READ ALL ABOUT IT /Newspaper becomes a learning tool for elementary students in Hillsboro and Marion.

Derek Suderman, a third-grader at Hillsboro Elementary School, studies the Opinion pages in a recent issue of the Free Jared Janzen

The Free Press

Readers of the Free Press have probably noticed the full-color page of kids? activities called Kid Scoop appearing in the newspaper since August.

What they may not have realized is that this page has been a tool to introduce newspapers into local elementary school classrooms.

Kid Scoop offers a range of fun educational activities for the students, including word searches, puzzles, riddles and craft ideas.

Thanks to area sponsors, each week newspapers are delivered to all the classrooms at the elementary schools in Hillsboro and Marion. Classmates Colton Rempel and Kainoa Defiesta turn to the Sports pages for their inspiration. The students are part of teacher Lenna Knoll?s class.

Impact in Hillsboro

Teachers at both schools seem to agree that this has been a positive addition to their classrooms, and they say students find it fun.

?When I pass out the paper, Kid Scoop is typically the first part of the newspaper they turn to because it is a fun area for them and catches their interest,? said Collette Haslett, fifth-grade teacher at HES.

Haslett gives her students time at the end of the day on Tuesdays to work on Kid Scoop and read through the rest of the newspaper.

In Debbie Dick?s third-grade classroom at HES, students get to use newspapers during reading intervention time.

?They really enjoy the Kid Scoop section, and if I don?t use it in my class until later in the week, some of the students have already done some of the activities at home,? Dick said.

Use of the newspaper in the classroom goes beyond just the kid?s page. Having the newspapers available provides learning opportunities for all grade levels.

First-graders search for certain word sounds that they?ve been working on, and second-graders have learned about the different components of a newspaper such as headlines, captions and advertisements.

Third-graders use the newspapers to find main ideas and build vocabulary, and fourth-graders practice their reading skills by working through news articles.

?Reading a newspaper is a different kind of reading than reading a book, and I have seen the students really enjoy it,? Dick said. ?They like reading about people they know.?

The effort is way of getting kids interested in print newspapers in a world that is increasingly moving toward digitalization.

?I am guessing that most of my students don?t go home and read the newspaper that is delivered to their house, so this gives them an opportunity to read and learn about things going on in their community,? Haslett said.

?The newspaper may be ?old technology,? but (students) still seem excited to read and work through the paper,? she added.

Michelle Berens, second-grade teacher at HES, said: ?They enjoy seeing things in print. The students love to use their highlighters or red checking pens to find specific things in the paper.?

Impact in Marion

Teachers at Marion Ele?mentary School have found a creative way to get their students to enjoy newspapers. Every Wednesday is ?News?paper and Coffee? day in the first-grade classrooms. The ?coffee? is actually hot chocolate.

First-grade teacher Gin?ger Becker initiated the idea, but it has spread to second-grade classrooms.

?It makes them feel so grown up,? said Michelle Flaming, first-grade teacher at MES.

Her class has done similar things Hillsboro classes are doing by using the newspaper as a way to build reading skills.

Joey Young, majority owner and publisher of the Free Press, described the goals of the project as promoting childhood literacy and accustoming kids to newspapers.

?If they start playing around with the newspaper and doing the puzzles, as they grow up, they?ll have that habit each week of looking at the paper, which will help them stay informed about what?s going on in their community,? Young said.

Kid Scoop was added to the Free Press in August 2015. The idea was the brainchild of Joel Klaassen, co-founder and former Free Press publisher, who had been considering the idea for several years, according to Young.

The two of them have also been considering plans to expand the program to other schools in the county.

Business sponsors

It?s also a great free learning tool for teachers, thanks in large part to the financial sponsorship of local businesses.

Midway Motors, Am?pride (Hillsboro and Marion), Lanning Pharmacy, Great Plains Federal Credit Union and Greenhaw Phar?macy sponsor the Kid Scoop feature each week, while Mid?way, Lanning, Greenhaw and St. Luke Hospital cover the cost of printing the extra newspapers that go to the two schools.

?Without the commitment from our sponsors, we couldn?t provide this great service to teachers for free,? Young said. ?The fact that community business leaders see value in investing in our children and their literacy through this program shows me that Marion County is in good hands and will continue to be.?

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