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 cleaning 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.

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 TNS

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)

Grab your Hat and Read with the Cat!

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

Monday, March 2 is Read Across America Day!

NEA’s Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading with a caring adult on March 2.

THE BEGINNING  In May 1997, a small reading task force at NEA came up with a big idea. “Let’s create a day to celebrate reading,” the group decided. “We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don’t we do something to get kids excited about reading? We’ll call it ‘NEA’s Read Across America’ and celebrate it on Dr. Seuss’s birthday.” And so was born on March 2, 1998, the largest celebration of reading this country has ever seen.

ABOUT NEA’s READ ACROSS AMERICA  The National Education Association is building a nation of readers through its signature program, NEA’s Read Across America. Now in its thirteenth year, this year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.  Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school. NEA’s Read Across America Day, NEA’s national reading celebration takes place each year on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers participate by bringing together kids, teens, books and newspapers, and you can too!

HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE For a list of ideas, activities and events click here

Newspaper activities for March 2015

Check out these daily lesson plans using the newspaper for the month of March. 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.




Chinese New Year

What is the Chinese New Year?  Here is some information from KRP’s Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide from the NIE Institute. 

Chinese New Year (cultural/religious)

The traditional Chinese lunar year begins at sunset on the day of the second new moon following the winter solstice. It can begin any time from Jan. 10-Feb. 19 and a special celebration marked by fireworks, a lantern festival, and dragon parades. As part of the new year tradition, people also clean their houses, pay off debts, and give children money in red envelopes. The Chinese New Year, Year of the Goat/Sheep begins on Thursday, Feb. 19 this year.

Explain to students that the ancient Chinese used a lunar calendar that is grouped into sets of 12, with each year represented by an animal. The animals, called zodiac signs, are believed to have certain characteristics that are shared with people born under those signs. Have them compare and contrast the Chinese zodiac to the Western zodiac that people interested in astrology are familiar with. Point them to the Horoscope in your newspaper, for starters. Then allow them to do further research. For fun, ask students to write their own newspaper horoscopes for a specific day of the week.


For more information on the Chinese New Year click here

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.