Raising media-savvy kids is more important than ever in today's information-overloaded world. Knowing just how a newspaper article differs from, say, a story in a book or a piece in a magazine will help equip your middle-schooler with the skills to think critically about the overwhelming number of ideas he or she is exposed to every day. There's no harm in having a little fun while you're at it, either!
Creating a family newspaper is a great way to teach your child the characteristics of a newspaper article, give him or her some excellent practice in writing strong topic sentences, catchy headlines, and error-free "copy," and produce a delightful document of a day in the life of your family.
You might want to break up this activity into two parts, and carry it out over a couple of days. This will give you and your child time to make notes on interesting things that are going on around your home and neighborhood.
What You Need:
- A stack of old newspapers
- Pen and paper or word-processing program
- Paste or glue
What You Do:
- Grab a couple of old newspapers to use as a guide. Spend some time leafing through the pages, talking about the different kinds of articles that you see. Discuss the importance of headlines, the difference between facts and opinions, and the basic Who-What-Where-When questions a news story should answer.
- Make a list of the types of articles you want to include in your family paper. For example, you might decide that you want your newspaper to include a review, two short news items, an interview, and an opinion column.
- Brainstorm possible topics for each article. For instance, you might decide to include a review of a movie your family watched together, an interview of your child's karate teacher, a news item about a recent trip you took, and an opinion column about the benefits of having a pet. Be creative; you'd be surprised at what you can turn into a story.
- Assign jobs! Each member of your family can be responsible for writing one to three articles. Feel free to decide on a word or sentence count for each piece beforehand, and make sure to give a deadline!
- Write the articles. You can do this with pen and paper, but creating text files on a computer will make it easier to lay out the stories when you're done. Start with a topic sentence: what is the piece about? Next, write your piece, keeping your content precise and to the point (in most newspapers, there is limited space!). Lastly, come up with an eye-grabbing headline that will have your paper flying off the newstands.
- Put the pages of your newspaper together! You can either paste individual stories onto a large sheet of paper, or lay them all out together in a single text document that you can print out and fold. Don't forget to give your paper a great title, like "The Tauber Tribune" or "The Silvey Sun."
- Is your child a budding photographer? Use a digital camera to capture pictures for your stories.
- Make copies of your newspaper and distribute it to friends and neighbors. If the first issue is a success, consider a regular publishing schedule!