Kidsville News!Kidsville News! is the nation’s fastest growing children’s newspaper and educational resource serving students in kindergarten through sixth grade. It is a unique concept with quality content that is fun, educational, and appealing, and captures the hearts, imagination, and attention of children, teachers and parents.

Distributed nationwide, Kidsville News! is designed to be a valuable learning resource that builds character and encourages young people to read and learn in the classroom and at home. Best of all, it’s provided free for you and your students.

In New Jersey, Kidsville News! is published in Burlington, Camden, Monmouth, Union and Hudson counties.

Supporting the National Common Core Curriculum Standards, Kidsville News! is designed to be leveraged by you, the teacher, as a learning tool in the classroom. Kidsville News! also promotes the home-to-school connection in numerous ways. Owing to the rich comprehensive content, interactive educational puzzles and games, and interactive online edition, everyone can be involved in the educational process. Not only can teachers and parents read the monthly issues online, they can also download and print lessons and enrichment activities that are grade-specific and designed to coincide with each monthly edition. When you are finished teaching from it, the students take it home to enjoy and continue reading and learning with their parents and siblings.

Favorite monthly sections that can help supplement your lessons include:

  • Wildville (focuses on animals, their habitat and history)
  • Where In the World Is…? (highlights a country from around the globe)
  • What’s It Like to Be...? (showcases a different professional in each issue)
  • Around the World (teaches geography and cultural differences)
  • Connections (addresses subjects related to the month, season, holiday)
  • NASA’s Space Place (helps youth discover science and space)
  • Come Out & Play (features sports and activities to encourage physical activity)
  • Cultural Connections (features music, theater, and arts for students)
  • Cool Kind Kid (empowers students to reject bullying by offering them social skills and tools)
  • Kids Across Parents Down crossword puzzles (creates synergy between home and school by empowering students to direct the activity).

TrumanThe content found in these monthly sections is aligned to the state standards. Our content supports these standards through the reinforcement of common themes throughout the pages of each issue. Kidsville News! helps to encourage children to look at things holistically, to increase their critical thinking skills, and to prepare for life beyond school.

Kidsville News! in the classroom

In 2013, the Burlington/Camden County edition will launch the “Curriculum Corner” that will highlight monthly themes and identify standards and teaching tips for many of the current articles. This feature is designed to encourage teachers to utilize the monthly articles to support their lessons, as reinforcing activities toward the fulfillment of the standards.

Our mascot, Truman, is a six-foot friendly, green dragon. He is the icon for literacy, education and positive character development in young people. Truman loves to be involved in promoting literacy and education by visiting local schools, libraries, and events where children and their families gather. Truman is available free for classroom visits and assemblies and has even been invited to serve as a judge for art contests and science fairs.

Truman visited Heather Wawrzyniak, a second-grade teacher at Clara Barton Elementary School in Bordentown, and participated in an instructive anti-bullying lesson. An ActivBoard was used to project the article for a read-aloud and whole class instruction. Wawrzyniak engaged the class by role playing to reinforce the powerful messages taught in the article, and the class was completely attentive and eager to participate. Truman was very popular and posed for many pictures at the end of the lesson.

“I first saw Kidsville News! used in another school,” said Wawrzyniak. “It had so many curricular connections. I especially loved the book review section. When I learned that it was free and could provide over a month's worth of current event topics, I could barely believe it. My class was excited to be the pioneers of the paper for our school.”

Wawrzyniak shared that she enjoys showcasing Kidsville News! in her classroom because “It has enhanced learning and provides the class with many nonfiction topics to choose from relevant to current events. It is also one of the only ‘non-electronic’ texts that still motivates the kids to read.”

The students are very connected to Truman and Kidsville News! as a result of using the newspaper in their daily routine. Wawrzyniak employs The Daily 5, which is a management program designed to foster literacy independence in elementary students. The students practice five forms of literacy daily, which include daily word study, listening to reading via the computer or CDs, writing, reading to themselves through self-selected texts, and partnered reading.

The class uses Kidsville News! regularly for partnered reading since the articles are relevant and copies are available for all of the students to read. While the students are independently working through their Daily 5, Wawrzyniak gathers individual students or small groups together for tailored lessons and literacy support.

What do teachers say?

The interactive nature of the newspaper provides students with the opportunity to be creative and submit items to be published each month. Students send in drawings, original artwork, poems, and even register with Truman's Birthday Club to receive a personal birthday card from Truman himself. A recent edition featured a drawing from a fourth-grade student at Marlton Elementary School in Evesham Township. Her teacher, Kim Astacio, said, "Having her drawing published in the paper has changed her life. She struggles a bit in language arts and seeing her work on the Gallery page gave her hope as well as her 15 minutes of fame. I have seen such a difference in her confidence and I think it's great."

Another fantastic local feature is a section called “The Kids of Kidsville News!,” which features student reporters (ages six to 12) who write original poems, articles, and even conduct interviews as they cover events that keep readers informed on exciting things going on in their communities.

The Hainesport School district is using Kidsville News! for the second school year. When Jennifer Mack came on board as the supervisor of special services and curriculum for the district, she felt that it was important to include six-grade students in the list to receive the newspaper each month. She believes that the content is so comprehensive that it spans the grades and offers great learning opportunities for everyone.

Board member Kathleen Cashman-Walter, whose son is a student reporter, sees first-hand how the newspaper has supported her community. “My son has been writing for the newspaper for the second straight year and I have seen an increase in his confidence, maturity, aptitude and love for writing,” said Cashman-Walter. The Hainesport School District has even found creative ways to recognize its students’ contributions to the newspaper by honoring them and their families at school board meetings throughout the year. Truman has been invited to an upcoming board meeting and will be presenting certificates to those students.

The creativity and integration of Kidsville News! into the classroom is amazing. Every school and every teacher sees great opportunity. Joseph Gentile, a language arts teacher at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School in West Berlin, uses each edition cover to cover. He regularly aligns classroom topics and short stories to monthly articles in the newspaper to reinforce themes and objectives. Gentile also connects the articles and lessons to NJASK preparation and constructs his own open-ended questions for further reinforcement. “When teaching students, the idea is to expose them to as many different types of literature as possible, and Kidsville News! adds a consistent piece to every unit,” said Gentile.

While observing a fifth-grade class in West Berlin, we heard students recalling features of articles from previous issues of the newspaper. It was amazing to hear how the content and message resonated with them and how excited they were to share their knowledge.

The parent connection

The home integration of Kidsville News is just as amazing. Kids Across Parents Down (KAPD) is a collaborative family crossword featuring across clues for kids and down clues for parents that appears monthly in the newspaper. Originally launched in 2003, it has become a monthly favorite of students, parents and teachers. Teachers noted the literacy value of KAPD and its power to compel parental involvement. In the classroom, teachers use the monthly themed crosswords for group, pair, and individual activities. The Kidsville News! website is often accessed to project the puzzles on an interactive whiteboard for whole class instruction.

While teachers have found KAPD to be a unique motivational learning tool, many have indicated the need for a curriculum-based version of the puzzles that address specific themes and curriculum. Consequently, Kids Across Teachers Down (KATD) is in the process of being launched and the Burlington/Camden edition is proud to be instrumental in its release. KATD puzzles similarly leverage adult/child cooperation, but also offer the excitement of class versus class competition for fastest solving time and school versus school tournaments. The puzzles feature clues tied directly to the core curriculum standards.

The puzzles also foster general literacy and critical thinking skills, and test-taking competencies. Crosswords naturally build test-taking competency, conditioning students to strategically skip and return to challenging questions.

During a visit to Judy Fusco’s fourth-grade classroom at Van Zant Elementary School in Evesham Township, we were able to observe KATD in action. A group of students were working collaboratively on the ActivBoard to solve the Planet Crossword. There was active discussion about the clues and possible answers and the students were able to solve the entire puzzle in less than 30 minutes.

“I found the curriculum-based puzzle to be very useful and engaging. I especially like that students can connect and recall prior knowledge while working together. I was impressed that they even solved some of the teacher clues that were challenging,” said Fusco. One student commented that the puzzle “helps us to learn about subjects.” Another shared that “It helps with our spelling and even math skills as we have to count the spaces to help solve the clues.” Everyone agreed that doing the crossword on the ActivBoard was a fun group activity that allowed them to communicate with each other and share ideas in an interactive way.

Look for the KAPD iPad app as well as the release of KATD in schools in 2013.

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We are so delighted to bring Kidsville News! to our local communities. The response is phenomenal as educators seek new ways to bring entertaining educational tools to their students. Kidsville News! makes it easy for schools to become involved. Simply contact us to order copies and start receiving it in your school free each month. For more information on how to locate your local Kidsville News! publisher, contact Lynne Berman at 609-760-7520 or Lynne@KidsvilleNewsBurlington.com.

To learn more about the Burlington County Kidsville News! visit KidsvilleNews.com/Burlington.

Lynne Berman is the publisher of Kidsville News! of Burlington and Camden Counties. You can reach her at Lynne@KidsvilleNewsBurlington.com.