Instant fun for the little ones. Four quick and cool crafts with paper, rocks and balloons.

Dancing balloon

This low-tech version of those battery-powered, wiggling toy balls requires nothing more than a balloon and a marble. Simply place a marble inside a round balloon, then carefully blow it up (keep your head tilted down so that the marble stays in the balloon). Tie off the balloon. As you throw or roll it, the balloon will bounce, jiggle, and spin in delightfully unpredictable ways.

(Safety note: supervise young children while playing and keep uninflated and broken balloons out of reach.)

Painted turtles

Go exploring in your backyard to find the perfect stone for this turtle's rockin' shell, then bring it back inside for some quiet-time crafting.

Look for a clean, roundish rock about 2 inches wide. For the legs, use scissors to cut two wooden craft spoons in half. With tacky glue, attach those four pieces to a third craft spoon as shown. Glue the rock on top of the craft spoon assembly.

Let the glue set. Decorate the turtle with acrylic paint, and add a pair of googly eyes.

Swat team

This bug-catching game uses a suction-cup swatter to nab pests. First, cut a very small hole in the center of a flyswatter, then insert the knob of a suction cup— thin, more flexible types work best — into the hole.

Add a dab of tacky glue to hold it. Draw various bugs, each wider than your suction cup, on a sheet of paper. (If you like the bugs shown here, download them at Create a suction-friendly surface by covering both sides of the paper with clear packing tape or contact paper, then cut out the bugs. To play, scatter the bugs on a table, the floor, or any flat surface that allows for some swatting room.

Players can take turns trying to pick up a paper bug with the swatter, or they can each wield a swatter for all-out bugageddon.

Paper puppets

All you need for the basic version of these puppets is a sheet of paper, tape, and a marker, making it a great boredom-buster when you're on the go. We dressed up ours with additional cut-paper features.

Fold a letter-size sheet of paper in thirds lengthwise. Tape the seam closed. Fold the paper in half. Fold the ends in half, in the opposite direction, so that the paper ends up accordion-folded into four equal sections. Create a face with markers and colored paper pieces attached with tacky glue. Slip your thumb and fingers into the two ends of the folded paper to bring your puppet to life.