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Newspaper Tips for the Family

The newspaper can be both an inexpensive source of information for you and a rich resource for enjoyable learning activities with your child. The following suggestions will show you how to use the newspaper to:

– Build your child’s love of reading;
– Reinforce what’s taught in school;
– Enjoy a special time with your child; and
– Learn more about your child’s interests.

Helpful Hints

Newspapers are great for kids of all ages. Even young children enjoy photographs and comics. Early readers can read the large print in headlines and ads. And what child doesn’t enjoy just talking with a parent? Special time alone together will go a long way to promote positive attitudes toward learning.

Scan from 1936
SCAN FROM MICROFILM - King Renounces Throne to York to Clear Way to Marry Mrs. Simpson, December 10, 1936

This section contains activities that will help you talk together, read together and think together. Try some activities from each group. Some days your child may be more interested in reading, while other days a "talk together" activity may be more fun.

Your understanding of your child’s interests will help you select activities that will be most appealing to your child.

Newspapers can help build the habit of daily reading in your child. Try to read aloud to your child every day. Ask grandparents, neighbors, or older brothers and sisters to help, perhaps suggesting a comic strip or a short article your child might enjoy. Sometimes ask your child to read something to you.

You may want to scale down the newspaper with young children by using only one section at a time.

Sometimes stapling newspaper pages together along the fold (so it opens like a book) makes it easier for small children to handle.

Show off the results of your child’s efforts – another way to reinforce your "work" together. Many families have a permanent "art gallery" on the refrigerator door, but you might also encourage your child to share projects with grandparents, friends and neighbors.

Establish a comfortable place for your newspaper activities. Make clean-up a regular part of your newspaper routine.

Exploring a newspaper should be fun, not an at-home "assignment". If you child shows no interest today, try another day.

Talk Together

Find a newspaper picture that interests both of you. Tell your child, in story form, about what happened in the picture. Stop occasionally and ask, "Then what do you think happened?" Ask your child to make up a different story. Or talk about what might have happened before or after the picture was taken.

Look through the newspaper with your child. Ask your child to find examples of "Foods I like", "Clothes I like to wear", "Toys I like to play with", "Animals I like" and talk about each selection. "Why is a cat your favorite animal?" Tell your child about things you like and why.

Cut out some favorite comics. Cut the captions off and ask your child to tell you a story about the pictures. Ask questions like, "Did something like that ever happen to you?" and "What do you think happens next?" Or cut the comic strip into individual pictures and ask your child to put them in order, showing what happened first, second and third.

Help children learn more about work and the variety of jobs available by looking for pictures of people performing different jobs. Talk about what’s involved in different jobs. Point out that most jobs can be done by either men or women. Search for pictures of jobs that various members of the family have or would like to have. Ask, "What kind of work would you like to do when you grow up?" and "Why?"

Look for pictures that show people’s facial expressions and emotions. Ask your child how each person feels. Then ask questions like, "What makes you happy? What makes you say?" Look for pictures that make your child feel happy and sad. Ask, "Why does this picture make you feel that way?"

Have your child draw a picture of a room in your house. Find ads that show pictures of things that might go in that room. Ask, "Can you find a bed? Can you find a TV?"

Look for a picture of your child’s favorite sport or a favorite athlete. Talk together about sports you both enjoy.

Look through the comics with your child. Select a favorite character and ask, "How are you like this character?" "How are you different?"

Read Together

Read today’s weather forecast with your child. Ask the child to search through the newspaper to find clothing that might be appropriate for today’s weather. Ask how they think people in other climate areas might dress.

Use the newspaper to learn more about opposites – win/lose, night/day, happy/sad. Find as many opposites as you can, using both words and pictures. Choose a pair of opposites like night/day and find pictures of things that happen in the daytime or at night.

Read the TV listings together. Help your child choose a program for the whole family to watch. Ask, "Why did you choose this program for the whole family? What show would you choose to watch by yourself?" Look for ads about upcoming programs. Ask, "What do you think that show will be about? Do you think it will be fun to watch?"

Let your child clip coupons from the newspaper – the Sunday edition is always good. Let the child group the coupons in categories like types of products, colors, size of the product. Can they discover a new way to group the coupons?

Using the newspaper’s food section, choose a recipe with your child. Prepare it together, asking your child to help you read the directions. Then serve it to family or friends.

Think Together

Have your child choose an object pictured in the newspaper and describe it to you. See if you can correctly identify it based on your child’s description. Switch roles and repeat.

Scan from 1928
SCAN FROM MICROFILM - Davidsons take control of News-Journal announcement. Front page of the Daytona Beach Sunday News - Journal, December 2, 1928.

Pretend your child has money to spend at the grocery store. Cut out prices for different foods: meats, fruits, vegetables, and breads. Help your child find at least two items in each group that your family might enjoy. Together, total your "purchases". How much money did you "spend"?

Ask your child to cut out a picture of a famous athlete, movie star, politician or other person he or she would like to meet. Ask, "What would you say to this person?" "What do you think the person would say to you?"

Find stories in the newspaper that express two different points of view. Talk about the issue from both points of view. Ask your child how he or she feels about the positions. Write an editorial expressing a viewpoint.

Encourage your child to look through the "Help Wanted" section of the classified ads. Let the child pick a job that sounds appealing and talk about the education needed to get that job.

Find stories from several different states in this country. Find each state on a map. Do the same with stories from other countries.

Find pictures of people of all ages. With your child, imagine what life was like for these people in the past. Imagine what their lives might be like in the future.

Have your child choose an object pictured in the newspaper and describe it to you. See if you can correctly identify it based on your child’s description. Switch roles and repeat.

Look at the editorial cartoon in today’s newspaper. How does the artist state an opinion in the drawing? Let your child create a cartoon that expresses an opinion about a local, state or national issue. Post this drawing on the refrigerator.

Read movie reviews and talk about which movies look interesting. Read the letters to Ann Landers or Dear Abby and answer the questions together, being serious or silly.

Choose a favorite comic strip character and list the characteristics you like about the character. Ask, "How are you like this character? How are you different?"

On Their Own

Have your child cut out pictures of faces, clothing, hands, and feet and then arrange them to create funny people.

Ask your child to find an article about an interesting place to visit in your community. Then talk about what you would need to bring if you visited, how you would dress and what you could do.

Have you child cut out letters from the newspaper to spell his or her name. Then paste them on a sign or poster to display. Your child might also try to spell the names of other people in the family, perhaps making a placemat for each.

Ask your child to pretend your family is moving. Find pictures of things you might want to include in your new apartment or house.

The most important thing you can do is to have fun reading the newspaper together. Perhaps you can set aside a special time each day when you and your child can look at today’s newspaper. Contact your local Newspaper in Education program for more ideas on how to use the newspaper with your child.

Reprinted with permission.

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