Parents and teachers from coast-to-coast have been asking me for news sites for kids. With so much to absorb and understand, we need to discuss current events with our children and not let the television be the last word on the subject. Luckily, the following news sites are outstanding and will serve as excellent conversation starters.
With news, activities and lesson plans for grades three through high-school, the New York Times Learning Network really does have something for everyone. Best bets are the news summaries, daily news quiz, and the interactive crossword puzzle with educational Web links. But don't even think about starting the puzzle until you've finished your homework; it's very addictive. Other don't-miss-them clicks are Word of the Day (with sample usage from the newspaper) and On this Day (with a snapshot of an historic New York Times front page.)
From the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Extra for Students is the place to visit for outstanding news features that take a deeper look at current events (including biological weapons and terrorism.) To learn how other kids are reacting to the news, visit the Student Buzz section where your comments are welcomed and posted. Teachers have a section all their own with lesson plans on Afghanistan and other germane topics.
PencilNews from MSNBC brings us daily news snippets, sports coverage and short features that are perfect for elementary students. Be sure to scroll down below the opening graphic (which only links to four or five articles) to view Top News headlines and Pencil Reports (such as History of Halloween or San Francisco Solar Power.) There's also a Weekly News Quiz (it's not interactive, you'll need to print it out) and a monthly calendar of interesting historic anniversaries.
Well-designed and well-written, Junior Scholastic Online is a must-see site for news hungry elementary students. Junior Scholastic Online combines original reporting with an interactive news quiz (ten multiple-choice questions about the week's current events), a NewsZone RealAudio Radio broadcast, and an opinion poll ("Should pitchers have intentionally walked Barry Bonds?") Some of the content is only for Junior Scholastic print subscribers, but there is plenty for the rest of us, including an excellent Special Report on America Responds.
Time for Kids is my pick of the day because covers the tough issues such as the war on terrorism, along with sports, fun features and challenging games. Time for Kids can be navigated from the front page, the pop-up scrolling news headlines, or through the grade-sorted archive of the three English and two Spanish editions. Best bet games for learning include Famous Face Offs (match the newsmakers' names with their head shots) and Trivia Time Machine (finish famous headlines from the twentieth century.)