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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Plato Would Be Proud: Crafts and Games for Children's Magazines

These days, I’m constantly reminded of what Plato said way back in the day, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Can’t meet in person? Take to an online platform. Missing an ingredient for your recipe? Getting creative brings a new dish to the table. Parks closed for Easter egg hunts? Indoor scavenger hunts can be wacky fun. And the list goes on…

Which made me think of you, dear writers. Because I suspect that many of you are coming up with engaging and inventive stuff every day due to your sheltering-in-place. And your super creative ideas are exactly what many kidlit magazines are looking for!

When I first started writing for children, I sent out plenty of children’s stories, but the first payment I ever received in the kidlit market was for a craft. Now, I’m not a super-crafty person; I like simple and cheap, and so I used recycled Christmas cards and glue, an easy and almost no-expense craft for an elementary age student.

Most children’s magazines are looking for fun crafts just like that, super simple for the littlest kids, up to more challenging projects for adolescents. And they need lots of crafts. So this may be a great opportunity for you to take a look at what your kids have been doing with scraps of material, acorns, bottle caps, dried flowers, and whatever else they’ve scrounged up around the house and yard. Because that’s another factor that makes for a good sellable craft: using materials at hand.

Write your directions clearly and concisely and give the craft a catchy name. Then search for children’s magazines and submit per the guidelines. (And P.S. This is a good time to submit because frankly, what else are all the editors doing? Looking for submissions from you, that’s what!)

But what if you’re not the crafty type? Maybe you’re the kind of people who create indoor obstacle courses that wound through every room in a house. Then maybe you’ve come up with a wild and wacky game, and games are another fun thing that children’s magazines love.

It can be a physically-challenging game, of course, but it can also be a board game, or maybe…well, I don’t know. Where has necessity taken your inventive imagination lately? And if you haven’t come up with a game yet, maybe it’s time to task your kids with it. You could even make a game of it: first kid who thinks up something brilliant gets the last brownie!

But maybe your kids are long-grown and staying safely away from you. Take a walk and think about the games you played when you were little. Can you come up with a modern twist on an old-fashioned game or even a craft? It may seem obvious to you but you’d be surprised what kids don’t know. (For example, I asked Youngest Junior Hall about mending. He did not know what I was talking about. I was sort of stunned; my great aunt mended many a sock when I was a kid but maybe now, we just buy new socks. Or we don’t wear socks as much? Whatever. I’m still reeling a little from the whole mending thing…)

Anyway, it’s a good time to cash in on all that creative inventing you’ve been doing by necessity—or that your kids have been doing. And if you’re feeling super generous, you can share the byline when it’s published. I’m sure Plato would approve!

Stay safe, keep well, friends!

~Cathy C. Hall


  1. Cathy--All your advice is great. I am stuck with doing queries right now, but I hope there are other writers who follow your suggestions. (Did your nickname used to "Crafty Cathy"? ;)

  2., Sioux. My crafting's like my cooking: it'll do. :-)

  3. Thanks for that nudge. Long ago when I was teaching I wrote an unpublished book, still collecting dust, titled What Can you Do With a Stinky Old Shoe?

    I should go look for that!

  4. Linda,
    You should look for that!

    Excellent advice, Cathy! I would also suggest that you write the piece up then follow your own instructions. Don't see it written down? Then you can't do it. You'd be amazed what gets left out in the first draft.

    I used to write crafts and activities for


  5. I was wishing I had some time to get some workbooks together!

  6. Yes, Linda, Margo, now's the time! But listen to Sue about those directions! :-)

  7. This is a great article! Truly something here for everyone. You've got me thinking, and if I don't come up with anything then you've given me a great way to keep the kiddos busy. :)


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