Literacy Scavenger Hunt

This article is from a 2004 Literacy tab and was written by Jane Mencer, NCFL Instructional Designer. The tab was produced by the Newspaper Association of America and sponsored by

People read the newspaper for many reasons, but one constant is that they want to
know something. Some might consider reading the newspaper an adult activity, but nothing could be further from the truth. Reading newspapers, children can strengthen literacy skills and have fun at the same time. So gather your family for a literacy scavenger hunt!


Ask your family to imagine taking a trip outside the United States. Have each person select a city, then find the page in the newspaper that lists predicted temperatures in those cities. Discuss whether it’s hot, cold or mild. You might make a short list of the kinds of clothes you’d want to pack if you were to visit that city today. If the newspaper shows a world map, use that to locate the cities, or use a globe if you have one.                           Location Clue: Weather section

Did you listen to news or watch it on television recently? If so, predict what you think the number one story in today’s newspaper will be. Don’t be hard on yourself if you are not able to predict accurately—that’s why it’s called news! You can’t always predict the main story because something new and significant may have happened late yesterday. Keep track of your predictions for one week. Which family member gets the most right?             Location clue: Front page, “above the fold,” largest headline

Do you enjoy poking through yard sales? Where would you look in the newspaper to find out where this weekend’s yard sales will be held? Select a few items that your family might like to find at a yard sale. Look through the listings to find them. This activity helps children recognize words in print and also to identify related words. For example, if you’re looking for a bicycle, the ads might list “bike” or “sports equipment.”                                      Location clue: Classified ad section

Do you enjoy going to the movies? What’s playing today? What do the rating letters mean? If your local paper reviews new DVDs, talk about renting one that the whole family might enjoy.                                                                                                                 Location clue:  Entertainment section

Does your family have a favorite sport that you enjoy watching together? Go to the section of the paper where you find the results of sporting events. Scan the headlines and identify the verbs—they’re often very powerful (slammed, survived, crushed, etc.) or catchy (Orioles Deal Cards 3-2 Loss).                                                                                     Location clue: Sports section

In the mood to chuckle? What section is most likely to offer amusement? Select a cartoon. Discuss it with your child and ask him to tell you what he thinks is happening. Then read the dialogue or captions out loud. If it’s a cartoon you both enjoy, cut it out of the newspaper and hang it on your refrigerator.                                                                             Location clue: Comics section

It’s time to do some grocery shopping. Ask your child to help you make a list of items to buy, then locate the section of the paper that tells what’s on sale. Maybe you’d rather go out to eat. Are there restaurants advertising in today’s paper?                                   Location clue: Often grocery stores will advertise in a special insert or flyer just for that purpose, while others may advertise in the newspaper itself.  The local grocery inserts are included in the Sunday Grand Forks Herald.

Who, what, when, where, why? News articles usually begin with a paragraph that answers all of these questions, commonly called the “5 W’s.” Find a news article and see if all five questions are answered in the first paragraph.                                                         Location clue: World news, front page, local news.