Classroom Activities

Activity # 3

Exploring the Five W's of News  wfive

Note: We recommend that you print this page for offline reference.

When reporters start writing a news story, they look for the answers to five simple questions -- known as "The Five W's". The answers to those questions are the basis for every story.

    • Who? - Who is involved? Who did what? To who? Who is affected?
    • What? - What happened?
    • When? - When did it happen? In what order did events take place?
    • Where? - Where did this happen? Did the location change?
    • Why? - Why did it happen? What caused it?

The reporter will often try to include all or most of the answers in the first line or paragraph of the news story. That opening section is often called "the lede" or the "the lead". The opening lines give the readers a good idea of what happened as soon as they start reading the story.

Here are several activities you can try in the classroom, using the Five W's:

  1. Make copies of a news story from your local paper. Talk about what's going on in the story with the class. Then, ask your students to find each of the five Ws in the story. They can highlight or circle the relevant sections of the story or write them down on the worksheet below.

  2. Once your students are familiar with the Five W's, try this exercise. Give half the class a copy of one news story and another story to the other group of students.

  3. Ask them to identify the who, where, when, what, and why of the story and write them down on the worksheet below. Have the students switch those lists with someone on the other side of the class.

  4. Invite the students to write the opening lines of a story, using the information listed on the sheet they received from their classmate.

  5. Once everyone is finished, compare them to the original stories and those of their classmates. Did everyone come up with similar stories?


Activity 3 Worksheet

Find the five W's!

Exercise 1

Exercise 2



Write your opening lines for the story.


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