Ten terrific classroom activities that use the newspaper to teach
all sorts of valuable skills -- including reading and writing for meaning,
map reading, media literacy, sequencing, word meaning, and math.
"The newspaper is the most widely used of the media [as a teaching instrument
in the classroom], the direct result of a national campaign by publishers,
known as Newspapers in Education (NIE).
Before the advent of NIE, newspapers tended to be used only by secondary
school social studies teachers in two-week units or for Friday current
events sessions. Now, however, newspapers are used throughout the school
year in every area of the curriculum."
Those are the word of Nola Kortner Aiex, author of Using
Newspapers as Effective Teaching Tools. Indeed, the news is more a
part of the school curriculum than it ever was -- for many reasons. Ten
of the reasons teachers find newspapers such effective classroom teaching
tools are detailed in the NIE feature "Why Use Newspapers?" which points
out that newspapers
- are an adult medium that students of all ability levels can be proud
to be seen reading.
- deal in what's happening here and now, providing motivation for reading
- make learning fun.
- are extremely flexible and adaptable to all curriculum areas and grade
- bridge the gap between the classroom and the "real" world.
- build good reading habits that will last a lifetime.
- can be cut, marked, clipped, pasted, filed, and recycled.
- give everyone something to read -- news, sports, weather, editorials,
- are a cost-effective way to educate.
- contain practical vocabulary and the best models of clear, concise
This week, Education World offers ten additional reasons -- in the form
of ten terrific classroom activities -- for you to use newspapers in your
| More from Education World
When you're done reading this story, be sure to check out
these stories from the Education World archives:
* It's News to Me: Teaching
Kids About the Newspaper Celebrate American Newspaper
Week by teaching students to be knowledgeable and discerning
news readers. Explore six great sites that will help you teach
about the newspaper -- before you start teaching with
* Extra! Extra! -- Eight Great
Web Sites Connect News to Your Curriculum! Discover eight
great sites that will help you link the day's news to your
curriculum and challenge students to look beyond the news!
Connect the news to science, geography, social studies, art,
math, language arts, critical thinking, and technology! Included
are six online news quizzes for students of all ages. 9/27/1999
* Twenty-Five Great Ideas
for Teaching Current Events Looking for ways to work news
into your classroom curriculum? Check out these great ideas
for connecting current events to all subjects! 8/3/1998
Read and write for meaning. Remove the headlines from a number
of news stories. Display the headline-less stories on a classroom bulletin
board. Provide students with the headlines, and ask them to match each
to one of the stories. As students replace the missing headlines, ask
them to point out the words in the headlines that helped them find the
correct story. Then distribute headlines from less prominent stories and
ask students to choose one and write a news story to go with it. When
the stories have been completed, provide each student with the story that
originally accompanied the headline. Ask: How close was your story
to the original? How effectively did the headline convey the meaning of
the story? You might follow up this activity by asking students to
write a headline for their favorite fairy tale.
Read a map. Arrange students into groups, and assign each group
one international story in the news. Have students explore Maps of the World and choose a map related to their assigned story. Ask
students to use the map to answer some or all of these questions:
Understand the media.
- In what city did the story take place?
- What country is that city in?
- What is the capital of that country?
- What language is spoken there?
- What continent is the country part of?
- What countries or bodies of water border the country on the north,
south, east, and west?
- What physical characteristics of the country might have contributed
to the events in the story?
- What effect might the event or series of events have on the physical
characteristics of the country?
Distribute advertisements cut from newspapers,
and ask students to list the products in order, according to the appeal
of the ads. Create a chart showing how students rated each product. Then
distribute a list of the following propaganda techniques:
- Bandwagon -- the implication that "everybody else is doing it."
- Plain folks -- the implication that "users of this product are just
- Card stacking -- distorting or omitting facts.
- Name-calling -- stereotyping people or ideas.
- Glittering generalities -- using "good" labels, such as patriotic,
beautiful, exciting, that are unsupported by facts.
- Testimonial -- an endorsement by a famous person.
- Snob appeal -- the implication that only the richest, smartest, or
most important people are doing it.
- Transference -- the association of a respected person with a product
Discuss each ad, and determine the propaganda technique(s) used. Ask: Which
techniques were most effective? Which were least effective? What factors,
such as gender, geographic location, or age, might have influenced the effectiveness
of each technique?
As a follow-up to the activity, you might ask students
to design their own ads using one of the propaganda techniques studied.
Arrange in sequence. Cut up some popular comic strips, provide
each student with one complete strip, and ask students to put the comics
back in the correct order. Or arrange students into groups, provide each
group with several cut-up strips from the same comic, and ask them to
separate the panels into strips and arrange the strips in the correct
order. Then introduce older students to a series of stories about an ongoing
news event, and ask them to arrange the stories in the order in which
they appeared. Encourage them to use the stories to create a news time
Expand your vocabulary. Assign each student a letter of the alphabet.
Ask students to browse through the newspaper, find five unfamiliar words
beginning with the assigned letter, and look up the definition of each.
Then have each student create and illustrate a dictionary page containing
the five words and their meanings. Combine the pages into a classroom
dictionary. In a variation of this activity, you might ask students to
look in the newspaper for any of the following:
- words with a particular suffix or prefix
- words containing a particular vowel sound or consonant blend
- compound words
- words in the past, present, and future tenses
Older students might look for examples of similes, metaphors, irony, hyperbole,
Explore geography. Ask each student to search the newspaper for
stories that illustrate each of the five themes of geography -- location,
place, human interaction and the environment, movement and communication,
and regions. Display the stories on a classroom bulletin board labeled
with the five geography themes.
Hunt for classified math. Ask students to use classified pages
of the newspaper to do the following:
Sort and classify.
- calculate the average price of a 1985 Cadillac
- find what fraction of the newspaper is composed of classified ads
- figure out the cost of running a 30-word ad for one week
- estimate the total number of classified ads (based on ads per column
and columns per page)
- compare bank interest rates and determine the most and least interest
$100 would earn in one year in your area
- find what percentage of job openings start with T. As a follow-up
to this activity, ask each student to create a classified ad and exchange
it with a classmate. Ask: Was all the necessary information included?
If not, what was missing?
Label each of seven shoe boxes with one of the
following newspaper categories: News, Editorials, Features, Humor, Advertising,
Sports, and Entertainment. Ask students to cut out the newspaper stories
they read each day and put each one in the appropriately labeled shoe box.
At the end of the week, have students skim as many of the stories as possible
and write an adjective describing each on index cards attached to each box.
You might suggest adjectives such as factual, sad, inspiring, opinionated,
misleading, silly, serious,
Discuss and compare the
adjectives. What conclusions can students reach about each category based
on those words?
Play a current events game. Make a list of five categories that
might be created using the newspaper, such as Countries, Weather Events,
Mathematical Symbols, Movies, and Technology Terms. Ask students to search
the newspaper for information related to each category and to write a
question based on the information they find. (Remind students to make
a note of the answers to their questions.) Arrange students into teams,
and use the question-and-answer combinations to play a Jeopardy type of
current events game.
Make papier-mâché. Finally, when you've done everything
else you can think of with your newspaper, don't throw it away. Make papier-
mâché! Here's how:
- Make a paste by mixing together 1/2 cup of flour and 2 cups of cold
water. Add the paste to 2 cups of boiling water and return to a boil.
Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar. Let the mixture
cool and thicken. You can also make a quick no-cook paste by simply
adding water to flour until it forms a soupy mix. (Since flour-based
pastes get moldy over time, you might want to use powdered wallpaper
paste mixed with water for a longer-lasting creation.)
- Tear newspaper into narrow strips, and dip the strips into the paste,
coating them completely. Squeeze out excess paste and drape the strips
over a mold, such as a balloon or shaped chicken wire, overlapping the
- Apply as many layers as necessary, allowing each layer to dry before
putting on another layer.
- Decorate as desired.
Learning Tip #40: Newspaper Activities Support Children's Learning in
Joyce Melton Pagés, Ed.D, president of KidBibs, provides
many activities that demonstrate how newspapers support language and literacy
development, stimulate an interest in current events, support learning
across the curriculum, promote higher level thinking skills, stimulate
independent reading and writing, support character development, and more.