Many of you send out or post family updates around the holidays. But this year, why not have your children write your family newsletter?
In my writer’s workshop a few years ago, my students spent time learning the basics of the newspaper, writing using the 5 Ws, and writing a family newsletter. It’s something you can do at home with your family, too.
1. Study the Newspaper
First, look through the newspaper to discover everything that is in the newspaper. Make a list. You might list things like:
*I took out newspaper pages with inappropriate content.
2. Pick a Topic and Write Using the 5 Ws
First, kids need to think of an idea to write about. Ask leading questions like what was the worst, best, weirdest, grossest, yummiest memory of the year. Have them brainstorm 4 – 8 ideas.
– summer vacation or camp
– a music / sport’s achievement
– movie or book review
– an injury
– the worst day of summer / the best day of summer
– biography of a person in your family
Then, introduce the 5 Ws. Do you know that the first paragraph of a newspaper story is supposed to include these five Ws? (And that with online news, it might not be happening as much…?)
In my workshop, two girls shared very dramatic falling-off-bike/scooter stories, so I used those real life news stories to model how to write using the 5 Ws.
(The Why is hard for kids! And funny — like the rock jumped out at me and made me fall! Not, I was clumsy.)
If I had been teaching more days of newspaper writing, which I wasn’t, I would add on headlines, captions, editorial, column, and other newspaper concepts on another day. I didn’t in my one day workshop since it would have overwhelmed the writers with too much information.
After I modeled writing by answering the 5ws, I let them apply the learning and write.
3. Write Your Family Newsletter (Newspaper)
My group of writers used this newspaper template to because it had lines and a fun newspaper-ish border. Later, the kids pasted the pages into their blank Bare Books. This worked much better than laying out articles in a newspaper format which requires more time than we had – 2.5 hours. Read Write Think offers a free online newspaper / newsletter template if you want to design your own online.
Use your newspaper list and choose what to write first. Choice is very important in giving kids ownership, especially if they don’t really want to write.
To motivate a few reluctant writers, I encouraged writing a classified ad to sell their sister or brother — but, they had to be very nice or no one would want to buy their sibling. 🙂 I suggested to one reluctant writer that she start by making a word search. That got her creative juices flowing.
You can do this same process with your homeschool kids or any kids.
Some wrote comics.
Some wrote movie reviews.
Some wrote for sale ads; others wrote news articles.
We had enough time for me to ask each child to write six articles or more. I don’t correct editing issues unless they interfere with the reader’s ability to understand and usually I ask the writer to “go back and look for capitals that you forgot” or something like that. I do ask many questions to help writers think of ideas, and revise. “What made this movie fun?” “What happened when your bird flew away? Did you ever find the bird?”
You can do the same. Try to ask questions and if you have a teaching suggestion, pick one thing – not more than that.
Share Your Newspaper
The best part about writing is sharing with an audience! Let your writers share with family and friends and watch their confidence grow!
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!