Around the holidays, what kids aren't hot on the trail of the latest news, particularly about the alluring packages that appear around the house? Redirect their curiosity and exercise their imaginations by putting your little reporters to work creating a newsletter that can accompany or replace your holiday cards.
Treat it like a real publication, with kids contributing art, photographs, poetry, and interviews; a computer will let you bring all the elements together. Kids will learn the value of staying in touch with loved ones and get a chance to express themselves while putting together something truly unique.
A newsletter is a fun way to send holiday greetings, especially when everyone helps out. The Wunderli kids (seen throughout) pitched in this year for the first time.
The Thanksgiving break is a great time to start this project. Talk to your kids and get them excited about working together on the newsletter. Gather their ideas about what to include, and assign them jobs: Older children can play the part of reporters (writing questions and conducting interviews) and layout designers (scanning pictures into the computer and working on the letter's design with a parent's help); younger kids can be photographers and artists.
The Parent's Role
Unless your eldest child is in his or her teens, expect to play the role of editor-in-chief. Check in on kids' progress every now and then: Review their interview questions, ask for their favorite artwork, etc. Once reporters have collected their information, arrange it into categories, such as news items about family sports activities or vacation. Take a look at our sample newsletter, then let your family's story guide you.
Tips for Young Reporters
Kids may need guidance to learn how to conduct an interview. Explain that the best questions will prompt interesting, detailed responses, such as "What are you most proud of this year?" and "What was your favorite place that you visited this year, and why?" Avoid asking yes/no questions like "Do you enjoy playing soccer?" Teach them to build on answers they receive, asking "Why?" or "How?" If one kid says she loves the family pet, for example, the interviewer should ask what she loves about him.
Putting It Together
Even if all you have on your computer is a word-processing program, you can use it to lay out your newsletter. Varying font styles and sizes will make your letter fun to look at; if you have a color printer, include color. The more bright type and pictures you add, the livelier your newsletter.
Use a scanner to include drawings, photos, and even handwritten stories by the children. If you don't have a scanner or color printer, your local copy shop might be able to help you out; call ahead to be sure. Legal-size paper can hold lots of information, and it will fit in standard printers and business-size envelopes when folded in fourths. Print address labels from your computer as well; kids will enjoy putting these "stickers" in place.
If your newsletter has several pages or is printed on heavy paper, be sure to weigh a sample at the post office to ensure your envelopes get proper postage.
Older Kids Can:
Scan photos into the computer, help figure out what should be in the newsletter, write interview questions, and interview family members.
Younger Kids Can:
Take photos or draw pictures, and help stuff, stamp, address, and seal the envelopes for mailing, like Terra, 7, and Megan, 4, do below.
The Wunderlis let us have a sneak preview of their 2003 holiday newsletter. The family's two oldest kids -- Nathan, and Rachel, 10 -- each interviewed one parent, one sibling, and also each other.
1. Items about the whole family were placed in the letter's "highlights" section.
2. A new pet joined the family this year, so the big news deserved its own box.
3. Another logical section to include was sports, since most of the family participates.
4. A drawing by Megan depicts the entire Wunderli clan.
5. Boxes spotlight accomplishments of each child. They were all asked the same questions, and the most noteworthy (and fun) information was culled for these sections. Cover a variety of topics: academics, arts, and so on.
6. Loved ones will enjoy a recent family photo. No need for portraits; just use a recent snapshot of the whole group together.