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Classroom Management: How to Use Magazines

Janelle Cox

Textbooks are a great source for teaching informational text, and many classrooms are overflowing with them. But we live in an informational age, and if we want our students to have up-to-date information, then magazines are your best classroom management resource. They provide short passages, use a variety of different text structures, and they are an excellent way for students to practice reading nonfiction. Here are a few of the best children’s magazines, along with a few classroom management ideas and classroom activities on how to use them.

Children’s Magazine Subscriptions

There are many wonderful children’s magazines out on the market today. The best way to decide which magazines are right for your classroom is by researching and reading reviews on the Internet. When searching, make sure you look for varying readability levels, as well as connection to content areas. Here are a few of the most popular magazines found in classrooms today.

  • Scholastic News
  • National Geographic for Kids
  • Kids Discover
  • Sports Illustrated for Kids
  • Time for Kids
  • Ask
  • Zoo Books
  • Highlights
  • Cricket

These magazines subscriptions come out weekly, or the come out six to 12 times a year. To get more value of your money, try laminating the magazines so students can use them multiple times.

Using Magazines in the Classroom

Teachers often underutilize children’s magazines, and they are usually read through once with the students and then sent home. What teachers fail to realize is that they are actually a valuable teaching tool and can be used multiple times for different activities. Here are a few ideas.

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Teaching Strategies

Classroom magazines can be an effective way teaching strategy. For example, instead of searching for the perfect nonfiction text to demonstrate a strategy, lift a piece of text from a children’s magazine instead. Laminate magazines before you give them to students. Then have students keep them in their desks so they can use them for independent reading, for a demonstration of a teaching strategy, or for guided reading. Here are a few strategies to try. Have students:

  • Search the magazine for comparisons. Tell students that nonfiction writers use metaphors and similes to help them better understand what they are reading.
  • Use a magazine to help them learn how to question. Students should read independently and write any questions that have on a sticky note.
  • Practice inferring. Tell students that they must take what they already know and put it with clues that they read in the text to make an inference. Read a magazine article together as a class and have students make inferences on sticky notes.
  • Practice summarizing. Read together as a class or with a partner and after each paragraph or section, students should summarize what they have just read and write it on a sticky note.

Teach Nonfiction Text Structures

Classroom magazines are an excellent way to teach students publishing features such as captions, headers, sub headers, illustrations, bold words, timelines, word boxes, footnotes, etc. Here are a few ideas. Have students:

  • Look at the cover illustration of a magazine and brainstorm ideas on what they think the magazine will be about. Have students list topic ideas.
  • Look at the headlines and predict main topic ideas.
  • Search the magazine to find and define the meanings of the bold words, or the words in the word boxes.

Reading for Entertainment

Keep a variety of magazines in your classroom library. This will give students the opportunity to choose a magazine for leisure instead of a novel. When students choose a magazine to read on their own time, they are being exposed to nonfiction and expository writing. This helps to broaden their reading skills, and activate their proper knowledge, which in turn will help them on state assessments.

Classroom magazines are a great source of high-interest nonfiction. Students are exposed to up-to-date information on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Since textbooks can go years before revisions, magazines are ultimately the best choice for the most-current information. They are also an effective way to teach strategies, and can also be used to prepare students for state tests since many of the passages are very close in structure to the tests. Give them a try, many companies offer free examples so you can see which ones will work best in your classroom.

How do you utilize magazines in your classroom? Feel free to share with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators