Extra Resources: Magazines
The best classrooms I've been in have always had one thing in common: lots of age-appropriate educational reading material. Books are an obvious source of material, but magazines can be equally enjoyable and they provide something new on a regular basis. You can focus on a subject or topic based on the theme of your magazine and if the publication is well-designed you usually have a variety of activities and stories that can add a lot of interest to your everyday curriculum.
top left: National Geographic Little Kids - A pretty good magazine for preschoolers, with collectible animal cards, super-simple science experiments, activities, and factual articles about animals and culture. It's not my number one choice, but I can definitely see the appeal and I occasionally buy a copy. That said, I have and will continue to, steer clear of National Geographic Kids (meant for elementary-aged children) as I've found it to be ridiculously heavy on the ads. There are much better science/culture/animal magazines for school children.
top right: Your Big Backyard - This is a marvelous contrast to National Geographic Kids. Put out by the National Wildlife Federation (American), this was a favourite of my brother and mine when we were growing up. It is ad-free, has been awarded with Association of Educational Publishers awards, and has an editorial advisory board comprised of 4 to 7 year-olds! There is often an emphasis on animals from North America, which is nice for those of us who live there, but it does not exclude exotic animals. There are both fiction and non-fiction articles, activities, simple science experiments, recipes, songs, posters, and reader response. This magazine is followed by Ranger Rick, for ages 7 and up, which I also enjoyed as a child. I just discovered tonight that they also put out a magazine for infants and toddlers now: Wild Animal Baby Magazine! I'm going to look into that one for the boys.
second row: Chirp - From the publishers of Owl and Chickadee came this little magazine on science and health for those under 6, and it's a favourite of my daughter. It is virtually ad-free (in one edition, for example, there is a contest sponsored by Mastermind Toys and Leapfrog, a one-page advertisement for a parenting magazine, an inside-back-cover ad for a reading and writing program, and a one-page promotion of "Chirp's Picks:" recommended books, toys, and DVDs). It includes comics, activities and crafts, science experiments, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, jokes, and reader response. I usually find myself reading and re-reading chunks of it to her.
third row: Zootles - Focusing on animals and having a theme which includes an animal, a letter, and a concept (example: high/low) in each edition, this magazine is full-to-brimming with activities and adventures. There is a pull-out section in the centre, one page each for parent and child, consisting of writing and drawing activities for the little one and resources and ideas for the adults. A word of caution, though. It claims to be for children aged 3-6, but when Ella was 3 it was still above her. It certainly wasn't wasted, though, because we kept them until now and they are just right!
fourth row: Ladybug - Our favourite! Ladybug is the best literary magazine for children aged 3-6 available outside the United States. (I've heard good things about Highlights High Five, but they don't ship to Canada.) It has a variety of stories, songs, poems, and comics, all with fantastic illustrations! There are a few activities, but mostly this is simply an excellent read.
fifth row: Babybug - Before we got Ladybug, there was Babybug! It was the only magazine for babies when Ella was born, and it is excellent. I cannot recommend it enough. The illustrations are amazing, the pages are durable, the stories, poems, and songs, extremely enjoyable, and the suggestions to parents for accompanying activities are inspired. We saved all our copies and now Eli and Henry are enjoying them too!
Magazine subscriptions can be very costly, I know, so when you're thinking about what will be best for your child and for your classroom, do your research. I'd recommending buying a copy before committing to a subscription, but sometimes that's simply not possible. In our family (both immediately and extended) we've found that magazine subscriptions make excellent birthday and Christmas gifts. They're appreciated when received and they continue to be enjoyed for a year, or more!
If anyone else has a magazine that they subscribe to for their children that they just can't imagine doing without, please add a comment and tell us the magazine title, what it's about, what age it is for, and why you love it so much! Obviously the periodicals I've mentioned are written in English and are published in North America, but don't feel limited by that. I look forward to hearing about your favourites, and I'm sure others will too.