Wrting Assignments that use the News

Primary children have great imaginations and know how to make up great stories.  Why not use the news to introduce students to some fun writing assignments?  All you need is an armful of newspapers to get started.

Feature stories:

Clip a variety of words from newspaper headlines, ads, and sales papers.  Cut titles apart, separating the words, then glue them to a piece of white paper.  Be sure to scramble the words so they do not read as they did in the paper.  Paste randomly several different words that are nouns, verbs and adjectives around the page. 

After the paste or glue has totally dried, make a copy of this sheet for each student.  The first part of their assignment will be an oral exercise: They are to identify all the nouns, verbs, etc. so you can write them on the board.  This is a sneaky way to review the parts of speech, so make sure all students are helping with this.

Now challenge students to use the word lists on the board to construct at least three good sentences on a separate piece of notebook paper.  They may supply other words that are needed – articles, prepositions, conjunctions, etc.  Be sure to encourage creative expression and neat handwriting. 

Fun with the comics:

Choose three or four kid-friendly comics and white out the conversations found inside each word balloon.  Next, enlarge the comic strips and copy them on plain paper so students can fill in the word balloons using their own ideas.

Discuss the need to study facial expressions of the cartoon characters in order to make a conversation that works well with the drawings.  Look for other things in the cartoon that might help you concoct your own cartoon story.

Word balloons are fun to use and help encourage creative writing.  Copy different types of balloons and hand them out so children can cut and paste as needed.   You can assign a particular theme or let each student come up with their own theme.  A little artwork comes into play, too, as students draw and develop their own comic book and fill in the word balloons to go with it.

Found in the ads:

A newspaper’s classified advertising section covers things of interest to many different people: Lost and found, garage and yard sales, help wanted, pets, appliances, vehicles, homes and property for sale and more.  Cut and paste a variety of ads on a piece of plain paper and make copies for your students.   Have them scan the ads and choose one they’re interested in. 

Students will then write concerning their ad choice.  If they found a “lost pet,” they can write about how and where they found the animal and the ways they cared for it while trying to find its owner.  To respond to a “help wanted” ad, students should explain what their abilities are and why they are suited for the job that is being advertised.   Think up other ideas of how students can respond to or rewrite their own classified ads.

Photo ops:

Clip a variety of photos from newspapers, then enlarge and copy them.  (You may need to readjust the light or dark setting of your copier so the photo isn’t dark and grainy.  Once copied, paste these on bright craft paper to post around the room.  You can also hang them with paper clips from a clothesline-style piece of yarn or string.  Be sure to number each photo so they can be identified.

Have students study the photos to come up with their own brief article.  Limit these to one good paragraph, and be sure students write the number of the photo they used at the top of their paper.  Once these assignments are turned in, type them up, print them out and display them on a bulletin board.  Be sure each student composes a catchy title to go with their report.

You can recycle your newspapers into fun writing projects.  First, collect an armful of newspapers and give them a quick once-over.  As you scan, clip out lots of bold headlines, make copies of a few cartoons and choose some interesting classified ads.  Last but not least, cut out some interesting photos along the way.  Once primary students complete their assignments, why not bind them together and make your own class newspaper?