspaper

1.  Plan a class or school newspaper.  Name your newspaper.   Identify sections that should be included in your newspaper.  Have students sign-up for the section that they wish to work on:  news, features, sports, "teacher of the month," puzzles page, riddles and jokes, cartoon, help column, etc.   Have writers brainstorm possible articles and select what they would like to write about.  Have students generate a list of questions to ask in researching the topic and identify people and other resources to use in answering these questions.  Set-up a writing workshop classroom which enables the young writers to get feedback from peers while writing their articles. 

2.  Use children's books to teach children about making a newspaper.  The following book might be useful.  The entry below is linked to Amazon.com:

The Furry News:  How to Make a Newspaper by Loreen Leedy
The Young Journalist's Book: How to Write and Produce Your Own Newspaper by Nancy Bentley, et. al.

3.  Provide students with the opportunity to read the research and writing of other students.  Children's Express publishes children's research and writing online.  Some excellent children's books that include the research and writing of elementary students have been published by the Westridge Young Writers Workshop.  The following books are linked to Amazon.com:

4.  Click here for two AskERIC lesson plans titled making a class newspaper and creating a class newspaper.

5.  Publish an online newspaper at Crayon.net.

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Stimulate an Interest in Current Events and Newspapers

  1. One day each week peruse a newspaper together and discuss current events.  Choose one of the events and write a [class] summary about it to represent the week.  Make a scrapbook or book of these summaries as a record of events that occurred during the [school] year.

  2. Use newspaper articles to follow an event from start to finish.  Keep a file, scrapbook, or other document to organize the dated articles about the event.  Older students may enjoy following and collecting articles on their own individual event or topic.  These students can follow specific events or focus on medical news, business news, space news, environment news, etc.  Each student could have a title, be the class expert on that topic, report news on their subject when it occurs, and maintain a file of dated articles.

  3. Teach children about people in the news.  Click here to access the ABC News Bios Page.

  4. The Education World web site includes two excellent articles which are linked below:

        Why Teach Current Events?

        Twenty-Five Ideas for Using Current Events Across the Curriculum

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Support Learning Across the Curriculum

  1. Separate headlines from articles.  Have the students match headlines to articles.  This supports student identification of the main idea.

  2. Have students write a headline for an article.  This helps the student communicate the main idea in a clear, concise statement.

  3. Help students distinguish between news stories and editorials.  Cut out articles, laminate them, and have the students sort into news and editorial categories.

  4. Work together to identify the point of view of an editorial.

  5. Compare two editorials on the same topic for likenesses, differences, and points of view.

  6. Compare the treatment of an event in a news story and in an editorial.

  7. Cut a newspaper article into three sections.  Have the students read the sections and use their schema for informational news writing to put the sections in order.  As the students become more adept with this strategy, articles can be divided into four sections.

  8. Have students read a newspaper article and underline the facts of the event/incident.  Have them match the facts to the "who, where, when, why, and how" in the newspaper story.  

  9. Have the students rewrite a news story to improve it.

  10. Have students write letters to the editor about an issue or topic of concern/interest. 

  11. Identify the geographic areas represented in news stories.  Plot these locations on a map.

  12. Create a community helpers file/scrapbook with articles about police officers, firefighters, and others.

  13. Have students report on an incident/event.  They can write a newspaper article, report in radio news style on an audiocassette, or report in TV news style on a videotape. 

  14. Maintain continuing graphs with information from the newspaper:   weather information, economic statistics, etc.

  15. Separate the frames of a comic strip.  Have the child put the comic strip together.

  16. Put a comic strip in writing.  Help the students understand that the words in the "bubbles" are the words that will be written between quotation marks when the comic strip is written as a story.  Introduce the concept of "dialogue" within this context.

  17. Have the students put their story in comic strip form.

  18. Introduce the students to web sites where they can learn about their favorite comic strip author.  For example, Guy Gilchrist, author of Nancy, the Muppets, and other comic strips, includes a biography, children's poetry, and wonderful features on his web site.  His web site is part of the Cartoonists' Ring; students may be able to locate web sites for other cartoonists through the Cartoonists' Ring.

  19. Discuss a political cartoon that the children are able to understand.   Put the cartoon in writing and discuss how a picture or cartoon can sometimes convey the idea more clearly and concisely than writing.

  20. Follow an event over several days.  Identify the facts that are included in every article about the event/incident.

  21. Create a file/scrapbook of articles related to the content that is/has been taught (i.e, various countries, health conditions, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, nutrition, economics, etc.)

  22. Have students read ads (grocery, clothes, car, etc.).  Have them circle the noun (the thing being advertised) and underline the adjectives which describe the thing being advertised.

  23. Have students use the information in ads (regular price and sale price) to calculate savings.

  24. Examine a newspaper and determine the percentage of space used for advertising.

  25. Plan a well balanced meal with grocery ads.  Calculate the price of the meal.

  26. Create a science discoveries file.  Discuss what scientists do.

  27. Have students write reviews of TV programs, movies, books, etc.
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Promote Higher Level Thinking

  1. Select an article to discuss.   Guide the student(s) through the article.  Notice the words that are chosen to describe the event, person, etc.  Generate synonyms for words used in the article.   Discuss connotation and denotation.  Examine how the author's choice of words to convey his/her meaning affects the reader's understanding of the incident/event.  Discuss how another word could have altered the reader's understanding of the person or event.   Use this discussion to help students understand how they use their language and life experiences to construct meaning.  Further, use this discussion to help students understand how writers can affect/manipulate the reader to draw certain conclusions, etc.

  2. Have students read an editorial or letter to the editor about a topic or issue that they are very familiar with.   Have them identify the words that the writer uses to communicate his/her ideas.   Follow the reasoning of the writer; identify his/her beliefs and underlying assumptions.  Identify the strategies that the writer has used to influence the thinking of his/her readers. 

  3. Examine and compare different articles and/or versions of an event from different newspapers.  Use one color of highlighter to identify information which both articles have in common.  Use another color of highlighter to identify information which is not shared in the two versions of the event.   Examine and compare how the two writers convey the event information.

  4. Have the children write letters to the editor in response to the newspaper coverage, editorials, or letters to the editor about an issue or event.  Have them research the topic and write the letter to the editor in a way that reflects their thoughts and reasoning related to the issue.   Instructional strategies which focus on persuading others would be appropriate here.

  5. Have the children draw a political cartoon to communicate their view of an issue, topic, or event. 

  6. Surveys are often reported in news articles.  Study how survey questions are worded.  Write the same question and slant it two different ways.  Conduct a survey and compare the results.

  7. Have students evaluate the effectiveness of editorials in achieving their purposes.

  8. Have students analyze advertisements to find examples of various types of propaganda.

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Stimulate Independent Reading and Writing

  1. While perusing the newspaper together, have children identify topics which they would like to become "experts" on and newspaper sections which would support their interests and hobbies.

  2. Encourage children to read the newspaper to collect articles about an interest.   Whether the child's interest is the Space Shuttle or the Dallas Cowboys, the child will enjoy reading and collecting articles about their interest.  Have the child share his/her scrapbook with other students in his/her class, other classes, younger students, etc.

  3. Write a class or school [print or online] newspaper.   Have children write about a their interests in columns/articles in the class newspaper.

  4. Children who enjoy reading and writing the newspaper might enjoy reading stories where story characters are involved in newspaper work. The following books might be interest to children.  Each book below is linked to Amazon.com:

    The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey

    Karen's Newspaper by Ann M. Martin

    Karen's Paper Route by Ann M. Martin

    The Newspaper Kids #1 by Juanita Phillips

    The Newspaper Kids #2:  Mandy Miami and the Miracle Motel by Juanita Phillips

    Pegleg Paddy's Puppy Factory (Newspaper Kids #3) by Juanita Phillips

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Support Character Development

  1. Use examples of people who have returned things that they've found, people who have set goals and worked hard to achieve those goals, etc. to help children understand the values and virtues that you believe.

  2. Share articles about heroes, people who help others, etc.   Read the articles and discuss whether heroes are born or made.  What are the characteristics of heroes?  What makes people do heroic things?  Etc.  Put articles about heroes together in a Hero Book. 

  3. Use articles about people, especially kids, who have made bad choices to supplement student learning of content and promote character development.  For example, articles about people who have died of heroin overdoses, etc. can be used in conjunction with drug education to "paint" a real face on the content that is being taught.

  4. Use articles about people to help children identify the choices that the person made.  Discuss other choices that the person could have made and examine the possible consequences of the various choices.  Discuss and role play possible ways that situations could have been handled by the person.

  5. Create a "Do the Right Thing" scrapbook.  Collect examples of people who have "done the right thing" in a variety of situations.

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Clearly, the newspaper is a valuable teaching and parenting tool.  Children of all ages can benefit from newspaper lessons related to reading, writing, content area subjects, and character development.  Further, the newspaper builds a bridge between the school curriculum and the real world.  Finally, using the newspaper with other forms of news technology can stimulate an interest in current events and motivate children to get involved in their school and community.  Newspapers support learning in many, many ways!

 

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