Share this article on Facebook
Want to Make Money Writing? Write Magazine Articles for Kids
by Lucile Davis
The very best and fastest way to make money
writing is to turn out magazine articles for children on topics of math and
science. Ok, I hear all you liberal arts majors groaning, but don't. It isn't
necessary to be an expert in science or math to write about it and make it fun
If you are an active environmentalist or just an
avid gardener, you can turn out fun features on topics related to plants,
animals, ecosystems, and how kids might get involved in preservation projects.
Are you a musician? Did you know there is a
close correlation between math and music? Exploring this idea might be a fun
article for children's magazines.
Worried about household hazardous waste, such as
old cleaning agents, motor oil, or batteries? How do these items impact our
environment and where can they be disposed of without damaging natural
resources? The beauty of this topic is it can be written for kids, then
rewritten for adults.
Doing the Research
Writing science or math articles for children
does not require in depth research, but it does require accurate research. The
good news is-doing the research is fun. It can be almost as much fun as a
treasure hunt. The key is in knowing where to look.
* The Internet
A great hunting ground for research and experts
is the Internet. Using your article topic as "keywords", search the Internet for
basic information on your topic. Often universities, government agencies, and
company information sites will have enough information on your topic to write a
complete article. However, resist the urge. If your topic is on hazardous waste,
find information from all three sources mentioned above. University sites may
have the latest information on hazardous waste damage. Government agencies post
current laws and legal hazardous waste disposal methods and sites. And company
sites will have information on what the industry is doing to help clean up the
environment. In addition, you could find "leading experts" in the field. For
example-a web search for information on anaconda snakes led me to the "leading
U.S. expert" on these big reptiles. When the "expert" learned the information
was a book for children, he sent a copy of his about to be published manuscript.
What a find!
* Libraries, Universities, Parks &
A writer's best friends are the local
librarians. Even in these high-tech times, librarians hold more information in
their heads than many desktop computers. Years of filing and fact finding are
available to you just by asking the librarian in the science and math sections
of your library. These nice people will know the resources you need to consult
in both the print and electronic media. Sometimes they even know who the best
resource people are in your town.
Universities can't be beat for finding "the
experts". The campus is full of them, and not all of them are professors.
Graduate research assistants are on the leading edge of today's research. Don't
overlook them. Both professors and research assistants are usually more than
happy to give interviews on their favorite topic-their research.
Zoological and nature parks are a fun place to
do research. A nature center usually gives regular tours. Take your kids and
spend a fun afternoon learning about the animals, bugs, and plants in the park.
Find one that seems to catch the kids' attention, then make an appointment for a
telephone interview with a park ranger. This interview could lead you to another
resource or two.
Museums of natural history can also provide
valuable information. These museums often have staff researchers and each
researcher will have a favorite topic. Another family outing will bring you in
contact with these interesting folks.
* Government Agencies
Your local government can be a terrific source
of information on natural resources, waste management, animal care and safety,
park regulations and resources, and environmental engineering and design. For
instance: Did you ever wonder exactly how water travels from your house drains
to the water treatment plants and where it goes after that? How does a city know
how many parks it needs? How are parks designed? Are there leash laws for
pot-bellied pigs or are they considered farm animals in your city? So many
topics, so little time. Your city's public information officer will be able to
help you find the people in city government who can help you with the
Doing the Writing
Once you have your information, the next thing
is, of course, to write it down. There are three things to remember about
writing articles for kids. Make it fun, keep it focused, and be brief about
* Make It Fun
Open your article with a "wow" factor, a topic
that will make your young audience think "Wow, I didn't know that!" For
instance: Meteor showers happen all the time and you can help scientists gather
information on them. Or, Can you name the seven deadliest snakes in the world?
Hint: The anaconda is not one of them. (If you define deadly as "poisonous",
this statement is true.) The point is-you must grab the young reader's attention
* Keep It Focused
Make sure you choose a topic that can be covered
within 800-1,200 words. That's the bad news. The good news is, finding a "wow"
factor provides you with the focus of your article. Your article then unfolds in
three parts: Introduction: Present the "wow" factor and any necessary
definitions (such as the definition of "deadly" as "poisonous".) Middle: Explain
the "wow" factor (the snake story's middle would contain the information about
the difference between the venomous snakes and the constrictors, then name the
seven deadliest venomous snakes in the world. End: Restate the opening,
summarize the article, and close with information on where youngsters can learn
more about the topic. Sources can include books and Internet sites.
* Be Brief About It
It is rare for children's magazines to print
articles of 2,000 words or longer. The range listed above is about average. For
the pre-reader or early reader audience, the article length is about 500 words.
In addition to keeping the text short, make sure the sentences and paragraphs
are short. For pre- and early readers (pre-K-third grade), simple sentences
(subject/verb/object) of no more than 10-11 words are about right. Limit
sentences in paragraphs to three or four. And, of course, keep the vocabulary
age appropriate. For help with grade-school level vocabulary, your best resource
is Alijandra Mogilner's Children's Writer's Word Book. It can be found in most
libraries and bookstores. For grades four through six, sentences can be longer,
but keep within eighteen to twenty words. Phrases and clauses can be used, but
stay away from using semi-colons. Instead of using a semi-colon, use a period
and begin a new sentence. For junior and senior high students, sentence length
and vocabulary can match that of adult level articles. However, it is still
important to keep the paragraphs short. Leave friendly white space for your
young readers. There is nothing more daunting than a page full of print. It will
stop kids from reading almost anything.
Writing entertaining and informative articles
for kids about science or math can be both interesting and lucrative. All you
have to do is be sure to make the article fun, keep it focused, make sure it is
accurate, and be brief. Happy $$$$$ writing!
© Copyright 2002, Lucile Davis
Lucile Davis is the author of 15 children's nonfiction books, 10 of them published in 1998. Her books are published through Capstone Press and Grolier's Children's Press. She is also a feature writer for local and regional newspapers and magazines. Currently, she is a feature writer for Fort Worth, Texas magazine published by Magnolia Media Group. In addition to her writing, she is a frequent presenter at writer's conferences and workshops. She teaches Writing for Children through Texas Christian University's Extended Education and is an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature.
Other articles by Lucile Davis :