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Tabloid Tales


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  • Arts & Humanities
    Language Arts


3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Brief Description

Students learn about the power of exaggeration by writing news stories to accompany actual tabloid newspaper headlines!


Students will
  • explore current tabloid news stories;
  • find the five W's in those stories;
  • talk about how tabloids sell newspapers by using exaggerated headlines, twisting facts, and finding the oddest stories;
  • select an actual tabloid headline and write a story that might have appeared with that headline.


tabloid, tale, writing, fiction, newspaper, news, headline, Halloween,

Materials Needed

  • tabloid newspaper(s)
  • writing materials

Lesson Plan

Tabloid news stories -- modern-day tall tales -- make good fodder for a fun writing activity with students in grades 3 and up. It would be helpful if students have prior experience writing good news stories that include the five W's (who, what, when, where, and why), but if that lesson has yet to be taught, don't let it stop you from having fun with this activity!

Open this lesson by bringing in the latest issue of some tabloid newspapers. Share a sampling of the headlines and stories that have been published recently. (Carefully choose stories that are appropriate for your grade level!) Talk with students about the kinds of stories often found in the tabloids, how the tabloids exaggerate, and how unbelievable many of the story headlines are.

Then share more headlines from tabloid newspapers. Let students select a headline and write the story they imagine might have appeared with that headline. The following is a sampling of actual tabloid headlines that might be used with this activity:

Headlines for Younger Students:

  • "Dog Lands Plane After Pilot Has Heart Attack"
  • "Man Wins $25,000 Bet By Swallowing Watermelon Whole"
  • "Earth Is a Giant Egg"
  • "Ravioli Worker Rolls In Dough"
  • "Walking Catfish Eats Farmer"
  • "Veggie-Eating Mother Has Green Baby"
  • "Air Force Pilot Reports Seeing Flying Pigs"
  • "Dog Eats Eight Wristwatches"
  • "Talking Dolphin Predicts Future"
  • "Burglar-Alarm Factory Robbed"
  • "Man Collects 119 Pounds of Lint"
  • "Metal-Eating Bugs Chew Through Car in Just Five Days"
  • "Porcupine Falls Head Over Heels in Love -- With a Broom"

Headlines for Older Students:
  • "Elvis Opens Frozen Yogurt Stand on Jupiter"
  • "Dog Missing Since 1940 Returns, Bites Master"
  • "Your Remote Control Could Launch Nuclear Weapons"
  • "Baby Grows Sideburns During Visit to Graceland"
  • "Her Son Is a Werewolf"
  • "Bodybuilder Explodes"
  • "Aliens Wrote the Constitution"
  • "Roaches Take Over New York City Bus"
  • "Plumber Goes Down the Toilet"
  • "Missing Baby Found Inside Watermelon -- He's Alive!"
  • "Talking Parrot Fingers Hit Man"
  • "Ads on Tombstones Cut Burial Costs in Half"
  • "Bigmouth Swami Swallows Himself"
  • "Champion Bullfighter Killed By Bulldozer"
  • "Researchers Discover Language That Only Women Understand"
  • "Dead Hubby Buried With Winning Lotto Ticket in Pocket"
  • "Man Weds 20 Women in One Year"
  • "Mom Trades Twins for Lottery Ticket"
  • "Girl Gets Pig's Arm -- Becomes Bowling Champ"
  • "Girl With 36-Inch-Long Fingernails Kills Herself While Picking Her Nose"
  • "Smoking Makes You Ugly"
  • "Show-Off Drops Dead After Eating Two Telephone Books"

For additional tabloid news headlines, see This Month's Top Ten Tabloid Headlines.


Students choose their favorite student-written tabloid stories to post on a bulletin board. They will discuss why they chose the ones they did and discuss how each writer used the power of exaggeration to mimic a tabloid news story.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards


See additional writing lessons in Make the "Write" Impression.

Return to the More "Write" Stuff lesson plan.

Originally published 02/22/2002
Links last updated 08/10/2006