Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Celebrate Multicultural Children’s Books!

Today we celebrate second Multicultural Children’s Book Day. The goal of this event is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries. I am delighted to participate in this event for the second year in the row as a reviewer.
Juneteenth Activities for Kids

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Juneteenth for Mazie
Capstone Young Readers generously sent me their new book Juneteenth For Mazie by Floyd Cooper. This book will be available on February 1, 2015, and it will be a perfect read for Black History Month. The timing of the book is significant, because this year we celebrate 150th anniversary of Juneteenth - the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. I admit that I have never heard about this holiday until I received this book for review – perhaps because I always lived either in the Northern states of New York and New Jersey or in the Western State of California. As it turns out, the holiday originated in Texas where on June 19th, 1865 the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Now Juneteenth is officially recognized as a state or ceremonial holiday in 43 out of 50 states. You can read more about the holiday on the official Juneteenth site.
Let’s return to the book itself. Mazie is a modern girl, and this story starts with her sulking, because she is too little and can’t go where she wants, have what she wants or do what she wants. Her father comforts her and tells her a story of her ancestors who “heard “no” a lot more", even as adults. Floyd Cooper brilliantly captured in his color palette a solemn, but positive mood of this holiday while explaining the history behind it in the way that young readers (the book is recommended for children age 6-9) can connect to. My only gripe is that the Juneteenth celebration in the book features exclusively African American characters, which in my mind defeats the purpose of making others relate to the holiday and ignores many biracial families out there.

Activities to Enjoy With This Book

Your Turn?

What is your children’s current favorite book that features multicultural characters?

More Books for Kids?

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Celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children's Book Day

  • The Multicultural Children's Books Day (MCCBD) website that will have book reviews from noted bloggers all over the world, giveaways and book-related activities for young readers of all ages.
  • The MCCBD team is also partnering with First Book to offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it.
  • MCCBD is collaborating with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year. Thank you to the Children's Book Council for their support and contribution!
  • Schools 'N More is proud to participate with over 100 established bloggers reviewing multicultural children’s books.

2015 Sponsors

MCCBD’s 2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop; Gold Sponsors: Satya House, MulticulturalKids.com, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof; Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild, Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books, The Omnibus Publishing; Bronze Sponsors: Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow Books, Author Felicia Capers, Chronicle Books, Muslim Writers Publishing, East West Discovery Press.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day also now has its own Paper.li! A Paper.li is a free online newspaper that aggregates information on the topic of multicultural books for kids from all over the Internet. You can subscribeto stay up-to-date with this topic. Also watch for the hashtag: #ReadYourWorld and get updates via Twitter and Facebook!
Nine cohosts will help use their sites, readerships and reach to pass the word about MCCBD:

Africa to America, All Done Monkey, The Educators’ Spin On It, Growing Book by Book, InCultureParent, Kid World Citizen, Mama Smiles, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Sprout’s Bookshelf
There is also a great line-up of Author Sponsors.  You can find out more about them and their multicultural books on the Author Blogroll Page!

Monday, January 26, 2015

12 Amazing Heart Art Projects for Kids

Valentine's Day approaches, and many kid bloggers linked terrific Valentine's Day ideas for kids to our After School Link Up. Here are 12 wonderful heart art projects for kids of different ages.
Heart Art Projects for Kids

Valentine’s Day on Planet Smarty Pants

Valentine’s Day came early this year when Smarty decided to surprise us this weekend with “Parents’ Day”. She got up early on Saturday and crafted us this poster, special cards, coupons and even goodie bags. It was a lovely and unexpected surprise from our 8 year old who is usually too busy floating in her fantasy land to notice such things as Valentine’s Day without some sort of reminders. I am a little sad that we will be apart for actual V-Day this year, since she will be traveling to Germany with her father.
Parents-DayDespite Smarty’s dislike of pink colors, we are no strangers to heart crafting in this house. Here are two of my favorite projects from years past, both from Kindergarten days:
A 5 year old Smarty wrote her Papa an acrostic poem for Valentine’s Day:
Acrostic Poem on the Heart Later in the year we created this “map of your heart” collage:
Valentine Day Map of Your Heart

10 Heart Projects from After School Link Up Participants

I will start with three projects that really caught my eye and went on my “to do” if I have time list:

Nuts and Bolts Heart Collage

I just love this upcycled nuts and bolts collage from Mosswood Connections. It will also work beautifully for Father’s Day, and it’s not pink :)


Salt Dough Tea Lights Holders

We love crafting with clay, and I know that my daughter would love making these tea light holders from The Mad House. I see it as a project for the next Father’s Day!
Salt Dough Tea Light Holders

A Heart Collage

I keep wanting to repeat our heart collage from Kindergarten (featured earlier in this post) with my now third grader. This heart collage from There’s Just One Mommy looks so beautiful!
Heart Collage Craft

More Heart Art

More Valentine Day’s Activities for Kids?

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Your Turn

Are your kids making anything on their own (i.e. without any invitation from you or from school) for Valentine’s Day?

2014 After School Link Up Hosts

After School Link Up

Share Your Learning Week

We would love to have you link up your School-Age Post (Ages 5 and up) about your after school activities with kids age 5+ including Crafts, Activities, Playtime and Adventures. 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 our After School Enrichment Community.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Raising Future Scientists

This month’s topic of Poppins Book Nook is To the Laboratory, and today I am sharing some books and activities for future scientists.
Science Books and Ideas for Future Scientists

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!

Books that Answer “Why” Questions

I wonder why
Every child is a scientist who has innumerable why and what if questions. It’s rather common for parents of today’s world to look up answers on computers and mobile devices, but I still believe in good old fact books that children can browse whenever they can. We have a lot of books in our home library that are great for this purpose. I Wonder Why series is a lot of fun – it is built in Q&A format and answers in a concise form to typical questions kids might ask. Sometimes there are also suggestions of activities that kids can do to get a hands-on experience with the topic of their interest. Other great books for kids age 5+ that allow to dig deeper into particular topics are older A Child’s First Learning Library series, Usborne First Encyclopedia series, and, of course, DK Eyewitness series.

Books with Science Experiments

What is it made of
Again, nowadays, there is no problem to find great science experiments online. In fact, I also diligently collect them on my Science Pinterest board. But I still cannot pass up a well written book of science experiments. I wrote about our favorites in the post about Science Experiments and Science Books, but What Is It Made Of? by Dan Glover remains Smarty’s absolute favorite and has been “read to death” by now. Of course, we also did a fair number of suggested experiments from that book.

Books That Take Science on the Next Level

My Science Project Is Due Tomorrow
Let’s be honest – when kids experiment with soda and vinegar, mix colors, or make frozen bubbles – it’s spectacular and absorbing science play, but it’s not “real science”. Scientific method requires a lot more rigor and, sadly, more “boring” for kids than spectacular science that they cannot explain but can still enjoy. I am not in favor of introducing full scientific method too early except its vocabulary, but older children need to be able to formulate a hypothesis, design the ways to test it and record their results. This is something that is usually taught to kids in US when they are in the fourth and fifth grades (9-11 year old), and I think it’s a good age to really comprehend this method. Younger kids in our school are taught some of these skills when they are making class projects for their annual science fair. Participation in science fair is open to all kids from K and up, and My Science Project Is Due Tomorrow offers some fun experiments for younger scientists. I like that many of the experiments do require kids to record their results and the book also teaches them “why”s of each experiment. I am still trying to get Smarty to wrap her head around all the “ingredients” of a real science project that she wants to do for her science fair this year as an individual participant.

Activities for Science Play

The best way to encourage science play is to introduce kids to the basics and to safety techniques, and then let them try things out on their own. We put together Lab in a Box for exactly this purpose and my daughter had a lot of fun making potions.
Lab in a Box

Activities to Introduce Scientific Method

When I want to prepare experiment for my daughter nowadays, I try to set it up in a way that will make her formulate a hypothesis and, hopefully, record her observations:

Science Classes and Camps for Kids

In addition to everything we do at home, I welcome the idea of “different hands” teaching my child about science techniques. Every year Smarty takes "Mad Science" after school class for 10 weeks, and we also tried Mad Science Camp when she was younger. That camp was OK, but kids were doing science only for an hour or two, the rest was “daycare”.  Last year we sent her to Camp Galileo that had the topic of Adventured Down Under. Kids learned to construct wind-powered cars and hurricane-proof structures, and Smarty had so much fun that she is begging us to send her for 2 weeks this summer. Hopefully, we can pull it off – we really want her to attend the new Galileo Makers camp, and she wants to go to Mount Everest Expedition. I wrote a post on selecting a good summer camp last year.
Camp Galileo

You Turn

Do you have a favorite book for little scientists?
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Share With Poppins Book Nook

Mother with children read book
I am delighted to join many fantastic kid bloggers in this January edition of Poppins Book Nook. I am sharing the joy of books with fantastic 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 ~ My Bright Firefly ~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 ~ 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  ~ Simple Living Mama

Poppins Book Nook Giveaway

Ultimate Gruffalo Giveaway! Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook or product that ties in with our theme for the month. This month one lucky entrant will win the Ultimate Gruffalo Giveaway. The winner will enjoy twice the magical enchantment in the double feature of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child! The beautifully animated films based on the best-selling books are now together on DVD from NCircle Entertainment! And the fun doesn’t stop there as they will also win a storybook of the Gruffalo and Gruffalo themed plush too!
The Gruffalo Giveaway
Entrants must be 18years or older and reside in a country that receives U.S. Postal mail. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook and this month’s prize bundle will be sent to the winner directly from this month’s sponsor NCircle Entertainment. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms & conditions as well as EnchantedHomeschooling Mom's disclosures found here . Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Poppins Book Nook Link Up

You are welcome to follow Poppins Book Nook on Facebook, Pinterest and browse the collection of ideas below.
Link up your magical "To the Laboratory!" book fun below!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Week in Review – January 24, 2015

Highlights of the Week

  • We enjoyed our long weekend when we had time for a leisurely winter hike.
  • I had an extremely busy week at work with three days of full day meetings. More are coming next week.
  • My husband finally got a 3D printer that he wanted for a long time. Unfortunately, a major component arrived non-functional, so there is more wait before we see our first 3D objects printed.
  • Smarty had a dentist appointment that she was eagerly looking forward to. For some strange reason, she enjoys going to the dentist. No cavities, but her dentist advised us to see an orthodontist, because some of her baby teeth didn’t fall out and other teeth are growing in front or behind them.


This was a short week for Smarty, since Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and Tuesday was a Teacher-In-Service day. The rest of the week her school had The Author’s Week when every day the kids had assemblies with published authors and illustrators talked to them about making books. Unfortunately, Smarty couldn’t remember the names of authors, but she surely enjoyed their stories and illustrator’s demonstration of her work.

After School

bubbles Since I was working late, all after school time belonged to Papa who usually just leaves Smarty to do what she wants to do. Judging from the state of her room, there was a lot of playing going on! On weekend she made some progress on her science fair idea. Let’s just say that it has something to do with bubbles :)

What My Child Is Reading

It was another week when we didn’t make it to the library, which prompted Smarty to return to her Kindle and try some new books we bought for her over the last year and that she has been avoiding so far. She is now reading Tales of the Frog Princess books by E. Baker (affiliate link). In school they are on non-fiction language arts unit with an emphasis on biographies, but at home she is entirely in the fantasy land :)

Places We Are Going

3D-Pen-Sculpture Smarty went to her best friend’s birthday party last weekend and got a chance to play with a 3D pen. Every kid made a 3D sculpture, and now Smarty really wants a 3D pen too :) In addition, we went hiking on a new trail last weekend, had her tennis and choir lessons, and Papa treated her to dinner in a Japanese restaurant while I went out with my coworkers.

Favorite Memory of the Week

Two-cats I always enjoy watching Smarty interact with animals. She is very soft and gentle with them, but also a little bossy. This is exactly the same attitude that she shows towards babies and toddlers. I think she is learning from the pros – that is, from me and my husband :)

Most Popular Posts of the Week

  1. 12 Amazing Engineering Projects for Kids (forever popular, it seems)
  2. DIY Lab in a Box
  3. Civil Rights and Diversity for Kids

Your Turn

How was your week?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Indoor Activities to Nurture Growth Mindset

Are you and your kids stuck indoors this winter? Encourage them to choose activities that nurture growth mindset.
Indoor activities for kids that nurture growth mindset

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!

What Is a Growth Mindset?

The idea of mindset originated in the work of a renown Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, She was researching achievement and success. I highly recommend her book Mindset which explores the concepts of mindsets in great detail. What differentiates people with growth mindset and why do they tend to be more successful? A short summary is given in this image from Class Teaching:

How Can We Nurture Growth Mindset?

The best activities to nurture growth mindset are self-directed activities where children naturally set challenges and solve them. It’s crucial to give children some unstructured time and “strew” materials that might bring them to one of these activities that I think are great for flexible thinking and growth mindset.



Make sure you rotate your toys often to encourage your children to enter "the world of pretend" where they can build their playscapes and solve problems through play. If your children are close in age or have playmates, give them board games or card games to try out. Playing board games teaches them to lose graciously and not to be threatened by success of others. I have a list of our favorite board games to play as a family and a list of single player games.


Reading Nook

What can be better on a rainy or cold day than curling up with a good book? Books stretch our children’s imaginations and introduce them to the characters who are not afraid of challenges and who succeed despite all odds. If you need book recommendations, check out my book picks by month or age. My friend Erica from What Do You Do All Day has incredible book lists for all kinds of ages and interests.

Open-Ended Art

I am not saying that guided crafts and craft kits are bad, but open-ended process art reduces pressure to produce a “perfect” project allowing children to create and experiment. My 8 year old had a lot more fun with this project of making her own “frozen” watercolors and trying them out in “swirly pictures” than she usually gets from more “results-focused” art projects.



Encourage journal writing by giving kids good writing tools and stationary. Kids who love to write are usually creative and flexible thinkers. If your older child resists writing, perhaps he or she can enjoy one of these fine motor skills activities for older kids. They will allow children develop fine motor fluency and strength needed for writing while also having fun and doing something creative.


Tinkering with Lego Mindstorms

I love to see my daughter in a tinkering mood. Tinkering is probably one of the best activities to promote growth mindset – children get to build their own creations, test what works and what doesn’t work, overcome obstacles and find workarounds. Tinkering is flexible by nature, and even children who are more “fixed” can open up and explore when presented with engineering challenges or simply with construction toys.


Helping in the Kitchen

Let’s not forget another “activity” that is really beneficial for children and that we often neglect in our haste to get things done faster – helping in the house. Being stuck in the house might give kids a chance to learn a new skill by watching and helping adults in their every day tasks. Besides, there is no better way to get kids find their own way out of boredom that to offer them an extra chore :)

Final Word – About Praise

When you try to “lead” your children to activities promoting growth mindset, it’s very important to hold your tongue and refrain from “evaluating” your children’s actions unless they are harmful to them, others or your property. Children should find motivation and satisfaction in their own work and their own results and not rely on others to provide them with “positive feedback”. If you want to offer some sort of feedback, praise the effort. This shift of focus from the result to the effort is really the best thing you can do every day in nurturing growth mindset in your children.

Your Turn

How do you nurture growth mindset in your children?
Indoor Activities to Nurture Growth Mindset

Indoor Activities for Big Kids

More Parenting Ideas?

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

6 January Books for 5 Year Olds

This post is part of the series in Book Recommendations by Age and Month of the Year. It has January book recommendations for children who are 5 years old. Each book is paired up with additional resources that you can use to extend the story further.
January Books for 5 year olds with extension activities
My daughter is now 8 years 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 5 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. The Story of Snow

The Story of Snow Where does snow come from? This is the question that fascinates kids. Older preschoolers and kindergarteners might be ready for a more elaborate answer to this question given in The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino. This book explains the formation of snow crystals and it has amazing photos of real snowflakes. I still feel sad that my Calfornia girl is yet to see actual snowfall, but most kids should be able to extend the book by going outside and exploring fresh snowflakes under a magnifying glass. The rest of us can grow our own crystal snowflakes from Little Bins for Little Hands or get artsy with one (or more) of 30 ideas to make snowflakes at Hands On: As We Grow
Crystal Snowflake

2. Good Enough to Eat

Good Enough to Eat
As New Year rolled in, many families made resolutions to make better nutritional choices this year. But why is this important? Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell introduces nutritional facts to kids in an easy to understand and entertaining way. This is an older book, so it is still uses an old food pyramid, but you can extend it by introducing a new “balanced food plate” and sorting foods into food groups with a free printable nutrition project for preschool from The Preschool Toolbox.

3. Officer Buckle and GloriaOfficer Buckle and Gloria

Do not miss this older Caldecott winner – Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann. This book will appeal to all dog lovers out there or children interested in police work. It also teaches important public safety tips while entertaining children with antics of a very intelligent dog. You can extend the story by creating your own pretend police station from Creative Family Fun. This play setup also incorporates writing into pretend play.

4. E-mergency!

Emergency E-mergency! by Ezra Fields-Meyer is an irresistible action adventure for kids who are ready to go beyond the alphabet and interested in following more complex stories. Letter E had an unfortunate accident and needs to rest and recover. Letter O tries to replace it with all the words where E is used, but, alas, E is not getting better? Why? Read the book and enjoy all the visual jokes from amazing Tom Lichtenheld to find out. And, while you read, create your own alphabet city with pipecleaner alphabet – from Kids Play Box. 
alphabet city

5. Around the World: Who’s Been Here?

Around the World We usually read at least one book set in different lands every month. Around the World: Who’s Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George fits the bill perfectly since it is set in many lands. It’s part of Who’s Been Here? series where the readers are asked to guess a creature from visual clues with the answers given in the back. This time the locations are more exotic as the main character, a school teacher Miss Lewis, travels the world on the research ship documenting the wildlife. She sends letters with visual riddles to her class from various locations around the world. This book is wonderful in raising kids' curiosity about the world and its creatures. They might even want to participate in postcard swap with kids living in other places around the world or at least look at your travel postcards if you collect them. Kids Activities Blog explains how to get started with postcards swap and why it’s a great geography activity for preschool.

6. Mr Popper’s Penguins

Mr Popper Penguis
Are your children ready for listening to longer books? Try Mr Popper’s Penguins – a classic tale of Richard and Florence Altwater. It was originally published in 1938, but modern kids can still connect to a story of a person in love with all things Arctic and enjoy the adventures of his penguins. Reading Confetti has an adorable frozen banana penguin snack that children can munch on while listening to a book. They can also pick a craft from a big list of penguin crafts for kids on Crafty Morning.
penguin frozen bananas

More January Books Recommendations

More Booklists For Kids?

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Your Turn

What is your favorite read-aloud book for this age?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Civil Rights and Diversity for Kids

Today people of the United States celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's a good opportunity to talk to our children not just about the life story of Martin Luther King Jr., but in general about civil rights and diversity. I will share a few ideas that you can use "on the fly", especially if you have a chance to visit your local library.
Teaching children about diversity and civil rights


What Do We Do All Day has a great list of picture books about civil rights and No Time for Flash Card has a list of books about being different.


Living Montessori Now has a great collection of free Martin Luther King Jr. songs (with Youtube videos) and rhymes.


I just love this simple demonstration of diversity from Kids Activities Blog – it requires very little setup and so effective!


Multicultural Kid Blogs celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a 2-week long celebration with terrific contributions from many kid bloggers writing about diversity and acceptance. It’s certainly worth checking out. I especially enjoyed this article about encouraging our children to be upstanders.

More History?

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Your Turn

Will you be talking about Martin Luther King Jr., diversity or acceptance with your kids today?

2014 After School Link Up Hosts

After School Link Up

Share Your Learning Week

We would love to have you link up your School-Age Post (Ages 5 and up) about your after school activities with kids age 5+ including Crafts, Activities, Playtime and Adventures. 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 our After School Enrichment Community.

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