Presidents’ Day Activities

Information and activities are from KRP’s The Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide and News Relief’s A Plan for All Seasons both from the NIE Institute.

Presidents’ Day is a federal holiday and is observed on the 3rd Monday in the month of February.

Presidents’ Day officially observes the birthdays of two famous American leaders: George Washington (Feb. 22) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). However, many Americans take this day to honor all those who have served the United States as president.

The office of the U.S. president is the most powerful elective office in the world, partly because he is the leader of the world’s richest, most productive nation but also because he wears many hats. He serves as chief executive, commander-in-chief, chief diplomat, chief lawmaker, and chief of state. Find out more about each of these roles. Then write a Help Wanted ad for president of the United States. Check the classified section of the newspaper for examples of Help Wanted ads.

Newspaper ads often use a holiday or seasonal theme to sell products or services. Businesses often want to attract attention to those people who have some time off from work and might be deciding how to spend extra time and/or money.

Skim through the pages of the newspaper to find examples of ads that refer to Presidents’ Day, Abraham Lincoln or George Washington. Some ads may only use symbols or pictures that refer to this holiday. You may find other ads that use words or phrases to refer to the holiday. Other ads may use a combination of both.

Select two ads from the newspaper that refer to Presidents’ Day. One ad should be an example of what you think is an effective ad. The other ad should be one that you think is not so effective.  Answer the following questions about each.


1. What is the ad trying to sell?

2. What type of symbols or words are used to make a connection between the product/service and Presidents’ Day?

3. Explain why you think this ad is effective.


1. What is the ad trying to sell?

2. What type of symbols or words are used to make a connection between the product/service and Presidents’ Day?

3. Explain why you think this ad is not as effective as the first ad you selected.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a cultural/religious holiday and is observed on February 14.

Valentine’s Day, one of the most widely observed unofficial holidays, is a day in which people exchange gifts and cards to express their affection for one another. There are several beliefs about how Valentine’s Day got started. Some people trace it to an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia. Others believe the day was set aside to honor one or more saints of the early Christian church. Still others believe it originated from the old. English belief that birds choose their mates on Feb.14. Most likely, it was a combination of all three beliefs.

Many customs are associated with Valentine’s Day, some that go as far back as the 1400s. Today, students throughout the country celebrate Valentine’s Day with parties and the exchanging of greeting cards called valentines. It’s also a day for couples to express their love to each other with gifts of flowers and candy.

Valentine’s Day is one of the most commercialized holidays in the United States today. To illustrate this, search the newspaper for ads with a Valentine’s Day theme. Make a list of items advertised, then talk about the businesses that benefit most from this special day.

Find a newspaper ad featuring Cupid, a symbol of Valentine’s Day. Cupid was the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Conduct further research on Cupid. Conclude the activity by writing a mock newspaper story about Cupid making an appearance in your town this Valentine’s Day.

St. Valentines Day Scavenger Hunt – see how many of the items listed below you can find in your newspaper.

1. Find something in the newspaper in the shape of a heart.

2. Find an activity in the newspaper that you would just “love” to do if you had the time & money.

3. Find something in the newspaper that could be classified as “out of this world”.

4. Find an unusual gift in the newspaper that you could give to someone to express “I Love You!”.

5. Find 5 items that come in pairs.

6. Find an example of something that would improve your “heartiness” or condition of being physically and mentally fit.

7. Find someone in the news who has “heart” or the quality of mind that would enable them to face danger or hardship resolutely.

8. Find someone in the news who is suffering from “heartache” caused by loss or despair. How could they be helped?

9. Find an article with “heartening” news that would inspire confidence or hope in the future.

10. Find an example of foods that would make a “hearty” or “heart healthy” meal.

11. Find an example of someone who was “heartless” or totally lacking in compassion or caring for his or her fellow man/woman.

12. Find an item in the newspaper that you would like to buy that would be a “sweetheart of a deal”.

Scavenger hunt was created by Audrey Eoff, NIE Coordinator, The Monitor, McAllen, TX.


Information and activities are from the NIE guide, “Reading Realities” distributed by the NIE Institute.


Language Arts – Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is the use of words that sound like what they mean.  For example, the words buzz and cuckoo sound like what they represent.  A writer often uses onomatopoeia to help the reader “hear” a description.  News feature stories and comic strips frequently contain examples of onomatopoeia.

1. Examine one issue of your newspaper.  Focus on headlines and retail ads to locate and clip as many “sound words” as you can find.  If you want to find more “sound words,” use the features and comics of the newspaper to locate additional examples.

2. Write or clip & paste the examples you find on a piece of paper.  Divide them into the following categories:

Quiet Words

Noisy Words

Punxsutawney Phil

Discover fun facts and trivia about Groundhog Day and the famous weather-predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil with this information from TNS and the Detroit Free Press.

To download a pdf to print click here

Ground Hog Day

Information and activities are from KRP’s Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide and Understanding Weather from the NIE Institute.

Does the groundhog seeing his shadow on Groundhog Day really mean anything? Legend has it that if he sees his shadow when he awakens from his winter sleep, six more weeks of winter will follow. But if it’s cloudy and the groundhog does not see his shadow, spring will arrive soon.

There is a grain of truth to the beliefs associated with the American tradition of Groundhog Day. Most of the time, mild, sunny weather in January and February will be followed by wintry weather in March. After bad weather in January and February, spring often comes early.

Although most people don’t take Groundhog Day seriously, the custom of predicting the arrival of spring on this day is based on a few traditional weather signs. For example, people have looked to the awakening of hibernating animals as one of the first signs of spring.

Here are some activities you can do with the newspaper.

Create a comic strip about Punxsutawney Phil (the famous groundhog) or other characters from weather folklore. Check the Herald comic strips to see how comic strips are written and drawn.

Make a prediction about the weather based on an aspect of weather folklore. Write your prediction in the style of a newspaper weather report.

Clip newspaper ads for businesses that are affected by weather. Based on the extended forecast in your newspaper, what kind of sales can these businesses expect in the coming days?

To learn more fun facts about groundhogs check out the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

Super Bowl math for kids from TNS

This Sunday, Feb. 1, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will kick off in Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl  XLIX  (the 49th, for those unfamiliar with Roman numerals). 

To get into the spirit of the game try these football math problems from Paul Epner, the author of the Herbert Hilligan books, a series that mixes math with stories. Not only will these problems help you brush up on your addition, fractions and multiplication — you’ll soon know just what those touchdowns and field goals are worth. There are questions for every math level, starting with addition and multiplication and on through geometry. And you may find the Super Bowl more exciting while calculating the many-numbered possibilities on the way to victory!

To download and print, click on the following link: 


What’s in a Word?

From KRP’s What’s in a Word NIE supplement from the NIE Institute. 

What’s in a Word?  Probably more than you think. Take the word word, for instance. Word is more than 10 centuries old. It’s related to the Germanic word wort. It’s also related to verbum (Latin for “word”) and eirein (Greek for “to say or to speak”). Who would think there could be so much history in four little letters?

Every word has a story, and some words have more than one. All of them together make up our language. Put them together, and you can say just about anything you want. Words are symbols that stand for things and ideas. Each word means something in particular; we combine them to express concepts ranging from simple to complex. Each word has a spoken and a written form, so that we can communicate either by talking or writing.

But everything about language isn’t simple and straightforward. A word often has several meanings. Sometimes several words mean the same thing. A single word can sometimes have different layers of meaning – it can express one idea openly and merely hint at another. Words can also be used to disguise a meaning when we don’t want to come right out and say it.

Every word has a root. A root is a base word, which may be changed by adding prefixes, suffixes, or other root words to it. Some roots, such as bio, geo, and ped, must be combined with other parts to form complete words. Others are complete words in themselves.

The word know, for example, can be modified or combined with other word parts to create many new words: knew, knows, knowing, knowingly, known, knowable, knower, unknown, knowability, knowingness, unknowingly, unknowingness, knowledge, know-how, know-it-all, know-nothing, knowledgeable, knowledgeably, knowledgeability, knowledgeableness


1. Find a root word in a newspaper headline. Using this word as a base, see how many other words you can form.

2. Pick a comic strip from today’s newspaper and rewrite it using only the root words (no prefixes or suffixes allowed!). Read the new version out loud.

3. Pick one section of the newspaper and see how many words you can find that are based on the following root words*:
auto (self)
chron (time)
feder, fid, fide (faith, trust)
form (form, shape)
gram, graph (write, written)
log, logo, ology (word, study, speech)
mem (remember)
mori, mors, mort (mortal, death)
port (carry)
psych (mind, soul)
sens, sent (feel)
techni (skill)
tele (far)
uni (one)
*(From Basic English Revisited by Sebranek and Meyer)

Newspaper activities for February 2015

Check out these daily lesson plans using the newspaper for the month of February. This calendar provides a subject specific focus for each day of the week with activities for every school day of the month: Monday – Language Arts, Tuesday – Social Studies, Wednesday – Math, Thursday – Science, Friday – Newspaper Information.

To download the calendar, click here