How to use Chirp, Chickadee, and OWL in the classroom

Using Chirp in the Classroom

One of the toughest challenges I face as a teacher is hunting down reading materials that will engage my students, inspire creative lessons, and encourage learning across the entire curriculum. Fortunately, I have Chirp – Canada's only magazine specifically designed for young readers aged 3 to 6.

My favourite thing about Chirp is the way it gets my students excited about reading. Chirp uses age-appropriate language throughout the entire magazine, which makes it easy for readers and pre-readers of all levels to pick it up and flip through the pages with confidence. Add to that a wide range of high-interest subject matter – everything from insects to music to trains – and you've got a magazine that really "gets" kids.

Of course, Chirp is also a great jumping-off point for all kinds of fun and meaningful lessons.

I have found that Chirp makes a wonderful addition to any reading or phonics program. As we all know, teaching reading at the primary age means that you have to be able to work with students who are at a number of different reading levels. So you can have your emergent readers working on their blending with a simple Chirp & Friends comic, while your more advanced readers can use the Let's Read story for a comprehension activity. Best of all, there's a huge range of writing in each issue of Chirp – it's got everything from cute stories to fascinating non-fiction to funny jokes, which means every one of your students will have no problem finding something that speaks to them.

It can be a real struggle to get some kids writing, but using Chirp as inspiration will fire up even your most reluctant authors. Writing new captions for the comics, publishing a class-created magazine, sketching the monthly Amazing Animal, and writing a story to go along with the drawing – the list of lesson ideas is endless.

But Chirp doesn't just help you with your reading and writing programs – it can also be a valuable part of your math, science, and social studies curriculums. The many puzzles found each month in Chirp will help your students develop the spatial thinking and visual discrimination skills needed for higher level-math work. The engaging Look + Learn and Amazing Animal sections are tailor-made for introducing students to the world of inquiry-based thinking. And, of course, nothing beats a good old-fashioned get-your-hands-dirty Chirp Craft!

At the end of the day, teaching young kids is all about getting them excited about learning. And when you see your students high-fiving each other because the new issue of Chirp arrived in the classroom mailbox that morning, you'll know that you're doing your job right.

Mark Magee is a writer and a daddy, who also happens to teach kindergarten in the independent school system.