As teachers, we want our kids to connect with the real world. We want them to understand what’s going on and how it relates to them. That’s why we build current events into the curriculum. But just turning your kids loose on the Internet to search for “a story” in an age of fake news can be a recipe for disaster. News sites can be full of auto-playing videos and distracting content. Many sites hide their full stories behind paywalls. News sites don’t filter their content for age appropriateness. And even if the kids do manage to find a story, they’re often at a loss tounderstand it.
Enter NewsForKids.net . NewsForKids is a free news site that is geared toward students. It features age-appropriate content written in an accessible manner. The articles are a mixture of high interest, timely topics from a variety of areas. Although the language used is simple, the tone of the articles is direct and not condescending.
Ideas that might be new are explained within the context of the articles. Often, if more detail is required, a link to a short supplemental article will be available in the sidebar. In most cases, kids shouldn’t need additional resources to understand the article and its relevant background.
Most stories on the site are appropriate for all audiences. But teachers or parents working with very young children may choose to set an age preference in Settings. Doing so will automatically hide the rare stories that have more mature content. Because the site has very few external links, it is ideal for independent student work.
NewsForKids is a good classroom fit at a time when there is renewed academic focus on non-fiction reading. The stories on the site are well-researched, and neutral in tone, with both sides of a situation presented. Each article provides references to several reliable news sources for students who would like to pursue the article in more depth.
The articles are well illustrated with two or three captioned images. The images provide additional context and help even “scanners” get the general idea. Where appropriate, articles are also accompanied by an interactive map, allowing students to understand the story in a geographical context. Stories are also tagged by region, so teachers who wish to focus their students on a particular area of the world can do so.
Have a try, and let me know what you think!