Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Don't Throw it Away! Newspapers

A few years ago, I was working solely in the preschool of a brand new district after working 5 years in early intervention and three years in another preschool program.  Because I was lowest on the seniority pole, I was  a "floater" (meaning I would help to cover if another SLP had to go on an extended leave).  Then I got a phone call that terrified me.  I was going to "float" over to another school to absorb part of another SLP's caseload while she was out on medical leave!  Her caseload consisted of preschool through grade five.  FIVE?!?  YIKES!  After spending so much time with little kids, I really had no idea what I was going to do with the big kids (grades 3-5).  Yes, she left me some ideas, but now that I had kids who could read and write, I wanted to do something really creative!  So, I grabbed a newspaper:

(I've been planning this post for a while now - check out the date!)

During my first session (after the getting-to-know-you stuff), I took out a newspaper.  We talked about the parts (title, headlines, stories captions) and the sections (local, sports, classifieds, etc.).  Then we talked about why a story might be on the front page versus the middle of the second section...why some stories had pictures and others didn't...why people put ads in the classified...and why there are other advertisements in the paper.

In subsequent sessions, we:

  • read articles and answered wh- questions
  • read 2 out of 3 panels of a comic strip and worked on predicting
  • read articles and brainstormed appropriate headlines
  • looked at pictures of people and discussed their emotions
  • and had a newspaper scavenger hunt!

Today I'll be sharing the Newspaper Scavenger Hunt with you!  This was probably the favorite activity for the kids.  I split them into teams and had them work together (great way to incorporate executive functioning skills!) to find different categories of words within the newspaper.

I told students what they would be looking for before they were able to pick a section of the newspaper. I also gave them a few minutes to come up with a strategy before they began. They searched for proper nouns, common nouns, contractions, adjectives, verbs, compound words, a month of the year, and numbers (you may choose to do numerals or number words).  You may wish to pre-teach certain ideas early on in your newspaper unit.  For example, while checking out the sports page, you may mention that football, baseball, basketball are compound words, or you may draw attention to the location of the date within the newspaper.

The kids all got one of these sheets plus pencils.  They were instructed to circle the words they found in the newspaper (so I could make sure they were really finding the words) and to copy the words onto their worksheet.  I have to say, this activity drew out their competitive sides!

One more thing I want to mention, I decided early on that we would write a newspaper for the SLP who was out so that she could know everything important that happened while she was out.  The kids worked together to decide a name for the newspaper.  Each week, I asked them to tell me what happened during the week.  Toward the end, we picked a few topics about which we would write articles.  Once we had topics, we brainstormed key points that we would make about the topics, created sentences for the points, and put them in a logical order.  Then they came up with titles for their articles.  I even brought in my camera so they could include photos.

The kids wrote about picture day and interviewed the school secretary to find out the date and the name of the company.  One of the students was planning on moving the following week, so they interviewed him about where he was moving and how he felt about the move.  They wrote about MCAS (our state wide achievement testing) and a field trip.  Here's one of their articles:

Field Trip
The third and fourth grade went on a field trip to the Zeiterion Theater on March 18th. We went there on a bus. There were other schools at the Zeiterion. We saw a friend who moved to another school and her name is Lakeira. We saw an orchestra playing the violin, drums, strings, flute, tuba, clarinet, and harp. Kaidyn raised his hand to go on the stage and got picked. He played a trumpet and it didn’t work for him because he didn’t do it right. It made a funny noise. We came back from the Zeiterion in time for lunch.

Not bad, right?!?  If you like the idea of using the newspaper in therapy, you'll want to check out Speech Room News for Jenna's Newspaper Companion.  I had the chance to preview the companion and it is awesome!  Now I know exactly what to do if I ever get called to "float" again!  :)

You can download this activity HERE.  Do you use the newspaper in your therapy sessions?  What are your favorite activities?

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