Spring Cleaning

Information and activities are from the NIE guide, A Plan For All Seasons: Using newspapers in grades 3-8 to make the most of holidays and seasonal events. Written by Ann West, NIE Consultant and distributed by the NIE Institute.

This is the time of year when people start thinking about spring cleaning the house and making any necessary repairs to the inside and the outside.  At times, cleaning and repair work can be done by professionals who offer such services.  The newspaper’s classified ads usually publish a service directory.  This directory has information placed by people who do general cleaning and repair or offer services in a specialty area.


1. Work with a partner to identify some of the typical household clenaing and repair projects that are often done around the house (or condo, or apartment, etc.).  Be specific as you prepare your list of six things that should be done around the house or yard.  An example is given to start you on your way to creating a “to do” list.

2. After you have completed your list, scan the classified ads in your newspaper to find services or goods and materials that could help you complete each task.  Clip the actual ad and tape it beside each task in the list.  A different ad should be used for each task.

April Fools’ Day Activities

Information and activities are from A Plan For All Seasons: Using newspapers in grades 3-8 to make the most of holidays and seasonal events.  Written by Ann West, NIE Consultant and distributed by the NIE Institute.

April Fools’ Day is often celebrated with harmless pranks and foolish happenings.  In real life, many of us feel foolish on occasion about something we may have said or done without thinking.

The pages of the newspaper often contain news of people who have been foolish in some way.  Some people in the news may have not thought before they acted; others may have gotten caught doing something they should not have done, leaving them feeling foolish.

Create an April Fools’ Day Hall of Shame by selecting photos or names of people in the newspaper who have said or done something foolish.  These people may be famous people or they may not be so well known.  You may even want to find comic strip characters who have done or said somthing foolish.

Clip from the newspaper one or two examples of foolish people and mount the names or faces on a sheet of construction paper.  Explain the following items.

1.  WHO the person is

2.  WHAT the person said or did

3.  WHEN this person said or did it

4.  WHY you think this person deserves a place in the Hall of Shame

Think Spring Word Search

The first day of spring is March 20. This day is also know as the vernal equinox for the northern hemisphere.  For more information on the vernal equinox visit  http://www.factmonster.com/spot/riteofspring1.html

Here is a spring word search you can download and print by clicking here.


Shamrocks, saints and shillelaghs

Here’s the story behind some Irish icons and St. Patrick:

SHAMROCK: Shamrocks are actually clover plants.  The small, three leafed herb appears on the United Kingdom’s coat of arms with the English rose and Scottish thistle. The shamrocks found in U.S. flower shops are often imposters.

IRISH FLAG: Green stands for Catholics, orange for Protestants and white for a wish for harmony.

LEPRECHAUNS: Fairies who work day and night mending shoes of other fairies.

SHILLELAGH (shi-lay-lee): A walking stick. The word is Irish for stout oak club or cudgel. It’s also the name of a forest that once stood in County Wicklow.


387: Born in Britain to a Roman family. His original name was Maewyn.

Early 400s: He was taken to Ireland as a slave; after six years, he escaped to France where he studied for priesthood.

432: He was sent back to Ireland as a Christian missionary by Pope Celestine I, who named him Patricius, which means noble in Latin. He introduced the Roman alphabet, Latin literature and Christianized the land.

Familiar legend: He drove the snakes from Ireland by beating a drum.

Information is from Richard Atkinson/McClatchy Newspapers and MCT

Snacks & Crafts for St. Patrick’s Day from FamilyFun

Over the veggie rainbow from FamilyFun/MCT  This St. Patrick’s Day snack provides a golden opportunity to eat fresh vegetables.To make it, fill as small bowl with dip (we used guacamole).Slice four long strips of bell peppers in various colors and arrange them as shown. Cut two small cauliflower clouds, skewer each with a tooth-pick, then position one on each side of the peppers. Place sliced carrot coins beside the bowl for the leprechaun’s pot of gold.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with these fun activities from FamilyFun and MCT. To print the leprechaun beard template, click here

St. Patrick’s Day Newspaper Activities

In Ireland and Northern Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday in honor of the patron saint of Ireland. But in the United States, it is primarily a secular, or non-religious, holiday in which people don green attire and lucky shamrocks in celebration of Irish heritage. Parades are also a big part of St. Patrick’s Day in more than 100 U.S. cities.

Here are some activities from KRP’s Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide.

1. The shamrock a plant with three leaflets is a national symbol in Ireland. Find information on the shamrock, then, in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, collect shamrocks found in newspaper ads.

2. Pretend you are going on a trip to Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. First, do research on Ireland to find out what the weather is like and which places you would like to visit. Then pack your bags using items found in the newspaper ads.

St. Patrick’s Day Newspaper Scavenger Hunt

Click here to download and print a copy.

Find as many of these items as you can in the newspaper:

1. An advertisement for an item that would take a “pot of gold” to buy.

2. A recipe for preparing corned beef and cabbage.

3. A feature story about lucky people or events.

4. A city that might be able to see a rainbow due to their weather.

5. A list of all the different shades of green named in the paper.

6. Four lucky things you wish for, that you could write on each leaf of a four leaf clover.

7. Somewhere hosting a St. Patrick’s Day parade, party or dance.

8. Something Irish.

9. A photo of someone celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

10. A story about someone who is helping others, like St. Patrick helped his fellow Irishmen.

11. Find a classified help wanted listed that would be a good job for a leprechaun.

12. A list of Irish names found in the obituary listings.

13. The name of a sport’s team whose colors are green & white.

14. A comic strip about St. Patrick’s Day.

The Saint Patrick’s Day Newspaper Scavenger Hunt was provided by Diane Goold, Newspaper In Education Director, St. Joseph News-Press, St. Joseph, MO and Dale Miller (Essex County Newspaper)

Luke in a Really Big Pickle FREE Resource

In celebration of NIE week, I would like to share with you a special Newspapers in Education tab, called “Luke in a Really Big Pickle.” This fun story is about a nine-year old boy named Luke and his new talking dog Pickles. This tab can be used by anyone to enhance reading skills. In addition to the newspaper activities, there are additional reading activities at the end of each chapter. The story was written especially for this NIE tab, by Marcia Thorton Jones and Debbie Dadey, authors of the Bailey School Kids series. Click on the following link to download.  Note if you are going to print this pdf, choose the “Fit to Page” option on your printer. The pages are bigger than 8.5″ x 11″.


Mardi Gras 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.

Mardi Gras is a colorful celebration that takes place on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and penitence in many Christian communities. In the United States, especially in New Orleans and other Southern cities, Mardi Gras has become a popular two-week festival of balls, parties, and parades leading up to Lent.

Mardi Gras means fat Tuesday in French. Do you know any other words that have French origins. Look through the newspaper for words you think might be French in origin. Look up the words in a dictionary or word origin book.

The custom of celebrating Mardi Gras was brought to the United States by French colonists. What other groups of people brought their holiday customs to this country, such as the Germans (Groundhog Day) and the Irish (St. Patrick’s Day)? Think of a holiday custom you and your family cherish. Then write an editorial that might persuade others to adopt that custom for their families. Check the editorial pages of the newspaper for examples of how editorials are written.

The newspaper serves as an excellent guide to entertainment in the local area.  Wherever you may travel, the local newspaper will usually contain the latest information on places to go and things to do.

Use your local newspaper as a guide to local attractions. Look for ads, news stories and pictures that refer to some of the things in your city that provide recreation.

See how many attractions and special events you can find in the newspaper. Then categorize them in the groups listed.






Celebrate NIE Week with these FREE Resources!

March 3-7 is NIE Week. Newspapers in Education or NIE for short, is a nationwide program where educators use the newspaper to teach a variety of subjects in the classroom. There are many activity guides and teaching materials available to assist you.

Here are two guides available for download:

A Good Read:  Literacy Strategies with Newspapers (NAA Foundation)


Introductory News Literacy (American Press Institute)