Planning Newsletters

person reading paperRegardless of whether the newsletter is being built by children or adults, planning is an essential part of building a newsletter. This page will take you through the process of creating a classroom or project newsletter.

Use the following resources on this page:



Start by identifying your audience and determining their common needs and interests.

  • Who is the primary and secondary audience? (i.e., parents, guardians, grandparents, relatives, teachers, administrators, community members, students, prospective parents and community members, board members)
  • What is their age, gender, income level, ethnic group, religion, and educational background?
  • What are their reading styles and reading skills? Are they English readers? If not will you provide a supplement in another language such as Spanish?
  • What are their main interests? What do they have in common?
  • What are their secondary interests?


Identify the goal of the newsletter. The newsletter should have a primary mission. It may also have specific objectives.

  • Is the newsletter intended to motivate and provide a positive atmosphere?
  • Is it intended to disseminate information?
  • Is it intended to educator parents about learning?
  • Is it intended to help with teaching at home?

Before committing to a specific time period such as a weekly, monthly, or quarterly publication, consider the purpose.

  • Is there a need for a regular publication in terms of specific content needs?
  • Is there time to produce a periodical publication?
  • Will there be encourage content?

Read the article Ongoing communication with parents from Microsoft.

Survey Needs

Before investing the time in producing a newsletter, consider designing a survey to find out what parents want. Get your students involved with asking what should be included in the survey. You might do a paper survey, online survey, or simple interview some parents. Questions might include:

  • Would you read a newsletter from our classroom?
  • What information would you like to see in a newletter?

Publication Policy

Before you get started, check with your administration to determine if there are existing policies related to newsletter publication. Ask these questions such as:

  • Is there a policy regarding use of student names (first and last), student photographs or other personal information? Are waivers needed from parents?
  • Is there a policy about the use of the school logo on publications?
  • Is there funding for reproduction of the newsletter? Are there requirements for placing the newsletter on the website (i.e., Internet/Intranet)?
  • Are there school policies regarding student freedom of speech?

Permission and Release Forms

Publishing Policy

Learn more at District or School Web Publishing Policy by David Warlick

Get students involved with developing policies and procedures related to the newsletter. Students should all agree to these rules before beginning the project. Topics include:

  • Respect differing opinions - a public forum where students can share ideas
  • Reserve the right to edit materials for length or content
  • Reserve the right to deny publication for inappropriate, offensive, or poor quality work
  • Strive to report news accurately and objectively
  • Distinguished between fact and opinion
  • Clearly identify sources and give credit
  • Treat all groups fairly and without discrimination

Newsletter Content

The next decision relates to content. What will be included in the newsletter? Will your newsletter be student-produced, teacher-produced, or a mixture? For example, although students might be the primary developer, the teacher may have a "News from the Teacher" section.

Many schools have parents who speak a variety of languages. Reach out to these parents through providing special translated areas or varied versions of the newsletter. For example, if you have Spanish speaking parents, consider translating articles into Spanish using a tool such as Babelfish Translation from Altavista. Or, get high school students involved with translating your newsletter.

Teacher Generated Content

As you consider content for your home communications, consider resources that will help you locate information to share with others.

Use some of the following websites to locate educational materials that could be incorporated into your project:

Use the following lists for content ideas:

  • Contact information (i.e., names, address, phone, email)
  • Class calendar (i.e., times, dates, activities, upcoming events)
  • Education materials (i.e., short tutorials, homework review)
  • School initiatives
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Lists of supplies, needs, wishes
  • Upcoming topics and units of instruction
  • Ideas for home activities to support learning
  • Parenting ideas: reading, nutrition, television viewing
  • Feedback opportunities (i.e., survey, suggestions)
  • Books teacher is reading
  • Homework helpers
  • Policies and procedures
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Upcoming programs, exhibits, meetings, book clubs
  • Promotional materials (i.e., special events, awards)
  • Achievements (i.e., test scores, survey results, ranking)
  • Testimonials (i.e., student quotes, awards, praise)
  • Current Collaborative Projects (i.e., online projects, science fair)
  • Contests and challenges
  • Issues - plagiarism

Student Generated Content

  • Current events
    • Special events (i.e., health fair, book fair, battle of books)
    • Awards (i.e., spelling bee, contest winners)
    • Local news
    • Global news (i.e., reactions to world events, charts/graphics)
  • Feature Articles
    • Academic topics
    • Culture connections (i.e., projects, interviews)
    • Real-world experiences (i.e., vacation, field trips)
    • Inquiries (i.e., science investigations, data collections)
    • Research report abstracts
    • Topical articles (i.e., animals, habitats)
    • Community projects (i.e., oral histories, then/now, recycling)
    • Thematic newsletter (i.e., travel brochure, historical articles, biographies)
    • Interviews
    • Demonstrations (i.e., safety, recipes, exercise, writing directions)
    • Tours (i.e., around school, trip)
  • Opinion Articles
    • Letter to the editor
    • Persuasive writing (i.e., take a stand, forum for discussion)
    • Debate (i.e., point/counterpoint, pros/cons)
    • Reviews (i.e., books, movies, computer/video games)
    • Advice column
  • Artwork
  • Class surveys (i.e., chart of the week, our class likes)
  • Prose, poetry
  • Resources (i.e., Website links, pathfinders, book lists)
  • Activities (i.e., puzzles, surveys, question/answers)
  • Comics
  • Classified ads

Interdisciplinary Newsletters

Many teachers use newsletters as part of cross-curriculum, authentic learning activities. Rather than assignments being made strictly for the teacher audience, newsletters are distributed to a "real" audience including other classrooms, parents, and community members.

Classroom Newsletter

Both teachers and parents can participate in classroom newsletters.

Check out the following project ideas:

Topical Theme

Consider a newsletter that focuses on a particular subject.


Here are some ideas:

  • Environmental Concerns: Here and Everywhere
  • Ecosystems - each group gets system: rain forest, desert, tundra, marshland, grassland, ocean, lake, forest, wetlands, etc.
  • Body Systems - each group gets a body system
  • Math and Science in our Lives
  • Reading is Fun - favorite books, reviews, author interviews

Check out the following project ideas:

Community Connections

  • Our Place in the World
  • Oral Histories
  • Then/now - buildings, park, school, roads, transportation
  • 25, 50, 100 years ago in our town

Check out the following project ideas:

Historical Theme

Ask students to put themselves in the role of publisher in a different time period such as the industrial revolution, American Revolution, or Roman times. Or, focus on a specific war, civilization, society, country, or culture.

When possible incorporate data that was collected locally such as oral histories, recipes, stories, photographs, and maps.

Check out the following project ideas:

Involve students in career exploration by asking them to create newsletters related to a particular career path. For example, they may focus on the things that a police officer might tell them about safety or a park ranger may say about the environment. Use the words "Cadet Officer" or "Junior Ranger" for this type of project. These project might involve interviews with people with these careers.

Check out the following project ideas:

Cross Grade Level & Generational

If you have trouble locating news sources that are appropriate for young readers, have students develop these materials. Ask older students to create a one-page overview of the news for younger students. This can be a once-per-week assignment or a regular part of the school day. Provide students with a publication to help them write at the appropriate reading level. For example, Children's Writer's Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner provides a book with alternative words by grade level.

Consider a newsletter that would cross generations. Working with senior citizens, write a "now and then" newsletter comparing life over generations.

Personal Newsletter

If you ask students what they did in school today, they may shrug and say "nothing." Some parents may even believe that "nothing" happened. As a result, some teachers are asking students to create their own, personal weekly newsletters to show parents that exciting things happen in school every day. Aimed specifically at their family, the newsletter focuses on what's happening in the classroom.

Here are some ideas. Start with a template to fill in:

  • Days of the Week - column for each day of the week
  • Subject Areas - column for each subject with sample work
  • Family Focus - things people (dad, mom, siblings) would find interesting
  • Rs - reading, writing, and math examples, along with reflection

Check out the following project ideas:

Activity Newsletter

Consider a newsletter that will bring children and parents closer together. Here are a few ideas:

  • Recommend activities that parents and children can do collaboratively such as recommended television programs, books, and local activities.
  • Suggest a book or book series to read together. Provide guiding questions.
  • Promote interaction by providing photographs that can be used at home for discussion starters.
  • Consider activities that will reinforce classroom activities without sounding like homework. For example, look for the letter B around your house. Notice the different types of nutritional foods at the grocery store. Read the labels while shopping for clothing. Look in your teacher's guide for many more ideas that you don't have time for in the regular classroom.
  • Provide quality websites that might be shared with children.
  • Ask survey questions.

Created by Annette Lamb, 6/04. Updated 6/05.