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Making a newspaper is a great way to learn more about a time period or even a specific day of a famous event. During our homeschooling years, we put together several, including a Jamestown settlement newspaper and a Victorian era newspaper.
This activity is perfect for an individual history project, but several students can also work together. Because there are so many different sections in a newspaper, there’s something for everyone, from the most advanced writer to the youngest child.
TIP: If your children are not especially familiar with newspapers, pick one up at the grocery store. Have them do this free Newspaper Scavenger Hunt (courtesy of Moms and Munchkins) before launching into their project!
Consider the period you are currently (or soon to be) studying. Your newspaper can center on a specific year, decade, or era. Whether children are working alone or together, their newspaper should include 5-8 articles or sections:
1. National news story
What was happening in the news at the time? (Consider political, social, and religious news of the day in your country of study.)
- Are you studying about Christopher Columbus? Then the national news story will probably be in Spain.
- Are you learning about the the Renaissance? Your national news story would be about events in Italy or France.
- Are you studying an American historical event? This news story needs to happen in the United States.
In addition to library books and other resources, web sites such as HistoryOrb.com, Animated Atlas, and Church History Timeline will help spark topic ideas. For specific help, try websites such as Roman Society, Elizabethan Era, Colonial Daily Life, or Victorian England.
Don’t forget to include a headline!
2. International news story
3. Letters to the Editor
Everyday citizens write letters to the newspaper expressing their opinions about current events. Your children might use this opportunity to tell why they think:
- the Church should not sell indulgences
- the Virginia Company is misleading new colonists
- Industrial-era factories shouldn’t hire child laborers
- the United States should practice isolationism
What sorts of jobs did people have during this time period? What were the common occupations of the day? What kinds of things did people buy and sell? Kids can do a little research to find answers to these questions. Then they can write:
- For sale ads
- Help-wanted ads (apprentices needed, etc.)
- Ads for lost animals, runaway slaves, traveling companions, etc.
5. Crossword or other puzzle
Most modern newspapers include games or puzzles for entertainment. Your children can put puzzles in their newspapers, too!
Crosswords are the most “educational” because they require the student to come up with clues. Invite children to come up with crossword vocabulary and appropriate clues that fit the time period. These websites will help them generate a printable puzzle:
6. Vital statistics
Newspapers often include information that tells more about the people of the day. Your kids might want to include vital statistics such as:
- Casualty lists during war times
This can be especially interesting when they report about real people. What important people were born? Did anyone of importance get married or die? Was a notorious crime committed during this era?
7. Miscellaneous sections or news
Likewise, most newspapers have sections that provide other types of information or amusement. Invite your students to consider including:
- Advice column
- Doctor’s column
- Comic strips or political cartoons
8. Photos or other images
In addition to articles and sections, it’s fun to include images! Try a site like Historical Stock Photos.com for free images you can download.
Edit: After posting this article, I received an email from the Historical Newspapers Database recommending Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers as a useful resource when creating your own historical newspapers. You and your students can look at pictures of real newspapers printed during the time period you’re researching.
Making a newspaper is a fun, educational way to practice new skills while writing across the curriculum. Have you ever had your children create a newspaper? What time period did you choose to write about?
Copyright 2012 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.