I was recently sent 3 copies of Creative Steps Magazine to review.
I must admit, my very first thought before looking through a copy, was that the price was quite high. The magazine is only available on subscription (not available for purchase in any stores). The cost for printed and delivered version is £14.90 for two issues, or £29.80 for four. There is also the option of being able to download printable copies, priced at £18 for 4 issues. I did like what I saw on the website though, and reminded myself that the magazine was quarterly, not fortnightly or monthly, so the cost per issue didn't seem so excessive.
Creative Steps is a family run business, set up in order for parents Dawn and John to be able to spend more time with their boys. I asked John to describe what the magazine was all about, his reply was " Creative Steps is a fabulous quarterly magazine for anyone with children under 12, packed with inspirational, educational and fun creative activity ideas, designed to help engage your kids and encourage their creative development. Each issue includes dozens of easy-to-make projects, making use of recycled household supplies and supporting learning whilst having fun! "
Sounds pretty good huh?
First impression was very good. The covers are good quality and eyecatching. Although not aimed at them directly, my children were immediately interested in flicking through them. Tiegan (aged 10) in particular - she picked up a copy and curled up on the sofa the morning they arrived - before getting dressed and eating breakfast!
Each issue contains approximately 90 pages. The articles vary from craft ideas, recipe suggestions, games instructions, book reviews, product advertising, and giveaways. Some of the content relate to special days or events of that particular season. For example, the Winter 2011 copy I received contained ideas for Valentines, Chinese New Year, Australia Day, and of course Christmas. Alongside these are other themes, unrelated to the time of year - in the instance of the same copy, these included Iron Age Celts and Christopher Columbus.
The contents page is split into articles relating to age.
There are three categories; 0-5 years, 5-7 years, and 7-11 years.
As a home-educating family with a mixed age range of children (my lot are aged 1 - 16 years), I have to be honest and say that I took no notice of the suggested age range at all. For example, there were things that were suggested for the 5-7 year age group that my 10 and 16 year olds wanted to try, such as the rolled paper hearts.
Examples of the inside content...
The magazine fits in with my style of home-educating perfectly, and I can see it making my planning life easier. Although we all know what a wonderful tool the internet can be, for me personally I do like having things in print that I can flick through at leisure. I find that I waste a great deal of time trawling through the internet; following broken links or links to sites with unrelated content. Often I'll get sidetracked, looking for one thing and ending up reading something completely different. I know I should be more strict with myself, but what can I say? I'm easily led :)
Having something like this in magazine format is fabulous. I can curl up on the sofa, blanket on my knee, cuppa on the table, with pen and paper in hand, and flick through the pages at my own leisure. It doesn't matter if my little one needs my attention, it can be put down and picked up again later - I don't have to worry about bookmarking internet pages or turning the computer on or off. It suits me that a lot of the projects in it are seasons based, something I like to follow on through within our home-ed life. I like to tie in our activities with special days on the calender as I think it helps to put things into perspective for the children, and I know that this magazine will kick start many a study idea. The fact that my children will have access to it too is a big bonus. I know it will inspire them to create things and be the foundation to bigger projects. It may be argued that a variety of books would do the same thing, but my reply to that is that we have a million (slight exaggeration) books within our home and they tend to stay on the shelves for much of their life with us. Having something drop through the door every few months will spark curiosity and (hopefully) ignite that all important initial interest in a subject matter - we can then go on to delve into topics deeper.
The book reviews were interesting and helpful, as were some of the product advertising. I'm not a huge fan of magazines with lots of advertising, but these were really aimed at their target market with products that were fun and educational.
I am really looking forward to seeing what the next issue has in store (available from March 1st), hopefully it will get our creative juices flowing.