Lean in close for a secret. No matter what you are using the magazines for, children will find themselves reading the text now and then. You're encouraging them to browse and scan text, and those are great skills for them to have in their tool bags. Shhhhh.
Freshen up your propaganda lessons.
Make cut and paste poetry kits. As in cut and paste...literally.
Have students create collages. (conflict, theme, character)
Let thought-provoking images become visual story starters.
Line your desk drawers with beautiful pictures.
Teach students how to make fun envelopes from scratch to jazz up a friendly letter lesson.
Add a visual component to a traditional book report.
Piece together pictures from several pages in a quilted fashion to make wrapping paper. How about wrapping up a new book with a personalized bookplate to pay tribute to your amazing library staff?
Cut out perfect squares for origami paper.
Think about a lesson you already teach. How could a magazine add to your lesson plan?
For example, when I cover "Barbie-Q," by Sandra Cisneros, I have the class assemble dolls that they think should be marketed to children. They also include accessories. Students are encouraged to piece together their doll. They may choose a soccer ball from one page, a head from another, a body from another, and so on. Students are encouraged to be as creative as possible. They also write a commercial script for their target audience.
I always preface magazine lessons with an explanation of what we should and should not expect of our custodial staff. Since it can get a little messy, it's good to remind artists that custodians should not have to clean up every little scrap that we create. Allowing the last 10 minutes of class for clean-up will usually be sufficient. And, yes, even though you quickly flip through magazines to rip out age-inappropriate material in the mildest of women's magazines, you will miss something. Address the issue and move forward. You know your students best.