Holiday Season Newspaper Activities

Looking for some activities to do in the classroom? Here are some ideas from the NIE Institute. The actvities cover a variety of subjects from art to social studies.

ART: During the holiday season, many gifts are exchanged between friends and family. Students can use your newspaper (including advertisements and regular content) to create personal wish lists. First, have students pick five items they’d like to receive, then five items they would like to give. Using the design skills they’ve learned in your class, allow students to cut and paste these items into an attractive collage.

Students can cut letters from the newspaper (or use their own artistic flair) to create an appropriate title for their collages. After their collages are created, students can practice their drawing and copying skills by recreating their favorite item from the 10 onto a new sheet of paper.

CAREER EDUCATION: Retail establishments are very busy throughout December. Use your newspaper to find examples of other businesses that are impacted positively or negatively by the holidays. What jobs can you find that would ONLY exist during the holiday season? Are there any jobs can you find that would NOT be affected in any way by the holiday season?

ENGLISH/ LANGUAGE ARTS: Christmas is the most widely known and celebrated holiday in December, but many other holidays also occur in this season. Use your newspaper to find examples of some of these other holidays. Write a persuasive essay encouraging your classmates to celebrate another winter holiday (either in addition to or in place of Christmas). Use your newspaper to research more about the holiday you’ve chosen to promote and utilize outside sources to locate additional details.

GEOGRAPHY: Although many people in our area wish for a “white Christmas,” use today’s weather map to locate other areas in our country where a white Christmas might be more likely to occur. If you decided to drive to one of these areas during the holidays, what route would you take? How many miles would you be traveling? What scenic features (mountains, rivers, etc.) would you cross on your journey? What states would you pass on your way there? If you decided you definitely wanted to AVOID snow on Christmas, where would you be most likely to visit? Answer the same questions for your new travel plans.

HISTORY: The New Year is fast approaching. What do you think will be historically the most important things that happened in 2011? Use your newspaper to locate stories you think will still matter in 2012 and even further into the future. Based on what you’ve found in your newspapers, what are the five items you most think deserve a spot in a 2011 time capsule? Write an essay to explain your decisions.

MATHEMATICS: The month of December traditionally has more advertising than other months of the year. Work with a partner or two to determine how many column inches of advertising are included in one section of today’s newspaper. Now determine how many column inches are devoted to editorial content (stories or photos). Compare the two numbers: what percentage of that section’s content is advertising and what percentage is news? When your class has completed this job, compile your numbers and determine which section has the most advertising and which has the most news. Create a graph to compare these numbers.

MUSIC: Well-written articles are often very lyrical. Work with a couple of students to fnd a story in today’s newspaper that you think would make a good song. Make a list of the story’s main points and especially note any sentences or phrases that you think might work “as-is” in your song. Use a popular holiday tune to set your song to music. Share your song with the class.

NEWSPAPER KNOWLEDGE: A good newspaper includes a wide array of topics and materials each day. What topics do you find in today’s newspaper that probably wouldn’t occur in other months? Create a list and see how many December-specific stories you find.

SCIENCE & HEALTH: As the weather gets colder, we know cold and flu season is upon us. What are some specific steps you can take to avoid being sick during your winter vacation? Compile a class list of ideas and submit them to the newspaper as a letter to the editor. (Letters that are brief, well-written and well-edited are more likely to be published, so don’t send a first draft!)

SOCIAL STUDIES: Holidays are celebrated differently throughout the world. Pick a country outside of the United States and research what December celebrations might be like there. Using a current holiday newspaper article as a guide, write a feature story about your chosen country and holiday. Be sure to include an attention-grabbing headline and lead!

COMMUNITY SERVICE: More people are interested in helping out during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Create a newspaper clip file or bulletin board that details organizations in your area that could use community support. As a class, choose a group you’d like to help. Because many organizations need help year-round, determine what your class can do AFTER the holidays to help out as well. Your contribution could be as simple as designing artwork for their buildings or as complicated as a fundraising drive.

JUST FOR FUN: Go on a newspaper scavenger hunt! It shouldn’t be hard to find holiday-related items in this month’s news. Time yourself as you look for the following:

1. A holiday article or photo that is NOT about Christmas;

2. A dateline that indicates a place you’d really like to visit during your vacation;

3. An example of a gift you’d really like to receive;

4. A word or phrase that you think best exemplifies this season;

5. A classified advertisement for something holiday-related;

6. A photo that reminds you of winter;

7. A food you’d like to eat during the holidays; and

8. A sporting event that will occur during your winter vacation.