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How to Use Magazines in the Classroom to engage your young readers

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I remember when I first started using classroom magazines with my students. It was my first year of teaching, and I was teaching a second-grade bilingual classroom. My students were so excited to be reading magazines. Ever since then, I have always looked for ideas on how to use magazines in the classroom to engage my students because I know how powerful classroom magazines can be. 

If you would like to see a list of my favorite magazines to use in your classroom, click here.

 

Why are classroom magazines engaging?

From the beautiful pictures and illustrations to the highly engaging topics, classroom magazines bring your students’ world into the classroom. Classroom magazines always cover trendy, high-interest topics, making them an excellent alternative to engaging with your students through text. Personally, I love reading classroom magazines with my students because I am just as engaged as they are. I find that I can learn a lot with my students as we read some of those articles together, and I love the experience of discovering new things with them. 

How to use magazines in the classroom

A picture of a child playing a reading game with the title, "How to use classroom magazines in upper elementary"
Classroom magazines are a great way to engage students. With interesting topics and eye-catching pictures, your students won’t want to put them down!

There are so many ways you can use magazines in classroom. I love using magazines to teach and reinforce reading skills and strategies during whole-group instruction and literacy centers. I also like to use classroom magazines to teach science and social studies. Infusing reading into other content areas is a great way to help our students grow as readers and learners. 

How to use magazines in the classroom during whole-group reading instruction 

Perhaps the easiest way to use magazines in classroom is during your whole group reading instruction. It is also the most cost-effective way. We will talk more about ways you can get classroom magazines free in the next section. But if you can’t get them for free, purchasing a single membership and projecting it under the document camera during your whole group instruction is a great alternative. 

You can use classroom magazines to teach or reinforce a single skill or to review multiple reading skills simultaneously. In my classroom, I introduce one new reading skill every week. I can always find magazine articles, stories, and even poetry that I can use to showcase and practice that skill. We read the text together as a class, and then students can work with partners on completing a graphic organizer or answering some questions about the text. 

Because the articles are often long, it may take us more than one lesson period to read a single article, and that is fine! Depth over breadth! In my classroom, I like to take my time with a piece of text, so we can dig deep and dissect what it really means. I plan my stopping points ahead of time and always finish the day’s lesson with a question or discussion point. The next day, we quickly review what we already read and move on from there. 

The best part of choosing a classroom magazine for my whole-group instruction is the level of engagement. Magazines have to sell, so they are always in tune with the topics that are relevant to our students. And since engagement is a prerequisite to learning, I know I can count on these articles to help us get there. 

Steps on how to use classroom magazines for elementary students in the classroom.
Looking for ways to use classroom magazines for elementary students in your classroom? Read up!

How to use magazines in the classroom during literacy stations 

Another idea on how to use magazines in the classroom is during literacy stations. While I work in a small group with some of my students, others are working on independent or partner tasks. I like to include classroom magazines on some of my stations because I know that students will be more inclined to read and complete the task at hand if they find the topic interesting. 

Classroom magazines are effective tools when creating a student-centered environment. By giving my students a variety of magazines they can select to read, I am catering to their own needs and interests. I have a whole blog post that explains in detail how I run my literacy centers, but basically, I like to set up recurring activities that allow students to choose what to read. Although the activities don’t often change, the text does. My students are practicing the same skills with different, self-selected texts. This makes managing my literacy centers easier for me, while still engaging and rigorous for them. 

Some of the activities my students complete during our literacy center time using our classroom magazines are: 

Reading Games Station

From tic-tac-toe boards to board games, students practice answering questions about a text they read together. They select a story or article from one of our classroom magazines, read it together, and then play the game and answer the questions orally or in writing. Both students have to agree with the answer for a player to be able to move a space on the board or add an X or O to the tic-tac-toe. 

I am always impressed with their level of commitment and the quality of their answers during our reading games station time. My students love this literacy center! If you are interested in the reading games I use in my classroom, you can purchase them here. They are all available in English and Spanish. 

A picture of a child playing a reading game with the title "how to use classroom magazines"
Click here to check out these reading games.

Reading Response Station 

Another idea on how to use magazines in the classroom is by creating a reading response station. At the beginning of the school year, I spend some time teaching my students how to craft a reading response using text evidence to support their answers. Once they have practiced that enough, I launch our reading response station using our classroom magazines. 

There are many ways to incorporate a reading response station in your classroom. My favorite way to do that is by using reading response menus. Reading response menus give students choice. And students LOVE choice! 

The main reason why I love reading response menus is that I can create all the menus ahead of time. I change my menus every two weeks, and I am set for the whole year. In each menu, I include questions that can be used with fiction and nonfiction texts. That way, no matter what my students choose to read in their classroom magazines, they will still be able to find a question they can answer. I also vary the level of the questions to help with differentiation. If you are interested in purchasing the reading response menus that I use in my own classroom, you can click here. As of now, they are only available in Spanish. 

a clipboard, a reading response menu, and some magazines to an example of why use magazines in classroom
If you are asking yourself, “Why use magazines in classroom?” keep reading!

How to use magazines in the classroom during independent reading 

I could not write a blog post about how to use magazines in the classroom without mentioning independent reading. I am a huge proponent of giving students time in the classroom to read independently. 

However, throughout the years, I noticed that most of my students were choosing to read fiction during their independent reading time. Now, don’t get me wrong! I love fiction! However, reading informational texts helps students build vocabulary, which in turn helps students develop as readers. Incorporating classroom magazines for elementary students in my own classroom library has encouraged my students to read nonfiction more often. 

Although I believe in the power of independent reading time, I also understand that for students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, this time can be a struggle. I find that students with reading difficulties often enjoy reading classroom magazines. It is often easier for them to find something within the magazine that they can read on their own. The variety, the content, and the visual cues help these students engage with the text in a meaningful way. Therefore, having these magazines in classroom helps me give my struggling readers more choice. 

How to use magazines to assign homework

I don’t like homework! There, I said it! I think we should strive to work hard at school. That way, when our students get home they can spend quality time with their families. Having said that, I understand that some teachers either choose to or have to assign homework. 

Classroom magazines can be a great way to assign homework that is meaningful and engaging. It can even lead to thoughtful discussions at home. Give students a magazine to take home and assign a graphic organizer, reading response menu, or even a set of open-ended questions that students can answer, and voila! I bet your students and parents will love it! (Love may be a strong word, after all, it is HOMEWORK! But you get the picture…) 

How to use magazines in the classroom to make cross-curricular connections 

I love creating opportunities for cross-curricular activities to maximize my instructional time in the classroom. Reading is always my number one goal in the classroom, so anytime I can infuse reading into other content areas, I do it!

Classroom magazines are a great way to do that because their articles often discuss topics related to science, social studies, and even math. When I taught second grade, I would often use Scholastic News magazines all the time. I used them to teach my social studies lessons because that gave us more reading time. We would apply the reading skills and strategies we already knew to learn the historical concepts. We would use graphic organizers to help us understand the article, and even answer questions about it. Even though I was still covering the social studies content my students needed to learn, we were doing it through reading. 

How to get classroom magazines free (or super cheap!)

In my previous schools, I was lucky enough to always have access to magazine subscriptions. However, I understand that not everyone has access to that. In any event, there are ways to score free (or very cheap) magazines for the classroom. Here are some of the ways to do that: 

A picture of magazines on a shelf with the title "How to use magazines in classroom"

Check your local library 

This will depend on your local library, but sometimes you can find old classroom magazines you can borrow or buy for just a few cents. Some libraries will even allow you to fill up a whole box with books and magazines and pay a flat amount for everything you can fit in there. I have built my classroom library that way, and it cost me very little. 

Ask other teachers 

Ask other teachers you know if they have some old magazines for the classroom that they are willing to donate or lend. Personally, I never gave the magazines I received every month to my students. I held on to them, so we could use it year after year. This means I could often lend magazines to other teachers, so they could use them with their own students. 

Ask family, friends, and neighbors 

Some families may have children’s magazines at home that their kids have already read. A few years ago, a friend gifted my child a subscription to National Geographic Kids, and I often borrow her magazines to use in my own classroom. Try asking people you know if they have any kid’s magazines they no longer need. You may be pleasantly surprised! 

Apply for a Donor’s Choose Project

Donor’s Choose is probably the best way to get magazines for the classroom. If you haven’t heard of Donor’s Choose before, they are a nonprofit organization that allows individuals to choose an educational project they would like to support and donate directly to it. Posting a project is super easy, and you would be surprised how many generous donors are scrolling their website every single day looking for a classroom to support. 

I have personally had three projects funded on Donor’s Choose and can attest to how easy the whole process is. Donor’s Choose allows you to request subscriptions to both Scholastic magazines and Time for Kids. You can also create a Donor’s Choose project on Amazon Business. There, you should be able to request donors to pay for a  subscription to other classroom magazines, such as National Geographic Kids and Cricket Media magazines. 

Amazon Wish List 

If you teach at a school where you are allowed to share an Amazon Wish list with parents, you could ask for subscriptions to different magazines for the classroom. As of today, you can get subscriptions to National Geographic Kids, Cricket Media Magazines, and Highlights through Amazon. 

You could also share your Amazon Wish List on social media. People are often looking for ways to support teachers and are willing to clear an item off your list. You probably won’t be able to get a classroom set, but you can still use the individual magazines in your own subscription to in your classroom library, during whole-group instruction, or during literacy stations. 

Do a Fundraiser 

Again, you will have to check with your administration, but how cool would it be to do a fundraiser with your class to raise money for a magazine subscription. So much learning can happen in an activity like this. 

For example, you could have your students write letters to a local grocery store asking them to donate cookies, popcorn, or any other treat that could be sold individually at school. They could then practice their math skills to determine the price of each “treat” based on how many they have available to sell and how much money they need to generate to pay for the magazines. Students could make posters to place around the school to advertise the sale. On the day of the sale, your students could practice their interpersonal skills as they take turns working on the stand. They can also use math to make changes as needed. All the money they earn can then be used to pay for the magazine subscription. So much learning would happen, and your students would never forget this experience. 

Use the Online Free Versions

Some classroom magazines have free samples online that you can use during your whole-group instruction. The options are limited, but this will give you an idea of whether or not you like a specific magazine before purchasing or requesting a subscription. 

You can find these free samples by visiting their website directly.

Ask your principal 

I know this sounds simple, but more often than not, teachers do not like to go up to their administration to request something. However, if you have a supportive administration, chances are they will try to find room in the budget to meet a request like this one. Besides, if they say no, who cares? At least you tried! 

If you are planning to go to your principal to request magazines for the classroom, do your homework first. Research your favorite one, find out how much it costs, and let him/her know how you plan to use it in your classroom. Click here for some ideas. 

How to Use Magazines in the Classrom – Final Thoughts 

There you have it! My best ideas on how to use magazines in the classroom. I hope this blog post has you feeling inspired to try some of these ideas in your own classroom. I would love to hear about some of your ideas on how to use magazines in the classroom in the comments section below. 

Don’t forget to check out this blog post where I share my favorite classroom magazines in English and Spanish.

Happy teaching!  

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Hi, I'm Rebeca!

I help upper elementary dual language teachers with resources and ideas that promote bilingualism and biliteracy.  

Learn more about me and how I can help you here.

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