When I was a freshman in high school, I had a history teacher who made my class read the newspaper at the beginning of every lesson. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that exercise served a higher purpose than just keeping up with current events. It was really a lesson about democracy. My teacher also used it as a way to bring history alive by showing how current world issues often have roots going back hundreds of years.
Because of this, I believe that reading and encouraging an open discussion about world news is a great way to encourage awareness and foster enlightenment. However, since newspapers aren’t as popular as they were when I was in school, here’s a list of some of the best online, kid-friendly news sites on the web today. Use a mixture of local news sources and the following sites for full news coverage.
If you have access to a digital projector in your classroom, you can watch the daily news segments created by CNN Student News. The videos usually run around ten minutes and contain stories from the U.S. and abroad. Teachers can download transcripts for each segment for reference, and a news quiz is provided to test student understanding. Students can also send their own video news reports and request school shout outs. If accepted, they will be aired on one of the student news segments!
The PBS NewsHour Extra website is packed with high-quality, teen-friendly news and student commentaries. I say “teen-friendly,” because the articles are written to be read by students in grades 7-12. This is another news site that provides teacher lesson plans to encourage full classroom participation. I especially like the Student Voices section which gives students the opportunity to voice their opinions on current events. Daily video clips are also available in the Teacher Center section. These can be used to supplement news stories or other classroom topics.
Nick News is a weekly kids’ news show that has been produced for the Nickelodeon network since 1992. Today, the show has its own website where visitors can find news articles and videos from past shows. I’m a big fan of the documentary-like videos which cover how current world issues are affecting the lives of children and teens. For example, this video about local water supply tells the story of how kids in different parts of the world get water to their homes every day.
TIME for Kids is a weekly news magazine published by Time, Inc. Although classrooms must subscribe to the magazine and wait for it to arrive via mail, its digital version is open to the public and can be accessed from any computer. Although the website doesn’t feature as many news stories as the magazine, there are additional features on the site that still make it worth a visit. For example, the Homework Helper section is a good resource for students who need help with English grammar and writing.
Newsround is a weekday kids’ news show produced by the CBBC (the children’s version of the BBC). Even if you don’t live in Great Britain, you can still access the show’s content on its official website. There, you can read a variety of stories, watch video clips, take news quizzes, play games and more. The stories are all very short to accommodate the reading levels of very young students.
This website was started by a Toronto-based freelance journalist and elementary school teacher. The freelance journalist was a parent to one of the elementary school teacher’s students. After asking the journalist to speak to his class about the news, the teacher came up with a brilliant idea to start a website that produced kid-friendly news articles. TeachingKidsNews.com has been operating now since 2009 and is updated on a daily basis. What makes this site difference from other kid-friendly news sources is that each article is accompanied by a lesson plan to aid reading comprehension, promote discussion, and teach grammar.
Jillian Terry is a freelance education writer and former teacher. As an advocate of homeschooling and online education, her writing often focuses on new methods of education and curriculum reform and has been published on various education websites, including www.TeachingDegree.org. Jillian welcomes your questions and comments below!