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April 29, 2016

Zine Making 101

By John DePasquale
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    If you’re looking to liven up your students’ writing, introduce them to zines and, in the process, transform your classroom into a genuine publishing house. It is very easy to publish zines in the classroom because, in their most basic form, they require only paper, scissors, and a photocopier. Since these materials are readily available in most schools, you may already have everything you need to start making zines today.

    Welcome to Zine Making 101! I’ll share the easy-to-learn basics of zine making so you and your students can publish your own zines in no time!  

    Lesson 1: What are Zines?

    A zine (pronounced zeen) is a self-published mini-magazine. Despite this simple definition, there’s nothing simple about zines. From different sizes to focusing on an assortment of topics, there are many various types of zines out there.  Zines can also be a multimodal type of writing because zines commonly include a mix of images and written text. All of this variety results in broad and exciting possibilities for students to freely express their creativity and ideas through the structure and format of the medium. 

    While always pursuing free expression and distribution of ideas, zines have a long and fascinating history in the literary world. This history, in fact, is not without a healthy dose of antiestablishment rebellion. Writers of self-published zines create and share their ideas without restriction and free from the approval of an established publisher or, worse yet, a meddlesome editor. A classic historical example, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, self-published in 1776 and instrumental in promoting the ideas that contributed to the U.S. War for Independence, perfectly demonstrates the revolutionary and rebellious nature of zines. I make a point of sharing the history of zines with my students because, as I’m sure you can imagine, many middle schoolers proudly share this antiestablishment and rebellious nature.

    Lesson 2: How to Make a Zine

    Constructing a zine is not hard at all. Here’s how to make an eight-page mini-zine out of a single piece of 8.5 x 11’’ paper. To make it even easier, I’m also sharing the template I use with students. 

    There are just three easy steps to constructing an eight-page mini-zine: fold-cut-fold.

    Step 1: Fold the piece of paper into eight equal sections by simply folding each line of the template.

    Step 2: Fold the paper in half hamburger style one more time and make a single cut on the dotted line. It’s important to only cut the dotted line in order to make sure the zine folds correctly in the next step. 

    Step 3: Now that the paper is folded into eight sections with a cut in the middle, fold the paper in half lengthwise. Hold the front cover of the zine in one hand and page five in the other then push together these two ends to create a small booklet. I always need to practice this step and it might take a few attempts at first to master, but once the zine is folded in on itself, the pages should be in order. 

    It’s that simple! Now that you can create an eight-page mini-zine filled with countless creative ideas. Here to walk you through the above steps are two zine pros.

     

    Lesson 3: Amazing Zine Topics

    There is really no limit to the creative ideas that can fill the pages of a mini-zine, but here some ideas that work particularly well. 

    An Expert’s Guide To . . . Whenever I ask students to identify and write about a personal area of expertise, there’s hardly ever a shortage of ideas. Some of my students have unexpected and unique talents. As proof, I recently sported a skillfully manicured hand with lovely shade of red to test the steps in An Expert’s Guide to Acrylic Nails written by a student who is a self-professed beauty expert. 

    Top 10 . . . The short pages of a mini-zine are perfect for any type of writing that includes lists. Lists of top movies, songs, or books are always popular examples of list zines. 

    How To…  From How To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse to How To Win an Argument With Your Parents, my students love creating these short how-to guides. Scholastic Printables also offers a guide to writing a how to that can be used to help students plan their own how to zine.  

    If a student is having trouble selecting a topic for a zine, I encourage them to go meta by making a zine about zines. What Are Zines? and How to Construct a Mini-Zine are excellent ideas for zines about zines. 

    Sharing Zines 

    Once the pages are filled, your students’ mini-zines are easily published and shared by photocopying and folding as many copies as you like. 

    You might also consider creating a lendable zine library in your classroom. I like to have a five-to-one rule in my zine library: for every zine borrowed from the library, a student is asked to contribute five copies of an original zine. This rule helps the lending zine library grow over time. 

    Now that you know the basics, I hope you start creating zines with your students. Many of my students over the years have told me how much they enjoy learning about and making zines. Not only is the short format less intimidating for reluctant writers, but zines are also a vehicle for writing that truly highlights the uniquely creative voices of students.   

     

    If you’re looking to liven up your students’ writing, introduce them to zines and, in the process, transform your classroom into a genuine publishing house. It is very easy to publish zines in the classroom because, in their most basic form, they require only paper, scissors, and a photocopier. Since these materials are readily available in most schools, you may already have everything you need to start making zines today.

    Welcome to Zine Making 101! I’ll share the easy-to-learn basics of zine making so you and your students can publish your own zines in no time!  

    Lesson 1: What are Zines?

    A zine (pronounced zeen) is a self-published mini-magazine. Despite this simple definition, there’s nothing simple about zines. From different sizes to focusing on an assortment of topics, there are many various types of zines out there.  Zines can also be a multimodal type of writing because zines commonly include a mix of images and written text. All of this variety results in broad and exciting possibilities for students to freely express their creativity and ideas through the structure and format of the medium. 

    While always pursuing free expression and distribution of ideas, zines have a long and fascinating history in the literary world. This history, in fact, is not without a healthy dose of antiestablishment rebellion. Writers of self-published zines create and share their ideas without restriction and free from the approval of an established publisher or, worse yet, a meddlesome editor. A classic historical example, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, self-published in 1776 and instrumental in promoting the ideas that contributed to the U.S. War for Independence, perfectly demonstrates the revolutionary and rebellious nature of zines. I make a point of sharing the history of zines with my students because, as I’m sure you can imagine, many middle schoolers proudly share this antiestablishment and rebellious nature.

    Lesson 2: How to Make a Zine

    Constructing a zine is not hard at all. Here’s how to make an eight-page mini-zine out of a single piece of 8.5 x 11’’ paper. To make it even easier, I’m also sharing the template I use with students. 

    There are just three easy steps to constructing an eight-page mini-zine: fold-cut-fold.

    Step 1: Fold the piece of paper into eight equal sections by simply folding each line of the template.

    Step 2: Fold the paper in half hamburger style one more time and make a single cut on the dotted line. It’s important to only cut the dotted line in order to make sure the zine folds correctly in the next step. 

    Step 3: Now that the paper is folded into eight sections with a cut in the middle, fold the paper in half lengthwise. Hold the front cover of the zine in one hand and page five in the other then push together these two ends to create a small booklet. I always need to practice this step and it might take a few attempts at first to master, but once the zine is folded in on itself, the pages should be in order. 

    It’s that simple! Now that you can create an eight-page mini-zine filled with countless creative ideas. Here to walk you through the above steps are two zine pros.

     

    Lesson 3: Amazing Zine Topics

    There is really no limit to the creative ideas that can fill the pages of a mini-zine, but here some ideas that work particularly well. 

    An Expert’s Guide To . . . Whenever I ask students to identify and write about a personal area of expertise, there’s hardly ever a shortage of ideas. Some of my students have unexpected and unique talents. As proof, I recently sported a skillfully manicured hand with lovely shade of red to test the steps in An Expert’s Guide to Acrylic Nails written by a student who is a self-professed beauty expert. 

    Top 10 . . . The short pages of a mini-zine are perfect for any type of writing that includes lists. Lists of top movies, songs, or books are always popular examples of list zines. 

    How To…  From How To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse to How To Win an Argument With Your Parents, my students love creating these short how-to guides. Scholastic Printables also offers a guide to writing a how to that can be used to help students plan their own how to zine.  

    If a student is having trouble selecting a topic for a zine, I encourage them to go meta by making a zine about zines. What Are Zines? and How to Construct a Mini-Zine are excellent ideas for zines about zines. 

    Sharing Zines 

    Once the pages are filled, your students’ mini-zines are easily published and shared by photocopying and folding as many copies as you like. 

    You might also consider creating a lendable zine library in your classroom. I like to have a five-to-one rule in my zine library: for every zine borrowed from the library, a student is asked to contribute five copies of an original zine. This rule helps the lending zine library grow over time. 

    Now that you know the basics, I hope you start creating zines with your students. Many of my students over the years have told me how much they enjoy learning about and making zines. Not only is the short format less intimidating for reluctant writers, but zines are also a vehicle for writing that truly highlights the uniquely creative voices of students.   

     

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