Playful Review and Interview over on Bloesem Kids!


Morning friends! I just wanted to pop in and let you know that the interview about my book Playful that ran in the Bloesem Gazette Kids Issue is now up on the Bloesem Kids site! I talk a bit about why play time is so important and the behind the scenes scoop on working with other creatives, etc. Have a looky lou here. xo, Mer

Bloesem Gazette Story on Mer Mag


top photo by Nicole Gerulat

bottom photo by Irene Hoofs

Kids Craft Camp: Animal Unit

Kiddie Made Cat Mask | Mer Mag Kids Craft Camp

In our August session of Kids Craft Camp we added an Animal Unit (to replace the painting unit – which we blended together into all the other units) and the kids loved it.

Kids Craft Camp | Animal Unit

We had a bird piñata, complete with colorful wings, in this session as played cat and mouse with fun paper masks the kids made themselves.

Kiddie Made Cat Mask | Mer Mag Kids Craft CampKids Craft Camp | Animal UnitKids Craft Camp | Animal Unit

After making their paper masks the kids got in a circle and played cat, cat mouse (instead of duck duck goose).

playingcatandmouseKids Craft Camp | Animal Unit

We also worked on simple animal mobiles using the drawings from my Stacking Animal blocks in my book Playful and the kids talked about their favorite animals and what type of animals they would make up if they could.

AnimalmobileKCCKids Craft Camp | Animal Unit (more…)

Lions and Tigers and Piñatas, Oh My! Kids Craft Camp Painting Party


In our Kids Craft Camp painting unit we ending with putting together a lion piñata for a the last day of camp. We based it off of the Tiger piñata in my book Playful and had each of the kids help paint bright stripes onto the lions mane.



I love doing both individual and group projects in camp. I think the group ones really help to show how when working together they can really make something great. And I think they enjoy seeing and knowing they made a contribution to a lager shared creation.



On the last day of camp we filled the piñata with candy and let the kids have a swing. It really was loads of fun for us all. LionPinataforMerMag'sKidsCraftCamp8LionPinataforMerMag'sKidsCraftCamp5

Even my assistant got in on the action and she ended swinging the final swing that broke the piñata open – in turn unleashing crazy candy pandemonium.


And call me unorthodox but I don’t make my piñata’s with fringe. Not as a principle, but it’s just that I’ve yet to ever do it. Fringe is great and all but I’m such a fan tissue paper applied in mod podge layers and then adding paper and paint, etc. Maybe someday I’ll fringe it up…but for now i’m pretty settled on this technique. :)

KIDS CRAFT CAMP Unit 2: Painting + Printmaking Techniques for Kids

Kids Craft Camp - Intro to Print Making with Kids

For our Painting and Printmaking Unit in Kids Craft Camp we worked on becoming familiar with paints (primarily acrylic) while learning various fun techniques and processes such as using glue + pastels as a resist, a salad spinner for some fun spin art and even introduced the kids to printmaking by using foam and cardboard. Follow along as we share what we did for each project in this unit.


Beginning Printmaking:


  • adhesive backed craft foam
  • cardboard
  • paint/brushes
  • printmaking roller
  • paper


To make craft foam prints:

  1. Cut craft foam into various random shapes and stick onto the cardboard
  2. Paint the various shapes of foam with different colors of paint
  3. Then quickly place a sheet of paper over the top and used a roller to transfer the paint onto the underside of the paper
  4. Lift the paper and you will see your first print!
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 using different paint colors to create several prints from the same work of art to share with friends or sell at an art sale!


beginning print making with kids


Salad Spinner Art! (a never fail crowd pleaser)



  • salad spinner
  • thick paper such as watercolor paper cut into squares small enough to fit into the salad spinner
  • acrylic or tempra paints


Making the Spin Art:

  1. Open up the salad spinner and place the paper inside
  2. Drop 2 to three colors of paint onto your paper
  3. Close the lid of the salad spinner and spin by pulling the cord (or by spinning on the outside depending on which type of salad spinner you have.
  4. Once the spinning has stopped you may remove the lid and see your new spun painted work of art!

KidsCraftCampSaladSpinnerArt2 KidsCraftCampSaladSpinnerArt

Watch a video on the spin art from camp here:




Pastel and Glue resist techniques with Acrylics: (more…)

Paper House Crown Template and DIY

Paper House Crown | Mer Mag

If you want to make the paper house crown from our house cookie decorating party (spotlighted on Camille Styles last week) it’s really quite easy! You can freehand one yourself from a poster board or use our template which you can download here.


After downloading the template 

  • You can enlarge to desired size or just use it as a guide for creating your house crown from poster board.
  • If using the template be sure to extend the sides when transferring/tracing onto your poster board. You might even need to add an extra piece in the back depending on the size of the child’s head.
  • Cut out around the top of the house. Use an X-acto knife to cut out the windows and door, being sure to leave the “hinge” of the door for the fold.
  • Wrap the house crown around the child’s head and tape on the backside (adding extra paper if needed as mentioned above)
  • Make a number of these for guest at a birthday party or a housewarming party! Grab some markers and paint if you wish and have your party goers decorate their houses for a fun interactive craft!

Mer Mag Cardboard House and CrownPaper House Crown | Mer Mag

Kids Craft Camp Badges


If you are looking to put on a Kids Craft Camp of your own tune into Studio 5 today to see some of my tips on how to make it easy and fun from you very own Kitchen table!



And if you want to follow along with our Kids Craft Camp units, Camping, Painting, Nature and Portraits, then these badges will come in handy. Just click on the image above to download the pdf of all the badges. And be sure to tag your camp images and projects with #mermag and #kidscraftcamp in IG and FB so we can all enjoy.




House Cookies and an Entertaining spotlight on Camille Styles today!


A little while ago Camille Styles asked me to be a part of her Entertaining With series and as I always love a good excuse to celebrate i say yes of course! Deciding on a fanciful kids House Party as the theme, I put together a spread of fun finger foods, fruits and salad and finished it all off with a house cookie decorating party. And we held it in our new industrial studio, Hinterland Workshop!



Mer Mag Cardboard House and Crown

CSEntertainingwithMerMagHouseSpreadWe share my kids favorite summer salad recipe straight from Grandma Mary! Head on over to Camille Styles to get this tasty salad and dressing recipe (that even your kids will love!) and read more about my philosophies for entertaining with kids and more.CSEntertainingwithMerMagMarysSummerSaladDressingCSEntertainingwithMerMagHouseSpread0

I asked Erin, of Dolce by Erin, to make these oversized house cookies for the kids to decorate. She supplied a few blank houses for decorating and then painted a few more based on a two house illustrations I gave her. She used a paintbrush and food coloring and I love how they turned out! (She did the lion and tiger cookies for my Playful book launch party too). The kids loved decorating the blank ones with food markers and even Jessica, our photographer, had to give it a try once the shoot was over. SO fun!

CSEntertainingwithMerMagHouseCookieDecorating3CSEntertainingwithMerMagHouseCookies5 CSEntertainingwithMerMagSummerSalad4KidsFeet

photography by Jessica Peterson

Playfully Made By YOU!


Time for another Playfully Made by YOU! post. I get so giddy and happy when I see your little ones exploring the world of creativity, art and play through my book Playful: Fun Projects to Make with + For Kids.

Like how perfect is little Miette in her twig crown? I love that she collected dried rosemary and lavender twigs for this. Must have smelled amazing. And that lavender color! I’m smitten. Her mom April did the gluing but if you get a low-temp glue gun you can have your little one join in on the gluing fun (the kids used glue guns every day in Kids Craft Camp!).


This image of Lisa’s boy’s with their paper plate lion masks is an all time favorite. I love it when you and your littles take these crafts and run with it. Lisa had them paint with watercolors for the manes, noses and cheeks. LOVE this idea! There’s really no ONE way to do these crafts.


This dreamy light-filled scene, taken by mom Danielle, brings me back to serene moments of childhood. And how fun and playful is the cardboard brownstone in the background? This image just evokes so much imagination in me. I want to jump in and play house right now!


There are slew of templates in the back if you are one for templates but don’t be afraid of winging it either! Quilt maker @asdrexler just freehanded these paper puppets and stuck them on popsicle sticks. No need to make a fuss really – and they turned out so cute!


And speaking of templates, how sweet is Anastatia’s Polly (also pictured in the first image on this post) as she’s looking through Playful and holding up the templates!?



A word on the templates. They aren’t as daunting as you might think. You can trace them or also take them to your local copy shop and have them enlarged and or digitized in just one visit. Then you have them at your disposal in the format you want forever! It’s really worth it I think. I would have LOVED to have added the templates in cd form but that just wasn’t possible for this book. But really this has proven to be the next best thing and works out really well!


Keep sharing your crafts and toys made from Playful! We are all so inspired by them! If you share on FB or Instagram just be sure to use the hashtag #playfultoysandcrafts and perhaps we’ll spotlight you and your little one here!

KIDS CRAFT CAMP Unit 1: Camping

Mer Mag's Kids Craft CampKid Craft Camp Saches + Badges

I’m so excited to share a recap of our first local summer Kids Craft Camp with you! Starting with our first day/unit – CAMPING!Mer Mag's Kids Craft CampMer Mag's Kids Craft CampMer Mag's Kids Craft Camp

We had seven of our nine campers arrive on our first day, suite up in their make-a-face aprons and get right to work getting messy and creative.Mer Mag's Kids Craft Camp

To start things off I thought it would be fun to do a summer Camping Unit so the kids made paper popsicle stick campgrounds (found in our online Kids Craft Camp) and painted little peg people to go inside the tents.

Mer Mag's Kids Craft Camp  Mer Mag's Kids Craft Camp Mer Mag's Kids Craft Camp

To paint the peg people (which were just cut down from thick wooden dowels – the DIY for which is also found in My book Playful under the Playful Village project) the kids taped off the top face portion and then painted the lower portion the color they wanted for the clothing – adding patterns – such as polka dots – if they wished. When that had dried they took the tape off of the top and proceeded to paint the hair and face, etc.

It was so fun seeing the little campers get creative with painting their tents and characters.

Mer Mag's Kids Craft CampMer Mag's Kids Craft Camp

To keep the kids interest for the full three hours of craft camp (which ran from 10-1) we were sure to take breaks. We had a popcorn break at 11:00 where we put popcorn in the middle of our Let’s Playground mat. The kids loved it! (big thanks to my friend Barbara of Art Bar Blog who recommended this and who also helped me with ideas for camp scheduling, etc. She runs such inspiring camps that you should definitely check out!). We then took a lunch break at 12 pm where they kids ate their sack lunches brought from home.

Mer Mag's Kids Craft Camp

Mer Mag's Kids Craft Camp

I also set up creative play areas for the kids to tinker around at if they were (more…)

Playing with Dolls


I’ve been working on my series of oversized craft-along dolls and have been having lots of fun! I’m planning on three different hair styles, starting with this two bun version – so we’ll see how it goes. Each face is hand painted, so each are different, and I’ve loved getting to know these dolls in the process. I think it would be so cute for each doll to come with a necklace that the child could paint or string along themselves. I also love the idea of doing DIY projects for the dresses they come in (like stamping patterns, drawing on them with bleach pens, etc.). And of course you could do many of our crafts here for the dolls as well – such as the cardboard wings, etc.MerMagCraftaLongDolls

I’m still in working on ironing out a few things on these dolls but hope to have my first batch out soon!