Monday, September 1, 2014

What Is Gifted

Today I am joining with other bloggers for a monthly Hoagies Gifted blog hop to share our views on the question that causes so many arguments and intrigues pretty much everyone, Gifted? How? What are the faces of giftedness?
Types of giftedness

How to Define Intelligence and Giftedness?

Everyone is a Genius
Let’s start with some interesting links first:
  1. Intelligence defines the ways in which we, humans, think, learn, and solve problems, but it has more than one dimension. I subscribe to multiple intelligences theory by Dr. Gardner who identified initially 7 intelligence modalities (2 were added later). The dimensions of intelligence that are usually measured by IQ tests are linguistic and logical-mathematical.
  2. Davidson Institute has a great article describing characteristics of intellectually advanced young peoplethe ones that really stood out to me was early abilities for reading and math, and “unusual interests”.
  3. The most interesting information that I discovered lately are profiles of the gifted and talented. According to this article, there are six different types of gifted individuals I think that this article is a must read, especially for parents of gifted students struggling in school. They can also take a quiz and follow a series on different types of giftedness on Jade Ann Rivera blog.

What Does “Gifted” Mean to Me?

Meet-SmartyWell, enough with theories. I now want to share 10 characteristics of my own gifted learner who is now 7 years old:
  1. My gifted child is different and knows it. She told me the other day, I am different. I don’t want to watch movies. I don’t like macaroni and cheese or pizza. I don’t know who Katie Perry is. And it’s OK, because I like who I am.
  2. My gifted child is a speed-reading bookworm. She reads for pleasure, she reads when she is tired, she reads when she needs to calm down. Reading is her way to escape from problems into a fantasy world. She is currently not interested in non-fiction and only remembers non-fiction facts when they tickle her fancy. She has very good recall for fiction.
  3. My gifted child is logical and fair. She wants rules to be followed as long as they are fair (and as long as she remembers what they are). She is extremely honest even when she does something wrong even when nobody is looking.
  4. My gifted child craves challenge. This can be a problem when she is learning something that requires repetition of basic steps, such as, for example, learning to play tennis. So many time I heard her arguing with her coach that practicing basic moves is boring and asking for more challenging exercises. Then she can’t do them and gets frustrated.
  5. My gifted child is a fidgeter. She absent-mindedly “fiddles” with things while reading, which sometimes drives me and my husband crazy. At least she got much better in terms of using objects for her fiddling and not her body parts.
  6. My gifted child loves to talk. She was an early talker and got a lot of “positive feedback” (aka You are SO smart! comments) from strangers for her vocabulary. Now we are trying to teach her not to be a person who loves to hear herself talk, talks to impress and fails to listen. Not easy!
  7. My gifted child is bossy. She is an only child and an intelligent child. She is not interested in having as many friends as possible. She wants friends who will listen to her ideas or at least are willing to compromise. Luckily she does have friends that she “clicks with”.
  8. My gifted child wants recognition. If I look at the giftedness types, she would fall in “successful gifted” category (also known as “high achieving”). She wants to get good grades and reading points in her school’s Accelerated Reader program. She enjoys external rewards and adult attention that her performance brings her. As we all know, this road is a slippery road, and this is why I am happy to have a teacher this year that would expect a bit more of her than is required by the third grade program, so her rewards will hopefully have more meaning.
  9. My gifted child has low tolerance for repetition. Sadly, this brings mistakes in simple tasks and the need for rework. We are making a point to teach her the need to check her work and to practice the skills she thinks she knows. We are using “small failures” approach by letting her fail, so the next time she aspires to do better.
  10. My child is a dreamer. Quite often, she retreats into her own world while leaving things unfinished or forgetting things where she left them. While this is frustrating, it’s also endearing – her ability to disappear into herself so fully. Sometimes I get glimpses of that inner world that appears to be populated by Harry Potter and Percy Jackson characters when she asks a question or says something related to this work happening in her mind. I wish I knew more of it, but this world is her own and I won’t be prying open the doors into it.

Every Person Is Unique

IQ Tests
Each child is like a beautiful and fragile snowflake when they enter this world. It’s our job as parents to support their gifts, help them overcome their weaknesses, advocate for their needs and raise them to be kind and compassionate human beings regardless of how intelligent they are. Kids who have intelligent minds and kind hearts are our hope for the future.

Your Turn

What makes your children unique?

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Week In Review – August 30, 2014

Highlights of the Week

  1. First cold of the school year – sadly, Smarty had to miss Thursday and Friday because of the head cold. We don’t believe in sending her in with fever, but it’s hard to keep her in bed since she is feeling OK.
  2. We went to two different parties last weekend – a lot of fun, but, unfortunately, plenty of opportunities to get a virus or two.
  3. We had friends from Germany staying with us for a couple of days. Smarty always enjoys these kinds of breaks in routine. She was a good sport about getting ready for bed and going to bed on her own.
  4. My work has been rather busy – I am very grateful for my husband’s flexible working arrangement, where he can stay home with a sick child if necessary.
  5. Until Smarty got sick, we followed our routine schedule – library on Monday, friends (playdates) on Tuesday, science on Wednesday. She missed her “sports on Thursday” (a gymnastic class). We also have cook on Friday, bake on Saturday, go places on Sunday. Soon the schedule will change, since she signed up for a school musical and will be in rehearsals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Luckily, her usual playdate friends signed up for the same musical too.

School News

So far Smarty is really enjoying school. Luckily, she shares quite a bit of what is happening in school, especially if I ask more direct questions, like Did you do anything special in math class? She has another student in her class that is way above level, and the teacher is already pairing them together for special assignments in math. It’s interesting to see how this will develop, because Smarty and M spend a lot of time arguing over approaches and trying to impress each other rather than solving problems, but at least their brains are engaged and working. Smarty is also thrilled to learn cursive and works hard to practice her letters. The teacher has an interesting approach to teaching it – it looks like they are learning 3 letters every week. First they learned t,e,a, and this week they learned how to write h, i, and l. Now Smarty is amusing herself seeing how many words she can construct out of these letters.

Places We Are Going

We didn’t go far last weekend, since we had two parties in the neighborhood to go to. It was interesting to see how quickly Smarty joined the play even with the kids she doesn’t know. She is a pretty social kid when she wants to be :)

What My Child Is Reading

Reading-in-Bed Since Smarty was sick, we tried (not very successfully) to keep her in bed. You can see her bookshelf in the background. She spent a lot of time reading her favorites, and some of the new books that we brought from the library on Monday. Now, find two age-inappropriate books (one too young, another too old) in my Amazon affiliate widget below. Smarty and I had “a discussion” when she picked up Middle School: How to Deal in the library, but after flipping through the book I decided to let her have it, since she has such an intense interest about the mysterious world of middle school. She later reported to me that I was right, and the book was not for her age. I asked her why and she explained that it mentions tampons and bras. Glad that we have a few years to go before that!

My Favorite Memory of the Week

Planet-Duplo I love it when Smarty is in creative mood. She was working on this “Duplo playground” for two days. She was a little disappointed that she ran out of Duplo blocks for a Duplo house. She plays with Lego as well, but they are a lot harder for her fingers to “unlock” when she wants to move things around.

Most Popular Post of the Week

This title went back with a big bang to 12 Amazing Engineering Projects for Kids, partially because it was “reprinted” by Smart Apps for Kids:

Your Turn

How was your week? Any “sickies” in your house after the first days and weeks of school?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

6 September Books for 5 Year Olds

This post is part of the series in Book Recommendations for Kids by Age and Month of the Year. It has September book recommendations for children who are 2 or 3 years old. Each book is paired up with additional resources that you can use to extend the story further.
September Books for 5 Year Olds With Extension Activities
My daughter is now 7 year old and a very fluent reader. Very often I hear the same question, What did you do with her when she was little? Well, we read a lot, and I maintained a diary of our reading activities in weekly What My Child Is Reading entries in my blog. I decided to make these reading diaries more useful and create a new series on my blog where I will share our best books for each month for ages 3, 4, 5, and 6. Moreover, I will pair each book with an extension activity – sometimes with ours and sometimes with activities from my creative friends from Kid Blogger Network. In this post I am featuring books that we read when Smarty was approaching 5.
Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!

1. The Story of Johnny Appleseed

As fall approaches, many families turn to seasonal books and seasonal learning themes. Apple theme of fall good be a good time to introduce your preschoolers or kindergarteners to biography genre. The Story of Johnny Appleseed by Aliki is a good starting point and it can be extended with some apple taste test and science investigation into how to grow apples from apple seeds like we did a few years ago in this preschool apples mini-unit.
Preschool Apple Mini Unit

2. Feel the Wind

Cooler days of September and changing weather is also a good invitation to getting outside, flying a kite or a paper plane and learning more about why wind blows. Feel the Wind by Arthur Dorros is a non-fictional book from a terrific science series Let’s Read and Find Out, and it offers answers to common questions about wind and some learning activities including a DIY weather vane. Left Brain Craft Brain offers 25 activities to learn about wind in this impressive round up.

3. Ana and Adam Build an Acrostic

Adam and Ana Build an Acrostic We made a point to read poetry to our daughter since she was very young. She is a big fan of poetry that rhymes (think Dr Seuss), but we are also trying to introduce her to different poetry styles. Ana and Adam Build an Acrostic is a book from Poetry Builder series explaining not only the poetry styles, but also how to write poems in that style. Acrostic poems is a good start for even the youngest writers, and I want to take an opportunity to recommend this great book of acrostic poems about fall by Steven Schnur: Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic. Simply Vicky has a great set of printables that is together with a simple lesson for kids on writing acrostic poems.

4. We Are Off to Look for Aliens

We are off to look for aliens
My daughter really loved both a story in We Are Off to Look for Aliens by Colin McNaughton and its unusual design. It’s a book within a book where an author Dad hands over his new book to his kids (that other book is hidden within the bigger hardcover book). The inside story is all about visiting different planets and meeting all kinds of aliens while the “container story” has a very fun twist that delighted my then 5 year old. We had a lot of fun drawing our own aliens and making them out of playdough, but if you want to pair some alien fun with learning activities, this “Roll a Sight Word Alien” activity from Playdough to Plato will certainly make learning sight words a lot more interesting.
Roll a Sight Word Alien

5. Greek Myths

Greek Myths
I already wrote about my daughter’s love of mythology that came on when she was in preschool and is still burning strong today. She was very excited to get Greek Myths book by Marcia Williams, the same author who wrote and illustrated Tales of Gods and Pharaohs. I think she would enjoy this book more if she read it before an Egyptian book, we both thought that while this one was strong, a book with myths from Ancient Egypt was better. Still, I recommend this book as a great visual introduction to Greek myths for kids who are not as familiar with them as my daughter was at that point. An interesting extension for this book would be building your own Greek Myths playscape as KC Edventures did while reading other books about Greece. I expect thought that my daughter would want her Olympus to be over The Empire State Building like in Percy Jackson’s series.
Greek Olympus

6.  What Do People Do All Day?

What Do People Do All Day Last, but not the least, I am sharing one of our most favorite books for many years – Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day? Even though this book is “classic”, it is still great for introducing many careers to kids of preschool and early elementary school age. I wrote more about it in my recent post Who Will I Be?, but I really like what Stir the Wonder did with this book by transforming her house into Busytown.

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Your Turn

What would you add to this list for 5 year olds?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Who Will I Be – Giving Our Kids Choices

Every month bloggers of Poppins Book Nook bring you books and activities for the theme of the month. August theme is Who Shall I Be When I Grow Up? – a topic that intrigues both kids and their parents. How do we teach our kids about jobs people do and support their interests as they explore different careers in pretend play?
Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!

Reading About Jobs People Do

Today I want to share two books that describe “the adult world of jobs". Both of them were favorites in our house since daughter was about 3 until she was 7.

My daughter spent untold hours pouring over pages of What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry both before and after she learned to read. Even though the book was written many years ago, it offers an entertaining glimpse into how everyday objects are created and how they travel to our homes. I read on Amazon that the version that we have is abridged, but, as the other reviewer said, you won’t notice it unless you knew the original – the book still has a wealth of information in an accessible form for very young children.

Smarty’s other favorite book was Things People Do by Anne Civardi. This book introduces an imaginary island of Banilla and its inhabitants explaining the role they play in the smooth functioning of their community. This book is wonderful for any community helper or jobs unit, since it continues to link characters together and shows how they all contribute to each other lives.

Supporting Your Children Interests

An Inventor Hat
My only discontent with these two books that they did not introduce two occupations that interest my daughter intensely – an inventor and a scientist. We joke sometimes that she is about a century late, because her dream job is to have her own factory that will produce the things that she invents. Sometimes we have very interesting discussions about how she would run her factory, what divisions she would need to have and how she would reward her workers. It’s fascinating to see that she already understands the value of market research (some adults still believe in “build it and they’ll come” approach) and of testing her products before they come to the stores. What exactly her factory will produce remains to be a mystery. Recently Smarty sort of switched in her interests from her factory producing “mechanical gadgets” to becoming a neuroscientists and inventing something related to our senses of taste and smell. This is certainly an interesting (and dangerous!) area of research and we keep reiterating safety precautions (real scientists don’t taste their experiments) even though we didn’t have any incidents with that lately (well, she asked when she wanted to taste something that she was mixing up).
Scientist We support Smarty’s interest in science and engineering in many ways:
  • Making time for science experiments at home
  • Selecting after school programs and camps that nurture future scientists, such as Camp Galileo
  • Watching science videos
  • Reading science books
  • Going to Science museums and science programs in the library
  • Talking about how science and technology changed our lives and how it might change them in the future.
At the same time, we don’t want to impose our expectations on her. It’s very possible that her job does not even exist yet. What we want is to encourage is curiosity, exploration, effort, and a sense that there are no “boy jobs and girl jobs” and that she can try anything she is passionate about.

Your Turn

Who do your children want to be and how do you support their interest in this career path?

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Share with Poppins Book Nook

Mother with children read book
I am sharing the joy of Poppins Book Nook with my terrific co-hosts:
Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God's Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy's Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy's Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A "Peace" of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

Monday, August 25, 2014

Explore the World with Your Children

New school year opens fresh opportunities for learning themes at home. Today I am sharing some ideas to introduce your child to different cultures and countries – some of them are my own and some shared by After School Link Up participants last week.
Geography Ideas for Kids
photo credit: Chiot's Run via photopin cc

Geography on Planet Smarty Pants

Explore Geography
Since our daughter is the first generation American, we make a point to introduce her to our countries of origin and other countries around the world. When she was younger, we intentionally selected books that would introduce her to specific cultures and countries. You can check out my Hands On Geography series on this blog – I keep adding posts to it as I refresh them over time. Now we start to discuss world events with her and we subscribed her to Top Secret Adventures from The Highlights magazine where she gets to learn more about a specific country while solving puzzles set in this country. She is also lucky to be able to travel abroad – this February she went to Germany with her father, and we all went to Mexico on a spring break. We hope to continue to explore countries and cultures through books, movies, cultural experiences and food this school year.

Exploring the World With After School

There were several great geography and foreign language resources shared in After School Link Up last week:
1. Kid World Citizen offers a fun geography challenge of virtual mountain climbing through climbing stairs. It has interesting math implications too.
Stairs Geography Project for Kids- Kid World Citizen

2. Mama Smiles shares how she supports her four kids’ interest in languages with multi-lingual resources (this post also offers a fun Little Pim Giveaway).
Little Pim trilingual board books

3. Why does every home need a map? Check this post from KC Adventures to find out!
Fun ways to use maps at home
4. Also from KC Adventures – a brilliant post Around the World in 30 Books. I can’t wait to read the books featured in this post that we didn’t read yet.
Kids Books that Explore the World | Edventures with Kids
5. And since there can never be enough book lists – another excellent list from My Sweet Homeschool

Want to Explore the World?

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2014 After School Link Up Hosts

Share Your Learning Week

Some of our children are already back to school, and some are enjoying the last weeks of summer. We would love to have you link up your School-Age Post (Ages 5 and up)about your summer learning or the first weeks of school including Crafts, Activities, Playtime and Adventures that you are doing to enrich your children's lives. When linking up, please take a moment to comment on at least one post linked up before yours and grab our after school button to include a link on your post or site! By linking up you're giving permission for us to share on our After School Pinterest Board or feature on our After School Party in the upcoming weeks! Don't forget to follow along and join ourAfter School Enrichment Community.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Week In Review – August 23, 2014

Highlights of the Week

  1. On Wednesday Smarty started the third grade. She is excited to have a teacher she really wanted. We are cautiously optimistic, because we heard that this teacher knows how to challenge more advanced students and her class has a sizable cluster of strong students who can bounce ideas off each other.
  2. Smarty is very excited to have several of her good friends in the same class. We are curious to see how she will be building new friendships and developing existing friendships this year.
  3. Smarty is wrapping up her summer tennis program. We haven’t decided yet whether we will look for a group class in fall – the school will have another fall musical production (The Wiz), and Smarty wants to participate again this year. I think we will only leave gymnastics as a weekly sports class and will play tennis on weekends when we can.

Places We Are Going

Whale Watching_066
Last Sunday we went whale watching off Moss Landing (about 1 hour drive from us). It was an amazing experience – seeing huge humpback whales fully breaching so close to the boat. Unfortunately, Smarty didn’t fully enjoy the trip – she had a bad trip on a sailboat last year when we ran into some fog and very choppy waters. She was terrified then and was nervous during our whale watching trip, because the boat was rocking quite a bit. We really need a couple of trips on calm waters, so she can hopefully start to enjoy being on the boat again.

What My Child Is Reading

Lost in a book
Smarty is slowly coming out of rereading Harry Potter phase – a trip to the library helped too. I placed her current book picks into Amazon affiliate Widget:

Favorite Memory of the Week

This is a picture of Smarty settling down at her desk on the first day of school. You could almost touch the excitement of kids and their parents. Everything is fresh and new, everyone is ready for a new school year, everyone is happy to see some of their old friends in the same classroom. We just hope that this sense of excitement about learning and discovery will last this year!

Most Popular Post

Back to school for gifted learners is still #1. I am looking forward to applying all those strategies this year :)

Your Turn:

What were some of the highlights of your week?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

6 September Books for 4 Year Olds

This post is part of the series in Book Recommendations for Kids by Age and Month of the Year. It has September book recommendations for children who are 4 years old. Each book is paired up with additional resources that you can use to extend the story further.
September Book Picks for 4 year olds with extension activities
My daughter is now 7 year old and a very fluent reader. Very often I hear the same question, What did you do with her when she was little? Well, we read a lot, and I maintained a diary of our reading activities in weekly What My Child Is Reading entries in my blog. I decided to make these reading diaries more useful and create a new series on my blog where I will share our best books for each month for ages 3, 4, 5, and 6. Moreover, I will pair each book with an extension activity – sometimes with ours and sometimes with activities from my creative friends from Kid Blogger Network. In this post I am featuring books that we read when Smarty was almost 4 years old.
Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!

1. Leaf Man

Leaf Man
I’ll start with the book we read every fall since Smarty was 3 – Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. Simple text is beautifully supported by creative leaf collages. Lois Ehlert used a color copier to copy colors of real leaves on paper, but hardly anybody can resist running outside and creating something with leaves. I am sharing our own preschool take on Leaf Man here, but my post contains links to several more creative interpretations of this book.

2. Old Bear’s Surprise Painting

Old Bear Surprised Painting Old Bear’s Surprise Painting by Jane Hissey was a random library find, but it’s a great book to read with preschool children, especially in groups. All characters in this book are beautifully drawn stuffed animals who want to paint as well as their older friend, Old Bear. They soon discover that their individual “process art” pattern paintings are not that impressive, but Old Bear helps them to put a great picture together using a collage. Blog Me Mom has a beautiful textured paper collage project that would work really well as an extension for this book and would allow participation of children of different ages.

3. The Dollhouse Fairy

The Dollhouse Fairy
The Dollhouse Fairy by Jane Ray is a beautiful book, both in story and in illustrations. It might be a little long for wiggly preschoolers, but my 4 year old loved it. A little girl named Rosy loves her dollhouse made by her Dad. One night Dad is taken to the hospital, and life is simply not the same. While playing with her dollhouse, Rosy discovers an injured fairy inside and nurtures her back to health. In the end of the book all is well – fairy heals and leaves the dollhouse, Dad also heals and comes back home. It’s a wonderful story about the healing power of imagination. Smarty read it while staying with her grandparents, and my Mom made a dollhouse for her out of several boxes. Every night a “fairy” left little presents and sweets in that dollhouse. Now it’s a few years later, and Smarty still insists on her fairy dollhouse when she visits grandparents while at home she never plays with her dollhouse. I love this “upcycled dollhouse” project from Teach Me Mommy – it’s amazing what can be done out of old boxes.
Bedrooms in the dollhouse

4. Bunny Money

Bunny Money
My daughter always enjoyed books by Rosemary Wells, and Bunny Money was not an exception. The book has a great lesson both on value of money and on spending it wisely as Max and Ruby go through a series of adventures while buying a birthday present for their grandma. The book has “bunny money” page that can be photocopied and used in play, but we had already play money that came with Smarty’s Play Cash Register (a present that was given too early, but in wide use now when Smarty is 7). We did a lot of activities teaching our preschooler about money, and I really like these suggestions on learning about coins from The Measured Mom.

5. Tell Me a Dragon

Tell Me a Dragon
I think I liked Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris more than my daughter, because the book is so lavishly illustrated, but doesn’t carry a lot of story. On each page spread a girl from a different culture describes her imaginary friend. The story would work well for artsy kids of both genders that could be inspired to draw their own dragons or, perhaps, make their own “customized” no sew dragon puppet like the one from My Little 3 and Me.
Dragon Puppet

6. Apple Farmer Annie

Apple Farmer Annie Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington is a great book to read before the visit to a real apple farm or even to a farmers’ market. The text is short and works well for beginning readers, and the illustrations are bright and cheerful. There is even a recipe in the end of the book. We have yet to go to an apple farm, but we certainly enjoy apples at this time of the year. Preschool Powol Packets has a great post about science experiments with apples. Interestingly, I considered writing a similar post this year, in the blogging word great minds often think alike :)
apple preschool science experiments

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Your Turn

What is your favorite picture book about fall?

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