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Have your children ever created a historical newspaper? It’s 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, such as 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 a newspaper has so many different sections, there’s something for everyone. Your most advanced writer and your youngest child can all take part.
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!
Think about the period you’re currently (or will be) studying. Create a historical newspaper that centers on a specific year, decade, or era. Whether children are working alone or together, they 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.
- Have you been learning about the the Renaissance? Your national news story would talk about events in Italy or France.
- Are you studying an American historical event? This news story should happen in the United States.
In addition to library books and other resources, websites such as HistoryOrb.com and Church History Timeline will help spark topic ideas. For specific help, try websites such as 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 to give an opinion about current events. Your homeschoolers can give opinions in their newspaper, too. For instance, they can write about why:
- 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
Explore the sorts of jobs people had 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
Since most modern newspapers include puzzles for entertainment, your children can put some 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 print information about the people of the day. As your kids create their own historical newspaper, they can 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 during this era? Did a famous person get married or die? Was a notorious crime committed?
7. Miscellaneous sections or news
Likewise, most newspapers have sections that offer other types of information or amusement. Invite your students to think about 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 images you can download for free.
Edit: After posting this article, I received an email from the Historical Newspapers Database. They recommend Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers as a useful resource when creating a historical newspapers. Kids can look at pictures of real newspapers from 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 historical newspaper? What time period did you choose to write about?
Photo of RMS Lusitania – Courtesy of Free Pictures at Historical Stock Photos.com
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