Improve Your Kid’s Spatial Reasoning Skills with These 4 Apps

Spatial reasoning is an often overlooked skill that’s vital to develop in kids; we found some quality apps that can help.

Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize shapes and objects in different ways and draw conclusions about those shapes. It’s this strong ability that architects use when designing a building or that a sculptor uses when planning a design. This skill is often overlooked in traditional schooling but is a vital skill to develop. Children with well-developed spatial reasoning skills often perform better at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) tasks. The following apps  help develop these skills, but it is equally important for early learners to play with hands-on objects such as blocks, puzzles, tangrams, or pattern blocks to develop these skills.

 

Spatial Reasoning App Reviews

 

Dragon Shapes Lumio Geometry Challenge (iOS only)

lumio

 

This app walks children through an introduction to shapes through tangram puzzles. As they are presented with a puzzle, a sidebar introduces them to the shape and distinguishing features about the shape.  The shapes include triangles, squares, rectangles, hexagons, trapezoids, pentagons, and rhombi. As children solve the puzzles, the ideas that shapes can form larger composite shapes or designs is reinforced. The shapes in the app are able to be manipulated and turned fairly easily. There are four levels of game play in the app, and there is a storyline involving the rescue of the village dragon that is developed through completion of each level. The app costs $2.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad.

 

Montessori Geometry – Recognize and learn shapes (iOS only)

Montessori Geometry

 

Montessori Geometry is filled with games, free exploration activities, and other learning gems in the traditional teaching style of Maria Montessori. There are games for playing with shapes, learning activities that connect kids to seeing shapes in the “real world,” and a dynamic 3D exploration activity for kids to rotate and interact with every side of the shape. The app presents the formal language for all of the shapes so you won’t just hear the words circle and triangle but also the specific technical terms, such as scalene triangle. The games are in the classic Montessori style, so kids are able to use self-correction and move from activity to activity. There is also a point tracking feature where kids can earn medals while they are playing. The app costs $3.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad.

 

Cyberchase 3D Builder (iOS, Android, and Kindle)

Cyberchase 3D Builder

 

In Cyberchase 3D Builder, encourages kids use flat 2D shapes to build 3D structures. There are eight levels of play to keep kids interested and really amp up the difficulty. The app strength is in developing the relationship between flat and 3D shapes. The app does provide prompts as the levels increase in difficulty for children who may need assistance. Overall the app is a fun experience where kids won’t even realize they are learning. The app is free and appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

Tangram for Osmo (iOS only)

osmo tangram

 

The Osmo tangram kit comes with tangram pieces that interact with the iPad. Download the free Osmo tangram app to get started. Osmo offers a nice Getting Started section to familiarize your child with the use of the pieces and their interaction with the screen. The child must arrange the tangram pieces to match the on-screen arrangement. The Osmo system detects the tangram pieces to check to see if they match the shapes on the screen. While constructing the pictures, your child is developing important visual spatial skills. After your child completes the Getting Started section, the app offers different pictures for your child to choose from and construct with the tangram pieces. The app also indicates the level of the pictures from easiest to hardest by color-coding them yellow, orange, and red. The yellow puzzles offer color clues, and the orange puzzles offer black-and-white shapes. The app does offer a hint button if needed to complete the puzzles. The hardest level offers just one solid black outline. Arranging the tangram pieces is challenging, engaging, and also fun to complete with a friend.

 

Check out more apps that develop spatial reasoning skills here.

 

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3 Apps That Help Your Child Practice Sight Words

As children begin to learn to read, they come to recognize many common words in our language known as sight words.

As children begin to learn to read, they come to recognize many common words in our language known as sight words. Some examples of sight words are they, were, was, and here. Often these words cannot be “sounded out” and help improve reading fluency if memorized. Check out these apps to help build your child’s bank of sight words.

 

Sight Words Ninja – The Endless Slicing Game to Learn to Read (iOS only)

sight word ninja

Designed after the famous app, Fruit Ninja, this app presents sight words to children to slice and chop. The app begins by tossing 1 word into the air for children to slice. The word is said aloud, and children must slice the correct word. There is not a lot of feedback given for words sliced incorrectly, other than the word being grayed out. Parents, keep watch to be sure your child is discerning the correct word and not slicing all the words presented. As well as watching your child play, be sure to set up the game in the Settings area at a level where your child is challenged and the words are appropriate. There are five different sets of words, three levels of difficulty, and options for the length of the game. The app costs $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

Word BINGO (iOS, Android)

word bingo

Word BINGO provides a fun way to practice recognizing and spelling over 300 words from the Dolch sight words list. Three activities engage children to identify spoken Dolch words, and one activity has children unscrambling letters to practice spelling them. Every time you make bingo or spell ten words, two of the other activities become available. These activities are game-like, entertaining, and motivating but still have users practicing from the word lists. Children earn bingo bugs that they can play with after successfully completing activities. Some key features in Word BINGO are the multi-player format, a user report card, levels for word lists and games, and thorough instruction and options pages. Parents, be aware that the music is upbeat and could be viewed as distracting to other children working nearby or to yourself. There is an option to mute the sound. The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

Sight Words Games & Flash Cards for Reading and Spelling Success at School (Learn to Read Preschool, Kindergarten and Grade 1 Kids) (iOS, Android, Kindle)

sight words

This app provides a variety of games for reinforcing identification of sight words. In each game, words are paired with speech so even very young children can experience over 200 sight words. The games are engaging and fun for young learners. Children will enjoy the word machine, which pops out 3 options for a sight word from which the child must pick the correct one. Another unique game is the gears game in which children must listen to the center gear say the word and match the brightly colored gear with the sight word. At the end, the gears make a puzzle in which all the gears turn and move together. The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

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3 Apps to Build Story-Writing Skills

Story-writing is a complex process that begins in early childhood as storytelling. Check out these apps that encourage storytelling and ultimately composition.

Story-writing is a complex process that begins in early childhood as storytelling. Check out these apps that encourage storytelling and ultimately composition.

 

Tell About This (iOS only)

tell about this

Prior to writing a great story, children must develop an idea, formulate multiple sentences, and have the ideas and sentences come together to make a story. This app, Tell About This, works with the very beginning stages of creating a story but limits the parameters to focusing on verbalizing the ideas. The app has created a bank of visual and auditory prompts for children to respond to. The pictures provide a prompt for children to generate ideas, think out loud or tell a complete story. All of the pictures in the app are real photographs and many include young children doing many of the things your children probably enjoy doing, such as jumping in a bounce house, playing in leaves, swinging on a swing, or playing an instrument. There is surely something that you child can connect with in the app. The app is $2.99 and appropriate for children 4-6.

 

Write About This (iOS only)

WriteAboutThis

Write About This is meant to be a next step for children after they’ve used the Tell About This app or are more adept in creating stories and are ready to write words to accompany their ideas. The app has a similar setup but includes an area for children to write directly in the app. The app allows the child to record their story as well. Sometimes children are able to verbalize a story more effectively than writing one, so parents could use the recording feature with their child first, and then the child could play it back to write their story. There is also a Quick Write section for children to take their own picture and create a recording and/or writing piece. The app costs $3.99 and is appropriate for children ages 5-8.

 

Story Dice – ideas for writers (iOS, Android, Kindle Fire)

Story Dice

Story Dice is an open-ended experience that sets the stage for storytelling and language to develop. The app is simple. Tap the screen, and a set of picture dice (choose from 1 to 10) appear on the screen. Use these pictures to create a unique collaborative story, play memory games, or inspire your child’s next composition. Check out the “More” section of the app for even more ideas. This is a great app to inspire children with creative ideas.

 

Check out more apps for writing here.

 

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Apps for Learning Letters and Sounds

 When parents think of early learning skills, learning letters is one of the first skills that comes to mind.

When parents think of early learning skills, learning letters is one of the first skills that comes to mind. The apps discussed in this blog post will help your child learn about letters. Remember that learning the sound of a letter is just as important as being able to identify the letter itself.

 

Montessori Letter Sounds– Phonics in English, Spanish, French, German & Italian

Montessori Letter Sounds

This app gives parents and children a progression in early literacy skills. There are four levels in the app that start children with playing with sounds and increase in sophistication to building words. The app provides a fun “I Spy” section, which challenges children to choose picture cards that coordinate with the letter sounds given. The “Letter Sounds” section gives the letters and sounds to listen to while tracing the letters. Children can record themselves saying the letter sounds as they learn them in the app. Writing the letters is incorporated into the learning, and a Montessori- inspired sand tray is in the “Toolbox” section of the app to help practice letter formation.

 

Duck Duck Moose Reading

Duck Duck Moose Reading

Duck Duck Moose Reading is a solid phonics practice app for your beginning reader. Children quickly progress through five varied phonics activities, each focused on a specific set of letters. Games are entertaining to play and are designed to focus on individual sounds, letters, or both letters and sounds in the context of words. Kids earn animals to add to their zoo after each series of activities. Parents are given a progress report for multiple kids who log into the app. Duck Duck Moose Reading is perfect for children at the kindergarten or first grade level and costs $2.99.

 

Starfall ABCs

starfall abc's

Starfall ABCs brings each letter to life with pictures, animation, games, songs, and stories. Using a clearly articulated voice, each letter is identified by name, sounds, and words. Children interact with each letter by tapping, sliding, sorting, and dragging objects through five or more screens of engaging phonics learning. Many of the letters include real pictures as well as animations. The most exciting part of this app may be the sign language animations from the bottom menu. Starfall ABCs is a must-have app for children learning their letters, letter sounds, and beginning reading skills.

 

Interactive Alphabet ABC’s

interactive alphabet

Interactive Alphabet ABC’s makes every letter a toy. Tap on brightly colored letters to hear the letter name, sound, and a word. Enjoy each unique letter environment that is created about the letter word. Tap, drag, and pinch the screen to tickle dinosaurs or feed olives to ogres. The baby mode feature is especially nice, with each screen progressing to the next letter after 15 seconds of play. A variety of music options will help parents who get tired of hearing the same old tune repeated over and over again. Interactive Alphabet ABC’s is a lot of fun and reinforces phonics at the same time. This app is great for children who are just being introduced the letters of the alphabet.

 

KinderTown has many more apps to help your child learn their letters. Check them out here.

 

 

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Early Math Apps for Multiple Skills

These apps provide practice with multiple skills in the area of early math.

The following apps provide practice with multiple skills in the area of early math. These apps can provide the parent insight into skills their child may need additional practice with or provide a review of previously learned skills. In addition, changing the skill keeps the attention of children as they practice what they have learned.

 

Marble Math Junior

Marble Math Junior offers an engaging maze for kids to roll their marble around as they solve problems.

Marble Math Junior offers an engaging maze for kids to roll their marble around as they solve problems. Kids who like to physically move around can use the motion controls of the iPad to tip it and turn it to make the marble move, allowing themcollect the given items. Each time a maze is presented, the directions tell children how to collect the items(for example, “collect from first to last” or “collect numbers that multiply to make 8”). The directions can easily be read aloud to the students as they tap on the words. If children answer incorrectly, they can easily try again using the Replay button or tap the Show Me button to see the answer. There are three levels of game play to make the app long-lasting for kids. Children will enjoy collecting the extra surprises hidden in the maze, such as the flashlight that turns your marble into a special spotlight. The app presents a number of early elementary math skills including telling time, addition and subtraction, comparing numbers, multiplication, and beginning fractions. Parents can easily control what skills are presented to their child by using the checkboxes under Skills on the main screen.

 

Mathlandia – early math learning for kids

Mathlandia provides 6 early learning number games for your child to enjoy.

Mathlandia provides 6 early learning number games for your child to enjoy. Experience content that takes your child through the simplest counting games to a subtraction experience that is so supportive we think a 4-year-old would benefit from playing. Each game is paced slowly with purposeful animations and illustrations. There aren’t any distracting noises or overly stimulating graphics in Mathlandia. Your children will enjoy the number play and counting games.

 

Bugs and Numbers

Bugs and Numbers touches on a variety of math concepts that span a wide age range, including counting, sorting, patterns, measurement, time, money, and fraction activities.

Bugs and Numbers is the third in a series of early learning, playful math apps from Little Bit Studios. The app touches on a variety of math concepts that span a wide age range, including counting, sorting, patterns, measurement, time, money, and fraction activities. The games are beautifully designed and completely fun for kids. There is even a bug reward area for some free play. Our only note is that some of the games advance quickly, so you might want to choose the games carefully so as not to frustrate your child. Join in on the play when you first start Bugs and Numbers; this is app you’ll enjoy playing, too!

 

KinderTown has reviewed many math apps. Check them all out here.

 

 

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Science Enrichment Apps for Elementary Students

Encourage your elementary students to explore history, the stars, and the human body with these science enrichment apps.

Journeys of Invention

Journeys of Invention delves into the most fascinating inventions in history.

This app delves into the most fascinating inventions in history. The app was created from exhibits in the Science Museum in London. There are 80 objects from the museum to explore. The app does have a fair amount of complex reading, so, parents, you should read along with your child. Rotate the 3D replica of the first battery or a model steam engine or the first supercomputer. The pictures and 3D objects are captivating in this app. Many of the objects have corresponding videos or pictures of historic documents that relate to the object. Everyone is sure to learn something new! The app costs $9.99 and is appropriate for children ages 7 and up.

 

Star Walk™ for Kids

A fascinating learning tool for your kids, Star Walk™ for Kids brings the solar system to life.

A fascinating learning tool for your kids, Star Walk™ for Kids brings the solar system to life. Each planet has a fact card and a short video to explain key facts about the planet. There are extra movies as well that explain space-related ideas, such as the Hubble Spacecraft. A wide variety of constellations and stars turn the sky into an imaginative area for kids. The most amazing feature of Star Walk™ for Kids is that children can take an iPhone or iPad outside and point it to the sky to guide their exploration, and the app will map the stars seen from your location. This is a great activity for parents and children to do together. The app does not collect any personal information but is able to use the location features of your device. This app would be a great complement to any unit of study on the solar system. The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 5-8; also, itis available for iPhone and iPad.

 

The Human Body by Tinybop

The Human Body by Tinybop is an app made for exploring and asking questions.

The Human Body by Tinybop is an app made for exploring and asking questions. There is animation to accompany the 6 different body systems. Encourage and answer your child’s questions while exploring, and they will direct the learning that occurs. Tap different parts of the brain, and an animation appears, depicting what that area of the brain controls. Also note that the app does perform functions of the body that may make some children say “yuck,” such as burping and throwing up. The app is not narrated, so parents need to provide the support for the learning. In addition, the app offers a parent section and an option to set up multiple profiles for different children. Children can record questions while using the app, and parents can respond to them. Tinybop has even made a helpful parent guide to accompany the app, which we highly recommend downloading and using it with your child. It’s perfect for answering the tough questions your child may ask. In the parent’s section, the urogenital section is available for separate purchase so that you decide when that is right for your child. This app is brilliantly designed for scientific discovery.

 

To check out more apps about science, click here.

 

 

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Free Math Apps for Subitizing – Games & Activities

Subitizing is the skill of knowing how many items are in a group without directly counting them. Subitizing helps to develop overall number sense and lays the foundation for counting by 2’s, 10’s, and 100’s; adding numbers; and computing mentally.

 

Subitizing is the skill of knowing how many items are in a group without directly counting them. Try out these free, tested math apps.

Each of the apps featured on the blog today are free and have been supported through funding by the National Science Foundation. The apps have been researched and tested in learning centers and have been proven to improve early learning math skills when compared with students who didn’t use the apps. All of the apps have a simple interface and have a repetitive nature to the activities presented–a compelling reason to add them to your child’s collection! After using the apps with your children, check out their hands-on activities to support your child’s learning.

 

graciebirthday

Gracie & Friends Birthday Café

This app creates every kid’s favorite party scene–a birthday party–to learn about subitizing. Children arrange the friends in the app at tables and distribute items to celebrate.

 

gracieskate

Gracie & Friends City Skate

Help your child ride their skateboard through the city and jump to catch the groups that represent a specific number. There are twenty different levels on the skating adventure. The skating is easy to navigate.

 

graciebubbles

Gracie & Friends Treasure Bubbles

Pop bubbles with your child in this two-person app. The goal of the game is to only pop the bubbles that represent the given number. Each person can lengthen and shorten their rope to pop or avoid the bubbles falling from the sky. An engaging way to learn about numbers!

 

graciejunglegym

Gracie & Friends Jungle Gym

Play with robots and add stickers to their bellies to make numbers. Then children make the robots hang from a rope, matching them up to make all the robots that contain like numbers hang together from the rope. The best part is shaking the app to make all the robots fall and then starting over again!

 

There’s no reason not to try these excellent early math apps.

 

 

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Develop Phonemic Awareness with These Educational Apps

One of the most important ways to set your children up for success is to develop their phonemic awareness.

As parents, we all want our children to be successful in the process of learning to read. There are many things parents can do prior to that point in order to set their children up for success. One of the most important is to develop your child’s phonemic awareness. Research shows that phonemic awareness is the number one predictor of a child’s success at reading. It makes sense to approach the development of this skill in many different ways, including apps! Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in words. This is done through activities that help the child break those sounds apart, identify the individual sounds, and then change a sound in a word (cat to bat). Check out these apps that help your child develop phonemic awareness.

 

Phonological Awareness Lab

phonological awareness app

This app was designed by a speech language pathologist and covers the different parts of phonemic awareness through activities in a room that looks like a science lab. The activities cover skills such as rhyming, blending sounds, and counting syllables; however, the app does not provide any type of reward or entertainment value. Even when children successfully complete the activities, there are no rewards or free play. The app would be great as an assessment tool for parents or teachers, and the app does record your child’s scores and progress. The app also allows for tracking of multiple students. The app costs $19.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6.

 

Dora ABCs Vol 3: Ready to Read!

Dora

Dora ABCs Vol 3 takes your child to a frog fiesta while helping them blend and change sounds to make words. The phonics games have your child blend simple three-letter words together by themselves or with the support of tapping the letters to hear the sounds. Drag and drop the matching picture next to the word. Then the app gives you a new word, and you have to change the initial sound to build the new word; for example, change car to jar. The frog games that your child can play after the phonics practice keep children interested in the app. This app is not very long but practices important early pre-reading skills. The app costs $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-6.

 

Monkey Word School Adventure

monkey word

Monkey Word School Adventure uses mini-games to help kids get started on the road to reading. Games include spelling, letter identification, rhyming, and much more. Kids love the fast-paced and engaging activities. Children are rewarded with special pieces to add to their own terrarium. Parents get so much value out of the descriptive settings page that break down the learning in each mini-game. The app auto-adjusts based on your child’s play or gives the controls to the adults for customizing the app. Either way, you will know what your child is working on! The app costs $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-6.

 

If you are looking for more apps to support your child in pre-reading, check these ones out.

 

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5 Sweet (e)Books to Read for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it is a fun time to enjoy some books related to the holiday. These books make great Valentine’s Day gifts for your special Valentine.

 

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it is a fun time to enjoy some books related to the holiday.

Valentine E-books

 

First Words Valentine

First Words Valentine

First Words Valentine is a sweet app that reviews common words associated with Valentine’s Day. The words are presented, and the letters are scrambled for the kids to arrange correctly. A picture accompanies each word to help children understand the meaning of the word. There are options for parents to turn off the letter clues, to turn off the sound, to change from lowercase to capital letters, or to change the font. The app is fairly simple but a fun way to enjoy Valentine’s Day. The best part is that the app is free! The app is appropriate for children ages 3-6. If you enjoy this style of app, the creator has several others designed in a similar way, such as First Words Animals and FirstWords: At Home.

 

Biscuit’s Valentine’s Day

Biscuits Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day is a great time to enjoy stories about love and kindness. This story is about the beloved character Biscuit and how he celebrates Valentine’s Day. The e-book has options for Auto Play, Read to Me, or Read by Myself. The app also includes a coloring book, sticker book, memory book, and puzzle section. The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-5.

 

For additional book ideas for Valentine’s Day, check out these books at your local library.

 

Valentine’s Day Thematic Read-Alouds

 

CuriousGeorge

Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George

George and his friends celebrate Valentine’s Day and, in his traditional mischievous style, causes trouble with balloons, glitter, and frosting.

 

LittleCritter

Happy Valentine’s Day, Little Critter!

Little Critter’s class is celebrating Valentine’s Day. Pull back the flaps and discover all the fun Valentine’s Day surprises.

 

RainedHearts

The Day It Rained Hearts

Cornelia Augusta couldn’t believe her eyes as this unusual downpour began. Each heart was special, and she knew just what she wanted to do with each and every one of them. The simple and gentle text is kept to a minimum.

 

Enjoy these books with your little Valentine and check out our other ideas for celebrating the holiday here.

 

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Apps for Developing Number Sense

Learning how to count is part of what young children need to begin laying a foundation for early math skills. However, learning to count is really just one of several concepts that develop in early childhood. Beyond counting, children need to develop an understanding of numbers. For example, children need to be able to look at a set of objects and know without counting that there are 4 and begin to understand that 9 objects are more than 5 objects. Developing these concepts in early childhood will lay the foundation for later mathematics.

 

Apps for Developing Number Sense

Quick Math Jr.

quick math jr.

KinderTown loves the app Quick Math Jr. by Shiny Things. It’s uniquely made to capture kids’ attention and help them learn about counting, ordering numbers, adding, subtracting, and writing numbers. The app is centered on colorful and playful monsters. One of five different game areas is randomly selected when the game play begins. The areas are represented by a bus, a light bulb, a pair of eyes, a house, and a train. One of the greatest features of the games is that they automatically adjust to your child’s learning level so they are appropriately challenged as they learn and progress through the app.

 

These games are combined together to create Hustle Bustle Island. The app has 3 different islands available for purchase, each of which provides 3 new games for children. Parents can also elect to receive report card notifications on their child’s progress via email.

 

Throughout the game, children can earn different facial features for the monsters, which then appear within the app. Our child testers liked this feature and the ability to personalize their own monsters. The app allows for multiple students to have profiles, so if you have a classroom or multiple children at this level, the app will support each child’s individual development. The app is appropriate for children who can recognize numbers and number concepts, starting around age 4, although the ability to add and subtract numbers and memorize the facts usually occurs later. Parents, also read the parent section to find different examples of age-appropriate number games that can be played offline to support your child’s learning and development of numbers. The app is free, but additional content costs $4.99 for each island.

 

Motion Math: Hungry Guppy

hungryguppy

Motion Math: Hungry Guppy provides a delightful aquarium environment for children to work on developing number sense. The app provides easy explanations of how to drag bubbles with dots together to make a new bubble with the combined dots. Then, children match the dots on the bubbles to the dots on the fish. Your hungry guppy is designed to eat only the correct number, but there is no losing in this app. Learning is reinforced every time your fish gobbles up the correct number. Numbers that are greater than requested quietly disappear off the screen. The app moves from dots to written numerals quickly. The app practices subitizing (instantly recognize “how many”) dots and recognizing written numerals to match given quantities your fish wants to eat. The app works to build number sense and pre-addition understanding by dragging smaller quantities together to build a larger amount. Hungry Guppy is a prequel to the app Motion Math: Hungry Fish.

 

Other apps that incorporate number sense along with other early childhood math skills include Bugs and Numbers, Monkey Math School Sunshine, and Bedtime Math. Enjoy working with your child as they develop number sense.

 

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