Holidays: Time to Try Out Some Crafts

Writing for Children Blog | craft
December 3, 2015

By Jan Fields

Crafts are one of those things I don't write often, but when I do, I almost
always make a sale. The magazines that use them, need a steady stream. The
reason crafts are a staple of many children's magazines is because they help
to make content interactive. They don't just offer a story or article, but
let the child move beyond the magazine to create something new.
Interactivity is a goal of many magazines, work that engages the reader and
also leads to the reader doing something. A craft can fit this bill.

They're not difficult to write either. In fact, writing a craft article has
a lot in common with writing a recipe. You usually have a list of
ingredients (materials and tools needed) and a list of directions. The
threes keys to an effective craft for children's magazines are (1)
simplicity, (2) economy and (3) usefulness. Simplicity means the child can
do the craft with minimal adult assistance. Some magazines (such as Fun for
Kidz) like crafts that depend upon adult and child working together, but
most magazines want a craft that the child can do on his own. Economy means
using materials the child has access to without purchasing much (or
anything). Recycled materials are particularly popular with some magazines.
And usefulness means the object that results from the craft can be used as a
gift, or is a playable toy or game, or is a useful device.

I've sold a very cute paper newt to Highlights, as well as a paper hat and a
valentine that was inspired by fortune cookies. These crafts looked good on
the page, and used materials most child have. They also resulted in objects
the child might enjoy playing with (newt), wearing (hat) or giving for a
holiday (valentines.)

Crafts for adults can be more complicated. I've sold teddy bear patterns to
Teddy Bear and Friends. Adult crafts can tie into another piece, especially
in the educational setting, I sold a frog puppet to an education magazine
that also bought a frog snack and a frog poem.  I sold a snowflake craft to
an educational magazine that also bought a snowflake poem, and I sold a lamb
craft to a religious educational magazine that also bought an interactive
story and a game, all featuring lambs.

Craft ideas sell best when they are simple to do and explain - this also
makes for the best pay rate relative to the amount of time and materials
you've put into making the craft. Craft explanations are usually short. Most
magazines don't like to see kids using ANYTHING dangerous (not even pointy
things to poke holes in eggs). If you're selling to a magazine with a theme,
write a sentence or two of introduction that ties your craft clearly to the

Want more tips? Crafts tied to specific places or unique celebrations or
anything related so science activities or history are always hot. Some girl
magazines are getting into "DIY" make-overs so crafts that produce something
that can be used to decorate a girl's room are an easy sell. The older the
reader, the more a craft should have room for the crafter's own creativity.
Many older kid crafts are more suggestions of embellishing things rather
than step-by-step directions that will always lead to identical results.

One way to get ideas is to spend some quality time looking through adult
craft magazines and women's magazines. Many times the complicated, adult
crafts will spur ideas for simple, fun, kid-friendly alternatives.
Brainstorm ways to embellish "every kid" staples like novelty pillows for
the bedroom, picture frames (or other ways to display photos), book covers
(always popular with magazines as "back to school" time), sneakers,
backpacks, hair, t-shirts, party invitations, party decorations, holiday
decorations. Look for decorating trends and consider kid-friendly additions
or versions.

And have fun!

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