How to Draw Phoebe and Friends – Full Guide
Phoebe and Her Unicorn is the bestselling series from author and illustrator Dana Simpson. The adventures of awkward adolescent, Phoebe, and her mystical, unicorn BFF, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, will endlessly entertain middle-grade readers. Though they have a few misadventures along the way, each zany situation brings the pair closer together. With this free printable drawing template, students have the chance to bring the book’s characters to life. But, that’s not all. This template also helps young fans recreate Dana’s cool comic style so they can dream up their very own gang of magical friends.
After Phoebe accidentally hits a unicorn in the face with a rock, an unlikely but powerful friendship begins. Middle-graders will join the dynamic duo as they meet more mythical pals and learn more about what makes the other special. Once students finish the book, have them follow the simple template to draw Phoebe and Marigold (and several other fun characters) in all their cartoon glory. Be sure to positively acknowledge each student’s innovation! When they’re done, give them time to share their drawings with the rest of the class. Writing and illustration are both fantastic creative outlets, and this free printable drawing template is also a great opportunity to showcase patience and perseverance to blossoming middle-grade artists. After mastering the characters in the book, encourage them to branch out creatively and come up with drawings and stories of their own using the free printable create-your-own-cartoon-strip activity also on AMP Kids.
Dana Simpson’s Cartooning Guide
Like all creative projects, comics can be made in any number of ways! Dana Simpson, creator of the beloved Phoebe and Her Unicorn series, shares her process in this free printable cartooning guide. Phoebe and Marigold, her unicorn best friend, live in a colorful cartoon world where anything is possible (just as long as it’s fun). Pair this downloadable activity with any book in the series for an afternoon of productive and creative brainstorming.
Using this free printable cartooning guide will help instill a love of art and writing in all your students. It might even inspire a future career for budding artists! Dana gives middle-graders an inside look on the whole comic-creation process. From her initial brainstorming, to conversations with her editor, to the final stages of adding color, readers will learn exactly how such a cool series came to be. After reading about the shenanigans Dana Simpson comes up with for Phoebe and Marigold, readers will be excited to come up with their versions. Remind them that there is no one way to make art, and encourage them to use this guide as just that––a starting point for their own unique stories.
Book Club Discussion Questions
Get the conversation going with these discussion questions about The Ghost Network! Tween readers will race through the thrilling plot of this book, following five very different hacker friends as they attempt to save the world (and themselves) from evil in the tech industry. Don’t let the action end after they finish the book, though. With this collection of free downloadable book club discussion questions, gather a group and keep the momentum of the story going with a deep diver into the plot, characters, and themes.
Jack, Slack, Salome, Akane, and Eva overcome countless challenges in The Ghost Network. They deal with cyberbullying, battle sinister figures, and code like their lives depend on it. Although they come from different backgrounds and parts of the world, they are united in their passion for computers and friendship with each other. After your students finish the compelling first novel, use these free downloadable book club discussion questions to spark conversation in groups both small and large. Either way, they’re sure to ignite a critical discussion focused on digital citizenship, mindfulness, and responsibly navigating a diverse world.
Book Club Discussion Questions
Whether your middle-grade students love playing video games or just appreciate a good story, the Trapped in a Video Game series has something for everyone. Readers will follow 12-year-old Jesse Rigsby as he battles and outsmarts his way through a virtual world. But, if he isn’t careful, he risks being trapped in the video game universe forever! With this set of free downloadable book discussion questions, the fun doesn’t have to stop when the story ends. Use these questions to instigate critical discussions in either large or small groups of middle-graders.
Provide an early education in literary analysis disguised as a super-fun and lively classroom conversation. Middle-grade readers will have plenty to say about Jesse, the (reluctant) gaming aficionado, and his righthand man, Eric. Although Jesse has always hated video games, being sucked into one slowly changes his mind. It’s all fun and games until the two notice a mysterious figure following them through their quest. Have your students split into small groups––or keep everyone together––and discuss their favorite characters, the most heart-racing moments of the plot, and the things they liked and disliked about the book as a whole. They can even complete some interactive activities as they go. Inspire critical thinking and start them on a lifelong path of reading using these free downloadable book discussion questions.
Building Robots with Functions
Programming doesn’t have to be difficult with this free printable robot building exercise. Here is an accessible opportunity to teach your middle-grade students more about technology, while also exploring the exciting world of Trapped in a Video Game: Robots Revolt. This time, it’s not all fun and games. When Jesse accidentally releases robot villains from Super Bot World 3, he must act fast to save the real world from not-so-simulated danger. Facing threats of sewer piranhas, mysterious men in suits, and impending robotic doom, Jesse desperately fights to find his missing friend, Eric, and restore order to his world. Middle-grade readers will be thrust into Jesse’s daring and bold quest each time they open the book.
As students get deeper into the story, begin introducing the concepts of programming and robot-building using the included activity. Students act as robot function factories by tracing or drawing different pieces into one cohesive robot. Each piece has a unique function or power, so encourage middle-graders to get innovative with their combinations. After their drawings are complete, have them write origin stories for their mechanical masterpieces. Then, they can share the finished products with their peers. The robots in the book may be menacing, but your middle-graders can create their own heroes to defeat them. By pairing this free printable robot building exercise with the book, you will inspire students not only to read, but to pursue valuable knowledge in other fields. And who knows, completing this activity might reveal the next great programmer!
About the American Toad
Exploring the swampy outdoors might be a little too messy for a regular school day. Luckily, Stinky Cecil brings the discoveries of nature into your classroom with this free downloadable amphibian fact sheet. Are your students curious about toads’ defense mechanisms? Interested in what they eat for breakfast? Maybe they just want to know the lifespan of the pet toad their moms would never let them have. Regardless of the question, this free fact sheet can help you answer it. Not only is it informative and educational, it’s also designed in an appealing comic style, so middle-graders will be drawn to it from the jump.
Stinky Cecil’s misadventures take him and his friends all over the pond. Whether they’re saving their homey marsh from freeway construction, having pond-splashing contests, or dealing with annoying class pet companions, one thing is for sure: Cecil and friends are guaranteed to make readers laugh. Although they make a silly group, they are also loyal, honest, and determined––admirable qualities to illustrate for elementary-age students. After reading the book and the fact sheet, encourage your kids to head outdoors and explore the world around them. Have them identify and observe different creatures, and then research to create fact sheets of their own. Pair this downloadable amphibian fact sheet with any of the Stinky Cecil books and watch your students’ interest and engagement hop to the surface.
About the Common Earthworm
Creepy, crawly, and crucial to the ecosystem, worms are the spineless stars of this free downloadable invertebrate fact sheet from the world of Stinky Cecil. After your middle-graders finish reading the zany adventures of Cecil and his friends, show them this fact sheet to deepen their understanding and appreciation of how every animal, no matter how big or small, plays an important role in the environment. With a humorous tone and a delightfully-illustrated style, these interesting tidbits are sure to draw students in. You can project it on the screen or print it out to pass around. Whatever you decide, the information is guaranteed to entertain and educate.
The quirky and lovable group of friends in Stinky Cecil always have the best time together. In each installment of the enchanting series, the pals fight to preserve nature, meet other creatures from the animal kingdom, and invent silly games to play (pond-splashing contest, anyone?). Middle-grade readers will enjoy following their mayhem-filled misadventures, and this downloadable invertebrate fact sheet allows you to take their enjoyment even further. Designed in the same comic style as the books, this fact sheet will inspire students to learn more about even the tiniest critters. Once their interest is ignited, encourage them to create fact sheets of their own based on their favorite animal. Anyone can become a nature expert––use this fact sheet to get started!
Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy Maze
Batman and Robin meet Rocky and Bullwinkle in Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy. With this free printable maze worksheet, middle-grade students can help Rabbit Boy reach Laser Moose by guiding him through toxic waste. This activity is the perfect afternoon brain-break, but you can also pair it with the book to get students more excited about reading. No matter how you use the maze, students will definitely get a kick out of it.
As Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy fight danger in the forest and shoot really awesome lasers at their enemies, their optimistic outlook never wavers. These graphic novels are the perfect way to demonstrate a “lemons-into-lemonade” attitude to a younger audience. Fighting aliens, battling mutant fish-bears, and facing off with mechanical squirrels is all in a day’s work for the heroic and hilarious pair.
Make Snoopy’s Favorite Puppy Chow
Satisfy your sweet tooth with Snoopy’s doggone delicious puppy chow recipe! After reading any of the timelessly fun books in the AMP Kids Peanuts series, release your middle-graders into the kitchen. You can help them create Snoopy’s recommended snack with this free, easy-to-follow, printable puppy chow recipe. Snoopy and his gang of beloved pals have been around for over fifty years, and each new Peanuts installment brings both new and longtime fans together. Follow the friends as they kick footballs, tune out adults, and touch readers’ hearts.
Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Snoopy, and the rest of the group are the perfect company. The nostalgia of a childhood classic shines through each Peanuts book, so readers of all ages will love them. Middle-grade students will definitely love pairing the books with this printable puppy chow recipe. Help them make the delectable treat before they start reading for an easy and delicious snack to turn the pages with! As students are working in the kitchen, encourage a degree of independence to instill a sense of responsibility. Middle-graders will appreciate the trust you put in them, and the reward is pretty sweet too.
Oh, and even though Snoopy loves to make puppy chow, he knows it’s a people treat. Please remember not to give dogs chocolate.
Make Snoopy’s Dog House with Origami
Everyone knows the iconic red doghouse that lovable pup, Snoopy, made famous. With this free printable paper craft, middle-grade students have the chance to make one of their very own––with origami! Written in easy-to-follow language and broken down into small and helpful steps, this DIY project pairs perfectly with any of the books in the AMP Kids Peanuts series. Completing this project can help encourage a love of reading and an appreciation of different cultures in one fell swoop. (All while enjoying the classic misadventures of Snoopy and his friends, of course!)
No matter who you are, there’s a story or a character in the Peanuts gallery for you. Some readers will relate to opinionated Lucy, others will feel kinship with tomboyish Peppermint Patty, and everyone can see themselves reflected in the kind-hearted Charlie Brown. Talk with your students about the different characteristics of each character to introduce them to concepts of literary analysis. After reading any of the delightful stories in the series, break out the paper and get crafty! First, use this free printable paper craft to guide construction of Snoopy’s doghouse. Then, have your students proudly display their creations around the classroom. While you’re at it, provide some background on the art of of origami to inspire cultural appreciation in middle-graders.
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