Math Quickie Lessons

Here are some math quickie newspaper lessons from the Washington Times.

Palindromes: Search for numbers in the newspaper that are palindromes (a number that remains the same when written backwards, such as 656). If you can’t find a palindromic number, compute the palindrome of any number by reversing the digits and adding the numbers together. For example, to find the palindrome of 369, add 963 to it. This gives 1,332, which is not a palindrome. Then add its reverse (2,331) to it, which equals 3663, a palindrome.

Computing Commissions: Determine the commission you would make if you sold a car listed in the classified section and made 13% commission. Find the car you would most like to sell and compute the commission you’d make.

Computing Car Finance Charges: Identify and cut several ads from the newspaper that offer credit terms. Determine the total amount paid for the product under the credit terms. For example, find your dream car in the classified ads. Pretend that you put $2,000 down payment and finance the balance for three years at 15%. How much will you pay the bank? What will your monthly payments be?

Miles Per Gallon: Use a car advertisement from the newspaper that gives the estimated miles per gallon. Determine the cost of driving from your city to another at the current price of gasoline per gallon.

Vital Statistics: Look through the obituaries in teh newspaper and find the average age of death for one day. Keep a record of your findings for a week and graph your results. On one given day: Find the median age of death, the mode age of death, the average age of death for men and the average age of death for women.

Geometry — Lines and Angles: Clip pictures from the newspaper that illustrate different types of lines (parallel, perpendicular and askew). Or find pictures that illustrate different types of angles (right, acute, obtuse and straight.)

Math in the News: Select an article of interest in the newspaper concerning science, technology, business or home economics. Identify the role played by mathematics in the event described in the article.

Metric Measuring — Areas: Choose three pictures or ads from the newspaper. Using a metric rule, figure the area of each ad in square centimeters. Then convert each into square millimeters and square meters.

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Character Ed Newspaper Activities

These character education activities are from the NIE Institute’s 100 Ways to Use the Newspaper.

Character Education
1. Make a Hall of Fame, Hall of Shame poster of bulletin board. Clip articles and cartoons of people who are exhibiting good character traits. Place these under the Hall of Fame heading. Place examples of people not using good character traits under the Hall of Shame heading.

2. Go through The newspaper and make a “survival vocabulary list” of words that a person would need to know to be a good responsible citizen in today’s world.

3. Read an article in the newspaper about an individual who is honest. What has the honest act? What were the consequences of the act? Would you have made the same decision?

4. Make a family crest that shows examples of what is good about yourself and your family. Look through today’s paper and cut out words or pictures that remind you of what you like about your family. Paste them on a sheet of paper.

5. Look through the newspaper for an article that shows individuals, groups or nations involved in a conflict. Write down the different sides, and what seems to be the reason or reasons for the conflict. Think of as many different ways as you can that they might resolve this conflict. Write a letter to the editor that explains how the groups or nations can resolve their conflict. Would these groups need courage, kindness, forgiveness, and patience? What other character traits would they need to exhibit to solve their conflict?

To download, click here

Homework Tips for Parents

Here are some general homework tips for parents from the booklet “Homework Tips for Parents” published by the U.S. Department of Education.


1. Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework. Avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions, such as people coming and going.

2. Make sure the materials your child needs, such as paper, pencils and a dictionary, are available. Ask your child if special materials will be needed for some projects and get them in advance.

3. Help your child with time management. Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don‘t let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.

4. Be positive about homework.Tell your child how important school is. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.

5. When your child does homework, you do homework. Show your child that the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an adult. If your child is reading, you read too. If your child is doing math, balance your checkbook.

6. When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers. Giving answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.

7. When the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it. Cooperate with the teacher. It shows your child that the school and home are a team. Follow the directions given by the teacher.

8. If homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away. Too much parent involvement can prevent homework from having some positive effects. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent, lifelong learning skills.

9. Stay informed. Talk with your child‘s teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child‘s class rules are.

10. Help your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework.   Have your child do the hard work first. This will mean he will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.

11. Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration. Let your child take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on an assignment.

12. Reward progress in homework. If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.

To download the full 10-page booklet, click here

Letters to the Editor Newspaper Activity

Here is a current events activity you can do using the newspaper.  The activity is from “Your Newspaper,Your Town Hall”  Provided by NCPF, NIE for National Newspaper Week, 2005. Written and compiled by Sandra Cook, Ed.D., N.C. Press Foundation, Newspapers in Education with contributions from Mary Miller, New York.


Citizens speak out through their newspapers. Locate the Letters to the Editor in your

How many letters do you find?

Who wrote the letters?

What are the topics?

Choose a letter that you think is very convincing. What makes this letter effective?

FOLLOW-UP: Write a letter to the editor about a concern you have.

Here’s how to get a Letter to the Editor at the Grand Forks Herald:


WRITE:  Letters to the Editor, Grand Forks Herald, Box 6008, Grand Forks, ND 58206-6008

CALL:  Opinion Editor Tom Dennis at (701)780-1276 or (800)477-6572, ext. 1276

You must leave your name, address and a daytime phone number for verification.  Letters with fewer than 250 words are preferred.  We correct spelling and grammar, and we edit letters as needed for length.

100 Tips for Parents

Here’s a guide parents should check out from the North Dakota State Parent Information Resource Center.  It’s called “100 Tips for Parents.”  These tips have been created to help you become more involved in your child’s education. Topics include everything from homework tips to what to ask at parent & teacher conferences.  As a more involved parent, you improve your child’s chances to be successful in school. For each topic, you will find suggestions for how you can obtain additional information and assistance.

Download the 24-page guide by clicking here

Newspaper Activities for September 2014

Check out these daily lesson plans using the newspaper for the month of September. 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 September calendar click here


Getting acquainted with your newspaper

Here are a few activities to help your students become familiar with the newspaper.  These activities are taken from the following publication:  National Newspaper Foundation: Newspaper In Education – A Guide for Weekly/Community Newspapers.

To download a pdf of this worksheet, click here



Labor Day is a federal holiday. There is usually no work or school on this day and it is the unofficial end of summer. But why is it called Labor Day?  

This is what I found in the NIE Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide, written by Terri Darr McLean and produced by KRP, Inc.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is the day we celebrate America’s working men and women and their social and economic achievements. Although some labor groups sponsor celebrations, Labor Day for most people is a day of rest and recreation. It also has become a symbol for the last day of summer.

• Students will enjoy learning about the many jobs held by America’s workers. Start by pointing them to the classified ads section of the newspaper. Have them identify as many different jobs listed as possible within a set amount of time.

• Explain to students that the American labor force is made up of four occupational groups: white-collar workers (clerical, professional and technical, sales, managers), blue-collar work-ers (operatives, craftworkers), service workers (private household, etc.), and farm, forestry, and fishing workers. Next, have students categorize the help wanted ads in the newspaper according to these occupational groups. What conclusions can they draw about jobs in their community?

Ask each student to write a classified ad for his or her “dream job.”

• Allow students to do some career matchmaking for their favorite comic strip characters. Remind them to consider the characters’ traits, likes and dislikes, and other factors that might determine their career choices. As an extension activity, have students write letters of recommendation for their characters.