Our Montessori Inspired February Favorites

Hello! It is a new month so I am writing my favorites for February!

There are a few newer and older materials that were favorites this last month.

DanChair by BabyDan – We got this chair secondhand on Facebook Marketplace and refaced it. I love this chair because it is incredibly accessible and easy to adjust. My daughter loves this chair because that gives her the independence to get up and down from the table all by herself. She’s able to slide it across the floor to the counter as well. This chair is sold mainly in Europe so it was difficult to find a link for in the USA but any type of chair similar to those is phenomenal and is great for older babies and toddlers and their independence. 

Miniland 15″ Atomically correct doll – This doll is new as we just got it for my daughter in February. We decided to go with a male doll to help teach anatomy and decided to go with the African American doll and as one part of diversity and acceptance to our daughter.  our daughter is in love with this doll. The size is great for her as a two-year-old and she’s doing pretend play with the doll where she sings to the baby and puts it down to sleep, trying to brush the babies teeth with her toothbrush etc.. Imaginative play is extremely important in development and this is a great tool for fostering it.

 If you want to learn more about this job so you can check it out on Amazon here. 

IKEA Lilla Children’s Potty – Now that we are in the full swing of potty learning my child is choosing options between the normal adult toilet and the IKEA potty. She’s been using this potty for a little over a year but it’s my favorite this month because she’s not only using it more consistent but it’s grown with her this whole time. The size of this potty is great because she’s been able to get onto it since she was around 11 months old and now at two she can still use it.  it’s also super easy to clean and it’s got a handle on it making it easy for her to pick it up and dump it independently. If you want to look up more information about this party you can check it out here.

Magna-tiles – The magnatiles or something that we got for our daughter for Christmas so she’s have them for a few months and she has loved them since she opened them. Over the last month she has not only been using them to build but she’s also using them on the windowsill to see the sunlight shine through onto the floor. They are great for early math skills like learning shapes, color matching, fine motor skills, developing creativity, and great for children going through a sensitive period for order.

It has been a super fabulous hit in our house and I highly recommend. If you want more information you can check it out here.

Hair Love – this is a book that we purchased and introduced to our daughter for Black History Month. We introduced several Books to her but she gravitated toward this one the most. She loves pointing out the daddy in this book and it’s a beautiful book.  if you’re interested in this book you can check it out here.

You’re My Little Pumpkin Pie – This is the book that we introduced last fall and have rotated out a few times now. This has been my daughters absolute favorite book to read before bed every night for the last month and a half. This book is part of an entire series and we have a few other ones and we love them all.  if you are interested in this book I will leave it more information for it here.

I have an entire list of books and Amazon lists and I’ll leave the link below. I do not have a storefront and none of the links that I have are used to generate any type of income or affiliated in anyway.

Diversity and inclusion books

Baby and toddler books

These are only some of the activities and shelf work that we have throughout the month but these are standout favorites.

Please comment your favorites at home or in the classroom. Like ❤️, comment 💬, share 💌 and save.

Black History

“We must never forget that Black History is American History.”

– Yvette Clarke, U.S. Congresswoman

Earlier this month I set out to take part in Black History Month in a new way. I wanted to really listen and take it all in, to look deep at myself and re-evaluate. This is not only for my personal growth, but for my child and how we incorporate Montessori at home.

I learned a lot. I am still and will always be learning. I am going to share some of my resources below and what I am committing to as an individual.

One of the best resources was an email signup from 28 Days of Black History. This service is a virtual exhibition that sent something new everyday of February for Black History Month in the USA. There was amazing artists, book recommendations, art, songs etc. that celebrates and bring light to various aspects of Black History. You can find out more here. It was an amazing find and I highly recommend.


Read more books! There are many books for adults and children to learn about Black History. It’s important for adults to read historically accurate books, biographies and books by Black authors.

Children’s books focus on diversity, inclusion, and acceptance to start. Children need books that include people from the Black community in various roles like artists, doctors, and teachers as well as the main character of the book. Diverse representations in children’s literature is important because children are empowered by seeing themselves in books, but also because children’s worldviews are expanded by seeing people who are different from themselves represented in books.

Our favorites

Find these and check out the entire list of books on diversity and inclusion here.

Some links to great lists below.




Movies/Documentaries I Watched and Recommend

This is more for the adults unless you have older children or incorporate screen time in your Montessori home.

It’s important to incorporate 2 kinds of movies. Ones that focus on Black History including social injustice, suppression, struggles of the Black community, Black contributions, and how Black communities are a vital piece of American history. Others movies are those created by Black professionals like directors, screenwriters etc. and those that are an all Black or mostly Black cast.

Listen and Discuss

As a parent, carer, educator or family member it is important to continue your own learning. This includes your own biases and understanding. Discuss racial injustice, systemic racism, contributions of the Black community, and everything in between.

Listen and learn.

Seek out and listen to Black resources. Follow Black creators on social media and when sharing ensure you share their content and information as apposed to repurposing it and making your own. Lift up those voices to your social community.

Talk to children about racial inequality and how Black History has shaped the world and built the USA. This should be a conversation that begins early and occurs often with children in an age appropriate manner.

Support Black Communities

✅ Support Black-owned and operated businesses and nonprofits

✅ Donate to and support Black Organizations

✅ Support and pay Black creatives like musicians, painters, poets, authors etc.

✅ Attend events showcasing Black History. Visit museums, institutions, landmarks, centers, sites etc. that showcase Black History.

✅ Listen to Black created podcasts, follow and engage on social media accounts and streaming platforms (Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitch etc.)

These are only some of the ways I learned that I can continue my own growth and understanding of Black History, be an ally and anti-racist to BIPOC, and raise my child.

Please feel free to comment your favorite resources and how you continue to learn and or educate people about Black History. Please show some love to my post. Like ❤️, comment 💬, share 💌 and save.

Montessori Sensitive Periods of Development

Montessori Sensitive Periods of Development Part 1

If you are new to Montessori you may have heard the term Sensitive Periods of Development or simply Sensitive Periods and wonder, what does that mean? How do I know when the child is going through one? How do I respond to a sensitive period in my home and the prepared environment? Today I am going to dive into the topic of Sensitive Periods of Development and answer these questions.

What is a Sensitive Period?

The term Sensitive Periods was created by a Dutch biologist Hugo de Vries and adopted by Dr. Maria Montessori. Dr. Maria Montessori likened the process of development and Sensitive Periods to that of a butterfly. It has several stages of development it requires to reach its final and true form. A butterfly would go through stages of development one at a time to become ready for the next stage. Similarly a child will go through one period of development to ready themselves for the next. Each child progresses through these Sensitive Periods of Development at different times and in their own way unique to the child. The child cannot alter or have free over when a sensitive period occurs.

Sensitive Periods are periods ofphysiological development when children can acquire certain skills or concepts. These Sensitive Periods are most obvious during the first Plane of Development which occurs from birth to age 6. For more on Planes of Development check out my last blog here.

How does a sensitive Period affect the child?

During these sensitive periods children have an inner compulsion that motivates the child to seek out objects and relationships in their environment. The child is self-motivated to seek out ways to fill the need themselves in their environment.

The child becomes extremely focused and has an internal force directing them, centering all their energy and focus on specific aspects of the environment to develop a certain skill. This ends when the child has met their needs and transitions back to a normal. Once the child goes through the sensitive period they do not have it again. Dr. Maria Montessori said “Adults have no direct influence on these different states. But if a child has not been able to act according to the directives of his sensitive period, the opportunity of a natural conquest is lost, and it is lost for good.” That’s not to say the child can’t learn it but it takes much more effort and time to realize and could be more difficult.

How many sensitive periods are there and when do they occur? How can I support this period of Development?

There are eleven sensitive periods that occur and a child can experience one or multiple sensitive periods at a time. The sensitive periods include:

🌀 Movement – This sensitive period begins at birth and goes until around 4.5. Babies and toddlers typically focus on movement because they need to learn how to control their body and movements they make. There are two different types of movement; Gross motor and fine motor. When a child is working on gross motor skills they are working on things like rolling over crawling and walking pulling up and running. Something that requires the whole body to do and is a larger movement. When a child is focusing on fine motor development that is more things to do with their hands and fine small detailed movement like using a fork or spoon or learning how to post objects.

The best way to support this sensitive period is to allow for freedom of movement starting from birth. This would result in very limited to no time in a baby container device like a walker, swing, or bouncer etc.. These devices make it impossible for the child to move freely. They need to be able to stretch and move and explore the area around them. You can also offer opportunities for the child to practice the skills. For example if a child is learning to crawl you can take a favorite toy and put it just out of reach for the child to be motivated to go toward that toy. When a child is going through fine motor skills of developing their pencil grip you can create opportunities for small objects with the child can pick up with your fingers such as cutting their food into smaller pieces for them to concentrate on picking up.

🌀 Math Patterns – this sensitive period also begins at birth to about 3.5 when it transforms to Mathematics. There are several ways that you can support this period of time such as giving your child work that involves stacking, categorizing, and discriminating. you can also work counting from a very young age into your narrating or conversations with your child. For example if you’re giving your child snacks at the table you can count how many carrot sticks you’re giving them or you can count how many socks you’re handing them to help you sort through. You could also count stairs as you go up and down or you can count how many of a specific object they have that they’re playing with such as blocks or animals.

🌀 Emotional Control – this is another sensitive period that begins at birth and goes to about the age of 2 1/2. This includes communication, relationships with others, and control of emotions. You can support this Sensitive period by providing a respectful and positive parenting style and discipline at home. Treating the child as an equal and human being is critical and helping the child to regulate their emotions until they can do so themselves is very important. Hope the child in a way that is calm and positive while also ensuring that you have firm but kind limits.

🌀 Order – This sensitive period begins around the age of 6 months and last until about 3.5. during this stage of development children have any need for order and their environment so they can make sense of what is around them. You can support this period of development by providing an orderly environment. Children thrive on order and consistency, routines and everything in its place. Set standards that everything goes in its place and encourage the child to clean up after themselves.

In many cases if a child is not in an environment that is orderly it can cause the child to have episodes of what adults see as bad behavior or tantrums. This is because the child is craving order and the needs is not being met.

🌀 Small Objects – This sensitive period begins around 12 months and lasts until about 3.5 years old. This leads to children gaining their fine motor control and attention to detail. You can support the child during the stage of development by ensuring your offering small objects that are their size to use. For example ensure that the silverware and cooking tools a child or using our sized specifically for them. Nature is also an amazing way to support this stage because there are so many things to explore that are small and complex for the child.

🌀 Toilet Learning – this sensitive period occurs between the ages of 12 and 18 months. In Montessori we use the term toilet learning because the child is gradually learning to use the toilet at their own pace and without rewards or consequences.

You can support this by changing the child from wet diapers as soon as possible to avoid them being accustomed to the wet sensation. You should also allow the child to see you and other family members using the toilet often. This is something that we want to portray as a natural way of eliminating and thus an everyday task and this helps them become accustomed to it. When the child can stand independently I recommend standing diaper changes and changing the location to the bathroom. This is because the child can see what is going on, participate in pulling the diaper off or cleaning themselves, and they associate eliminating with the bathroom and toilet.

When you child shows signs of readiness you can create various potty stations around the house such as the play room and child’s bedroom so they can easily get the toilet quickly. When they first begin potty learning actively they may not be able to hold it for long periods after the initial sensation that they need to eliminate. You can put a basket with toilet paper and a few clean pairs of underwear next to the toilet to allow for independence if they have a miss and soil their clothing.

🌀 Language – This sensitive period begins around 12 months though they are taking it all in from birth. To support this sensitive. You can ensure that are using rich language around the child, reading books, singing songs, talk to them about everything by narrating or sportscasting. The main goal is to give them the opportunity to hear you talking and watching your lips moving. You can also take the child’s hand occasionally and put it up on your throat or your chest so they can feel the vibration.

Reading books before bed is a great way to get reading in while also setting up some quality time and solid bedtime routine. Books are also great option because many books have words that we wouldn’t say on a normal basis throughout our day and thus it introduces those sounds and language to the child. If you are a family that has more than one language in our bilingual etc. this is the time you want to introduce those languages to your child.

Be sure that you’re avoiding replacing one on one interaction with the child with educational screen time.

🌀 Sensations – This period begins around 2.5 years of age and lasts until 6.5. This means children can learn through tactile touch as apposed to just seeing or sharing it. Show the child how to do something and then give them the opportunity to try it for themselves for hands on learning.

This period also lends well to showing the child something while explaining outside of just shelf work. For example if your child is trying to climb something dangerous or play with something hot like the stove, you can assist them to safety gently but physically while explaining why it is dangerous and it is absorbed much better than telling the child from across the room to get down or away from the stove.

🌀 Letter Shapes and Sounds – This period begins when the child is about 2.5 to 5 years old. During this time the child is interested In physically tracing letters. Maria Montessori included sandpaper letters for children as a way for them to for fill us need and learn the shape of the letters. There are several activities such as sandpaper letters or sand tracing that you can do with your child to assist with this developmental need. You can also use a DIY sandpaper set made at home. But other recommendations include montessori let her work which is a great book for those in this stage of learning.

You can also support this development by starting phonics with the child. Phonics is away for a child to learn the sound of the letter makes as opposed to the name of the letter which makes it easier when the child learns how to read.

🌀 Music – This period begins at age 3. Children can learn rhythm, pitch and melody more easily during this time. Research also shows it’s great for brain growth. You can support this stage of development by allowing your child access to various musical instruments based on their age and skill level. Your child can play these instruments independently but you can also take part and play them with your child. Singing and listening to music is also a wonderful way to support the child. I also want to mention that it is OK and actually even beneficial to listen to normal music that you would listen to with your child. There’s also been research that shows that classical or instrumental music is also extremely beneficial and I would highly recommend that you try to find a few pieces that you like and share them with your child along with your normal every day music.

🌀 Reading and Writing – This sensitive period begins around the age of 3. It is possible for a child to have a specific interest in reading or writing but they do typically come around the same time. This is also something that naturally occurs and if a child is in an environment that has access an opportunity it will come naturally. Similar to toilet learning there are signs of readiness so starting before then is not advised as the child isn’t developmentally ready.

You can support your child during the stage by providing opportunities for your child to read. As discussed earlier it’s beneficial to start a nighttime routine that involves reading every night and this will begin to be something that your child is excited about during this period. You may even notice that your child wants to start picking out certain books to take to read for bedtime. It’s important to follow the child’s lead in this instance and allow them to choose books that they are interested in and they want to read.

When you’re reading a book to your child try to make it exciting for the child by using various voice Or trying to invoke the emotion the book is conveying through text. The frog sample if you’re reading a book where a child is excited can use an excited voice if the child is sad or surprised change your voice to match those emotions and your child will pick up on those differences. You also want to ensure that you are reading more slowly than you would to yourself so the child can really listen to each word and pronunciation that you’re using.

Once your child becomes a little bit older you can even pause in the book and ask them questions about the content that you’re reading. This is a great way to involve your child in the process and get some thought-provoking content as well.

Concluding Thoughts

Each sensitive period has great capacity for learning and intense growth. Please keep in mind that not every child follows this procession exactly and that timing and duration varies per child.

Please comment below and let me know what sensitive period you have witnessed in the children in your life. As always thank you for reading my blog. Please show some love to my post. Like ❤️, comment 💬, share 💌 and save.

© Caroline Baughman, Upstate Montessori and Eat. Play. Live. Repeat, 2020 to present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Caroline Baughman, Upstate Montessori and Eat. Play. Live. Repeat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Montessori Planes of Development

Today’s Montessori post is all about Planes of Development. According to Dr. Maria Montessori each plane of development has a specific set of sensitive periods, and thus need. For more information on sensitive periods, I will be doing an entire blog dedicated to them in the future. For the purpose of today’s topic I will note that Sensitive Periods are periods of physiological development, is a limited time though it can stretch for months or years, and result in the child’s ability to absorb and/or focus on a specific interest intense and specific.

There are four planes (or stages) of development.

  • Infant – 0-6 years of age
  • Childhood – 6-12 years of age
  • Adolescent – 12-18 years of age
  • Maturity – 18-24 years of age

Each one of these planes is like a rebirth for the child. The sensitive periods that show in each developmental phase is different along with the physical and mental developmental attributes and the focus and needs of the child and the prepared environment. Each developmental plane can be further broken down to 3 year increments where the child goes through drastic changes in the first 3 years (transition) of the plane and then stabilizes in the last 3 years.

“I have found that in his development, the child passes through certain phases, each of which has its own particular needs. The characteristics of each are so different that the passages from one phase to the other has been described by certain psychologists as ‘rebirths’.” (Dr. Maria Montessori, Four Planes of Education).

First Plane of Development (0-6)

The first plane of development begins at birth and goes to the age of six. During this time the child has what Dr. Maria Montessori called the Absorbent Mind. While the child has an Absorbent Mind they take in everything in their environment subconsciously. This allows children to pick up on things that are specific to their culture, community, language and family. This intake of knowledge than helps create the foundation for the person the child will become.

“During this period the personality undergoes great changes. We have only to compare the newborn babe with the six year old to see this.” (Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind).

First Sub-plane (0-3)

This is one of the most critical periods for development. During this stage of development children have an unconscious absorbent mind, are very ego centric and focus on themselves. They have several sensitive periods during this time and their main focus is include language and physical development, bodily awareness, and environmental exploration. The child is trying to learn what things are.

Second Sub-plane (3-6)

During this period of time the child still has an observant mind but it moves from being an unconscious to a conscious mind. This means that the child understands that they’re learning and will seek learning out intentionally. The child can also think for themselves and is now conscious of the fact that they have thoughts. This is a time when children want to do things themselves so they can learn.

The Second Plane of Development (6-12)

During this phase of development children become a bit more calm (generally speaking) and are more stable compared to the first plane. The child also changes from an Absorbent Mind to a Reasoning Mind. This is because the child has already integrated things like culture and language and has efficiently learn how to use their body and master basic human skills.

This plane has the greatest potential for intellectual growth and begin learning abstract thought, using their logic and creativity to explore areas of study. Children in this plane or fascinated and have an intrinsic need to learn the how, when, and where of everything.

“The next period goes from six to twelve. It is a period of growth unaccompanied by other change. The child is calm and happy. Mentally, he is in a state of health, strength and assured stability.” (Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind).

The child also begins to develop “Herd Instincts” as their peer identity develops. Around the same time the child also begin to create a moral and ethical understanding. 

The Third Plane of Development (12-18)

The third plane is parallel to the first plane of development. This is because it encompasses changes both physically and psychologically. During this phase of development children typically go through puberty which brings about great change and relative instability. It is marked by rapid and intense physical and emotional changes. Due to these changes the child also becomes sensitive, self focused, and develops doubts and insecurity. 

“The third period goes from twelve to eighteen, and it is a period of so much change as to remind one of the first. It can again be divided into two subphases: one from twelve to fifteen, and the other from fifteen to eighteen. There are physical changes also during this period, the body reaching its full maturity.” (Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind).

Children have learned logical thinking at this point but they also do not like to be pressured into learning. Teaching involves practical life skills such as financial budgeting, sewing, cooking and general self and environment maintenance is best.  Children also become concerned with societal problems and spend time discovering themselves and their creative and artistic abilities. This typically leads to exploration of their intended vocation.

The Fourth Plane of Development (18-24)

The fourth plane is marked by ‘maturity’ and the transition to adulthood and is parallel to the second plane of Development. During this time the child becomes spiritually, emotionally, and morally independent. There is also a strong emphasis on sense of self and a need to find their place and understand the contributions they can make in society. Now as an adult the person wants to be self-sufficient economically. 

First Sub-plane (18-21)

The first sub plane marks a time where the adult seeks out their purpose resulting in a period of questioning and and a search for a career.

Second Sub-plane (21-24)

If by this point and development the child has been given enough experiences throughout life, including exposure to various branches of learning and skills, The new adult should be able to choose a career that is both feeling and important to them. This allows the child to have a sense of independence and fulfillment. The adult now has a stronger sense of self with their own interests and typically chooses a life that allows them to continue on a path that matches their needs, wants, and interests. 


“The child’s development follows a path of successive stages of independence, and our knowledge of this must guide us in our behaviour towards him. We have to help the child to act, will and think for himself. This is the art of serving the spirit, an art which can be practised to perfection only when working among children.” (Dr. Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind).

Each plan of development has its own difficulties, rewards, and impression on the evolving person. Please keep in mind that not every person follows this developmental procession exactly and some people never find a true sense of self. This is particularly true in certain societies and has become more prevalent over recent years. 

Please comment below and let me know what plane is your favorite and why. As always thank you for reading my blog. Please show some love to my post. Like ❤️, comment 💬, share 💌 and save.

© Caroline Baughman, Upstate Montessori and Eat. Play. Live. Repeat, 2020 to present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Caroline Baughman, Upstate Montessori and Eat. Play. Live. Repeat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Montessori Monthly Favorites – January 2021

I am so excited to announce my new series, Montessori Monthly Favorites 🤩.

Each month I will be going over my Montessori inspired favorites from the month. These are not necessarily things that are new but could have been used in the past and re-discovered, or it could be something that’s brand new to me or that my child is focused on during the month. I’ll have a list below of the items for reference, along with a short description on how are use the item in my home and why it’s my favorite and a link to where to buy if you’re interested. 

💙 No Drama Discipline: The Whole Brain Way to Calm the Chaos by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. & Tina Payne Bryson, PH.D.

This book has been a great read this last month. My child has just turned two and I’m getting more into the discipline as she pushes boundaries. Highly recommend!! Check it out here.

💙 Guidecraft Classic Kitchen Helper

We actually found a phenomenal deal on a new kitchen helper and decided to pick it up on a whim. It has been amazing for my daughter for the last month or so since we purchased it. She is loving the new independence she has. She is able to get up to the counters and can move it around the kitchen and dining room to get to anything that she needs. I love the version that we got because it is foldable, so when we’re not using it we can store it away in the closet since we have a smaller kitchen area. Find it here.

I wanted to mention that we were using a stepstool for her but it was a little bit short and we knew she could use the helper for years to come. This is not something that you need to purchase or have to purchase to be an Montessori aligned but it’s something that we decided to get to allow more independence for our child and home setup.

💙 Tegu Magnetic Wooden Block Set

this set was actually a stocking stuffer for my daughter from Christmas and we originally got them as something for her to play with while we were traveling. However once we gave them to her she has played with them ever cents and has them out at home constantly. She not only put the blocks together and different ways but she also realized that they were magnetic and stuck them to the Refrigerator and onto the outside of our metal furnace door. I was shocked by it so in love with her fascination and focus with this material. Check it out here.

💙 Full Circle Tiny Team Mini Brush and Dustpan

We purchased this dustpan for my daughter when she showed initiative trying to clean up crumbs that she had dropped onto the floor during snack time. She now loves this little set and practices how to use the brush frequently. It’s also a great way for her to help clean up messes that she makes which is great for practical life skills and care for environment. For more information check here.

💙 My Sweet Love Umbrella Stroller for 18″ Dolls

Those item was actually gifted to my daughter from family for Christmas. It has been a big hit ever since she unwrapped it. She has been going with a transportation schema for a couple of months now and she uses this inexpensive yet sturdy stroller to push everything around the house from her stuffed animals to her building blocks. I’m super excited to see her in action with us once she gets her baby doll!! Check it out here.

💙 SnowStopper Toddler Waterproof Stay On Winter Nylon Mittens

These mittens have been a lifesaver this Winter. We have had of both average precipitation for snowfall so far and this is the first year my daughter has actually been able to go out and actively play in the snow. We were having a lot of issues though with snow going up into the sleeves of her coat and also difficulty trying to find mittens that were an appropriate size for her hands and that would help keep her warm without falling off constantly. These were a great addition to her winter gear and I’m so happy and thankful to Ashley with hapa family on YouTube who recommended them because they are a lifesaver ♥️. Take a look at the various sizes and options here.

Those are my Montessori inspired favorites for the month of January 2021. Please comment below and let me know any favorites that you had over the month of January or anything that you were introduced to that you’re excited to use.

As always thank you for reading my blog. Please show some love to my post. Like ❤️, comment 💬, share 💌 and save.

Follow our social media #upstatemontessori or blog #Eat.Play.Live.Repeat to stay up to date on my posts.

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