Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Can We Do with a Newspaper?

What Can We Do with a Newspaper? 
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com

Read it. That may sound like a no-brainer, but lots of kids don't have newspapers in their lives. A newspaper may be just the kind of material Dad or Grandpa are comfortable sharing with a youngster. They might not want to read it aloud, but maybe they can share a cosy armchair and discuss pictures with a toddler. Older kids can be introduced to some of the regular features in a newspaper. You can discuss technical terms and roles like masthead, editorial, editor, journalist, advertisement, and consider their purpose and importance.

Use it as a model for your own newspaper. This is such a great way to involve kids in all sorts of reading, writing, photography, note-taking and headline-creating. Have a theme like The Nursery Rhyme Times, or present information about your family holiday in newspaper format.

Make hats from it. Most people know the Pirate hat, and how to make it. Are your kids/students up for a challenge? What other hats can they make from newspaper? Can they go one step further and design a whole outfit from newspaper? Can they create a hat/outfit in a limited time with only newspaper and sticky tape? Be sure to take photographs of the results!

Make games from it. Rolled newspapers make great bats. Here's a game I called balloon hockey that I used to play with my students: have two goals either end of a floor space -a polished wooden floor and socks on feet makes this game even more fun. I used to use masking tape strips on the floor to show a meter wide goal, that way there is no chair, bin or whatever to hurt people. Call out two names (or numbers if you have a group) and those two must run to grab their rolled newspaper bats, then start belting the balloon (from its position in the middle of the area) towards their goal. You'll find a picture of some cute kids having a fight with their bats and balloons on Be a Fun Mum blog. 

You can also make a gigantic newspaper ball by stuffing crumpled newsprint into a plastic grocery bag, then tying the handles at the top. These are great for indoor ball games as they are not as destructive as the harder kind.

Another challenge is to see how many kids can stand on one sheet of newspaper. Or how small you can fold one sheet. Can your kids think of a way to build structures from rolled newspapers?

Make art and crafts. I love papier-mache. My thrifty nature enjoys taking something that would normally be thrown into the recycling bin and making something functional and/or beautiful from it. Papier-mache is a great craft to do with kids. They can get messy with that lovely gloopy paper, and they learn patience because it's important to let layers dry out in between applications. There are some great tutorials on The PapierMache Resource. Kids can practise lots of creative thinking and science skills by working out which recipe suits their project best, or if they want something faster, the Sally Cats look neat.

If your child loves to play with little vehicles, he might enjoy contributing to a papier-mache landscape where you use the paper to build up features like hills and mountains. Older children might like to make their own puppet head, or even use papier-mache to create bowls, a pinata or jewellery. You can find another papier-mache recipe and pinata directions on How Stuff Works.

If papier-mache is too big a project, you can make simple people and animals by stapling two paper shapes together except for one opening which you use to insert crumpled paper to give the figures a 3D quality.

What have I forgotten? What ideas do you have for getting the most from a newspaper?

(Image Credit : Lynn on Flickr)


  1. Kim Chatel11 August, 2010

    As a writer, I use newspapers to find ideas for stories. Children can do this too. Human interest stories are great to use as stepping stones to creative writing.

  2. Willowjune11 August, 2010

    What fun ideas! Several of them I've done myself, and not just in childhood!

  3. Book Chook11 August, 2010

    Thanks for that reminder, DP! I've played it with multiple pieces too. We call it islands, and we rip pieces off for added drama. It's great fun and a good way to break down barriers.

  4. Book Chook11 August, 2010

    Excellent idea, Kim! Even headlines alone can be great prompts. Thanks for contributing.

  5. Book Chook11 August, 2010

    I'm with you Willowjune! Why should kids have all the fun???

  6. Kelly Be A Fun Mum11 August, 2010

    Gotta love newspapers. Thanks for including me in this list :D

  7. Book Chook11 August, 2010

    Thanks for giving me the idea in the first place!

  8. Dawn Riccardi Morris11 August, 2010

    I especially love the bat and ball ideas. Thanks, Susan!

  9. Melissa Taylor12 August, 2010

    I love this -- I'm going to read and then make a hat. Most of the paper is still too questionable for my 8 year old -- even the ads sometimes.

  10. Book Chook12 August, 2010

    I hope you and your kids play it, Dawn - great fun!

  11. Book Chook12 August, 2010

    Even our local paper tends to grab sensational stuff, Melissa. Picking and choosing is definitely the way to go with kids that age.

  12. Excellent uses for newspapers and some that we can't do with the digital version!

  13. Book Chook13 August, 2010

    Too true, Kelly. There's a lot to be said for reality!


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