Breaking News! Encourage Budding Journalists By Creating Your Own Pretend News Channel

Boy pretending to be on the news in a cardboard telly.
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The news on TV is not always very cheery, so get your young would-be journalists presenting on their own good news channel at home.

If your child would love to be the next Kate Adie, or even Lorraine Kelly on the couch on morning TV, encourage them to put together their own news show from home. As well as being a lot of fun, they can practise their writing, interviewing and editing skills and help to entertain family and friends too.

Make a TV

Find a big box, cut out the TV 'screen', and decorate with knobs and switches. Paint or print out a background and stick it on the box wall opposite the screen. Balance the box on the edge of a table and your child can poke their head up through the open end of the box and sit with their head appearing on the 'screen'. Alternatively, just cut out a frame and stick to one side of a table. Your child can sit at the other side of the table and appear as though they are on the telly.

Film it

Set up a phone to video the news broadcast. You can record and send out to friends and family to watch via an app such as Whatsapp, or screen live using Facebook Live or a Zoom video call. Tech-savvy older kids and teens can play around with different filters and apps to create their TV show. Make sure reporters play the part - with big glasses, a clipboard or iPad, and a microphone. Use a play microphone or fashion one out of the inside of a toilet roll or kitchen roll and some tin foil. Also, check out our ideas on improving public speaking.

Child playing with camera

Theme tune

The news always has its own theme music - and the chimes of Big Ben. Work out how you are going to make the music - you could just download some music from the internet, but it would be far more fun to make your own. Kids can make the Big Ben Bongs by banging a big saucepan with a wooden spoon, and use kazoos to hum the theme tune (we have lots of ideas for homemade instruments for you to copy).

News channel logo

What will you call your channel? Maybe it will be based around your family's name, or the town you live in? Or perhaps you'll choose a fun name. You will, of course, need a logo. Everyone can be involved - a younger sibling could paint or draw one.  Or kids can try creating one on the computer, using some creative software. Check out these graphic design ideas for inspiration.

Weather broadcast

Draw a big map of the UK - or your local area - on a large sheet of card and stick it to the wall. Cut some small strips of Velcro and attach to areas around cities or significant local areas. Next, design some weather icons - clouds, sun and so on, colour them in and stick Velcro to the back. Then the children can stick these on to the map as they do their weather broadcast. If you're only going to do this once, you can use stickers instead, but Velcro makes for a game that can be played over and over again. Alternatively, you could use a large whiteboard and draw on the weather symbols and temperatures as you present the broadcast. Add in some fun ones - such as a grumpy teen warning, or high chance of cake consumption.

Good news stories

Your at-home journalist can report on how much school work they have done - or how many games of Fortnite they have won! Children could show how they have created a family tree or compiled a photo album of family photos to feel close to family members they can't see. Or report on the progress of the vegetable seeds they planted. The kids' newspaper First News has some great tips for writing a news story, such as making sure you answer the five Ws - WHAT happened? WHEN did it happen? WHY did it happen? WHERE did it happen? WHO did it happen to? HOW did it happen?

Conduct interview

This could be a lot of fun. The young journalist can interview Dad on how his morning commute is - and what the traffic was like between his bedroom and the kitchen table, or quiz Mum on how she is finding her new job as a teacher! Ensure the interviewee has written up some probing questions before the interview begins, or it will be over before it's begun. Using the Zoom video app children could also interview someone in a different household - find out what the grandparents are doing with their time on lockdown, or discuss with your cousins how many LEGO creations they have made.

Have a debate

Set up two willing speakers to talk for and against a subject. Topics might include why kids should be working for seven hours every day, why there should be chocolate for breakfast every day, or why bedrooms should be kept tidy during lockdown. For older kids, you can choose more serious subjects if you like - why children should start their current school year again in September or why students shouldn't have their GCSE grades judges on mock exam results.

Conduct a survey

Survey everyone in your household - you could also send messages to family and friends if they are willing to take part. You can choose something fun like, which is your favourite biscuit - and give them a choice of six to choose from. Or find out something more newsworthy, such as how many people are keyworkers and still going out to work - or how many times they have visited a supermarket since lockdown began.  Draw a graph to present your findings.

Child learning to cook

Cookery slot

If you emulate one of the morning news shows, you can add in some extra segments. Everyone seems to be doing a lot of baking, so how about presenting your very own cookery slot - demonstrating how to whip up some cookies or cook a cheese toastie.  Plenty of opportunities for mess and mayhem to ensue! Little kids can use a play food and kitchen to film their segment.

Beauty demonstration

If you have a  teen who is an accomplished make-up artist they can do the presenters make-up or create some proper demos for everyone to enjoy (older family members would probably be fascinated to learn how teenagers can sculpt their faces using make-up). Or for a more fun take on the beauty slot, let a preschooler lose with the lipstick or get Mum or Dad to be the willing victim in a spoof segment. They sit with their arms behind their back, and someone sits behind, slides their arms up under their armpits and carries out the makeup demonstration without actually being able to see what they are doing.  Be prepared for a lot of laughter and have some wet wipes ready to wipe off the results!

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Disclaimer

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