Friday, June 24, 2011

Teaching Kids News by Joyce Grant

Last year, I partnered with my son’s grade-three teacher to talk to the kids in his class about “the news.” Because I’m a journalist, it’s something I know a bit about and I thought the kids might be interested in finding out more about their world.

It turns out we vastly underestimated their interest!

Each week I brought in a stack of newspaper clippings and talked about them with the class. We followed a couple of major breaking stories (the G20 summit, the oil spill) and we also talked about interesting or funny stories that would crop up during the week. It might be anything from the discovery of a new species to a space shuttle launch.

The kids actively participated in the weekly sessions, wanting to share their own knowledge about the news stories and also wanting to know more. Pretty soon, kids’ parents were coming up to us saying, “My son just explained to me what’s happening at the G20!”

That weekly media lesson sparked an idea for a website. What if we brought kids the news in kid-friendly and –appropriate language? It would encourage kids to read, because they desperately want to know what’s going on in the world. It would also encourage parents to read with their children.

My son’s teacher, Jonathan Ophek, added the final, brilliant piece of the puzzle: what if we added “curriculum connections” to each article, so teachers could use each day’s article right in the classroom? Teachers would be covering the curriculum using current news events pulled from today’s headlines.

So Teaching Kids News was born.

The site began in September 2010 and was relaunched in its current form in January 2011. We haven’t done much marketing of the site yet, but already more than 1,000 teachers and parents use the site every day. Some days, particularly when big news is breaking, we get more than twice or three times that number. (Our biggest day has been over 6,000 individual users.)

Our goal is to get kids reading, and we think that by bringing them news that is not only easy for them to read but put into “context” for them, we’re able to do that. At the same time, Teaching Kids News provides instant lesson plans for teachers and parents who are home-schooling their kids.

And as one CBC reporter said, TKN’s politics section is a great place to brush up on what’s happening in the world—for anyone, kid or adult!

Joyce Grant is a journalist and owner of Teaching Kids News, She also blogs at Getting Kids Reading,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What are your favorite Father's Day books and activities? (Comment for a chance to win!)

Here are some of  favorite books that feature dads! Click on the image for more details.

Please tell us your favorite Father's Day Books and Activities in the comments below. Or you can tell us how you handle children in your class that might not have a dad. One randomly selected commenter will win a children's book! Deadline for comments is June 19 at midnight.

A Perfect Father's DayFroggy's Day With DadDaddy Kisses

Daddy Hugs (Classic Board Book)Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me (World of Eric Carle)Because Your Daddy Loves You

GorillaThe Daddy BookWhat Dads Can't Do

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 14th is Flag Day!

F Is For Flag (Reading Railroad Books)Flag We Love Anniv/E 10/EFlag Day (Rookie Read-About Holidays)

What Freedom Means to Me: A Flag Day StoryFlag Day (First Step Nonfiction)Betsy Ross

  • Footprint flag:
    1. Take a sheet of blue construction paper and allow children to cut and paste 50 star shapes on the paper.
    2. On white tagboard, lightly pencil off a section in the left corner (you will later glue the blue starred paper here).
    3. This part may be best done outside: fill a shallow tray with red paint. Let children step in the red paint and walk across the white tagboard, making the red "stripes" of the flag. Tips: make sure to add a shallow thin layer of paint to the tray (too much paint will make blobs instead of footprints; hold the child's hand while they walk across the paper so that they don't slip; after they walk across, have a hose to rinse children's feet off.)
    4. After the paint dries, attach the blue stars and tadahhhh, you have a flag!
  • Flag Cake:
    1. Bake a yellow cake in a rectangular 9x13 pan.
    2. While cake is cooling, rinse strawberries and blueberries. Hull and slice strawberries length wise.
    3. After cake cools, add white frosting. Then add blueberries in the left corner and add strawberries for the stripes.
    4. OR, you can try this no-bake recipe from Kraft!
  • Craft Stick Flag: The directions from Enchanted Learning suggest that you cut tiny stars but you can also use a star hole punch like this one this one from Amazon and the kids love it! 
  • Learn about Betsy Ross.

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