Every year for the last few years, my kids and I have created a family newsletter. For me, it was a release in the evenings. I love playing with graphic software and photos. Unfortunately for me, we switched computers and platforms (MAC now) and thus almost all of my software is gone. So, I'm still learning. I wish I had a week to just play around with all the software out there.
For the kids, it kept them thinking throughout the summer. We came up with ...
The way it works is that each kid is responsible for writing an article (or two) about something we've done recently... most preferably in the last week. The younger children (6 and 7 years old) are only required to write 4-5 sentences. Thus, all four kids are "Reporters" or "Columnists". Yes, we have a few recurring columns: Restaurant Critic, Advice Column, Book/Movie Reviews, and an Interview. The older kids (10 and 12 years old) need to write three paragraphs. The older ones are then responsible for typing the articles into the newsletter layout and trying to do some proofreading (spelling, grammar, punctuation). They are the "Editors-in-Training". Ultimately, I am the "Editor in Chief" and finish off the newsletter. We have a "Distributor" and "Marketing", me, who emails all family and friends that want the newsletter and then advertises the chance to get the email on Facebook. :) We even send to prior teachers to help them keep up with our kids' lives. The "Financial Supporter" is a nice touch for my dear hubby. :)
We attempt to do one newsletter each week, but since we have a lot of plans this summer, I'm opting to skip those weeks that we are out of town. I started out with the intent on doing a "Christmas Break Edition" and a "Spring Break Edition"... but those weeks are just too crazy to do it!
Before each week, we have a staff meeting. At that meeting, we decide on the stories to be written, and who will write each story. Mommy gets final word, but usually I just go with whatever they come up with. At our first meeting, we also came up with titles for our columns. The Restaurant Critic column is titled "Party of Six". The Interviewing column is "We Couldn't Pick 'Em, But We Love 'Em". The Book/Movie column is "What's the Story?", and if we get to it, the New-Food-Of-The-Week column is "From Plate to Palate".
Throughout the week in summer, we have "Summer School" in our house. Two of my kids, in particular, need special attention to keep their skills sharp, and I work with them on their workbooks and reading. The other two kids read quietly on their own. After that time period is up, there is about half an hour till we allow electronic devices to turn on (i.e. TV, Wii, PS3, DS, DVR, ... all those little acronyms.) During that half hour, the kids usually work on the Gazette.
Just to sort of give it an adult slant, one little column on the front page has an editor's note from me. Sometimes it's something to tell everyone about (for example, last year, I talked a lot about the new home), and sometimes it's just to show off some silly picture.
After all editing is done and I save the file, I shrink it down to a smaller size and then save it as a PDF. That way I'm assured that most everyone is able to view the newsletter on their computers.
My youngest son offered to be the deliverer on his bike this year. Fortunately I convinced him that printing off 40-50 copies of a 4-5 page newsletter would kill my printer and the ink. :) Personally, I think he was aiming for payment. :)
Here is the first edition of our Summer 2011 series.
I only send to people I know... relatives, friends, teachers... there is information like our address, hometown, names, etc. on there (as you can see by the blue blocks in the examples above.)
The Gazette certainly means a lot of work, but I have found it to be a great way to keep the kids writing, editing, reading, and thinking throughout the summer. I think next month, we'll incorporate a graph in there too... maybe send out a questionnaire about summer to our readers?