You have to be careful what kids are reading, but newspapers can be a great way for kids to learn. A lot of newspapers are willing to give a discounted rate to schools and/or teachers, so be sure you ask.
Here are some options I can think of for learning with newspapers, off the top of my head:
- Read them.
Just reading articles is a way of reading, and some kids will get into news- especially sports news, it seems- more than other types of reading. What they read is often not as important as the fact that they are reading! There are a lot of social studies, science, and other connections to the news!
- Check out the advertisements.
Examine what tactics advertisers use to draw people in, and then try to imitate them. Ads can also be used when talking about economic choice or persuasion.
- Write a newsletter, newspaper, or articles as a class.
Writing is never a bad thing, and it can be a great way to get involved in the school, practice interviewing skills, working with others, and even to let parents know what's going on in the classroom.
- Look for examples of whatever you're learning about.
Learning what a simile is? Hand over a newspaper and ask students to find examples (and cut them out or make a list of them).
Surely every teacher knows that sometimes you just need something to cover the desk for a messy art project. Having a few newspapers on hand is a good thing!
- Inspiration for writing.
When students are given a free topic, they'll often complain of having nothing to write about. Keeping a few sources for ideas on hand can be a good thing. If you don't want students to be sidetracked, try cutting out words or pictures that might spark a thought.
- Look up the scores.
Using sports scores, other statistics, or coupons in the newspaper for math can be a great way to make math more interesting and relevant to students.
- Encourage kids to write responses.
Especially if a news article pertains to the students, encourage them to write a letter to the editor. Civic participation, expression of opinion, and practice writing a letter are fantastic... and papers tend to eat it up when a young student writes in!
- Use the comics, sudoku, and crossword.
I'll post on another day about my comics lesson, but the newspaper can be a good place to find examples. Sudokus, crosswords, cryptoquips, and other similar puzzles can also be great for brainteasing, especially when a student finishes their work early.
- Spelling Word Ransom Notes.
One teacher I worked with gave students several options for working on their spelling words throughout the week. One of these was to cut out letters from the newspaper and use them to spell out their spelling words for the week. Students cut out letters and glued them on the page instead of writing, but they thought it was more fun.
I'm sure there are a million more ways to use newspapers in the classroom, and these are just a few. If you have any more, feel free to leave them in the comments!