Breaking Cat News – Paper Doll Puppet Guide: Tabitha, Figaro, Burt, and Tillie

Let your middle-graders take center stage and put on their very own paper doll puppet show. Using our free paper doll template, inspired by more cute and lovable Breaking Cat News characters, you can encourage creative expression while also building students’ love of reading. In this delightful comic series, three house cats take on the most relevant and hilarious news happening at home, and now, with this all-new guide, you can create your own paper dolls for Puck, Elvis, and Lupin’s other feline friends: Tabitha, Figaro, Burt, and Tillie!

Once students have read Take It Away, Tommy!, they can use this free paper doll template to help them put on a puppet show. The instructions are easy to follow and understand, so budding puppeteers can have their cast created in no time. Encourage middle-graders not only to create the paper dolls, but also to write their own scripts for the show. They’ll have fun writing them, and you’ll have fun seeing what they come up with. They can even use the Breaking Cat News books as inspiration! After the dolls are done and the stage is set, sit back and enjoy the show.


Outdoor/Indoor Activities

Snug Harbor Stories follows Wallace the Brave and his outdoorsy expeditions in the East Coast beach town he calls home. With this collection of 3 free printable science activities, middle-grade students will be encouraged to get outside and explore the world around them. Start the journey indoors–have your students design their own field books to collect tales and tokens from nature. Then head outdoors to turn some of those tokens into an icy winter mobile to accessorize their snow forts. Middle-graders even have the chance to grow their own avocado plants with these free downloadable activities, instilling a sense of responsibility and a fuller understanding of the natural world.

While flipping through the pages of Snug Harbor Stories, young readers will go along with each and every adventure Wallace the Brave sets out on. Explore streets lined with ice cream shops, poke around beaches dotted with rocky tide pools, and watch his little brother, Sterling, try to eat yet another bug. After wrapping up their Snug Harbor adventures and completing these 3 free printable science activities, ask your students to think critically about their interactions with nature and what they learned from growing and creating their own materials. Whether students choose to create their own field book, grow avocado plants, or build a winter mobile using treasures they collect on field explorations, each activity will instill a love of nature and encourage a scientific state of mind.


True Undersea Mysteries

Epic! Originals dives into the mystery genre in the middle-grade maritime series, Undersea Mystery Club Book. Students team up with mermaid Violet and her best friend, Wally the narwhal, to solve mysteries around the city of Aquamarina. With each new case, they learn valuable lessons about their oceanic surroundings and the importance of never giving up. Hang these downloadable fact sheets around your classroom to excite students’ curiosity about other underseas mysteries. Buoyed by an exciting plot, the free printable science fact sheets make the perfect educational tool for everyone’s inner marine biologist. Try making fun quizzes or competitions out of the facts if you really want the information to stick!

Middle-grade readers join Violet and Wally to hunt for playground pieces that have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Luckily, these two are not the types to let a mystery go unsolved. This dynamic duo is determined to uncover the truth about the missing pieces and solve the problem at the playground. To that end, they won’t stop until they save the day for all the sea creatures who want a chance to play. Violet and Wally’s tenacity will undoubtedly inspire students. Each and every chapter of the quest will engross them. Once the team solves the mysteries of the plot, present your student-sleuths with even more fun facts about ocean science and ecosystems in these easy-to-read free printable science fact sheets. Pair them with this Epic! Originals hit to transform the everyday classroom into a deep diving expedition for more knowledge.


Piper MacLane’s Secret Slime Recipe

Epic! Originals presents the story of Piper Maclane and her malleable pal in My Pet Slime. Middle-grade students can create slime pets of their own simply by following this free printable slime recipe (with the help of their teachers or parents, of course). Slime is the must-make craft of the moment, and Piper’s recipe is the best of the best. Although this slime may not come to life like Piper’s did, making it will definitely bring your middle-grade students’ scientific curiosity to life. Don’t stop there, though. Encourage creative thinking by getting students to customize their slime with glitter, colors, and whatever else they can get their hands on. They’ll have the time of their lives creating and naming slime pets to match Piper’s.

Piper wishes she could have a pet to bring for Show and Tell like all the other kids in her class, but she’s allergic to every animal imaginable! Allergies or not, this is a girl who doesn’t give up that easily. Instead of a furry, sneeze-inducing pet, Piper decides to make her own pet out of slime. When it miraculously comes to life, Piper realizes just how fun, challenging, and messy it can be to care for a pet––especially a slimy one. This free printable slime recipe is a fun, unique way to teach students more about science. But that’s not all! This activity also presents a great opportunity to teach responsibility when paired with the Epic! Originals book. After all, middle-grade readers will easily relate to the desire to have a pet of their own. After making this slime, have your middle-graders name their slimy companions and care for them like pets all day. Follow this free printable recipe for the perfect educational hybrid of science experiment and responsibility exercise.


“Be An Outlaw” Coloring Page

From Epic! Originals comes Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw. There’s only one rule to being an outlaw: Creating your own path. On the other side of this printable coloring sheet, create your own diary cover with a self-portrait and unique design for every child to show off their personality. Then tape the sheet to a blank notebook and start writing your own adventures, whether as a comic, illustrated story, diary, or something entirely new. This free activity makes for a perfect afternoon of storytelling, whether at home or in the classroom.

While reading Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw, middle-grade students will be inspired by main character Robin Loxley’s daring quest to right the wrongs of Nottingham Elementary in a tell-all tale inspired by the legends of Robin Hood. After completing this free, printable coloring sheet, prompt your students to write a story in a comic/illustrated novel hybrid format, just like the beloved Epic! Original. While Robin faces many tests, both curricular and interpersonal, she never gives up on her mission to restore justice to the playground and reunite with her best friend, Mary Ann. Following Robin’s journey to justice will impart readers with valuable lessons about resolving conflict and staying true to oneself.

Big Nate Comics

Make Comics with Big Nate

Middle-grade readers everywhere love the shenanigans and wisecracks of the bestselling Big Nate series. Now they can create comics of their own, just like Nate! In this free printable make-your-own-comic activity, Nate and his squad of sixth-grade pranksters break down comic-creation into easy steps. They open up a world of artistic possibility for fans of the beloved strip. Students can create their own four-panel stories in Lincoln Pierce’s signature style, coming up with their own characters and dialogue along the way. As they work, encourage middle-graders to focus critically on their personal writing and drawing processes. You may be inspiring a future cartoonist!

With this activity, students will be encouraged to think about comics as an art form. Doing so will help them learn how to use this time-honored medium to express their own stories. If aspiring artists have trouble thinking of new ideas, there’s plenty of inspiration to draw from the chaotic fun of Nate’s daily routine. He’s always battling against overzealous teachers, protesting unfair wedgies, and trying to set the all-time record for detentions in a single school year. Implementing this Big Nate activity in the classroom or at home is easy.

First, download the free printable make-your-own-comic template. Then, guide your students through imagining, drawing, and writing their own version of a Big Nate cartoon strip. Show them as many examples of Big Nate comics as you want to get their brains in gear. Creating a comic strip is a great exercise on its own, but pairing it with any of the classic Big Nate stories takes engagement and enjoyment to the next level.


Make Nature Crowns with Wallace and Friends

Snug Harbor is a wondrous escape for each and every reader who turns its pages, and Wallace the Brave is the perfect guide. After exploring the cozy town with him and his pals, middle-graders can use their newfound knowledge of nature to create their very own nature crowns. With this free printable nature craft, students will first have the opportunity to express their creativity. Then, they can learn more about plants and nature, and show off some serious crafting abilities. After completing their crowns, ask students to analyze the materials they used. Whether a poem about autumnal leaves, a labeled drawing of a tulip, or a story about tree bark, be sure to pair the craft with the cranium. This downloadable activity will inspire creativity and curiosity at the same time.

The whimsical, comical, lovable world of Snug Harbor comes to life in Wallace the Brave. Middle-graders will join Wallace, his best friend Spud, and the new girl in town, Amelia, as they navigate nature and neighborhoods alike. The trio never runs out of adventurous expeditions, and readers will tag along on each one. Along the way, students will curate an appreciation of their own hometowns. In turn, they’ll be encouraged and inspired to explore nature so they can gather materials for unique nature crowns. This is the perfect activity for any time of year. In fact, have students make one every season so they can see firsthand the changes nature undergoes. Download and follow this free printable nature craft to bring their creations to life!


Create Your Own Cartoon Strip with Phoebe and Her Unicorn

Phoebe and Her Unicorn is a beloved and bestselling series about finding friendship in the most unlikely places. Middle-grade readers will follow Phoebe, a somewhat awkward girl, as she forges a powerful bond with a vainglorious unicorn who shows her just how special she really is (after getting over the whole hit-in-the-face-with-a-rock thing, that is). This free printable create-a-comic activity template opens up a world of artistic possibility for middle-graders. They can create their own magical best friend and become the inventors of their own fantastical tale of friendship. As they work on this activity, encourage students to think critically about what makes their real-life friendships special.

Making friends has never been modeled so beautifully as it is in Dana Simpson’s magical series. After reading all about Phoebe and Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, readers can create their own magical BFFs in the very same illustrated comic style. Readers will join Phoebe and Marigold in discovering each other’s awesomeness, coming to appreciate their own as a result. Download this free printable create-a-comic activity and guide your students through imagining, drawing, and writing their own version of a Phoebe and Her Unicorn cartoon strip. This activity is a great creative exercise, but it also instills a deeper understanding of the importance of friendship, no matter what differences you may have.

How to Draw Phoebe and Her Unicorn Characters

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.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn: free printable cartooning guide

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.


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