How recently have you meandered into a bookstore and checked out the magazine racks … and racks … and racks? Even with the number of magazine publishers closing, there remains a plethora of choices to fit any age, any interest. Women’s magazines full of recipes and homemaking tips. Men’s magazines filled with car engines and fishing lures. Kids’ magazines with puzzles and coloring pages. How can anyone decide on just one?
Being a writer and having an extra share of creativity, when it came to teaching our daughters about writing, I chose not to focus on reports—the dreaded book reports of elementary school and those nasty 10-pagers of secondary levels. I figured the skills necessary to write those scholarly pieces could come through a more fun and no-less-educational foray into the world of magazine-making.
While studying animals, we created whole magazines with stories, poems, and more. Pictures cut out of glossy nature magazines and pasted on notebook paper allowed them to write short articles about the animals, which included a bit of research and teaching on journalism styles. Lists of horse breeds or habitats became word search puzzles. Pictures made from those old trace-and-color books became “Color Your Own Picture” pages.
Even comic strips drawn on blank sheets of copy paper offered lessons: art, dialogue, comedy writing. Add construction paper covers and staples to hold them all together and we had a magazine to treasure … and put in the portfolios for proof of our lessons in English, math, science, art, and more.
With ten years between the first two daughters’ school years and their sister Faith’s, I had the joy of doing this exercise twice. I remember Faith called her magazine Kit’s Kreatures, after her favorite American Girl.
But Faith didn’t stop there. One day she came to me and said, “Mama, I want to make my own magazine and sell subscriptions to it!” And so we did … and Focus on Fun was born.
Over the next four years, Faith developed, designed, and co-wrote her own 16-page magazine, with as many as 22 subscriptions one year. We kitchen-table published it, as professionally as we could, being lucky enough to own a copier (perks of a husband who works in the office products industry). Though often stressed to get the current issue out on time, we still enjoyed the brainstorming for each issue, choosing new “columns” and other articles to write.
This venture also gave Faith an incredible foundation in running her own business with credits and debits, overhead and invoices. The entire experience filled her homeschool days with more learning, academic and life-skills, than any 10-page research paper would have brought her. And it was a whole lot more fun!
The photos included with this post are from various issues of Focus on Fun. If anyone is interested in how we went about this, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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