When Fashion Magazines Become Reading Materials …

On Friday night, my teaching partner and I were talking about this upcoming week at school. We noticed that students continue to enjoy creating and designing their own purses. 

Since one of our current inquiries revolves around “art,” we thought that we could extend this interest in purses, and help students see the link between “fashion” and “art.” We emailed parents and staff members, and asked them to send in any old fashion magazines that they would be willing to donate to the class. On Monday, the fashion magazines started coming in.

When the magazines arrived, we looked through them to scan for content, and then we placed them in our Book Nook area. After school yesterday, I caught these conversations.

Then today, as students eagerly worked on handing out their Valentine’s Day cards, I saw these two students looking through a magazine together.

It was so interesting to see how these students came back to the fashion magazine throughout the day today. I even recorded this interesting discussion around one of the dress pages, as the child expressed which ones she liked, which ones she didn’t, and why.

The amazing part about this is that about an hour later, two JK students sat down together at our quiet table space and created a fashion magazine. When I came back from lunch today, they eagerly showed me their magazine, and even discussed what inspired them.

The day was almost over at this point, so we cannot extend this learning until tomorrow. That said, we’ve already discussed how we’re going to add a fashion magazine to this table area to hopefully inspire some more magazine creations tomorrow.

  • How might the children’s fashion choices vary from the ones in the magazine?
  • How can we represent all interests and styles in our clothing choices?
  • How might the fashion choices change depending on the seasons (just like the purse choices did)?
  • What slogans might we add to our images?
  • What information might we share about our designs?
  • How might we use our feelings about the fashion choices in these magazines to influence the fashion choices in our magazine?

Hopefully these questions will help inspire artistic choices and lead to critical media literacy conversations. Our new Kindergarten Program Document, emphasizes the importance of children “talk[ing], listen[ing], read[ing], writ[ing], and view[ing] media texts” (page 70). I know that our students are only four- and five-years-old, but fashion advertisements are their reality. They see advertisements on television, YouTube videos, music videos, and in magazines. Addressing the students’ interests while providing them with these examples in the classroom, not only allows us to support them in thinking critically, but also encourages them to be the “voices” that change the message: creating their own magazine allows this to happen.

This year, I continue to be amazed by the wonderful life experiences that all of our students have had. While our children love Pokemon, the Frozen characters, The Littlest Pet Shop, Batman, and Star Wars, their experiences extend beyond the make-believe. I’ve used fashion magazines for art and literacy activities in the past, but I’ve never thought about using them as reading materials, writing inspirations, or provocations for oral communication opportunities. But why not? Our students live in the real world. How can we include more of it in the classroom? What, if anything, is stopping us? 


2 thoughts on “When Fashion Magazines Become Reading Materials …

  1. I feel like I’m “hit and miss” when it comes to my kids reading magazines. I kinda show up like that freakin helicopter parent when it comes to what they are exposed to, so early. #yes,I’mthatMama. I tend to see a LOT of young girls (especially) who have massive self image / confidence issues. (kids around 9-15 years old). Many of these kids are already sucked into the consumeristic BULogna of society- where they are MORE focused on what purse they can buy, instead of taking care of their bodies. Yes, literally 10 year old kids with $1000 purses- and an extra 50lbs of weight on their young, unhealthy bodies. I also see (what I call an epidemic) a whole generation that is addicted to cell phones and social media- and selfies….searching for approval, acceptance and validation. “Selling” unrealistic body images and expectations in magazines, I don’t LOVE the idea of my kids reading them. Not at 5 years old, nor at 13 or 18 years old. I tell my older two all the time, to put the magazine down, as it is probably just full of adverts, drama or content that they really don’t need to read. Now, having said all that- I am also not a fashionista. My background is NOT in fashion or arts- so I could be missing something worth investigating… something that could beneficial for their young minds? I guess it really depends on what magazines you are showing them specifically.
    Hey – you asked what I thought… :))

    • Thank you so much for chiming in here! You make a lot of wonderful points, and I think that with anything, we need to think carefully about the content and the purpose. Even with the magazines that we have out (many that are more focused on travel than fashion), we have pulled out certain pages to help edit the content considering the age of the child. I also wonder if there’s value to having the kinds of discussions that come from having the magazines around: talking about body image, wants vs. needs, and perceptions based on how things are portrayed. Obviously these discussions will be different at five than at fifteen, but if we have more of them, will students start to think more critically about what they read/see? Maybe this will help change future generations! As for the fashion/art connection, I think that this is an area of interest, but again, where we go with it, what models we provide for students, and how we address appropriate vs. inappropriate choices are all important. I’m not sure that there’s an easy answer to any of this, but I do think that this is a conversation worth having.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *