100 NEWSPAPER CRITICAL THINKING ACTIVITIES

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1 100 NEWSPAPER CRITICAL THINKING ACTIVITIES by: Randee Simon

2 CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS ACTIVITIES 1. Have students find the movie listing's page and study the movies that are presently being shown at theatres in their area. Have students categorize the movies and analyze their categories. Ask them questions such as: What is the most common type of movie that is being shown in theatres?; How many movies are rated "R," "PG-13," "G," and what does this say about our producers and film audience?; etc. 2. Read and study reviews that film critics have written. Have your students select a movie and write their own review. Students who are unable to select a movie theatre film may view and review a television movie. Have your students share their reviews with the class. 3. With your students, discuss how many books have been made into movies. Have students select a book that they feel would make a good movie. Have them create a display ad for their book; have them give it a movie rating, and have them write a review for their new movie. 4. Have students study the movie rating scale in the newspaper. Then have them devise a criteria for each rating and rate some of the movies which they have seen lately. 5. Students study a comic strip that they often read. They pick a character that they can identify with and explain what ways they feel they are like this character. 6. Students study the comics page and find comics that fit into each of these categories: funny, no use of words mystery, super hero, satirical, western, science fiction, romance, biography, political, adventure, soap opera, animal, history, and military. 7. Students study the comics page and state what they feel would be a good topic or plot for a new or existing comic strip. 8. Students cut out one of their favorite comic strips and cover up the words that have been used. Then they write their own words. 9. Have them write a critical review of one of the comic strips. 10. Students compare and contrast two different comic strips and present their ideas on a cube or box. 11. Students find a comic which is designed to teach something. They must explain what it teaches and if they thought that the comic was effective.

3 12. Students pick characters in two different comic strips and hypothesize what would happen if they were to meet. Then they plan and write an episode when they meet. 13. Students select one of their favorite comic strips and cut off the last panel of the strip. Then they create a new and novel ending. 14. Students choose a cartoon character and write a letter to the editor of the newspaper on a topic that would concern that character. 15. Students analyze what makes comic strips humorous and find examples of various humor techniques. Then they explain, in a display or an oral report, what makes comic strips funny. 16. Have students find comic strips whose order could be changed to produce a new story. Have them cut each strip apart and rearrange the panels. Then they paste the new arrangement on a piece of paper and explain how their plot is different from the original. 17. Make a display on a bulletin board, showing all of the uses for newspaper. 18. Have students find out what their community is doing about the recycling of newspaper. 19. Students read the newspaper and select an important person. Then they write a diary as they think that person might write a diary. 20. Students cut out pictures from newspapers of important people and make a collage. 21. Students write an article for the newspaper in which they interview an important person. 22. Students put on a puppet show involving at least two important people in today's newspaper. 23. Have students pretend that they are someone involved in one of today' s stories in the newspaper. Have them express their opinion, problems, feelings, etc. about the situation in which they are involved. 24. Students select someone in the newspaper and write a story involving an incident that that person experienced as a child. 25. Students study the recipes in the FOOD section of Thursday's Sun-Sentinel and write their own recipe which will contain all of their favorite foods. They are to follow the proper recipe format.

4 26. Students find five pictures of items in the newspaper which they will place in a time capsule to be opened in the year They should be able to explain the importance of each item and why they chose them. 27. Discuss the difference between luxuries and necessities. Have students divide a sheet of paper in half, marking one side "luxuries" and the other "necessities." Students are to search through the newspaper, cutting out examples of each and pasting them under the appropriate column. Students must be able to justify their decisions. 28. Students are given $ to buy a new wardrobe. They are to go through Friday's edition of the Sun-Sentinel, cutting out the articles of clothing that they have selected, along with the cost of each item. Students should be able to justify their purchases. 29. Have students design a floor plan of what they would like their new bedroom to be like and then have them search through the newspapers, cutting out furniture and arranging it in their new room. 30. Play the stock market game where each student or team is given $100,000 ficticious dollars to compete against other teams, schools, and counties. 31. As quickly as they can, have students find ten things in the newspaper that they love. 32. Have students read one of the Sun-Sentinel advice columnists in the LIFESTYLE section and either write to them with a question or respond to a subject in their column from today's paper. 33. Define what an import is and have students search through the newspaper cutting out examples of items which we import. 34. Explain how bartering works. Have students go through the newspaper and locate one item which they would absolutely love to own. Have them devise a barter system which would enable them to have that item. Have them make an advertisement that would advertise what they have to offer. 35. Have your students research the advantages and disadvantages of renting verses buying. They are to check on cost, time limits, and special restrictions. 36. Make students aware of what smart buying is by having them choose a piece of video, electronic, or audio equipment that they would like to purchase. Then, searching through the newspaper, they are to make a list of retailers, brands, model numbers, and prices. Based on the information that they gather, they are to decide which one they would buy.

5 37. Students make a collection of several news stories that report on accidents. For each story, they are to state what they think could have been done to prevent the accident. 38. Have students read all the comic strips for a week. Have them evaluate which comics they think are the best and which are the worst. Have them write a letter to the creators of these comics, expressing their feelings. 39. Have students create an editorial cartoon that shows a real-life situation that exists in their school community. 40. Have students create a comic strip that shows something funny that could happen in their school. 41. Have students study the advertising in the Sun-Sentinel and then have them create their own advertisement for something that they would like to sell. 42. Have students read the want ads in the CLASSIFIED section of the newspaper and have them list several different jobs that interest them. Then, have them make a list of all the skills that would be needed for each job that interests them. 43. Using the FOOD section of the newspaper, inform students that they have $75.00 to plan a meal for a dinner party for 10 people. Have them devise a menu and find, in the food section, the cost for each item in their menu. 44. Have students read the editorial page and choose one article which states an issue and the stand of the editor on this issue. Students are to react to the editor's opinion and write a letter to the editor, expressing their reaction. Then, have them create an editorial or editorial cartoon which expresses their opinion on an issue that is important to them. 45. Have students collect editorial cartoons and mount them on a piece of paper. For each cartoon, have them explain the cartoonist's message. 46. Have your students search through the SPORTS section and make a list of all the interesting verbs that sports writers use. 47. Students are to study the SPORTS section and write their own sports story covering a sports event in their school that they have observed. 48. Have your students write an advance story that predicts an event that they think will take place in the future. They must include their reasons for the prediction. 49. Students study the television listing page and make a graph or a chart which displays a categorical analysis of all of the shows.

6 50. Students read the obituary page and study the format of an obituary. Then they are to choose a famous living person, research that person's background, and write an obituary for that person. 51. Students are to read the CLASSIFIED section of the Sun-Sentinel and make a list of all of the classified abbreviations that they can find. Then, they are to write down what they think each abbreviation stands for. Teachers can obtain a list of abbreviations and their meanings by writing or calling the Sun-Sentinel. 52. Students are to read the newspaper and then specifically discuss how the world would be different if we did not have newspapers. 53. Tell students to write a newspaper story that they think might appear in the year 2010 or Students are to choose five articles in the newspaper and write a new headline for each one. 55. Students are to study the weather map for five consecutive days and then try to predict what tomorrow's weather will be, based on the previous five days weather reports. 56. Students are to make a list of basic human needs. Then they should select five advertisements and decide which of those human needs the advertiser chose to utilize in the construction of the ad. 57. Students select five advertisements that they consider good and explain what it is that makes them good, effective advertisements. 58. Have students circle today's major headlines on the front page. Tell them to write at least five possible questions if each headline was an answer. 59. Have students cut out an advertisement for a product which they think can be improved. Have them design an improved version of the same product, including a sketch and a written explanation. 60. Have your students write a story telling what would happen if one of the people mentioned in the SPORTS section became our president. 61. Have your students write a story telling what would happen if one of the people mentioned on the front page became our president. 62. Have students select a front page photograph which includes a person. They are to pretend that they are that person and that they can "look out" of the photo to see everything in the classroom. They are to describe what they see and tell whether

7 or not they would want to be a member of that class. They are to give reasons. 63. Students are to search through the newspaper, circling all the "positive words and underlining all the "negative" words. 64. Students are to read an article from today's newspaper that interests them. Then they are to predict what will happen as a continuation of this story. They are to write an article for tomorrow's newspaper based on their prediction. 65. Students are to cut out the names of 10 people who are in today's news. On 10 slips of paper, they are to write the reasons for each of these people being in the news. Then they are to scramble up the names and the action and have a classmate match each person with the correct action. 66. Students are to skim the entertainment section to get a good idea of the types of movies, TV shows, and live entertainment which are popular in today's society. Then they are to examine and evaluate our society's values. 67. Students are to find advertisements which are or could be directed toward each of the following groups of people: a. senior citizens b. business people c. young adults d. homemakers e. etc. 68. Have students match four weather maps taken from four different dates throughout the year with their correct date. 69. Read an article about a scientific discovery, invention, or technological improvement and have students describe what possible good and bad effects may be felt in society because of it. 70. Have students select any object from a display ad in the newspaper and then have them try to describe that object to someone who has never seen it before. 71. Have students try to determine the age and sex of the person who is writing to an Advice Columnist in today's paper. They must cite specific clues they used to help make their decision. 72. Students are to read and study the obituary page and determine the percentage each of men and women who have died. 73. Students are to study a comic strip and determine the age of the children and adults in the strip according to their actions, speech, and physical characteristics. 74. Have students redo the index from the newspaper, using totally new words that could be easily understood by an eight-year-old.

8 75. Students are to rewrite a news story from the perspective of twenty years ago or twenty years from now. 76. Find a current event that discusses a contemporary problem. Have students relate the present problem to a similar problem faced by Americans in the past. 77. Have students select three unrelated photos from today's newspaper that they could use to write a front page news story. Have them write the story. 78. Have students find an article concerning a national event and brainstorm the possible things that could happen as a result of that occurrence. 79. Have students read the editorials for a period of one week. Then have them write an editorial that they think might appear in an issue of a newspaper that was produced in the year Have students read the horoscopes and write their own for the remainder of the week. Then, they can compare their prediction with the ones in the newspaper. 81. Students choose a newspaper article and make a list of questions that they would have liked to have asked to an individual in that article. 82. Students are to select an item in the "For Sale" section of the CLASSIFIED pages of the Sun-Sentinel and are to make a list of questions which they might have concerning the item which is for sale. 83. Students are to read and study the Real Estate section of the Sun-Sentinel and they are to determine where the most expensive homes are, where the least expensive homes are, etc Have students look through the FOOD section and find two recipes that they feel they'd like to try. Then have them make a list of the ingredients in each and search through the food section, trying to determine the total cost of all the ingredients in each recipe. 85. Have students find a recipe in the FOOD section. Have them categorize the ingredients to determine if that recipe contains something from each food group. Does the recipe have an equal balance of ingredients from each food group within the Food Pyramid? 86. Have students compare characters in two different comic strips and explain how each character handles situations. 87. Students are to read the "Letters to the Editor" and identify two letters which were written about the same topic. Students are to compare the letters, showing similarities and differences between the two letters.

9 88. Have students read the SPORTS section of the newspaper and have them decide what appears to be the most popular sport. 89. Students are to read Friday's SHOWTIME section and are to plan their weekend of entertainment and activities for under $20.00, 90. Have students read an article about a long-range environmental problem. Have students devise a short term or long term solution to this problem. 91. Students select an article from the LIFESTYLE section of the Sun-Sentinel and rewrite that article using as many synonyms as possible without changing the meaning of the article. 92. Students should make a list of vocabulary words which they do not know the meaning of and should look these words up in the dictionary. 93. There are many lessons to be learned in life. Have students read the newspaper and find a story where an individual in the story learned a valuable lesson about life. Then, the students will fully explain the situation and the lesson learned. 94. After students read a newspaper story, have them cut it apart, between paragraphs, and reassemble it into the correct order. 95. Have students turn to the editorial page and locate the, editorial cartoon. Then have them make a list of questions about the cartoon that they would like to ask the artist. 96. Students are to find examples in the newspaper of poor decisions made and must write why the decision was poor and whether any other decision might have been possible. 97. Students are to study the weather map for a month and select a city which has weather which would provide a favorable climate for them. They must fully explain why they chose the city that they did and what they discovered about the climate. 98. Have students discuss how an individual from another planet would interpret the entire content of the Sun-Sentinel. What values might that "being" believe were important on our planet? 99. Students locate a graph or chart in the BUSINESS section and interpret the graph in prose form Have students search through the CLASSIFIED section and select an item which they would like to have. Have them make a list of all of the issues which they will present to their parents, trying to persuade them to purchase the item.

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