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Musically Montessori: One of My Secrets For A Successful Preschool Music Curriculum

IF YOU ARE A MONTESSORI EDUCATOR, THEN YOU KNOW THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MONTESSORI TECHNIQUE OF "ISOLATION OF DIFFICULTY." DID YOU KNOW IT WORKS REALLY WELL IN HELPING CHILDREN DEVELOP AN APPRECIATION OF MUSIC? 

"Focused Listening" in Music Circle: this is one of my very simple techniques that gives children lots of practice in auditory discrimination (the ability to recognize differences between sound) and a wonderful understanding of the basic concepts in music. These are the ingredients for children developing a true appreciation of music.

Read on to learn more about this secret ingredient of a well-planned Montessori Preschool Music Curriculum.



EARLY MUSIC EXPERIENCES HAVE IMPORTANT COGNITIVE BENEFITS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

In the realm of child development, researchers and educators understand the important cognitive benefits that come to children through early music experiences. If you are looking for a solid rationale for offering an organized music curriculum for your preschool group, click here to learn more: Cognitive Benefits of Early Music. 

The Importance of Movement and Music

I do believe that "making music" is the most important ingredient in a Preschool Music Curriculum. "Making music" means that children are engaged in "hands-on" musical activities that involve creativity and movement. 

Movement of the whole body when stamping, clapping, marching to music that gives the children opportunity to produce sound that expresses steady beat and rhythmical pattern. 

Movement of the hands & fingers while playing rhythm instruments to create sounds that coordinate with others to show the melody and rhythmic structure of songs and rhymes.

What is so wonderful about children, movement and music is that children move spontaneously to music. The "fun" of music brings benefit to children without any effort at all.  So, you can see that providing an organized, sequential, and developmentally appropriate music curriculum for young children enhances cognitive skills through play. (Literally speaking, people "play" music...there is a reason why we use the word play!)

The Importance of Focused Listening and Music

An almost secret cognitive benefit of a well-planned Preschool Music Curriculum is the development of listening skills that are enhanced in the young child. 

Musical experiences are multi-sensory and this is one of the biggest reasons why children gain cognitively when they have early music experiences presented in their Preschool Curriculum. 

Not only, do we feel the tempo of the music, we also hear the melody, the words, the sounds and instruments in the music. This is when a well-planned Music Curriculum can help children build skills in auditory discrimination ability. That is, focusing on what is heard in the music: listening skills!

In every Music Circle that I conduct in more than 30 Montessori Preschools each week, we have a minute or two of what I call "focused listening." That means that I play a piece of music for the children and have them listen without speaking...just listening. 

In my Musically Montessori Preschool Music Curriculum, I play certain pieces of music with a certain goal in mind. The music the children listen to, will be emphasizing a particular concept in music, such as Quiet ("Piano") or Fast ("Presto"), or a particular rhythm pattern, such as "Ti-ti-Ta", or a prominent instrument or instrument family, such as flute and Woodwinds.  

In the world of Montessori, this is called "isolation of difficulty."

From Dr. Montessori:

 "Isolating the object: When a teacher gives   a lesson or wishes to assist a child in using the sense materials, she should be aware of the fact that the child's attention must be isolated from everything but the object of the lesson." The Discovery of the Child p. 153 


JUST WHAT "FOCUSED LISTENING" IN MUSIC CIRCLE IS ALL ABOUT

Start with a Movement Activity!

At Music Circle, my groups first have an opportunity to move to music, which not only gives the children a way to get their energy out and get their brains working, it also allows the child an opportunity to absorb the elements of the music through movement. 

Then, the children are ready to settle down for a Focused Listening Activity.




For a really effective Music Circle, I try my best to coordinate the Movement Activity with the music concept/s that I have planned for that day's lesson.

Likewise, the music I choose for the Focused Listening Activity should illustrate, even further, the main concept of the day's music lesson. That means that the music selection should noticeably emphasize Quiet or Fast, or a distinct rhythm pattern such as "Ti-ti Ta" or a particular instrument or instrument family, such as the flute. Just as was the more subtle focus of the Movement Activity that the children have just experienced.

Also, the music for Focused Listening should be no more than a minute long! 

And, I always include a little exercise for preparing the children for listening. We rub our ears gently around the edges so that we sensitize our ears for listening.

For years, I have so enjoyed the music and activities from a wonderful resource, "Classical Fun Singalongs" produced by  the Franki family and available in cd format at West Music.  
This CD and Activity packet is full of one-minute Classical Music selections that are appealing to young children along with engaging movement activities to go along with each music recording. 

I have been so fortunate to have an arrangement with the Franki's to include the exclusive Mp3 music downloads of this wonderful resource in my Musically Montessori eCourses.

Click here to Learn More 


I've created a set of short and engaging Movement and Focused Listening Activities in my newest teacher resource packet at my TpT Store: "Musically Montessori: 15 Minute Music" featuring 10 engaging music pieces from 10 famous classical music composers. 

You can buy individual packets focusing on one of the composers or you can purchase the Bundle with all ten packets.

Click here to learn more: 


I've also added new pins to my Preschool Music Boards on my Pinterest Site. 
I invite you to check it out HERE.


Thank you again for visiting my Blog today. I hope you have gotten some fun ideas for your Music Curriculum for your group!

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Musically Montessori: Fill In Your Classroom Transition Times with 10 Classical Music Activities!

MARIA MONTESSORI POINTS OUT TO US THAT VERY YOUNG CHILDREN HAVE SUCH SENSITIVE HEARING! THAT'S A GREAT REASON TO BRING CLASSICAL MUSIC TO THEM WHENEVER IT CAN BE SQUEEZED INTO THEIR BUSY DAYS. 



There are those times in the daily routine when children have to wait a few minutes to move on to the next activity. Maybe it's just before lunch or a few minutes before pick-up time...

How about playing a minute or two of music with an emphasis on 
developing listening skills in a fun and enjoyable way? This can be very engaging for young children. 

First, invite the children to stimulate their sense of hearing by gently rubbing the edges of the ears. This helps the children focus on the listening experience and sensitizes the ears.  (Similar to inviting the children to wash the fingers to sensitize them before tracing the Montessori sandpaper letters.)




I've found that with a bit of planning on my part, the little children can have so much fun that they will ask for these experiences over and over again! 

It can easily become a daily occurrence. And, you can extend the activity by adding some rhythm instruments and inviting the children to hear the music again, and this time play along.



Showing a picture of the composer will further enrich the experience! 

Here are ten captivating pieces of music from famous classical composers that I've found to be favorites of the children in my groups over the years. 

I usually play the music for about a minute, so that the children get a sense of the melody and stay engaged. (my "one-minute rule")

TEN ENCHANTING PIECES OF CLASSICAL MUSIC 
THAT CHILDREN WILL ENJOY

You can introduce each music piece by showing  the composer's portrait and then give the vocabulary to the children (ex: "This is a picture of the composer of the music we will be listening to. His name is Beethoven.")

1. "Symphony #5" by Beethoven.

2. "Blue Danube Waltz" by Strauss.

3. "The Russian Dance" from the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky

4. "Suite for Cello Solo: Prelude" by Bach

5. "Spring" from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi

6. "Elephant" from Carnival of Animals by Camille Saint-Saens

7. "Sylvia Ballet Suite" by Delibes

8. "Flight of the Bumble Bee" from The Tale of Tsar Sultan by Rimsky-Korsakov 

9. "Symphony #40" by Mozart

10. "Variations on  Ah Vous Dirai-je Maman" by Mozart as a child

EXTENSIONS: 
CONNECT TO CULTURAL STUDIES

You can do a little research about the composer beforehand and then tie in the continent globe and miniature flags to the continent and country where the composer was born.




MY NEWEST TPT ACTIVITY PACKETS

You might like my series of Musically Montessori: "15 Minute Music" Activity Packets at my TpT Shop.  

There are ten packets, one for each composer:
~ Montessori style Lesson Plan
~ Visuals of the composer
~ Mp3 Music download of 1-minute excerpts of the music pieces outlined above 

Or you can purchase the Bundle with all ten Activity Packet materials. 
CLICK HERE TO CHECK THEM OUT



Thank you again for visiting my Blog today. I hope you've enjoyed your stay! 

I would like to invite you to visit me on PINTEREST, where you'll find lots of resources about Preschool Music, Montessori Arts, and more. 




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Outdoorsy Montessori: Why to Plant Some Peas in Your Preschool Children's Garden

IN YOUR PRESCHOOL OUTDOOR CLASSROOM, PLEASE CREATE A MONTESSORI CHILDREN'S GARDEN, AND PLEASE PLANT PEAS! 

Here's a rationale for the importance of a children's garden and growing peas in it, Montessori-style.


Photo from Depositphotos
When you grow peas, then you get to eat peas. In this photo, you can easily see the fine motor development that happens when shelling peas! 

Not to mention the health benefits of eating peas!

From Dr. Montessori:

 "There must be provision for the child to have
  contact with nature, to understand and 
 appreciate the order, the harmony and the
 beauty in nature, so that the child may better
 understand and participate in the marvelous
 things which civilization creates." (The Secret
 of Childhood)

DESIGNING YOUR CHILDREN'S GARDEN WITH COGNITIVE SKILLS IN MIND

During my recent visit with my youngest grandchild, we spent lots of time in the family vegetable garden. The snow peas were producing abundantly and we had such fun searching through the leaves to discover the peas. (VISUAL DISCRIMINATION)

Okay, I love to snap the peas right off their stem and pop them straight into my mouth. My little toddler prefers to open up the pods and eat the tiny peas inside. Then, I remembered just how important it is to grow peas in the children's garden. He meticulously opened the pods and gently plucked each tiny pea and then popped it in his mouth. His little fingers worked really hard to extract each pea from the pod! (SMALL MOTOR DEVELOPMENT & CONCENTRATION)

Recently, my grandchild has moved to his new house and there isn't a vegetable garden there. However, my daughter has that on her to-do list and she asked me to help her create a child-friendly veggie garden for them. 

So, I asked Jules which veggies he wanted to plant in his new garden. This little guy has been in the vegetable garden since before he could walk and so he is quite familiar with what is growing and what he likes. (INVOLVING THE CHILDREN IN THE DESIGN DEVELOPS DECISION-MAKING ABILITIES)

He decided on:
~ Peas
~ Strawberries
~ Carrots
~ "Little" tomatoes
~ Lettuce
~Pumpkins

Here is the design I came up with. There is a small area just outside the kitchen of his new house, and the sun is perfect for a small garden just for a child!


During my years in the Montessori Preschool classroom, the Children's Garden was a most important component of the Outdoor Classroom and its "curriculum." My design for Jules' Garden was based on the gardens I've created in my Montessori classrooms over the years. 

Here is one of my favorites:


CONNECTING THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN TO THE MONTESSORI PRESCHOOL CURRICULUM

The secret to bringing cognitive development into the activities that happen in the Children's Garden is to prepare the activities for the children to actually do themselves. 

As a veteran Montessori teacher, I am always looking for the control of error in every activity that I develop for the children.

In the garden, it is important to give the children the tools they need and these tools need to be child-size.



When the children themselves create the garden, plant the garden and do all the maintenance in the garden, they not only take ownership, but more importantly, they gain a vast slate of cognitive skills that feed their independence.

And, everything about the garden is a sensory experience:
~ Smells of soil, the herbs, and the flowers
~ Visual loveliness of the colors, shapes, and design of leaves, fruit, and roots of the plants
~ Auditory sounds of the animals who visit the garden (birds, insects, squirrels...)
~ The feel of plants, soil, tools, and the fresh air
~ And, of course, the taste (!) of the harvest!

Placing stepping stones between the garden beds is a wonderful control of error, along with Large Motor Development & Body Coordination. 

Likewise, putting on and taking off garden shoes helps the child with dressing skills and also keeping order in the environment. (IMPORTANT PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS LEADING TO INDEPENDENCE)

Marking the planting beds with string, helps the children with planting the seeds correctly. (This is another CONTROL OF ERROR.)

Labeling each row with seed markers helps the children identify the seedlings when they begin to sprout, as well as invite them to "read" the labels! (BOTANY & LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT)

Creating garden picture cards with numbers on the back of each, guide the child when harvesting from the garden. (CONTROL OF ERROR) This Activity offers the child more practice with an important PRE-MATH SKILL of associating NUMERAL TO QUANTITY (1:1 Correspondence) 



Then, we have so many wonderful garden activities that are very engaging for the child and serve the child's developmental needs.

You can connect the Children's Garden to just about every area of the Montessori Preschool Curriculum:
~ Practical Life
~ Grace & Courtesy
~ Self-care
~ Sensorial
~ Pre-math
~ Pre-language
~ Botany
~ Art
~ even...Zoology (gardens attract insects, birds, and squirrels! AND THE HEALTH BENEFITS FOR OUR OWN BODIES



 Check out the nutritional value of peas: Real Food For Life 


I have lots of blog articles about the Montessori Outdoor Classroom! CLICK HERE to see more.

And, you might also like these articles specifically about the Children's Garden: Outdoorsy Montessori- Children's Gardening




There are also several Outdoor Classroom/ Children's Gardening BOARDS at my PINTEREST SITE.

Thank you again for visiting my Blog today. I hope that you have gotten lots of inspiration for your Outdoor Classroom!

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Artfully Montessori: Four Color Activities and a Free Montessori Color Tablets Extension, too!

YOUR MONTESSORI CHILDREN WILL LOVE WORKING WITH COLOR USING COLOR TABLETS, COLOR-MIXING, AND EVEN THE MOVEABLE ALPHABET.
Here are four fun extensions with the Montessori Color Tablets that include these curriculum areas: Music/Sensorial, Math, Art and Language. And, please don't miss my newest freebie: "Montessori Color Tablet Activity!"



MY NEWEST FREEBIE
I got this idea from a long-time colleague, Mary Cooper, and I decided to create a freebie for all of you to enjoy in your Montessori environments.

You'll find the link at the end of this post. Or, if you are already a subscriber, then you can download this resource right away!

It is a hands-on matching work that moves into a take-home activity sheet, that even goes further to become a fun rhyming words/Language activity as well!

What I love most about Montessori materials is that you can use them in so many ways as the children become more and more skilled at using them. 

The Montessori Color Tablets have always been one of my favorites, especially Color Box 3 with its amazing array of color hues that can turn into a beautiful work of art when completed!


MUSIC & SENSORIAL
Children in just about every Montessori environment, set up the Color Box 3 in a lovely display that also sharpens their visual discrimination skills.
Your children may already do this lovely extension with Color Box 3, in which you arrange the various shades of tablets from darkest to lightest from a center nonagon or circle. When the child has completed the work, then we set a candle in the middle (battery operated candles work great) and then we sing the song, "I Can Sing a Rainbow."

Here are the words to that song:
"Red and orange and yellow and greenBlue and violet, too.I can sing a rainbow, Sing a rainbowYou can sing a rainbow, too."
 Adding the song, creates a little celebration for color!


MATH
This "Color Addition" activity combines color mixing with math symbols.
I learned about this activity during my AMS training years ago and it is a wonderful reinforcement for your classroom work with color mixing and understanding the secondary colors from the elements of art.

There are strips of paper from a template with 5 squares printed on each strip. The first square is blank, second square has a printed plus sign, then there is another blank, followed by a printed equal sign and finally the fifth square is a blank.

The child colors in the blank squares with first a primary color (ex: red) then fills the third square with another primary color (ex: yellow) and then colors the final blank square with the resulting secondary color that results when the 2 primary colors are mixed. (ex: red+yellow=orange) 


ART
The Color Tablets in the very first Montessori "Casa di Bambini" in Rome, were made of spools of thread. This beautiful work pictured below is a simple round tray that is set up for the children to arrange actual spools of thread around to create a Color Wheel, to go along with your studies of the Elements of Art.  
This activity works best if you can find a round tray with compartments so that the child can see the place to lay out each spool. Also, I would recommend creating a control card of a color wheel that would go along with this activity. 

You can add another challenge of placing small labels of the names of each color that has been arranged on the child's color wheel. 

LANGUAGE


This Activity is a combination of the Montessori Color Tablets and the Montessori Moveable Alphabet! 

You can add objects (such as a button that is the color of the tablet).

This particular work was designed to work with the phonogram alphabet box and so the double ee is built with the red letters and then circled with a small embroidery hoop.


MORE LANGUAGE IN MY "FREEBIE"
This Activity is designed to be set up first as a manipulative shelf work, with a laminated control chart. The child finds the correct color tablet from Box 2 and then places it on the correct drawing of the particular color tablet pictured. (ex: the red color tablet) Then, the child reads the word "red" and points to the picture of the bed and says, "bed." That rhymes!


After the child has done the work with the actual tablets, the s/he is ready to make her own chart. In my Freebie, there are templates for you to copy for the children to fill in the colors and the name of the color and they can even color in the object pictured. (ex: red bed)

Later, the child can make another chart and fill in the name of the rhyming word instead of the name of the color.

This was always a popular activity with my groups when I was a classroom teacher! I hope your group enjoys it, too.

If you are already a subscriber, then you can go to my Subscribers Freebie Collection and enter the password to access my 40+ free resources.

If you haven't yet joined my newsletter email list, I invite you to join now at this LINK, or simply fill out the form on the sidebar of this blog (at the end of this post if you are on a mobile device.)

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EMAIL LIST
 You will immediately receive a welcome email with the password for my Freebie Collection so that you can download any or all of my resources!
MAGICAL MOVEMENT COMPANY 
SUBSCRIBERS FREEBIE COLLECTION

Once again, I want to thank you for visiting my Blog today. I hope you enjoyed your visit!


To see more Montessori Art posts CLICK HERE. 

You might like my PINTEREST BOARDS, too!



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Musically Montessori: How To Use the Montessori 3-Period Lesson to Develop Listening Skills in Young Children

ARE YOU SEARCHING FOR WAYS TO ENCOURAGE THE DEVELOPMENT OF AUDITORY DISCRIMINATION AND THOSE ALL-IMPORTANT LISTENING SKILLS IN YOUNG CHILDREN? MUSIC CIRCLE IS A GREAT PLACE TO START!

In the process of creating my third Musically Montessori eCourse, I realized just how often I use the 3-Period Lesson and consequently how noticeably the children in my groups are developing more and more precise listening skills. You can see the Montessori 3-Period Lesson in a "nutshell" at my blog post HERE: "Have you tried the 3-Period Lesson in Your Montessori Music Circle?"


THE BENEFITS OF AN ORGANIZED MUSIC CURRICULUM FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

"Focused Listening" is always an important part of my Montessori Music Circles, and the children really enjoy this time in our Lesson.  This is also valuable practice in developing auditory discrimination skills. 

Over the months of an organized music curriculum, the children in my groups are now noticing important elements in music during our Focused Listening Activities. These little ones in music class will call out that they hear the trumpet or the violin or even that they heard that the music was "Largo" (slow) or "Presto" (fast) during our Focused Listening Activity. 

I often marvel at the listening skills these Preschoolers have been developing. These youngest of children are such a wonderful example of educated listening and appreciating music with a discerning ear! This is a huge benefit of early music experiences for young children in their cognitive development.



FOCUSED LISTENING AND 
THE MONTESSORI 3-PERIOD LESSON

Here's how I offer experiences for developing auditory discrimination skills through Focused Listening at Music Circle.


For the past several weeks, we have been exploring the four Instrument Families of the Orchestra: Brass, Strings, Woodwinds, and Percussion. (I introduce these families by using the First Period of the Montessori 3-Period Lesson)

After the children have had experience with at least two of the Instrument Families, (ex: The Brass Family and the String Family) then I begin to offer some challenging (and fun!) activities to develop the second and third periods of the Montessori 3-Period Lesson.

~ I begin by showing the children large visuals about the concept of the Lesson, including a picture of the composer, or the country the music is from, and other pictures such as a photo of the instrument being featured. 


Here is how "Focused Listening Activities" go:
1. Prepare the ears for listening:
We rub our ears gently around the edges to get them sensitive for listening

2. Play a music excerpt that illustrates the music concept of the Lesson 

3. The music excerpt should be between 30 seconds and a minute long. This gives the children enough of the music to hear the concept, yet keeping it short, keeps the children engaged. (my "one minute rule" is one of my teaching strategies)


First Period:
  • I say, "I am going to play music that features the Cello from the String Family of Instruments."
  • I show the children a picture of the Cello.
  • Next I say: "This is a picture of the Cello"
  • Then I say: "Let's all say 'Cello' together." (children repeat the word with me)
  • Finally, I play the music excerpt that features the Cello.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE HERE: I play excerpts of music in which the concept is very obvious. For example, when featuring the Cello, I play music that is only the Cello, so that the children do not get confused. This is an important part of the Montessori method, termed "isolation of difficulty." 
This link is an example of the Cello: "Yo Yo Ma and Unaccompanied Cello Suites Complete."

Second Period:
  • On another day, I tell the children: "I am going to play some music for you to listen for one of the instruments from the String Family." 
  • I play the excerpt of the Cello that I played for the children in the previous lesson a few days before. (see above)
  • Then, I ask the children: "Do you think the instrument in that music was the Trumpet or the Cello?"
  • More than likely, the children will answer: "The Cello."
  • If the child/ren don't seem to have the concept yet, then I simply go back to the first period and I say: "The instrument in this music was the Cello."

EXTENSION:
You can extend this part of the Lesson by showing two visuals, one of the Trumpet and one of the Bass.

When you ask, "Was that the Trumpet or was that the Cello?" You can show the two pictures and then point to each one and invite the child/ren to indicate which one is the Cello.

From Maria Montessori:
"This second period is the most important of all and comprises the real lesson, the real assistance to the memory and the power of association...If the teacher, however, notices at the very first that a child is not inclined to pay attention to her and makes mistakes in his answers without attempting to do well, she should, instead of correcting him and insisting upon the exercise, suspend the lesson for the time being and start it again at some later time." Discovery of the Child p. 157

Third Period: 

  • After lots of practice with the second period of this Lesson, it's time to bring in the third period of the Montessori 3-Period Lesson
  • I say: "We're going to listen to some music from the String Family of Instruments. See if you know which instrument is playing in the music."
  • Then, I play the selection of the Cello that the children are familiar with. (see above)
  • Next, I ask: "What is the name of the instrument being played in that music?" 
  • More than likely, the child/ren will answer: 'Cello.'



  • Once again, if the child/ren didn't answer correctly, then I simply say: "That was the Cello playing in the music." And, I would show the photo of the Cello.  (returning to the first period) Then, I make a mental note to offer the String Family Cello Focused Listening Lesson again on another day.



MORE RESOURCES FOR USING THE 
MONTESSORI 3-PERIOD LESSON IN YOUR 
PRESCHOOL MUSIC CURRICULUM

If you haven't downloaded my latest FREE RESOURCES from my Subscribers Freebie Collection, then you will enjoy incorporating these activities in your next Music Circle. 

AND DOWNLOAD THIS FREEBIE!



For this Activity, there are 3 FREE resources that go together so that you can use the Montessori 3-Period Lesson to explore instruments of the orchestra with young children. The Mp3 music downloads have a little narration from me to help the children listen for certain instruments. There are also Visuals for your presentation at Circle.

LOOKING FOR MORE?
My newest Activity Packet at my TpT Store is a comprehensive set of activities and Mp3 music downloads that introduces the children to all 4 Families of the Orchestra. (1st Period) Next, you can go on to play the games that go along with the Second Period of this Lesson. And, then, there are Mp3 music selections to challenge the children in the Third Period of the Lesson. 

My groups have really enjoyed these activities and I am delighted when I observe how many skills they have gained in their journey of discovering the elements of "music appreciation." 



My latest eCourse is about this very topic! 

Musically Montessori eCourse: "Instruments of the Orchestra"


PIN20
for a 20% discount on the enrollment fee 

You'll find lots and lots of resources for your Montessori curriculum at my Pinterest Site, too! 

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT 


Once again, I am delighted to have you here! Thank you for visiting my Blog today. I hope you found some helpful information and some fun activities to try out, too.

Photos in this post are from Adobe Stock, Depositphotos, and Magical Movement Company Archives.

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