Local Newspapers with Big Impact

Local Newspapers with Big Impact
Florence Harding: Education, Arts, Letters and Ideas

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: Four to five class periods


First Lady Florence Harding met William Harding while working for the local small-town newspaper, the Marion Star.  Before he became President, Harding purchased the Star and built it into one of the most successful small-town newspapers in Ohio.


Students will learn about a small town newspaper through the history of the Harding’s small town newspaper, the Marion Star.  The students will write their own newspaper articles and assemble them into a “small-town” class newspaper. 

Materials Required:

Research materials (books, articles, magazines, World Wide Web) Internet access (website suggestions listed in resources) Computer(s) (to allow student to research topic further) Word Processor (or paper) Printer (for resources and final newspaper) Storage devices (discs, CD’s, or Jump Drives) to save student work


1.  Introduce the lesson and make connections to the lives of the students by asking students about newspapers and specifically about the local newspaper(s). 

2.  Have a class discussion about small town newspapers and how they can impact society, much like the Marion Star did during Mr. and Mrs. Harding’s life time.

3.  Place students into groups and explain to the students that each group will write their own newspaper article(s) and assemble them into a small-town newspaper. 

4.  Use a central theme (your classroom, the school, etc) chosen by the students or teacher.

5.  Have a class discussion and allow students to make a list of different articles that could be investigated to write about in a small town newspaper.  (Optional:  have students bring in a newspaper article that interests them from the local newspaper.  The teacher could also locate an example of a newspaper from the Marion Star to compare and contrast the articles from the past to the present.)

6.  Allow the students to choose names for the paper and vote for the final decision.

7.  Allow each (student or) group of students to compose a short article that will be included in the class newspaper.  If in groups, assign roles—editors, layout artists, photographers, owner (like Mr. and Mrs. Harding) etc.

8.  Involve the entire class in generating the final product much like newspapers of today are produced.

Extending the Lesson:

  • Publish the final newspaper for the entire school to read.
  • The class or a group of students could continue to write articles and form a “small school” newspaper that could be published for the entire school periodically. 

Sources & Resources:

Print Materials:
  • Gould, L.L. (1996).  American first ladies: Their lives and their legacy.New York,  New York: Garland Publishing.



This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University.