Put on a Show

All of the unstructured time during summer lends itself nicely to imaginative play. Spend one of those long, unplanned stretches of time between pool parties and camp-outs to put on a show with a puppet theater. Puppets are fun for a wide-range of ages. I know 5th graders love them! To get started, check out these puppet ideas and resources.
The Toymaker, which I featured in January, has several beautiful, printable puppet sets like these characters from Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Martha Stewart Kids turns napkins into origami finger puppets. Her site has written and pictorial instructions.
Nick Jr. Printables has print-and-cut finger puppets for lots of their children's shows including Olivia, Dora, and Blue.
Babelisme offers this cute set of clover finger puppets.
Activity Village has eight, super-cute printable dinosaur puppets.
Author and illustrator, Jan Brett literally has hundreds of beautiful, free printable murals, coloring pages and activities that correspond with her long list of children's books. On her site, you can also find these Town Mouse Country Mouse finger puppets as well as printable masks for five of her books (they make great puppets when glued to popcicle sticks), and two sets of color-in finger puppets from The Umbrella.
At Kids Craft Weekly there is a tutorial for these fun rubber glove finger puppets.
At Make Your Own Baby Stuff, there are printable patterns for these handmade animal finger puppets.
Once you have your puppets made, visit the Katherine Marie Photography blog to get inspired by her Red Dot Theater. Also check out the shoe-box theater on Honeyflake.

**Edited to add, if you sign up for The Toymaker's mailing list, you'll get access to even more printables including some very nice puppet theater accessories!

Images from The Toymaker, Martha Stewart, Nick Jr., Babalisme, Activity Village, Jan Brett, Kids Craft Weekly, Make Your Own Baby Stuff, Katherine Marie Photography, Honeyflake.


Inexpensive Classroom Rewards

Summer is a great time for teachers to stock up loot for classroom stores and prize boxes. Kids meals and cereal boxes are tried-and-true prize yielders, but to beef up your collection, check out the weekly printable freebies at Jinjerup.
For the price of paper, ink, and time you can print Jinjerup's cheerful set of Summer Fruit bookmarks or the colorful and fun Chick Chic bookmarks.
Then brighten up your own computing space with one of Jinjerup's many, adorable free wallpapers.
Images from jinjerup.


Indoor Fun

Now that school is out, there is plenty of time for running, exploring and playing outside. But if your area is like mine, it's already too hot and mosquito-y to spend the whole day outdoors. Never fear! Whether it's heat or bugs or rain that keep you quarantined, there are lots of fun ways to play and imagine inside.
At Martha Stewart Kids she has a tutorial for this indoor hopscotch mat, a great option for getting kids active in the space of a hallway.
Filth Wizardry has detailed instructions for turning a shower curtain liner into a map activity mat where kids can color and learn about street signs and map symbols.
Family Fun and EEK! (Environmental Education for Kids) each have an entire page of games, activities and printables for rainy days.
When all else fails, let kids drag chairs together to build a secret reading tent.

Images from Martha Stewart, Filth Wizardry, and my collection.