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DIY activity 15: How to make an easy kid’s playhouse out of an ordinary cardboard box.

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Author: Gauri Kshirsagar

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Childhood….. it’s that time in life where a simple cardboard box can make you incredibly excited and entertained for hours on end. And if you throw in a couple of sheets and pillows, well, that’s icing on the cake. In this article, I will give you some tips and ideas on how to convert an ordinary cardboard box into a fun play house.

The British name for a playhouse is a “Wendy House,” named after a tent-like structure that the lost boys built for Wendy Darling in J.M. Barrie’s famous story, Peter Pan. The prop made for the stage play of Peter Pan in 1904 birthed the expression “Wendy House” for children’s playhouses thereafter.

Corrugated cardboard is the ideal material for a playhouse. It’s easy to cut, fold, stick, draw on and decorate. Cardboard is also free (or very cheap) and readily available. Using cardboard to make a playhouse is a great way to recycle.

This DIY cardboard box playhouse will help ignite your kids’ imaginations — and it’s totally easy to make. The best part? The playhouse collapses down flat when the kids are done playing with it, so it’s super easy to store and won’t clutter up the house. Wherever your children’s interests lie, they will love to make and decorate a cardboard house that will allow their imaginations to run wild.

In this playhouse I have used a single large cardboard box which had a lid on top. You can use huge boxes which came with your appliances, You know the ones: the box that your refrigerator came in, or speakers or the TV. You’ve probably been saving them in case you need to return the item for a refund or sell it on olx. Well, you don’t really need those empty boxes. Have fun with them instead. The box from a flat screen TV could be an awesome roof! You don’t have a box at home you can check out the supermarket, usually they do have extras. Slide9

Coming back to the playhouse I have cut open the base and have used the lid of the box as a roof. I have cut two sections of the house, one for the door and the other for the window. For the decorations I have covered all the walls with white paper and the roof with black paper. All the decorations were done using craft paper and colours with lots of help from my twins.

 

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On all the sides I have either painted or stuck craft paper to make murals of natures which includes flowers, grass, fruit tree, butterflies, birds etc to give the house a feel of a garden around it.

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The overhead model depicts a rainbow with a smiling sun some clouds and rain drops all around the house. This model was separately made using thermocol and cardboard and stuck over the roof.

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The size of the window cut out is huge for more light, and is also decorated with creepers of grapes and fence.

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Here is a zoomed in photo of the painting with raindrops (which are hand painted by my daughters)

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For the interiors I have used a nice rug with pictures of strawberries on it with two small pillow. Since the base is open, the rug can be removed and the area can be cleaned easily after a day’s play. The roof of the house is black with glow in the dark stars.

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For more detailed explanation do check out the video below:

 


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DIY Activity 14: WALL-E and EVE amigurumi plush toys

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Author: Gauri Kshirsagar

Slide3In the movie WALL-E, in 2805, Earth is abandoned and largely contaminated with garbage, with its people evacuated on giant star liners. Humans have left behind WALL-E robot trash compactors to clean up, however, all have since stopped functioning, except one unit who has gained sentience and is able to stay active using parts from other units. He is a small mobile compactor box with all-terrain treads, three-fingered shovel hands, binocular eyes, and retractable solar cells for power. Although working diligently to fulfill his directive to clean up the garbage he is distracted by his curiosity, collecting trinkets of interest.  EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), is a sleek robot probe whose directive is to locate vegetation on Earth and verify habitability. She has a glossy white egg-shaped body and blue LED eyes. “WALL·E” is everything we’ve come to expect from Pixar and more- colorful, vibrant, imaginative, exciting, involving, beautiful, and most importantly a film with interesting, involving characters. Most importantly, however, it is perfect entertainment.

Wall E and Eve (in Wall E’s words Evaaa…..) are of  my twin’s favourite cartoon pairs, among their many pretend play toys. WALL-E movie toys are hardly available, especially in India and so tried my hands with amigurumi. The pattern came out quite good for both WALL- E and EVE.

The following is the easy to make amigurumi pattern for WALL-E and EVE plush toys which I have made. Do try it out.

You will need:

  1. Yellow worsted yarn
  2. Grey worsted yarn
  3. White worsted yarn
  4. Black worsted yarn
  5. 5mm crochet needle
  6. Blue embroidery thread
  7. Black satin piece
  8. Black button for eyes

Pattern:

WALL-E

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Body:

  1. Using the yellow yarn make six plates
  2. Row 1: ch 15, sc 14 (14)
  3. Row 2-15: sc in each sc (14)
  4. Finish off and leave a long tail for sewing.
  5. Sew all the pieces together, except the top.
  6. Add a filler and sew the remaining side, making a cube

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Detailing for the body:

  1. Grey edge on the top and back of the body:
    1. Row 1: Make 38 sc using Moogly’s method, which does not need a foundation chain (38), or as the length needed. You can choose the edges you want the grey edge.
    2. Finish off.
  2. Grey corners in “y” shape from the bottom (make 2):
    1. Make sc 5 using Moogly’s method, which does not need a foundation chain (5)
    2. Attach the yarn on the 3rd stitch and make 2 sc.
    3. Cut the yarn and leave a long tail for sewing.
  3. Grey Plate in the front:
    1. Row 1: ch 15, sc 14 (14)
    2. Row 2-6: sc in each sc (14)
    3. Sew detailing with black, red and blue yarn or embroiders thread.
    4. Finish off and leave a long tail for sewing.

Stitch all the detailing on the edges and corners, with the name “WALL-E” with a black, red and white yarn on the front plate.

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Arms: (Make two)

  1. With grey yarn make a magic ring
  2. 1st row: 6 sc (6)
  3. 2rd row: 2 sc in each stitch (12)
  4. 3th -5th row: Change yarn to yellow. Sc in every stitch (12)
  5. 6th & 7th row: Change yarn to black. Sc in every stitch (12)
  6. 8th & 9th row: Change yarn to white. Sc in every stitch (12)
  7. 10th & 11th row: Change yarn to black. Sc in every stitch (12)
  8. 12th & 13th row: Change yarn to white. Sc in every stitch (12)
  9. 14th– 15th row: Change yarn to yellow. Sc  in every stitch (12)
  10. Add filler
  11. 16th row: Decrease, join 2 stitches together (6)
  12. Finish off and leave a long tail for sewing.
  13. Sew the arms on each side of the yellow cube
  14. If you want, you can add the three fingers on each arm. I left it as it is, since it looked better that way.

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Wheels & belt (Make two sets)

For the wheels, make 3 small balls with grey yarn

  1. Magic ring
  2. 1st row : 6 sc (6)
  3. 2rd row: 2 sc in each stitch (12)
  4. 3th row: ch 1-2-1 sticth (24)
  5. 4th row: decrease with ch1-2-1 (12)
  6. 5th row:  decrease with joining 2 stitches together (6)
  7. Finish off and leave a long tail for sewing.
  8. Stitch the three balls close together on the lower part of each side of the cube.

For the belt:

  1. Make a long plate with black yarn
  2. Row 1: Chain 6, sc 5
  3. Row 2- until required length: sc in each stitch
  4. Stitch the plate around the balls

Neck:

  1. With grey yarn make a magic ring
  2. 1st row : 6 sc (6)
  3. 2rd row: 2 sc in each stitch (12)
  4. 3th -5th row: Change yarn to yellow. Sc in every stitch (12)
  5. 5th -8th row: Change yarn to yellow. Sc in every stitch (12)
  6. Add filler, finish off and leave a long tail for sewing.

Eyes: (Make 2)

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Eyes consist of two parts:

  1. Outer Grey pouch with grey yarn
    1. Magic ring
    2. 1st row: 6 sc (6)
    3. 2rd row: 2 sc in each stitch (12)
    4. 3th row: Ch 1-2-1 stitch (24)
    5. 4th row: Ch1-1-2-1-1 stitch (36)
    6. 5th -8th row: Sc in each stitch around (36)
    7. Stitch up and finish off
    8. Make a simple fold on the side which has rough stitches.
  2. Inner eyeball with white yarn
    1. Magic ring
    2. 1st row: 6 sc
    3. 2rd row: 2 sc in each stitch (12)
    4. 3th row: ch 1-2-1 sticth (24)
    5. 4th row: Sc in each stitch around
    6. 5th row: decrease with ch1- join 2 stitches-1 around (12)
    7. 6th row: Add filler and decrease with joining 2 stitches together (6)
    8. Add filler, finish off and leave a long tail for sewing.
    9. Add a black button at the centre to complete the eyes

Stitch both the pieces together with the white ball in the grey pouch as shown in the picture.

EVA

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Head and the body:

  1. With white yarn make a magic ring
  2. 1st row: work 6 sc into magic ring (6)
  3. 2rd row: 2 sc in each stitch (12)
  4. 3rd row: ch 1-2-1 stitch (24)
  5. 4th row: ch1-1-2-1-1 stitches in each stitch (36)
  6. 5th-6th row: single stitch  in each stitch around
  7. 7th row: decrease with ch1-1-join 2-1-1 (24)
  8. 8th row: decrease with ch1-join2-1 (12)
  9. Stuff the head
  10. 9th row: decrease with joining 2 stitches together(6)
  11. 10th row: single stitch in each stitch around (6)
  12. 11th row: 2 sc in each stitch (12)
  13. 12th row: ch 1-2-1 stitch (24)
  14. 13th row: ch1-1-2-1-1 stitches in each stitch (36)
  15. 14th-16th row: single stitch  in each stitch around, keeping the count of 36
  16. 17th row: decrease with ch1-1-join 2-1-1 (24)
  17. 18th-20th: single stitch  in each stitch around, keeping the count of 24
  18. 21st : decrease with ch1-join2-1 (12)
  19. 22nd: Single stitch in each stitch around
  20. Add filler and close to give a rounded (not pointy) end

Hands (Make 2)

  1. Magic ring.
  2. 1st row: Work 3 sc into the magic ring(3 st)
  3. 2nd row: 2 sc in first st, sc in next, 2 sc in last st (5 st)
  4. 3rd row: sc in first, “ 2 sc in next, sc in next “ repeat from “to” twice (7 st)
  5. 4th row: 2 sc in first, sc in next 5, 2 sc in last (9 st)
  6. 5th-8th row: sc in each (9 st)
  7. 9th row: sc dec in first stitch, sc in next 2, sc dec in next, sc in last 3 (7 st)
  8. Fasten off and leave a long tail. Stuff lightly to form an arm shape.

Assembly:

Using picture as a guide cut out a faceplate in the black satin piece. Embroider eyes using blue embroidery thread. Using black thread, sew on faceplate to head. If you find her arms stick out from her body too much put a couple of stitches a bit lower from her shoulder into her body.


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Review:‘Kid’s Ahoy’ at E-square.

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Author: Gauri Kshirsagar

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Kids Ahoy! is an indoor soft play zone and activity centre at E-Square,Pune.

Overall Rating:  ★★★★ ½ (4.5 out of 5)

Timings: 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Location: 2nd floor, E-Square Multiplex, University Road, Pune – 411016

Parking: Reserved and Valet parking is available at E square. Parking fees are Rs. 60/-

Charges: They charge Rs. 150/- for one hour and Rs. 250/- for 2 hours. They are very particular about the hygiene hence wearing socks is compulsory, in case you forget they can also be bought at an additional cost of Rs. 80/- per pair. Parents of kids below 3.5 years of age get a complimentary ticket with the child.

Attractions:

  1. Kids play area: The play areas as I mentioned earlier are clean, safe and most importantly fun! There is not much of a variety due to space constraints, but the decks are well chosen with slides, ball pit, trampoline, swings etc. The area is very neat with safety floor mats and walls being baby proofed. The staff which comprises of female attendants is quite friendly and do keep an eye on the kids.
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  2. Toy room: There is also a toy room which has a huge collection of toys and books. There is also a feeding chair for babies and a napping area for older kids. The collection includes puzzles, carpenter corner, cars dolls, vegetables, fruits, floor puzzles, electric toys and story books for toddles and children. The toy room also makes up for a TV room with a huge LCD screen.slide4slide5
  3. Kid’s Café: Near the reception area there is kids Café with little chairs and tables, colourful crockery and a fun menu which will make even the fussiest eaters sit down and grab a bite!
  4. The Activity Port is a place for children to get involved in various fun activities managed by different experts from their respective fields. It includes Little Miracles Summer Camp, Taal-Kids in Rhythm workshop, Little Flippers Swim Club and a Pet’s workshop.Prior reservation is necessary

Safety: The play area is quite safe except the slides which are very bouncy and kids tend to bounce and fall. In the toy room, younger kids are to be supervised, due to a large amount of small toys, which is a choking hazard for toddlers.

Hygiene: The whole area including the toy room and play area is very clean. No kids or parents are allowed inside without socks. The restroom is very hygienic and clean with kid sized potty seats and basins.  The whole area is air conditioned.

Staff: The staff comprises of female attendants who are friendly and take care of the kids nicely. There is also an option of keeping your child (older than 4 years) in their care while you finish of your work outside. The only problem I noticed is when the number of kids rises the staff gets overworked, since there are only two attendants.

Other attractions in the mall: E square is a famous mall at university road with movie theatres, restaurants, food court, book store, hotel and also a swimming pool.

Overall is a very good stop for kids to enjoy and have fun!!!


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Review: ‘King of Games’ in Kumar Pacific Mall

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Author: Gauri Kshirsagar

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‘King of Games’ is an adventure and gaming centre situated on the 2nd floor of Kumar Pacific mall and is one and only good gaming centres in south Pune. It is very accessible and has reserved parking.

Overall Rating:  ★★★★ (4 out of 5)

Timings: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Location: 2nd floor, Kumar Pacific, Shankar Seth Road, Swargate, Pune – 411042, Near Seven Loves Chowk

Parking: It has ample parking space in the basement of the mall. They charge Rs 20/- for parking. There is also a car wash available.

Charges: The payment is very convenient since they charge per ride/play and is done by swiping of a card.  Each card is charged Rs. 300/- at the beginning, which you can redeem by swiping at each console. Later you can get a top up in multiples of hundred. The card can be reused at each visit.

Attractions: They have a very well maintained ‘play area’ for younger children with slides, trampoline and a ball pit. This is one of my twin’s favourites. The charge around Rs. 60/- for half an hour.  Aside from the play area, there are many gaming consoles for kids aged 3 to 12 years.

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Attractions for teenagers and adults: Laser tag, bowling alley, dashing cars, gaming consoles and table hockey.slide7

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Safety: The play areas are baby proofed and most of the other games are safe with safety belts proved. But do check yourself for any breakage, since they are quite slow in maintenance. There was a small train ride, which didn’t have any safety belts, but since has been removed from display.

Hygiene: The hygiene is not that perfect but is maintained well with cleaning done every morning.

Staff: The only downside of the store is its staff. They are not helpful and seem lost at times. If you have small children, do take care of them on your own and do not rely on the staff especially in the play areas. Some of the toys in play areas havebroken down like the sea-saw and toy horses which require maintenance.

Snacks: There used to be a café in the store, but they removed it to make more space for more gaming consoles. The third floor of the mall has a food court with leading brands with a lot of variety to choose from. They also arrange birthday parties in the store

Other attractions in the mall: The mall has a variety of branded stores which give a good shopping experience. The mall also has a toy train on the second floor. A double Decker bus ride and battery operated toy cars on the ground floor.

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DIY Activity 13: Christmas beanie hat

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This is a pattern for a very cute beanie Christmas hat design which I made for my twins. I have used red and white (for Christmas) yarn but you can make it in any colours you like. I have used worsted yarn with 4.5 mm crochet hook. You can also try 5mm or 5.5m, if you need looser knots. Before making the band, do measure the child’s head circumference for a proper fit.slide2

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PATTERN:

For the headband:

  1. Starting with the red yarn, make a slipknot. Chain 11.
  2. Row 1: Skip the first chain and make 1 single crochet in the second chain from the hook. Continue making 1 single crochet stitch in each of the next 9 chains across. By the end of the row, you will have made a total of 10 single crochet stitches. Chain 1 and turn your work.
  3. Row 2: Skip the first chain and make 1 single crochet in the back loop of each stitch across. On the last stitch, add the white yarn. Carry the red yarn along the side. You will have 10 single crochet stitches on this row. Chain 1 with the white yarn and turn your work.
  4. Row 3: Skip the first chain and make 1 single crochet in the back loop of each stitch across. Chain 1 and turn your work.
  5. Row 4: Skip the first chain and make 1 single crochet in the back loop of each stitch across. On the last stitch, add the red yarn. Carry the white yarn along the side. Chain 1 with the red yarn and turn your work. Continue in this pattern of 2 rows of red followed by 2 rows of white for a total of 56 rows. Join the first and last row together to form a ring (this is the cuff/band of the hat).
  6. Cut white yarn, but use red yarn for next section.
  7. Note: not everyone’s head size is the same. You can alter this pattern to make it larger or smaller if needed by increasing or decreasing the number of rows for the band. For example, instead of 56 rows, you can make the band/hat larger by making 60 rows, or smaller by making 50 rows. Try it on your recipient and measure before proceeding.

 

Crown of Hat:

  1. Round 1: Turn the band/cuff so the stripes are vertical. You will be working along the edge of this band. With the already-attached red yarn, chain 1 and make a single crochet in the same space. Mark this first stitch.
  2. Make 1 single crochet along the edge of each of the rows, for a total of 56 single crochet stitches on this round.
  3. If you altered the pattern to make more/less rows on the band/cuff (e.g. 60 rows instead of 56 rows), you will need to alter this round (and further rounds) accordingly with (e.g. 60 single crochets instead of 56 single crochet stitches).
  4. Rounds 2-5: Working in spirals now. Make single crochet stitches around (under both loops as opposed to back loops only). Always mark first stitch. You will have 56 single crochets on each round, unless you altered the pattern as previously mentioned.
  5. Alterations: You can add a few more rounds of single crochet stitches if your head is larger. Or subtract a few if your head is smaller. This will not adversely affect the pattern.
  6. Round 6: This is a decrease round. Begin with a sc2tog (single-crochet-2-together). Mark stitch. Then do 1 single crochet in the next 3 stitches. Then do an sc2tog. Then 1 single crochet in the next 3 stitches. Continue this pattern of an sc2tog followed by 1 single crochet in the next 3 stitches around. Please note, some decrease rounds might not end up perfectly with this pattern near the end of the round. Adjust accordingly by adding or skipping a single crochet stitch or two at the end of this and other decrease rounds.
  7. Rounds 7-11: Single crochet all the way around. Keep marking that first stitch! Alterations: any rounds that say “single crochet around” – feel free to add a few more “single crochet around” rounds if your head is larger. Or subtract rounds for a smaller head. This will not adversely affect the pattern.
  8. Round 12: Decrease round. Same pattern as above: sc2tog, 1 sc, 1 sc, 1sc, sc2tog, 1 sc, 1sc, 1sc, etc. all the way around.
  9. Rounds 13-17: Single crochet around. Alterations: feel free to add a few more “single crochet around” rounds or subtract as needed.
  10. Round 18: Decrease round.
  11. Rounds 19-23: Single crochet around. Alterations: feel free to add a few more “single crochet around” rounds or subtract as needed.
  12. Weave along the top edge with a double-strand of yarn, pull the ends tight, and knot it. Add pom-pom.
  13. I have made the pom pom using a pom pom maker.

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DIY Activity 12: Snowman ornament for a Christmas tree

Author: Gauri Kshirsagar

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It’s time of the year when Christmas is around the corner and you want to decorate your Christmas tree with new ornaments. Try out the following pattern of these adorable snowmen ornaments for Christmas! These are easy to make and can be finished in an hour. So happy knitting and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

You will need:slide4

  1. Worsted yarn in White, Red and Black colours
  2. 5mm hook
  3. Crochet needle
  4. Stitch marker
  5. Stuffing (fiberfill or leftover yarn)

Method:

Body:

Use white yarn to make the head and body

R1: in a magic ring or 2nd ch from a beg ch2, 6sc, Join in first sc, ch1, here and throughout (6 sts)

R2: 2sc in each st of previous rnd. Join. (12 sts)

R3: *2 sc in next st, sc in next st* around (6 times). Join. (18 sts)

R4: *2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 2 sts* around (6 times). Join. (24 sts)

R5-8: sc in each st around. Join. (24 sts)

R9: *2 sc tog, sc in each of next 2 sts* around (6 times). Join. (18 sts)

R10: *2 sc tog, sc in next st* around (6 times). Join. (12 sts)

R11: 2 sc tog around. Join. (6 sts)

R12: 2 sc in each st around. Join. (12 sts)

R13: *2 sc in next st, sc in next st* around (6 times). Join. (18 sts)

R14-15: sc in each st around. Join. (18 sts)

R16: *2 sc tog, sc in next st* around (6 times). Join. (12 sts)

Fill or stuff body with Fiberfill or left over yarn

R17: 2 sc tog around. Join. (6 sts) (16:15)

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Scarf:

Use Red yarn to make the scarf

sc chainless foundation of 25 (OR: ch 26, sc in 2nd st from hook and in each stitch to the end). Fasten off. Attach 3 pieces of additional yarn to each end for fringe. Trim off excess. Tie around snowman body.

Hat:

Use black yarn to make the hat

R1: in a magic ring or 2nd ch from a beg ch2, 6sc, Join in first sc, ch1, here and throughout (6 sts)

R2: 2sc in each st of previous rnd. Join. (12 sts) (

R3: sc in each stitch around in BACK LOOPS ONLY (12 sts)

R4-6: sc in each stitch around

R7: *2 sc in next st, sc in next st* around in FRONT LOOPS ONLY (6 times). Join. (18 sts)

R8: *2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 2 sts* around (6 times). Join. (24 sts)

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Sew hat onto top of body and tie the scarf around the neck. Using black yarn, stitch up the eyes, mouth and buttons on body. Use red yarn to stitch up the nose.slide3


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Beginners guide to reading 3-letter words: Flash card review

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