Information and advice to help your child in school - Part 1

Welcome back to CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

helicopter_parents_children_kids_new+york+timesWe have started our newest blog series this week. The title of this series is “Information and advice to help your child in school” In this week’s blog we have put together 5 insightful articles from Creating A Learning Environment that will help parents with support, advice and tips to ensure their child is reaching their potential. The articles cover a variety of topics in order to give specific assistance to all parent’s concerns.

1. Sight words

All children are asked to learn sight words to support their developing reading skills. It is important that children learn these words in context (within a text) as well as playing games to reinforce their memory of these words. Click on the link below to read more about learning sight words.

20 ways to help your child learn their sight words




2. Times tables

Once the child has a clear understanding of multiplication, it is then time to learn all their facts. Most teachers set a particular times table per week that the children must revise. Below is a list of 20 ways to help children remember multiplication facts.

20 ways to help children remember multiplication facts.




3. Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are small movements that are achieved by using the smaller muscles in the hands. Some of these skills include cutting, doing up buttons and handwriting. Highly developed fine motor skills will influence the speed and accuracy of the task performance. Below is a list of 30 activities your child can do to strengthen their fine motor skills.

30 ways to develop fine motor skills: Early intervention matters




4. Handwriting

Although technology is embedded into everything we do, handwriting is still an essential skill to have in today’s society. Handwriting is a fine motor skill that can be developed through a variety of activities. It is strongly advised to hold off introducing the formation of letters until these pre-writing skills are developed. Below is a link to pre-writing skills that your child should be able to do before learning how to form letters and how to form each letter correctly.

Literacy in the Primary classroom: Lower Case Letter formation

5. Learning Sounds

Learning the sounds that letters make in our alphabet are the building blocks to writing and reading. Children need to have a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the relationship between the letter and the sound.  This will give them a solid foundation to learn to read and write efficiently. Below is a link to 20 fun and inexpensive activities that you can do with your child to learn their sounds.

20 ways to help your child learn their sounds

Next week, part 2 of the series will be online with another 5 articles that will give parents information and advice on various educational aspects.

Until next time…

Kelly Pisani

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Easter ideas and crafts for the home and classroom - Part 2

Easter collage

Welcome back to Part 2 of the Easter Series by Creating A Learning Environment. We had an overwhelming response to the Part 1blog, so we were very excited to put together the second instalment.

If you would like to have a look at our very successful Part 1 blog of the series: 3 Great Easter Crafts to Do in the classroom or home, click on the link below:

3 Great Easter Crafts to do in the Classroom or home

For this blog we will introduce you to another 9 Easter ideas that would be great to do with children in any classroom or home in the weeks leading up to Easter.

Easter Garlands

Nothing says celebrations more than holiday garlands. Easter is no different. There are so many options out there that would bring colour and fun to your Easter celebration. Children love cutting and threading silhouettes onto string. Why not be creative with different shapes or different types of paper. Below are some images that will hopefully bring inspiration to your household or classroom.

Garlandimgres




Table centerpieces

This is a fun creative idea that children can create independently or with others. The child could use a variety of Easter decorations to create their own table centerpiece for the dining table at home, or little group table decorations for their school desks.

tablecenterpiece

Shaving Cream eggs

If your child likes mess and fun, this is the one for them. Spray a lot of shaving cream on a biscuit tray and put drops of food colouring all over it. (neon food colours work best for brighter colours) Using a straw mix the colours around to create a marble effect. Put the eggs on the shaving cream and wait 10 minutes. Wash the shaving cream off the egg with cold water. Put the other half of the egg back into the shaving cream and repeat process.

shaving-cream-dyed-easter-eggs-shaving-cream-dyed-easter-eggs




Wooden spoon Easter ideas

These are a great inexpensive decoration idea that can be put in a table centrepiece or in a cake. Children will love to come up with their own ideas.

woodenspooneaster

Wooden bunnies

If you have bits of old wood lying around, why not turn them into these cute little bunnies. Give the wood a white wash and using scrap material, ribbon, wire, buttons, paper and paint, transform them into these colourful creatures.

Wooden-Bunnies

Cross wreath

If you would like to focus on the true meaning of Easter, this beautiful cross wreath would be a great activity to do with a child. It could be hung on any door or wall. Gather some twigs, fake flowers and use wire to attach them all together.

crosswreath




3 Crosses

If talking to your child about the events of holy week, making this 3 cross artwork will give them an activity to express the true meaning of Easter. This could be displayed in the classroom or at home.

3 crosses

Bunny door

This is a cute and creative way to decorate your classroom door or house door.

bunny door

Easter Tree

eastertreeNothing symbolises new life, more than a tree. All you need to do is find a couple of small branches and secure them in a pot. After they are secured you can attach any Easter decorations you like. In the Easter Part 1 blog, there is a great recipe to make Salt Easter egg hanging decorations. They would go great on this tree. The link to this is:

3 Great Easter Crafts to do in the classroom or home

Hopefully these 9 crafts have triggered your creative juices and you are excited about trying some with your class or child at home. Next week we will be putting on the last blog of the Easter series. Make sure you check it out as it will be full of delicious Easter treats that you can make with children.

If you are enjoying reading our blogs, make sure you look at our other blogs as well. We now have over 50 blogs published. The top 3 are:

What K-2 teachers want parents to know - Reading Levels

20 Ways to help your child learn their sight words

Are you a helicopter parent? The parenting method taking the first world countries by storm

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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5 Activities that take less than 5 minutes to set up

Today’s blog is all about activities that can be completed at home or in the preschool environment that are inexpensive and take less than 5 minutes to set up.

  1. Washing dolls clothes

394cebee56f601f934f28f6e465d0195Children love playing with bubbles. Why not combine this with some fine motor activities that aim to strengthen the smaller muscles in the child’s hand. Fill up a large tub with water. Use some dishwashing liquid for bubbles. Put all the dolls clothes in a washing basket, tie up some string for a clothes line and have some pegs handy. Children will manipulate the clothes and then have to use their strength to squeeze the excess water out. They will hang it on the string and use their pincer grip to attach a peg. Kids love water, mess and fun. This activity has all three elements. Make sure you keep an eye on them as water can pose a danger.




2. Building towers

0f0c2793e597ed284da8e933f784429aPut a variety of objects in a pile and tell your child to go and experiment building towers or whatever they want with the objects. The objects could include cardboard boxes, sponges cut up, tupperware containers or paddle pop sticks and play-dough. Children will learn about how structures work, patterns that you can use and using their small muscles in their hands to manipulate small objects. After they have made some towers, get them to try making a city, farm, airport or what ever their imagination can come up with.

3. Cardboard Box and washable texta

Toddler-Art-ActivityChildren love drawing, especially on themselves. This is a great one for them to experiment with using a tool to write with. A texta is a great tool as it is thicker than a pencil and helps children develop their small hand muscles. A box will be a success for you as it contains your young one and their mess. Make sure the texta is safe for children and is easy to wash off.

4. Matching lids and containers

090554357c8fd9bdeee3396dae944ae6Take all the lids off their containers and mix them up. Have your child try and work out how to put them all back together. You can do the same thing with small containers that have a screw top lid. Children love taking the lids on and off and matching the correct lid with the container. This activity would be targeted for a child over the age of 3 years. Screwing lids on and off can be a difficult skill at first but with practise they will master it.

 

5. Washing dishes

5eb364c1ceb51bac368140553dea7bd8Give the child some water, a scrubbing brush, sponge, some play plates, cutlery, cups, containers and chopping boards and let them make mess. Give them a tea towel to dry the dishes after they are washed.

 

 

 

As a mother, I know how important time is. These activities all take less than 5 minutes to set up but can give your child hours of fun while learning important concepts at the same time. Why not try one of these activities each day to see which one your child engages with the most.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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10 Free Boredom Busters for School Holidays

School holidays has come upon us again and there are parents everywhere looking for some inspiration for ideas to keep their children entertained that wont break the budget yet still are engaging. Look no further than the latest blog from CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

Welcome to my newest blog “10 Free Boredom Busters for School Holidays”. I draw my inspiration this week from the famous saying “the best things in life are free”. I have collated 10 great inexpensive activities that will keep your children occupied for hours. All have a great educational benefit as well.

Below are two ideas for organising these 10 boredom busters which will be easy to do in any household.

School holidays activity chart

boredom-busters-fridgeHave all the activities written out in categories. Next to the chart have a holiday calendar with all the days written. Get the children to allocate the activities on particular days. Fill in all the day trips that you have organised as well so the children will know ahead of time their schedule for each day. This will prevent your children constantly asking you what will be happening on each day.

Boredom busters jar

imgresWrite all the activities on single pieces of paper and put them in the boredom busters jar. Each day your children can select one activity to complete by closing their eyes and picking a paper from the jar.

 

The 10 Free Boredom Busters for School Holidays

1. Painting Garden rocks - Art 

garden rocksFind garden rocks in your backyard or go for a walk and collect them. Select a variety of paint colours and get creative. This image shows some ideas that you may want to try.

 

2. Flower pressing - Art

flowerpressingCollect a variety of flowers. Lay them on baking paper with paper towel on top. Put another piece of paper towel and then baking paper on top of it. Stack some heavy books (or bricks if you have them) on top of it all. Leave it for 24 hours.

 

3. Library - Literacy

libraryLocal libraries usually put on some free holiday sessions for children. Check out your council’s website for more details. If not, why not sign your children up to become a member and borrow some books, DVDs and toys.

 

4. Animal homes - Science

animal-densGo for a walk in some bushland close to your house. Encourage the children to make animal homes using items that they find in the bush. This could include dens or nests.

 

 

5. Recycling Craft - Art

recyclingcraftCollect all your recyclable goods and put in a large tub. Give the children markers, sticky tape, glue and some other bits and pieces and see what they can create.

 

6. Chalk drawing - Art

chalkdrawingGive the children a box of chalk and send them outside to create. They may draw roads for a bike track or a maze or even some pictures. Chalk can wash off anything so let them go wild.

 

7. Cooking - Food

bakingHave a list of child friendly recipes that you can make with your child. These might include pizza, pasta, cakes or something else. Cooking is a great activity for a rainy day.

 

8. Mason Jar craft - Art

3-mason-jar-aquariumGive children some mason jars and some items that they can use to create some different worlds. The worlds could be under the sea, outer space, in the snow, in the desert or an imaginary world. Fill up with coloured water (filtered water and food colouring work best) and add some glitter.

 

9. Egg Drop - Science

eggdropGet your children to create a container that would keep an egg safe while it is dropped from a height. They may need to modify their design a few times if the egg keeps cracking. Ensure you have a few cartons of eggs for this experiment. Try dropping the egg capsule from differing heights.

 

10. Decorating Cookies - Art

decoratecookiesMake some cookie dough with your children and use a variety of cookie cutters to cut out cookies. Bake them and after they have cooled set up a decorating station with lots of edible items that they can use.

 

 

I hope you have found some inspiration by reading this post. Happy holidays and I hope everyone stays safe during this period.

Until next time…

Kelly Pisani

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3 Games That Will Give Your Preschooler A Head Start In Mathematics and English

As parents we all want to give our child the best start in life. We want to give them as many opportunities as possible to reach their full potential. We aim to create the best learning environment at home to enable them to develop their skills in many areas. This is particularly true when it comes to education.

ImaginationThis blog focuses on games that you can play with your preschooler to give them a head start in understanding numeracy (mathematics) and literacy (English) concepts prior to Kindergarten.

Children learn best through play experiences. It is very important for children to direct their own play and have a lot of opportunities to do this. However, if your preschool child is anything like mine, you will be constantly nagged to participate in the same game with them, over and over again. For my daughter, it is playing the “baby game” and her baby is always doing the wrong thing and needing to go to the timeout corner. There are only so many times I have the enthusiasm to play this game.

Playing with your child is important and a parent’s enthusiasm is equally as important. Playing a game together that stimulates imagination, stretches their vocabulary and teaching important educational concepts can be very rewarding for both the child and parent.

As parents, we can maximise their learning by setting up games that have a purpose of teaching them about Mathematics and English while still being very engaging and above all, fun! Children learn new concepts at the point of need. This means that children are only ready to learn a new skill if it is important for them at that exact time. (e.g. learn to write their name on their painting so they don’t mix it up with others)

Below is a list of 3 imaginative games that target these learning outcomes and a list of parent tips to get the best out of each game.

1. Doctors and Nurses

doctorsAll children experience going to the doctors and visiting the nurse at some stage before they go to school. Unfortunately for some, a little more often than others. This is a familar context (situation) for your child, so your child will be really engaged with this game.

How to set it up

Get your child to talk to you about what you would need to set up for this game. You would need to include a space for a doctors room with a table, doctors equipment, somewhere to lay down and some pencils and paper. You would also need a waiting area, with a small table and chair for the receptionist, chairs for patients to sit, books for people to read and pens and paper for reception.

Parent tips on playing the game

  1. Be as creative as you can with your costumes. Get your child to help you write some name tags that could be used when you or your child is playing a character. Talk about the names and sounds of all the letters on each name tag. (literacy) Name tags could include Doctors, nurses, receptionists and patients
  2. Get your child to play different roles. You also play a role so they can see what you say and what you do when you play a character. Children learn so much through observation. Play the receptionist role first, and demonstrate how you write down the patients name, what time their appointment is and then you put it into a tray for the doctor. You could focus on showing your child the clock and show them where the hands of the clock have to be to show that time. (Mathematics) Encourage your child to keep watching the clock until it is their appointment time.
  3. You and your child can make up forms that patients need to fill in when they arrive. It could have a space for the name, age, doctor they are seeing and time of the appointment. (Literacy) Have your child write the words with your guidance.
  4. In the doctors room you could get the doctor to check the temperature, blood pressure, look at sore body parts, conduct an X-ray, give advice on what to do to get better, give a needle and write out a prescription for medicine. You can help the child write out a prescription and draw a picture to represent it. (literacy)
  5. Get the patient to pay at the reception when they have finished their appointment. (Have play money and use each coin as one dollar). The child has to count the amount of coins that they have to give the receptionist. (Mathematics)

You can play this game over and over again with a different scenario. Get your child to play different roles constantly and give them lots of praise for communicating in character.

2. Post Office

images-2A post office environment may be less familar to young children but it offers so many opportunities for children to learn literacy and numeracy concepts. You could take your child to a post office before you play it so they have some understanding of what happens in a post office and what its purpose is to the community.

How to set it up

Get your child to talk to you about what you would need to set up for this game. You would need to include a table for where the post office assistant will sit, an area for customers to write letters, put stamps on and get their parcels ready to be sent, an area for customers to line up and a post box to put all letters and parcels in.

Parent tips on playing the game

  1. Get your child to help you to collect and sort all the equipment that you need for the game. You will need to gather blank pieces of paper, small envelopes, large envelops, pencils, stamps, bubble wrap and sticky tape. (You can make envelops and stamps out of paper or cardboard) Get your child to write labels for each of the stationary to put up in the post office so the customers know where to find them on the shelves. (literacy) Do not forget to include how much they are. (mathematics)
  2. Get the customer to buy some stationary that they need to send a letter to someone they know. They will need to purchase the paper, pencil, stamp and envelop from the front counter. Ask lots of questions to your child about what they have. (e.g. how many things are you buying?, if you bought another pencil what would your new number be? - Mathematics)
  3. Help your child construct a letter to someone they know. Focus on the structure of a letter. (who is it to?, what do you want to say? who is it from?) Get your child to help you identify the sounds and names of the letters being used. (literacy)
  4. Show your child what we put on an envelope (the name and address of the recipient on the front, the sender details on the back, the stamp on the top right hand corner of the front of the envelope) - Literacy
  5. Get your child to write an invitation for a party to send. Focus on the structure of the invitation (who, what, where, when, rsvp) Ask your child how many invitations would you need to send to your whole family? - Mathematics
  6. Make a parcel to send to someone. Wrap it in bubble wrap and explain why we have to protect it. Explain the whole process of how their parcel gets from the post office to the person they are sending it to. Your child may want to role play that process.
  7. Talk about the price of stamps. (you can make up a simple amount e.g. $1) Ask them if they needed 3 stamps how much it would cost? (Mathematics)

After playing this game many times you might want to take your child to the post office to send a real letter to a friend or family member. You can get them to buy the stamp, put it on the letter and then put the letter in the post box. This will translate their knowledge into the real world.

3. Toy shop
cashierSetting up a toy shop is a great activity for your preschooler as it combines their love of toys with learning about numeracy and literacy concepts. Taking your child to the shops and pointing out all the environmental print (print of everyday) in a shop will help give you and your child ideas of what your toy shop might look like.

How to set it up

Dedicate an area in your house to be used as a toy shop for a couple of days. It is important not to pack it up as soon as you have finished as this game could be played each day so your child can build on the skills he/ she has learnt on the previous day. Use lots of print in the toy shop to help your child with the beginning stages of reading.

Parent tips on playing the game

  1. Let your child choose a name for the shop and together make a poster with the shops name on it. Focus your child’s attention on the letter names and sounds in the name of the shop. (Literacy)
  2. Encourage your child to set up the toys in lines and count how many he/she has of each type of toy (13 - cars, 16 - soft animal toys) Get your child to record how many they have with a numeral and picture on a sheet. When someone buys a toy they can cross off one of them so they always know how many they have on their shelves. (Mathematics)
  3. Make advertisements with your child to encourage family members to buy toys from their shop. Stick them up around the house. (Literacy)
  4. Assign dollar amounts to each toy and make a sign to stick near the toy. Talk about how we write money amounts. Talk about the dollar sign with your child. (Mathematics)
  5. Count dollar coins to pay for toys being bought (Mathematics)
  6. The child can give customers a receipt documenting what they have purchased. Parents can help with spelling or they could use the signs in the shop to help spell toy names. (Literacy)

The best gift you can give your child is a variety of experiences. Although many of us are time poor, it is essential that we make as much time as possible to play and communicate with our young children. Playing is how children learn. As parents if we invest a little time in preparing purposeful play, children will reap the rewards of having a deeper knowledge and understanding of many numeracy and literacy concepts.

For more information about creating the best learning environment for your child please visit my website http://creatingalearningenvironment.com or my Facebook page regularly.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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20 Activities For The School Holidays That Will Keep Children Busy For Hours

Holiday activitiesSchool holidays can be a trying time for many parents. Not only does it mean having the children home for two or more weeks, eating them out of house and home but it usually involves listening to what seems like the endless whinging from their children claiming they are bored.

Unfortunately our society makes us believe that we need to spend money in order to entertain our children. We need to take them places, buy them the newest technology and arrange for many play dates for our child with their friends. I am hoping that I can dispel these myths with this blog.

Below is a list of 20 great activities that you could do with your child during the school holidays. You may get them started on one of these projects and then let them continue it. All these activities are engaging, inexpensive and help your child develop some of their skills.

1. Grass Head

grassheadFill stockings with soil and put some grass seeds in the soil. Tie a knot in the stocking and stand the ball of soil up the correct way. Your child can decorate their grass heads however they want. Over the coming weeks the grass will start to grow and your child can give their grass heads haircuts. Make sure the grass heads are put in a sunny position and are watered regularly.




2. Time Capsule

timecapsuleChildren can put anything they want in a time capsule that they can open at a later date (usually years later). They may write some things about themselves, about their life or about their environment. They may want to write it down, make a movie and save it on usb or do something completely different. Encourage them to be as creative as possible. They can decorate their time capsule and put it away for safe keeping.

3. Camp

camp indoorSet up some tents in the backyard and have a camping adventure while never leaving your house. You can cook your food on an open fire. (Always have parent supervision for this). You could get creative by making damper. If the weather is not good, why not put the tent up in the lounge room.

 

4. Create a flower garden

Flower gardenLet your child set up their own little garden in the backyard or on your balcony. Get the child to put their own little fence up and plant some flowers that they have chosen. They may want to paint rocks with the names of the types of flowers that they have chosen.

 

5. Magical garden

Magical gardenLet your child use their imagination and create a magical garden for fairies or elves. They can collect things on a walk that would suit a magical garden. Buy a couple of little solar lights to add to the magical element. Be as creative as possible.

 

6. Play garden

Play gardenSet up a garden that children can play in and get dirty. Put lots of gardening tools and buckets in the area and let your child loose in there.

 

7. Recycled furniture project

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are feeling a little more adventurous why not try up-cycling an old piece of furniture into something else. Your child can help with sanding, painting and decorating. There are many ideas on the internet and Pinterest.

 

 

 

8. Bird house

birdhouseHelp your child construct a bird house with anything around the house. Get your child to paint it and help hang it up in the backyard or on a balcony. They can add bird seeds and water. They could try and take photos of birds that use their little bird house.

 

9. Make play dough

makeplaydoughChildren love making things so why not try your hand at making play dough. There are so many recipes out there, some that use cooking methods while others require no cooking. Your child could read the recipe and complete all the steps with your supervision. The best part is, after they have made it, they can use the play dough to make other things.

10. Conduct Science experiments

flowerexperiementChildren love investigating how things work so allowing them to conduct experiments will keep them entertained for hours. There are many simple experiments that can be set up at home. My next week’s blog will consist of 20 easy science experiments that can be conducted at home to help develop children’s understanding of our world. Keep your eye out for it, if you are interested in this area.

11. Building with pop sticks

popstickcreationsPop sticks can be purchased from any discount shop. All your child will need for this activity are pop sticks and craft glue. You may give them ideas of what to make or leave it up to them. Ideas could include, towers, bridges, or houses.

 

12. Art Activities

ArtactivityLots of children love creating artworks. Why not complete this simple, yet effective hand art piece. Research other simple artworks that your child could have a go at.

 

 

 

13. Making a boat

BoatMaking boats is a time honoured tradition that many children enjoy on a regular basis. If your child has never experienced this, it is a good one to try. Collect lots of recycling items and get your child to investigate the best designs for boats through trial and error. If you do not live near a body of water, you could just fill up a large container or bath to test the boats. You could also have a competition to see which child can create a boat that sails the furthest or floats for the longest.

14. Making Catapults

catapultThis is an activity that boys tend to be drawn to. Children make simple catapults with the aim of pushing something through the air. They can continually change their design to get an object to go further. There are many designs on the internet that children can use for inspiration.

 

15. Making Pasta

makepastaCooking has always remained a great activity for children to be involved with. Creating pasta from scratch is an engaging activity for children. Pasta rolling machines are inexpensive these days. It is important that children learn how things are made as many of them only have an experience of eating food from packets on the shelves of supermarkets.

16. Using Tools

buildingUsing an old piece of wood, get your child to use tools to attach things on it. They could screw in a screw or hammer in a nail. The options are endless. The image above gives you some ideas of what they can put onto their wood.

17. Large painting

LargepaintingUsing a large piece of calaco, or old bed sheet, draw pictures on it and allow your child to paint it in what ever colour they want. Spread it out in the backyard and each child can be responsible for an area to paint. When it is finished, you could use it as a table cloth or cubby house roof.

18. Beading

beadingYour child can create a lot of things using beads. A great idea is a sun catcher. Attach strings to a branch and put beads on each. After each string has enough beads tie a secure knot. Hang the sun catcher up outside. Alternatively you could make a wind chime or jewellery.

19. Balloon bowl

Balloon bowlBlow up a balloon. Cover the bottom half with craft glue and put confetti or bits of scrap paper all over it. Allow it to dry. When it has all dried, pop the balloon and the bowl will be ready.

20. Paper Mache

papermacheThis messy play is loved by many children. Cover an object in your handmade glue, using flour and water to make the glue (and some salt to prevent mould). Put newspaper strips over the glue and continue the process until the entire object it covered. Allow to dry over night and do a few more layers the next day. Leave it to dry again. Your paper mache is now ready for painting. You could make a piñata or animal or anything else that your child is interested in.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and it has given you some inspiration for some activities to do with your child during the school holidays. Your child will be engaged in these activities and will develop so many skills and deepen their knowledge from completing them. These activities will keep your child entertained for hours while not ruining your bank account.

Thank you for continuing to share my blog. I really appreciate it. I would love to read about any great ideas that you have that have been tried and tested in your household for school holidays.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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