When I was about six or seven years old, I learned in school about Benjamin Franklin and his Pennsylvania Gazette. The gazette was one of America’s most prominent newspapers in the 1700s.
Of course, when I was a child, people still read print newspapers. My mother had worked in advertising for one of the largest U. S. newspaper publishers. She told my older brother and me all about the differences between Franklin’s printing press and how newspapers were currently being produced.
Fascinated by all of this, my brother and I decided to make our own version of The Pennsylvania Gazette using our family’s computer.
As I grew older, I continued to love customizing the computer templates to create newsletters.
At thirteen, I created a literary newsletter called The Inkwell filled with book reviews and short stories I’d written. I gave copies away to friends and family.
(Yes, I named Inkwell Scholars in honor of that newsletter.)
Eventually, my parents encouraged me to set up a website for my newsletter. That website no longer exists, but it was a wonderful way for me to learn about web design and how to publish my work as a young writer.
While print newspapers are now in decline, articles on websites and email newsletters are still a powerful way for writers to share their ideas with the world.
I now have two different email newsletters, one for this website and one for my website nicolebianchi.com. And, imagine, it all started with that first Pennsylvania Gazette I created with my brother way back in elementary school.
Creating a newsletter is a fun activity for writers of all ages. It’s an excellent way for them to practice all different kinds of skills, not only writing, but also editing and design.
Here’s how you can introduce this fun activity to your students.
How to Create a Newsletter that Showcases Kids’ Writing
Most word processors on computers have newsletter templates. And even though print newsletters might no longer be popular, you can print these newsletters out so kids can have a physical copy of their work. They love seeing their words come to life in this way.
Students could create a newsletter that showcases the essays they’ve written for school in response to writing assignments. Or they could create a pretend newspaper about a time period they are studying in history and write short news stories about those events (that’s what my brother and I did with our Pennsylvania Gazette).
Writing ads for the newsletter or newspaper is a great way to teach young students about persuasive writing. Students in my writing classes have written ads for fictional products they invented.
When I was a kid, I wrote a newspaper about happenings in my house with an ad, for example, for Mom and Dad’s Restaurant and the Living Room Bookstore.
Some students today might never have seen copies of physical newspapers so this would also be a great way to teach them the history of newspapers and journalism.
Here are some steps that you can follow:
- Come up with a fun name for your newsletter or newspaper.
- Pick a template from a Word Processor like Pages on a Mac or Microsoft Word on a PC.
- Decide what your newsletter will be about. (You could create a collection of students’ essays or articles written specifically for the newsletter. For example, a newsletter could contain a short story, a poem, a book review, etc. When you’re first starting out, you’ll probably want to keep it simple so kids don’t get overwhelmed.)
- Show kids how newspapers are formatted and how they can design their own.
- Print out the newsletter and share with friends and family.
On the Bookshelf: Inkwell Scholars Book Recommendation
Benjamin Franklin by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire was one of the books my brother and I read about Franklin’s life.
Ingri and Edgar were a husband and wife team. They were both professional illustrators. This book is filled with historical details and entertaining folk art style illustrations.
Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Details the life of this famous American from his boyhood as one of the youngest of seventeen children, to his teen years as an apprentice in his brother’s print shop and his later years as an inventor, statesman, diplomat, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Children and adults alike will enjoy learning about the fascinating life Franklin led from the lively text and beautiful illustrations of this d’Aulaire classic.”
God bless and happy reading and writing!