In fourth grade, teachers often start asking kids to give class presentations, often in conjunction with multistage projects, which are also a common part of the curriculum. This may sound easy--after all, it's just fourth grade, right? But for most kids, it's anything but. Stage fright is always an issue; so, too, is the natural tendency of most fourth graders to tell a story pell mell, sideways, and even backward.
Want to help build some presentation confidence without coming on too strong? Here's a "News Broadcast" activity that's tons of fun...and full of valuable learning, too. Make it for fun...or give it as a gift for a dear friend or relative. It makes a splendid "multimedia" Valentine, too!
What You Need:
- pencil and markers
- 5 pieces of blank paper for "cue" cards
- video camera & blank video tape to record
What You Do:
- While your fourth grader may think that class presentations are just an invention of his one teacher, this is a good time to point out that they're the beginning of a lifetime skill for lots of working adults. For a great example, flip on a few minutes of a local news broadcast. Watch a news anchor deliver a story, and ask your child to look for three things: what the newscaster is saying, what gestures she's making, and whether she refers to anything--a chart, map, cable interview--to make her point. If your child wishes, you may even want to compare and contrast that newscaster with another one.
- Now explain that your fourth grader will be making her own News Broadcast Presentation on any recent piece of family news. She'll be the anchor, and guess what, parents? You'll get to be gophers and key grips!
- Of course, any great newscast requires surprising amounts of planning. For starters, you'll need a topic. Here are some classic ideas, but don't let them limit you!
- Our Pet's Latest Wild Deeds
- Tuesday's Surprise School Lunch: To Eat or Not to Eat?
- Big Family News
- Our Family Vacation
- My Top Three Favorite Things About School This Year
- Take out your five pieces of blank paper, and in large block letters, use a marker to write one word on each one: Who, What, Where, When, and Why it's Important. Use a pencil to brainstorm specific details on the paper, and talk, talk, talk about how a real newscaster would deliver the story so that it really caught the audience's attention.
- For a shy child, this may be enough, and it may be time to go ahead and film. But don't hold back! If your child is up for it, try making a relevant visual aid, such as a picture collage, chart, or map; or perhaps your child can plan a mock interview with another family member, asking questions such as:
- What do you know about this event (or problem)?
- What facts or information do you have which leads you to believe this?
- What do you like or dislike most about this event?
- Do you have a solution to this problem or suggestion?
- What do you want future generations to know about this?
- You're ready to flim! Set up a table and chair in front of a good backdrop somewhere in your home, set up any musical background you like, and then bring on the news. Remind your young reporter to introduce herself, and to remember any special intended audience members, as well (Hi, Grandma!). Then hold up the cue cards one by one to let her unreel her story.
- Just as in real broadcasting, you can always experiment with multiple "takes." But what's most important here is to encourage your child to relax and let the story flow naturally. If you do decide to re-film, invite your child to watch outtakes, and talk together about changes your child wants to make. How does she want to appear--and how can she make it happen?
- This video project can easily occupy a long, rainy afternoon and beyond. Start it in January, and you can turn it into a marvelous, funny Valentine...or try it any time in the year when you want to have a little fun...and when your child is ready for some practical, hands-on practice with those classic presentation skills.
- When you're all done, don't forget that you have a marvelous multimedia card for a favorite friend or relative. Make a copy for yourself if you like...but don't miss the opportunity to pack it all up with ribbons and bows. And the next time your child is facing a scary presentation, remind her: she's already delivered Broadcast News. The rest is a cinch!
Mary Anne Edwards is a freelance writer with teaching experience in Preschool, First, and Fourth Grades. She has also taught Second Grade Title One reading groups.