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 email@example.com!
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6 thoughts on “Tell Me a Story about … Magazines!”
This is an interesting way to approach reports. We had a subscription to Faith’s magazine and enjoyed it.
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I had forgotten that! Thank you so much for supporting her. It was an incredible adventure, albeit a few stressful times toward the end. We both agree she should have ended about 6 months before we did. But that was a lesson as well. Thanks again, Beth! Tell Frank to enjoy his birthday ice cream! 🙂
What a cool and fun idea! I never did anything like that and I don’t recall that my boys did either growing up. They did write their own books though. They’d come to work with me and I give them a bunch of scrap paper, stapling several blank pages together and they’d have fun writing little stories and drawing pictures to go with it. That was fun and I believe I have a couple of those still, tucked away somewhere, to treasure!
The first magazine subscription I ever had, when I was little, was to Jack and Jill. Remember that? I think it is still in circulation! I recently ordered a couple of old issues off ebay, just for sentimental reasons. My grandma used to always give me a gift subscription to Reader’s Digest and my only subscription now is to Guideposts which is my very favorite. One of my dreams is to one day be published in Guideposts. I have at times thought about — as a study — to create my own Guideposts magazine issue, replicating the format of any issue. Writing the introductory letter that Ed Grinnan always writes, and writing articles like each one I see in the pages following — the short ones, the long ones, in the style I see there. Just to familiarize myself in a hands-on way with the heart and soul and makings of that publication. I haven’t yet tackled it but it’s still on my agenda.
I always thought it would be fun if Guideposts did a magazine which was a collection of fiction short stories too. I would love reading that one too, if only they did someday. Maybe I will create one and submit it as an idea! Maybe!
Thanks for reminding me of these thoughts and ideas that have been on the back burner a long while. Something inspiring to work on — in all my “spare” time, lol.
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Oh, Leafy! What a grand idea about replicating a Guideposts’ issue!! That’s a marvelous way to learn the ins and outs of their magazine articles. You made me want to do that, too!
I was published in Guideposts back in 1998, a story I ghostwrote and they shortened to fit the “His Mysterious Ways” column. It wasn’t my writing they wanted, it was God’s story! LOL!
Have you seen their all animal stories magazine? I love it! In fact, I ordered a subscription to their All God’s Creatures devotional magazine. It comes bi-monthly, with devotions for every day of the next two months. I truly enjoy it.
Our granddaughter loves to do what your boys did–have me staple paper together so she can “write” stories. Some of them have words she tries to sound out, others just have pictures and she tells me the stories verbally. It’s so fun seeing a whole new generation of storytellers coming along!
As always, thank you for sharing! I love your stories!
Do you have a copy of your His Mysterious Ways article they published? I’d love to read it. I probably did way back then but of course didn’t know you then! By the way, have you any idea when they took the “His” out of “His Mysterious Ways”? It’s just Mysterious Ways now. I only just realized it recently!
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Wow, I didn’t know that. I don’t get the regular Guideposts magazine anymore. They have a whole magazine devoted to pieces similar to that column now. As for the copy, all I could do would be to photocopy the piece in the magazine and try to email it to you.