Jasper Johns, a master American artist, was the first to use everyday objects as his subject matter. One of his most famous paintings was just a grid with many numbers. Some math teachers find this art project helpful to have students practice lining up columns of numbers.
1. I printed up sheets of paper that were already divided into three columns of three squares. Ask the students to write single digit numbers only from the top left to the bottom right square in pencil.
2. The students are to trace all the numbers with a thick black marker.
3. Pass out lots of oil pastels and instruct students to color in each square, adding details as they desire.

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Abstract Flower Drawing

This is a little twist on the dissecting and coloring technique. If at the end you shade the corners of each shape you make, you get a softer and more sophisticated abstraction.
1. Students draw a vase that takes up most of the drawing paper. To help with making a symmetrical shape, they may fold scrap paper in half, draw, cut and trace. When the vase is done, a few simple flowers are added on top.
2. Using a ruler, the drawing is dissected by drawing about 7 or 8 rotating lines all the way across the paper. The goal is to have a lot of medium size shapes to color.
3. All of the shapes inside the vase and flowers are colored with warm colors: red, orange and yellow. All of the shapes on the outside are colored with cool colors: blue, green and purple. The students are to color all the shapes lightly first, and then chose one corner that gets shaded darker with the same color.

CA Visual Art Standard: Grade 5
2.4 Create an expressive abstract composition based on real objects.
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Textured Castle Drawing


I tried this drawing out in my after school journal class and was really happy with the results. The boys got into the designing of their castle, and some girls went in the princess direction. Either way, doing a follow-along drawing and adding texture kept them focused and engaged for the entire class.
1. I found directions for drawing a castle here, and had the students follow as I drew it on the board. I encouraged them to draw large enough to fill the paper. They started in pencil and then traced the edges with a thin black marker.
2. I passed out sheets of small white gum labels that I found at the drug store for about $5. The kids applied the labels in a staggered manner to look like stone blocks.
3. Students colored in their castles with colored pencils or crayons, rubbing over the labels. The labels were a fun and easy way to add texture to their drawings. Lastly, they colored in the sky and ground and added their ever-important dates and titles.

CA Visual Arts Standard: Creative Expression, Grade One
2.1 Use texture in two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art.
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Masking Tape Portrait

This is another way of getting lots of irregular torn edges, without the fuss of gluing them down. I used blue painter’s tape to make this portrait on a piece of colored paper.
1. Each student will need a 9" x 12" piece of colored paper, and a roll of blue painter’s tape (sharing would work too). I used the 1.5" wide variety so I was forced to tear it a lot if I wanted narrow strips. I personally think the more torn edges there are, the better the art looks.
2. I started by laying down the oval shape, then the neck, and finally the face and hair. You could require the students to make their head touch the top and sides of the paper so their faces will be large. Small faces would be difficult to fill in.
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Pipe Cleaner Doll

This doll-making project can be a good introduction to hand sewing.
1. The head is made from a 1" diam. wood ball that has a center hole. Fold a large pipe cleaner in half and insert through ball so that loop sticks out of one end.
2. Gather a small bunch of doll hair and stick it through the loop so that it is centered on the head. Pull the pipe cleaner down so that the hair is pulled snugly to the ball.
3. Twist the pipe cleaner together so that it becomes the spine of the doll. Fold another pipe cleaner in half, twist to make it strong, and wrap it around the spine to make the arms. Fold one last pipe cleaner in half, twist, and wrap to the bottom of the spine to make the legs. Embroidery floss is wrapped around the legs and arms to secure the folds and add color.
4. Give students lots of felt, heavy sewing thread and a needle and let them design an outfit for their doll.
5. Permanent markers may be used to draw facial features.

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My New PDF Shop

I am pleased to announce the opening of my new PDF Shop, adding ease and convenience to shopping my pdf projects. You can now view my entire collection on a single page, or by theme. You can also track your purchases and download status with a convenient Account Page.

Click on How to Purchase on my new PDF Shop menu bar to preview illustrated, step-by-step instructions. 
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Wrap Around Snake

This snake made for a fun drawing in my afterschool class recently. I made a plan for drawing the snake on top of a branch, and then erasing the parts that wouldn’t show. It guarantees that the snake segments will all line up with each other.
1. Follow the diagram above to draw a snake in pencil.
2. Trace the lines with a black Sharpie marker.
3. Color the snake and tree with crayons – the heavier coloring the better.
4. Paint the background with watercolor paints.
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How to Draw a Giraffe

I tried out this giraffe drawing project today in my afterschool class. Just when I thought that maybe it was a bit too difficult for my youngest students, I turned around to see this amazing work of art by Lily G., a kindergartener. I can’t draw things this charming, but Lily sure can.
1. Students started with an 8.5" x 17" sheet of paper, and lightly sketched the two guide lines indicated in diagram 1.
2. An egg-shaped head was drawn.
3. A line for the front of the body was added below the head, going down to the toes.
4. A line with three curves was drawn across the bottom to form the legs.
5. The back of the body angled up to meet the middle of the paper, and then continued up to connect to the head.
6. Students added the ears, antlers, eyes and mouth.
7. Guide lines were erased, including the one dividing the head and neck.
8. A scarf was added, along with some giraffe spots. All lines were traced with a black Sharpie and the drawing was colored in with oil pastel.
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Paper Weaving

I find that paper is a good way to introduce kids to weaving as the patterns are more visible than with yarn. And I keep running across many 4th and 5th graders who have never tried any kind weaving, so I have concluded that this media gets overlooked way too often.
1. I did myself a favor and bought some good construction paper from Staples that was much brighter than the public school brand. One large 9" x 12" sheet needs to be chosen for the background “warp”, the term for the parallel lines in a weaving. Parallel lines need to be cut 3/4" apart from each other, leaving the top and bottom edge intact. This is most easily done with an xacto knife and ruler.
2. I cut varied widths of 9" strips of paper for the “weft”, the lines that go across in a weaving. Starting at one end, a paper needs to be woven up and down from one side to the other. The next paper is woven in the same manner, just done in the opposite way as the first. Shove each strip close together as you advance and repeat until the area is filled.
3. To add an extra bit of color, the students can go back to the widest strips and add another skinny strip on top. It adds a bit more interest to the artwork.
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Texture Owl Drawing

Adding texture to your art can be as simple as crumpling up an old phone book page, painting it and drawing on top. This technique could be applied to any art that might benefit from a few bumps and wrinkles.
1. Tear out a page from a phone book. Use a ruler to make torn edges on all four sides.
2. Crumple the page, smooth it out, and use a glue stick to glue it firmly to a larger sheet of drawing paper.
3. Paint over the phone book page with white acrylic paint. The paint should be spread thin and/or watered down so that some of the text on the phone book paper shows through when finished. Let dry.
4. Follow my “How to Draw an Owl” post. Trace with a Sharpie marker.
5. Color in the owl and branch with crayons. The more pressure and color, the better.
6. Color in the background. A softly colored edge around the entire picture can be a nice touch.
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Collage Name Card


Lately I’ve been inspired by scrapbook artists and the layered-looking collages they often create. This Collage Name Card to let the students express their personalities, while making colorful artwork that can adorn their classrooms.
SESSION ONE
1. Cut enough 9" x 12" drawing paper into fourths measuring 4.5" x 6" to furnish each student with one page for each letter in their name. Also, pass out old magazines and have the students find pictures depicting things that they like such as favorite foods, colors, animals, etc.Demonstrate how the magazine paper, when torn vertically, can produce fairly even strips. They will then trim the lengths into pieces to form the letters of their names. Each strip is glued to the drawing paper with a glue stick being careful to leave no raised edges.
2. The students will use peeled crayons and a textured surface to make crayon rubbings around the letters, each with a different color.
SESSION TWO
3. I'll be using Crayola’s Watercolor Mixing Set. They have a new bright palette that works well for a watercolor resist painting. Each page is painted with a different color around each letter. These paintings dry pretty quickly but dabbing with a paper towel can speed things up.
4. Once dry, the students will use small peeled crayons to rub around the edges of each page using a different color for each.
5. The students will need pieces of drawing paper cut 24"x 6" on which to mount the name pages. Each is glued to the drawing paper using a glue stick, working from left to right. Add paper for longer names and trim off any excess. Press under a stack of books to flatten.
6. When complete, the names can be hung on a wall or made to stand with a “Z” fold as pictured.
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Fruit Face

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian artist from the 1500s who spent years working as an official court painter. He developed a style of composing portraits from fruits, vegetables, etc., which was uniquely his own. There's a great book about him called "Fruit Face" which is what I used to introduce this lesson.

1. Find lots of large, colorful images of all kinds of fruits and vegetables from either magazines or stock photos online. I found that www.iStockPhoto.com has lots to choose from and are not too expensive.

2. Make color prints or color copies of all the images and distribute to the students, along with a scissors, glue stick and black construction paper. Show them how they can "build" a face by layering smaller, feature-like pieces on top of larger shapes. Careful cutting (removing all the background) will help make their face look nice and neat.

3. Lastly, the students will glue down all the shapes, starting with the background. Encourage lots of detail with clothes, accessories, etc.
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Magazine Collage Bird

Sometimes old projects can kind of morph into new ones, either by choice or necessity. In this case I ran out of boxes to do my “Recycle Rooster” lesson, so I switched to magazine pages and this sweet baby chick was created by a talented 3rd grader.
1. I was inspired by the collage animals in the “Farmyard Beats” book. Students saw how they could create roosters and/or chicks using some very simple shapes. Using old magazines, students looked for colorful pages to cut into half circles for the body and wings, circles for the head, and triangles for the beak. All were glued down with a glue stick.
2. Skinny legs and a little eye were drawn in with a marker.
2. Students used watercolor paint to add color to the background. The nice part about magazine pages is that they are coated so they don't easily absorb any paint that bumps into them.
Thanks to Sophie M. for letting me share her beautiful bird.
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California Collage


My experience with collage is that students enjoy them, but often have trouble filling a paper in one class session. I thought that if they all work on one large project, they might stay on task a little better.
I’ve made a large multi-page California template that measures about 30" tall. The file may be downloaded HERE.
1. To make my collage, I first printed out and trimmed all the pages. I laid out the pages as needed, taped them together, and cut away the excess.
2. I searched old magazines for green swatches of color for the forest areas of the state, brown for the desert and attached them with a glue stick. The outer pieces should overlap the edges.
3. When the map was completely covered, I turned the work over and trimmed along the white edge of the paper.
4. I used a black Sharpie to trace around the outer edge.
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Hallway Pencil Poles

The hallway at my school just got a lot more fun, thanks to some amazing students and moms that finished our new “Hall of Pencils” today. 
1. Some very civic-minded graduates decided they wanted to help make our school more colorful, so they began this pencil project that had been on the PTA’s “to do” list for way too long. Students (from middle school) washed the poles, and primed them for painting.
2. A mom masked off the length to be painted yellow and students rolled on the color. Our hall is very long, so we have sections of yellow, red and blue pencils to add some variety.
3. The masking tape was removed and the top of the pole was hand painted eraser pink.
4. My super clever friend Kelly had the idea that something more than paint could be used to finish the pencils off. She found air duct tubing at the hardware store, cut it and stretched it out, and bolted the piece in place with a metal ring. Ta dah! Giant pencils for our students to enjoy as they walk to and from class.
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Flip Flop Journal Page


I have trouble throwing away clean colorful food boxes, and was inspired by the beach theme of these cracker boxes for my art journal class.
1. I made a 5" tall flip flop pattern (that you can download HERE), and gave each students lots of cut up box sections. They were to trace on the back to create two matching flip flops.
2. I used a sharp scissors to poke a hole in each shoe. Two small colored strips of paper, about 4" x 1/2" were individually placed on a small brad, and then poked into the shoe. The brad was opened up in back to secure. The strip ends were wrapped around and taped in place.
3. Students used window screen and a crayon to rub a sand-like background. The flip flops were glued in place and a page title and edging were added with crayon.
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Silver on Black Journal Page

I love dark journal pages with light or white writing on them. I wish I had lots of colorful poster paint markers, but in lieu of that, I found that India ink and silver Sharpies worked pretty well.
1. Students paint a journal page with India ink and let it dry.
2. With a silver Sharpie marker, they draw a lot of parallel lines on the page, each about an inch apart.
3. Writing with only capital letters, they fill in the lines with the date and the favorite thing they did today. Using capital letters will create lots of closed shapes, which is important for the next step.
4. Using pencil crayons, students color in the closed shapes. Sometimes less is more. If your page looks good with just the writing and coloring, then stop and enjoy.

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Ice Cream Cone Watercolor Painting

If you want to encourage kids to draw tall shapes, it helps to have paper cut to match. I turned standard 18" x 24" watercolor paper into 18" x 6" panels for this project and it worked really well.
1. Students discussed all the different ice cream flavors they could think of. The point was to realize how many different colors ice cream comes in these days. They sketched in pencil a cone with as many scoops of ice cream as they could fit.
2. To help keep the watercolor from spreading, all the lines with were traced in crayon.
3. The scoops and background were painted in with watercolor paint.
4. After the paint was dry, all the lines were traced again with a black permanent marker. Little spots were traced as specks of fruit.
Class Follow Up: I had a small amount of non-hardening clay on hand, and I gave each student a grape-sized piece and challenged them to see who could make the smallest ice cream cone. The kids loved it and focused on the task, rather than comparing who got the most clay, etc. And some made incredibly tiny shapes!
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Woven Cup Holder Tutorial

I experimented with an idea from my “Crafts for Kids” magazine, and came up with this recycled magazine cup holder. It’s created by weaving around a water bottle, so a good fit is pretty much guaranteed. And you probably already have all the supplies to make one ... or more.
1. Tear out seven pages from an old magazine. Try to make the pages as whole as possible, but don’t worry about crooked edges.
2. Fold all pages in half lengthwise three times, crease, and tape ends shut with a small amount of tape. When complete, find the center of four strips by folding and marking with an “X”. Make 2 large “X”s from four of the strips and staple together in the center.
3. Wrap one “X” around the bottom of a water bottle, center and secure with a rubber band. Place the other “X” on top, center to cover open spaces, and tuck into the same rubber band.
4. Take one of the remaining three strips and weave into the bottle. I used a 20oz Gatorade bottle and the strips were the perfect length. When complete, tape the ends in place. Repeat with the 2nd stripe. For the 3rd strip, remove the rubber band first to make the weaving easier. Turn over and gently remove cup from the water bottle.
 5.  Gently fold over ends and tape inside if possible. Reinforce the top inside edge with extra tape to secure, place your water bottle back inside and you’re good to go.
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Father’s Day Card



This is my favorite way for students to make a scratch art picture, first a black marker drawing, then layers of oil pastel on top. The result is a very artsy image that is 100% their own.
1. Students folded a letter size paper in half (heavy stock is best) and then wrote D-A-D in either block letters or very fat stick letters with a permanent black marker.
2. My favorite Portfolio® oil pastels really do work best in the layering of color. I recommended that students choose a combination of light colors to cover the entire paper.
3. A dark color (dark blue, dark purple, or black, etc.) was used to cover the entire page again. Lots of pastel needs to be used for the best results.
4. Students used a wooden stick to scratch their designs. This could be just lines, or patterns and writing too. Be warned, this is messy, but lots of fun! I used it for kinder through 4th graders today and all walked away with a card they were really proud of.
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“I Love Ewe” Father’s Day Gift



A box of twisty ties at a restaurant supply store inspired this project. I was pretty sure that because they were cheap, and easy to bend and glue, something could be made from them. A few (ok, a lot) of experiments later and this curly haired sheep project took form.
1. Students counted out 11 popsicle sticks to make their boards. I placed glue on the two backs and let kinders line up the remaining 9 on top.
2. Students used a white paper rectangle that was the width and height of the body to cut out an oval and glue it on the middle of their board.
3. Students cut legs from a narrow strip of black paper and slid them under the oval while it was still wet with glue.
4. With a pencil or dowel, the students wrapped the twisty ties around it to make a coil, and slid it off when complete. About 15 or so needed to be made, depending on the size of the body. The oval body was then covered with a generous amount of white glue, and twisty coils were placed on it, as close together as possible.
5, Using remaining black paper, students cut out a triangle head. White pencil crayons were used to make dots for the eyes. When dry, a message was added with a black Sharpie.
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Another Haiti Art Project

Learning about where you live and what it looks like on a map doesn’t have to be bland and boring. I’m currently planning art lessons for Project HOPE Art’s July trip to Haiti, and plan like to have children make hand colored maps of their country. For accuracy’s sake, they will start with a sheet of watercolor paper that already has a light outline of Haiti printed on it. (I purchased mine at Map Resources.com for just $10.) The printed lines will be traced with a crayon and other details such as mountains, waves and sea life may be added. Watercolor paint is brushed over all. Cities could be added, depending on age and ability.

You can support Project HOPE Art’s latest fundraiser by visiting our Indigogo drive at: www.indiegogo.com/rainbowstohaiti. We just need $600 more to meet our goal – thanks everyone!
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Lettering on Acetate

My afterschool students have been practicing their lettering with acetate tracings, mounted to photo backgrounds. I had a range of kinder – 4th graders, and all were able to create and trace to their own ability.
1. I printed out this quote “Every Child is an Artist’ using Fink Gothic typeface, graying the lines to make the tracing more readable. Students placed a sheet of acetate over it and traced the letters with a black permanent marker.
2. Some new Brush Tip Sharpie Markers were used to fill in the letters. They are my new favorite tool as they feel like paintbrushes and fill in solid color so smoothly.
3. The acetate was taped to a color print of clouds. 
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Father's Day Pencil Holder

Popsicle sticks have a warm wooden, eco-friendly look and are inexpensive too. I’ve created a project that uses your average 15 oz. tin can as a base, and a removeable band of popsicle sticks. 
1. I started with two thick wooden rulers and taped them down to a cardboard base. I left just enough space in between for a row of popsicle sticks to lie flat. I placed 25 sticks that were all touching side by side, and then glued down two fabric ribbons with some craft glue.
2. Let dry for about 15 minutes so that the sticks and ribbon are mostly bonded together. Carefully pick up the row of sticks with the ribbon and let dry for at least an hour.
3. One side of the ribbons gets trimmed flush with the stick edge, and the other is trimmed down to about an inch. Glue those ends to the inside of the opposite side and secure with a paper clip until it is dry.
4. Paint an empty, clean 15oz. can and let dry. The popsicle band should slide right over the can. A ribbon may be added for decoration. I like this one from the Martha Stewart collection found at Michael’s.
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Father’s Day Award

Sometimes the typical tie drawing for Father’s Day gets old. Showing students how to draw a large trophy worked well for this craft project.
1. Students made a board by gluing 7 large popsicle sticks across 2 vertical ones. This was allowed to dry while drawing.
2. On a piece of white paper (cut to fit on the popsicle board) students drew a large trophy, and added any message they wanted inside.
3. A piece of dry wax paper (like the kind found in a bakery) was taped over the top of the drawing. Their entire paper drawing was traced and colored in with Sharpie permanent markers.
4. The drawing was cut out with a scissors. A mix of 50/50 watery glue was brushed over the board and on the back of the drawing, which was placed on the board. More glue was brushed on top. Brush off any extra or the board may warp when drying. Magnets could be glued on the back of this to make some nice refrigerator art.
Thanks to Miranda, a talented 2nd grader, who made this beautiful artwork for her father last week.
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Haitian Creole

This is one of my favorite projects using the English alphabet, so I thought that adapting it to Creole phonetics for Project HOPE Art’s trip this summer should work well too. The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong with a grid of crayon letters and pretty watercolor paint. The result always looks a bit like a colorful quilt, and children that are learning to read get just a bit more reinforcement of what their language is based on.

Haiti's illiteracy rate is sadly the highest in the Western Hemisphere. With that in mind, HOPE Art plans to bring many literacy-related projects to children in July. If you would like to support our fundraiser for this trip, please visit our “Rainbows to Haiti” drive at Indiegogo. Thanks everyone!
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Moringa Tree Painting

I’m returning to Haiti this summer, as part of Project Hope Art’s ongoing effort to bring creative, whimsical, and educational activities to children in both Port-Au-Prince and beyond.

On this trip, our main focus will working with Moringa Trees. Also known as the “Miracle Tree,” research has shown that this tree can be a powerful tool in combating hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. The Moringa Tree gets its power from its extremely dense vitamin content, in combination with its ability to grow quickly and heartily in many types of difficult climates, including the subtropical climate in Haiti. As we work with planting these trees, children will also have a chance to paint one. This drawing is made with crayon, complete with white roots, and watercolors. I’ve yet to met a child that doesn’t think there’s some kind of magic in how the white roots suddenly appear when painted over.

To support this July trip to Haiti, please see our “Rainbows to Haiti” drive at Indiegogo. Thanks everyone!




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Art Journal: Circles of Color

This could be a lesson in harmony as the filled in colored circles could be made to match the magazine circles next to them.
1. I used a spice jar lid to trace circles on my paper. I think it looks best when you can have at least 3 in the rows.
2. The same lid was used to trace some circles out of an art magazine I had. I cut and pasted only four photos as I wanted some others left empty.
3. The remaining circles I colored in with pencil crayon, trying to use only colors I saw in the photos.
4. The background was filled in with a color that was not already used.
5. The edges of the circles were retraced with a black marker, and color names written in the corresponding circles.
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Popsicle Stick Cabins

These new little popsicle sticks (they’re 2 1/2" long) that I found at Michael’s remind me of my parent’s log cabin in Tennessee. Here’s one way to make little houses that could serve well as colorful refrigerator magnets. Or add some snow and a string for a holiday decoration? Let your imagination see what it can come up with.
1. Follow the steps shown in my small diagram above. I like using Aleene’s Tacky Glue to connect all the sticks as it is thicker and seems to set up faster. Start by gluing 6 sticks onto two, and try to make the bottom edge flush and the top with a bit of stick still showing.
2. Cut three pieces at an angle as shown, and glue to another stick. I used a heavy scissors and it took a lot of pressure, so I wouldn’t advise that kids try to cut this.
3. Glue the two sections together and let dry.
4. With an Ultra Fine tip black Sharpie, draw some details on the front of the house.
5. Use a crayon to color the front of the house.
6. Glue the final two roof sticks on top. Glue magnets on the back, if desired.
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