Parent's Guide to Scholastic News Online
Take a tour of this innovative news site designed especially for kids.
Here's the dilemma. You want to keep your child informed about the world, but when you sit down to watch the news together, all too often you're bombarded with frightening, violent images. Well, Scholastic News Online has the solution.
A safe, interactive news site designed for students in grades 3 through 6, Scholastic News Online provides age-appropriate news coverage that is both timely and in-depth. Our writers don't just report the facts; they pay careful attention to the educational needs and interests of their young readers.
As a parent, you can use Scholastic News Online to introduce your child to the events, individuals, and ideas that shape our world. Regular use of this Web site will help your child develop skills in several important curricular areas, including social studies, reading, language, geography, science, and math. Scholastic News Online also serves as an invaluable resource for tackling tough homework assignments.
Here's the scoop about each News Online feature, plus the update schedule:
Each morning, Scholastic News Online editors select a top news story based on the most important news of the day. They carefully decide which story is most newsworthy, appropriate for, and appealing to children.
Within each story, Scholastic News Online editors provide definitions for difficult words and concepts. When appropriate, articles include maps especially created by Scholastic's own cartographer. News stories may also link to relevant Web sites. Scholastic editors carefully choose these sites based on their quality, relevance, and appropriateness for children.
How to Use Today's News at Home
Read the headline of the story. Ask your child to share what he knows about the topic and anticipate what details the story might contain.
Encourage him to read the story on his own, or if he prefers, together with you, taking turns reading different paragraphs.
After your child finishes the story, ask him to share his thoughts about it. Some questions to ask: Does this news story affect your life? If so, how? How do you think it affects the lives of other people?
If the story includes a Think About It question, use the question to initiate a conversation about the article. Your child can also respond to the question in writing.
Encourage him to track down more information on the topic by watching appropriate TV news coverage, reading a newspaper, or surfing related Web sites.
One of Scholastic News Online's most popular features, Vote Now! is an online poll that changes weekly. The question is based on the debate question from that week's issue of Scholastic News or Junior Scholastic. Children can cast their votes online. Your child can also see how his peers' responses break down by state, age, or gender.
How to Use Vote Now! at Home
Read the poll question with your child. Then, engage her in a discussion about arguments for and against the topic in question. She can cast her own vote by clicking on the "Vote on It" button. After she votes, ask her to defend her decision by articulating her position.
Next, she can view the tally of the total votes — including his own — by clicking the Vote Now! button. The results page also includes a pie chart revealing the total "yes" responses and total "no" responses.
Next, your child can review the results broken down by category, using the pull-down bar next to "boys/girls," "grade," or "state", and clicking on "view graph." Ask your child to explain why she thinks boys might have voted differently than girls, or why some states voted yes, while others voted no.
She can share his own views by clicking on Send Your Comment. News Online editors review submitted comments and post new ones each day.
Your child can also vote in the previous week's poll by clicking on Last Week's Results.
Write the Caption: This activity ignites children's imagination and helps them to develop their writing skills. Each week, kids can view a new, quirky photo, then create and submit a caption for it. Scholastic News Online editors review all submissions and post the top picks the following week.
How to Use Write the Caption at Home
After your child studies the photo, ask him to write his own caption. Encourage him to experiment with different captions, from silly to serious. He can view his caption as it appears under the photo by clicking on Preview Caption.
If he's happy with his caption, he can print out the page. If not, he can click the Back button to make changes to the caption. If he chooses, he can submit his caption by clicking on Send Photo.
Your child can see captions selected from the previous week's photo by clicking on Last Week's Picks. Discuss which captions your child finds most appealing, and ask him to articulate why he prefers those over others.
This page also reveals the photo's real caption. Browse through some local or national newspapers with your child, and ask him to evaluate different captions. Encourage him to identify the kind of information that is common across captions.
What's Your News IQ? This weekly interactive quiz tests students' knowledge of the previous week's current events. Children can take the quiz online or print it out on paper.
How To Use News IQ at Home
Ask your child to read each question and click on the circle next to her choice for the correct answer.
When she's completed all 10 questions, she can find out how many questions she answered correctly by hitting the Score the Quiz button. Her score, along with the questions he answered incorrectly, will appear on the page. She can then try to answer those questions again.
After your child clicks the Score My Quiz button on the second-try page, her final score will appear. If she gets at least one question wrong, she can link to a page that reveals all 10 correct answers.
If your child prefers to take the quiz on paper, click the "printable quiz" button in the upper right-hand corner of the What's Your News IQ page. Print out the page that follows. At the bottom of the page, link to the answers page and print it out.
Mapman™ Game: Scholastic's cartographer, Jim McMahon, designed this geography-based quiz game. To ace the game, kids must use their critical-thinking skills to answer four age-appropriate questions on the world map that Mapman™ displays. Mapman™ poses a new set of questions every two weeks.
How to Use Mapman™ at Home
As your child navigates his way through the geography-based questions, he may get stumped. If he needs help, he can click on Tips and Hints. There, he will find a clue, but NOT the answer.
Correct answers are rewarded with a smiling Mapman and the opportunity to proceed to the next question. Encourage your child to read books and newspaper articles about the different countries he visits during the MapmanTM game.
Send a Postcard: This feature teaches students how to compose a short message to friends and family. Students can post and view their postcards on the Scholastic News Online site.
How to Use Send a Postcard at Home
Your child can begin designing her postcard by choosing from a menu of different artwork and then dragging individual items onto the postcard. As she decorates his card, she can make objects smaller or larger, or if she chooses, rotate them. Then she can finish her postcard by writing a personal message to a family member or friend.
Once the card is completed, it will be posted on the site. Your child can view her own postcard or check out other students' cards.
You're the President Game: This game casts students into the role of President of the United States, and asks them to tackle important decisions regarding several national issues.
How to Use the President Game at Home
As President, your child will be asked to make a series of important decisions. He will begin by selecting three advisors from a diverse field of candidates.
Next, he will be asked to determine how much money he will allot for the following budget items: Military, Homeland Security, Education, Environment, and Corporate Responsibility.
He will then be required to explain his decision-making process regarding his selection of advisors and budget priorities.
Lastly, he will hold his first press conference, addressing reporters and the American public.
Equivalent to an entire magazine online, these special reports provide children with an in-depth examination of issues and topics featured in the news. Each report includes research and reference materials and comes with a variety of features, including pop-up maps, graphics, quizzes, polls, and even first-person reports from students involved in the news.
How to Use Special Reports at Home
Explain to your child how to use the glossary of terms to better understand the articles. She may review the glossary before reading stories, or refer to it as she reads and stumbles across words she does not know.
When your child is finished reading, ask her to reflect on the stories. Questions to ask: How do the stories relate to her own experiences? Do issues examined in the stories affect her life or the lives of her family and friends? If so, how? How might these issues affect people in the U.S. or around the world?
Encourage your child to take the quiz and participate in the poll. If whe expresses interest, brainstorm ways in which she might get involved with a particular issue covered in a special report.
Movies, TV, Music
This section features interviews with popular stars! Star Spotlight provides kids with the latest dish on their favorite singers and movie stars, and POP-corn offers tasty tidbits of celeb news.
Sports nuts can find profiles with the biggest sports stars and the latest news and stats. A visit to the sports section may be just the spin your child needs to pique his interest in Scholastic News Online and its more educational features.
Most Scholastic News Online features change each week, at the end of the day on Friday. Today's News stories and Movies, TV, Music features change daily at about 5 p.m. Eastern Time. Scholastic News Online editors are constantly updating and improving the site's many features.
Karen Fanning is a contributing writer for Scholastic News Online.