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Posts Tagged ‘leapfrog academy’

Since the beginning of our homeschool adventures we’ve learned so many different subjects, had a bunch of field trips and discovered new interests. One thing that’s been consistent through all this is my least favorite subject to teach: Reading.

We made great strides in our phonics curriculum and looking from where we started a year and a half ago to now, there have been great improvements. But I still wasn’t sure if she was where she needs to be.

It’s hard because we’ve never raised a seven year old before. On one hand I’m trying really hard not to compare my kids to other kids but on the other hand, if something is off, early detection can be really helpful.

This year I asked for local suggestions and found a reading tutor to help me where I was struggling. The teacher specializes in tutoring kids with dyslexia but she also helps kids who are struggling with reading. She got to know my daughter really well and after a while suggested I get her tested for a reading difference.

Let me tell you I was in complete denial. I mean, I think I had been for years. Lil’ J is so smart and ok so she sometimes gets her bs and ds backwards, but so do many kids her age, and based on some things I’d read, it didn’t seem to make or break it for being dyslexic. She has issues decoding words despite being able to explain the rules of decoding to me and seemingly able to understand the process for sounding out a word. To me she was guessing, being lazy, and just not trying hard enough.

The first neurologist I called quoted me more than $3000 for an intensive screening process and review. Umm. No thanks. I mean, I wanted to know but I didn’t think it was going to be that expensiveAnother friend recommended another specialist who quoted $75-$200 depending on what workup we wanted afterwards. Sold!

We went in for the screening and the specialist was so nice. Asking my daughter what her favorite subjects and books were. My daughter said reading, but I’m still not certain she meant it. She probably felt like that was the right thing to say in the circumstance we were in. After explaining her processes a little bit she took my daughter back and gave her a series of tests. I could hear a little bit of it in the other room and fully expected them to come back saying something like “well, she’s a little behind but doing totally fine…”

Instead with a concerned smile on her face the dyslexia therapist looked at me and said “yea, you should definitely get her tested.” My stomach dropped. Then she pointed out the tests she gave her and explained how she was looking at letter processing compared to numbers and how my daughter’s brain responded to different questions.

All the signs pointed to dyslexia and an official screening (we’re looking at taking her to a children’s hospital in Dallas that offers free testing) will provide her with the documentation she needs for college admissions and things for special assistance programs. The more the specialist explained the more I felt my anxiety rising and the worse I felt.

How did I not see this? Where did this come from? How will this effect her life?

I lost it.

My daughter was playing in the other room but I think she heard me failing to holding back tears because she came in to check on me, which of course made me feel even worse.

When I called my husband and told him the news he wasn’t surprised. He told me he had a feeling and that it was better we knew now. I was still feeling distraught. Partly because of the realization itself and partly for all of my unnecessary pushing and pushing over time.

My daughter overheard me talking to her dad about dyslexia and chimed in.

“I’M DYSLEXIC?!” She asked. “COOL! I’m like Percy Jackson!” She said. We’d just finished the entire first series together. So this girl was well aware of the term.

“Does this mean I can read Greek?!” She asked. That gave me a much-needed laugh.

It’s been about a month since we found out and there are a few things I’m noticing I’m doing differently.

Learning about dyslexia

I’m listening to the Dyslexic Advantage book and some other podcasts about raising children with dyslexia. Understanding how her brain works and processes things differently. For instance her tutor started teaching Lil’ J how to write in cursive and her handwriting is way better in cursive. She seems to enjoy it better and I’ve read it’s easier for her brain to understand and write that way because she’s not having to pick up her pencil as much. I’m learning how there are advantages and strengths of being a different kind of thinker.  I haven’t really been able to totally dive into it yet, just taking the information in a little at a time.

Patience

I’m way more patient. I would get so frustrated when we’d practice phonics and she’d struggle with words or sounds I thought we’d already mastered. Now that I understand it’s not a lack of effort, I have the patience to work with her on things that she’s stumbling over. On her LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition tablet she’ll play spelling and reading word games and instead of setting her off to play on her own I’ll sometimes sit and show her how to replay the question so she can hear the question or words better. In the games she plays in LeapFrog Academy, I can monitor her progress in the parent dashboard and see what progress she’s making or where she may be giving up on an activity then help her with those.

It’s a challenge, but a fun one, and a nice break from some of the reading activities we’ll do on paper.

Getting help

More tutoring. We’ve upped her tutoring to four days a week instead of two and instead of just getting help with reading she’s working with a dyslexic specific curriculum. Right now I’m taking some of the pressure off myself to teach reading and focusing on other subjects, her good comprehension, and reading aloud from books she loves.

Keeping reading fun

I think one of the most important things I can do right now is make sure I keep reading and books inspiring and fun. I’ll drop what I’m doing a couple times a day when she asks me to read more from a novel. I’ll pause to ask comprehension questions or ask her to make predictions about what may happen next–If she doesn’t already offer through one of her random excited outbursts.

We’ll play reading games on her tablet together, or she’ll show me something she’s discovered on her own. That’s one thing I love so much about it. LeapSearch has given her the freedom to access the Internet while I feel at ease knowing that only kid-safe content is accessible. It’s safe and intuitive, so she’ll stumble upon new learning activities (the other day she showed me what she was learning about organs in the human body in The Human Body: Captain Plasma’s Adventure game) and come back and tell me some random facts she’s learned. For Christmas I want to load some new learning games on there for her from the LeapFrog App Center and watch her take it and run.

She loves to learn. Reading hasn’t come easy to her, but I know she’ll get it, and once she does I have a feeling it’ll be hard to get her to stop.


I’m passionate about getting my children excited about learning. That’s why I’ve partnered with LeapFrog for 2017, to share our journey to making learning fun and inspiring my kids to be the best they can be.  The LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition is a great gift for kids ages 3-9 that love to learn and have fun all at once. New customers also save 25% and get an extended free trial of LeapFrog AcademyTM when they register their LeapFrog EpicTM Academy Edition. Purchase a LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition tablet and signup for a 3-month free trial of LeapFrog Academy, $5.99 per month after the trial period ends. LeapFrog Academy guides kids on a variety of fun Learning Adventures that explore a blend of math, reading, science, creativity, problem solving and social-emotional skills, You can learn more about the program and sign up for a free trial here.

I feel like I know my kids pretty well but they always surprise me. Like when our new LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition arrived I totally expected my son to be the one to hog it and not want to share. He was really excited to open it and take it for a spin, but my daughter is the one who goes to grab it instead of her iPad.

Why? There’s a lot of really cool stuff on it and we’re still figuring it out. But she did sit down to point out a handful of her favorite features on it.

So first watch what she had to say and for those without volume, I’ll break it down below. But first, let me tell you what I’m finding so epic about this LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition so far.

1. ENDLESS EDUCATIONAL COMPONENTS

Easily my favorite part of this tablet is the fact that almost everything on it has an educational component. Not only is LeapFrog Academy pre-loaded onto the device, (so my kids can continue their learning adventure there without having to use the iPads with other tempting apps). But even the most basic games that seem purely fun for my daughter have some learning involved. Such as that Stretch Monkey game she loves. She’s also practicing her spelling. Another cool feature is how LeapFrog®, Just for MeTM learning technology personalizes select games to adjust to her learning level.

2. NO MORE INTERCHANGEABLE CARTRIDGES

We’ve been big fans of LeapFrog for a long time, so I was really excited to see that the Epic doesn’t need interchangeable game cartridges to work. It is pre-loaded with dozens of activities and it has Wi-Fi so you can just go to the LeapFrog® Learning Library, and get access to hundreds of games, apps, videos, and music – without having to keep track of all of those game cartridges.

3. KID-SAFE (AND KID-PROOF)

Ok how many phones/tablets have fallen victim to broken screens thanks to a child handler? In our house there have been plenty. The LeapFrog Epic has a shatter-safe LCD screen and protective bumper for everyday bumps.

Ok now back to the things my daughter loves, in case you didn’t already get enough of her adorable review.

1. STRETCH MONKEY 2

Stretch Monkey 2 is a fun game where you pull the monkey back then watch it fling across the screen, and catch different fruits while climbing up buildings. That’s her favorite part. The feature I love is the fact that between each level it gives her a handful of spelling words to practice. This seems to be one of her favorite games so far.

2. Customizable home screen

Immediately my daughter realized she could change around her home screen, move the apps around where she likes and customize her profile. She’s been pretty proud of that and likes to tweak it every now and then re-arranging some of her favorite apps at the top.

3. Story Spinner

Kind of like a verbal version of mad gab where you answer questions asking for different nouns, verbs, sounds etc. Then it plugs all of your responses into a silly story. My daughter and I played this together and we got plenty of laughs.

4. Word of the Day

Just as it sounds, this app reveals a new word every day, and gives you the word in a sentence to give her a little context. There’s also a reward system set up so that each time you get a new word it adds on to a story rewarding you for checking back frequently. I like challenging her to use the word she learns again in a sentence during the day.

There are a few more apps she’s really enjoying right now and if you watch her video you can see what they are!

So there’s that for now. I’m sure over the next couple of months we’re going to discover so much more we love about this tablet. So stay tuned for more updates and some more trial runs with my son as well.

New customers also save 25% and get an extended free trial of LeapFrog AcademyTM with their EpicTMAcademy Edition tablet. They can try LeapFrog Academy TM free for 3 months and continue the learning fun for just $5.99 a month. Purchase a LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition tablet and signup for a 3-month free trial of LeapFrog Academy, $5.99 per month after the trial period ends.


I’m passionate about getting my children excited about learning. That’s why I’ve partnered with LeapFrog for 2017, to share our journey to making learning fun and inspiring my kids to be the best they can be. LeapFrog Academy takes kids on Learning Adventures that guide children around the islands in My World to explore eBooks, games, puzzles, videos, music, and art activities. Adventures focus on specific subjects and have titles like Get Ready for Preschool; Letters, Sounds, and Rhymes; Math and Science; and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. You can learn more about the program and sign up for a free trial here.

When I think back to my summers at home, goodness gracious I watched A LOT of TV. I’m pretty sure my parents never even considered putting a limit on the amount of time I spent watching TV, just so long as it kept us entertained and occupied. That’s much of the reason I have so many Disney movies memorized. The VCR and a shelf full of Disney VHS tapes were my source of joy for much of my childhood.

Nowadays, especially since starting to homeschool, I’m guilt ridden when my kids eat their lunch with the iPad at the table. Or if they have a movie marathon during the week. Sometimes my guilt erupts and I’ll hide iPads and remote controls and pretend like I have no idea where they are.

Ya’ll when did screen time become such a bad thing? I’ve fallen trap to some kind of belief that more screen time means I’m a terrible, horrible, no good very bad mom. When I’m out of town or even gone for just a few hours, things at home run completely different. As much as I try to lay out homeschool plans and leave organized piles labeled with sticky notes and rules about screen time, I realize that I’m not in control when I’m away. And my husband has his own way of doing things. As he should. But it still irks me a bit when I come back and the kids are on iPads.

It’s not like my kids are digital maniacs who can’t stand to be without their screens. They do just fine without them, and most of the time it’s out of sight out of mind. But instead of losing my mind every time I see them sitting in front of a glowing screen, I’m finding ways to make these screens something I approve of more often. Win-win right?

On our Netflix account I created a homeschool profile and created a list of approved shows. From LeapFrog Learning Factory videos to nursery rhyme shows like Mother Goose Club and lots and LOTS of documentaries. I had no idea my 4-year-old son would be sitting down and watching full-length documentaries on sharks and whales. But you’d be surprised how interested they can get in something when you make it available to them.

My daughter also has been into the shark documentaries and spouting random facts about sharks’ brains. My son even schooled me when he told me I was wrong, Destiny from Finding Dory is NOT a whale, but a shark. I had to Google it but realized he’s correct. Why she speaks whale in the movie I’m not so sure.

Over on their iPads I’ve deleted most games that don’t have much educational value. I’ve still left a couple thinking maybe they’ll improve hand eye coordination or something. But I’ve left LeapFrog Academy on the front page and encourage them to play it. They’re getting the hang of it now to where they don’t need me helping them navigate the system and they can open the app, choose their name and go. My daughter loves browsing around the “My World” page where she collects her prizes for winning games and styles her avatar. My son likes to watch the learning factory videos, especially the counting one with… You guessed it! Sharks!

I thought LeapFrog Academy would be a tool mostly for my son but parts of it are really challenging for my daughter too, and I actually am planning to use it more as one of my homeschool tools, especially on our more laid back days, or for easy fun learning when we’re on the go or in the car.

Despite trying to delete a kids’ YouTube app it keeps finding its way back onto my son’s iPad (thanks daddy!) but we discovered the timer on it, and I am not afraid to use it. So after a set amount of time (usually 30-45 minutes) that app has to “take a nap” and he needs to move on to another app or go play with his toys or with his sister.

And finally, we don’t have a video gaming system but we do have an Apple TV that you can download games for. I downloaded some arcade-style games for a birthday party but after a frantic banning of most of them on my part over the summer, they’re left with one they aren’t afraid to go on without me asking if all of their chores are done and that’s a dancing game. They’ll get up and dance around together and sometimes my husband and I will even join in.

All that to say, screen time isn’t always terrible. Duh. But I felt like I needed to get that all out. Maybe I just needed to get that all off my chest, or maybe you needed to hear that too. Screen time can be educational, fun, and sometimes, just give a much-needed break for mommy.


I’m passionate about getting my children excited about learning. That’s why I’ve partnered with LeapFrog for 2017, to share our journey to making learning fun and inspiring my kids to be the best they can be. LeapFrog Academy takes kids on Learning Adventures that guide children around the islands in My World to explore eBooks, games, puzzles, videos, music, and art activities. Adventures focus on specific subjects and have titles like Get Ready for Preschool; Letters, Sounds, and Rhymes; Math and Science; and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. You can learn more about the program and sign up for a free trial here.

Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of time schooling my daughter, taking her to her activities and staying and watching her do each one. My husband usually stays home with our son while I chauffeur her around. I’ve noticed she’s started lacking some of the independence I used to see her exhibit. And it hasn’t exactly been fair to my son.

We just changed things up a bit. Instead of taking my daughter to cheer practice and watching her for an hour and a half, my husband is dropping her off. I’m using some of that time to have some much needed one-on-one time with my son to play, and do a little learning.

He’s so smart when it comes to remembering things like the names and numbers of various types of trains, and characters from Cars. He also knows almost all of his letters and numbers. However, he doesn’t write and he’s only cut with scissors once (just last week, I thought he’d cut strips of paper but only managed to cut pieces off the paper and was pretty thrilled with himself).

He’s so smart when it comes to remembering things like the names and numbers of various types of trains, and characters from Cars. He also knows almost all of his letters and numbers. However, he doesn’t write and he’s only cut with scissors once (just last week, I thought he’d cut strips of paper but only managed to cut pieces off the paper and was pretty thrilled with himself).

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

Our kindergarten readiness plan

I set goals with my daughter for what she’d like to accomplish this school year but I didn’t initially with my son. I’m working on that now. The main things I’d like to accomplish with him are to get him ready for kindergarten in case we go that route. These are the main things I’d like to accomplish:

  • -Help him to recognize his name
  • -…And at least attempting to write or trace it
  • -Matching numbers with the amount of objects
  • -Understanding the concept of addition and subtraction
  • -Can arrange numbers 1-10
  • -Gets dressed by himself
  • -Can cut strips of paper with scissors
  • -Learns 5-10 sight words
  • -Learns most of his letter sounds
  • -Can draw a circle, line, X and +

LeapFrog Academy

We are practicing and learning a lot of these things using LeapFrog Academy. Though he just learned how to play using my computer, it’s easier for him to navigate on his own using the iPad. So far I’m loving the variety of games and activities. There are more than 1000 eBooks, games, puzzles, videos and music across the interactive learning adventure. Each of my kids has a separate profile and he’s learning how to recognize his name and get going on his own.

As I’ve mentioned, Big T doesn’t like to color, or hold writing tools for that matter. I got an idea and dug up some of my old stylus pens to see if he’d like using them on the iPad.

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

I called it his “special pen” and it’s been a hit! He’s still not holding it quite right but with practice I know he’ll get there. There are some tracing letter games and a lot of clicking and dragging that he’s using the stylus for. So he’s getting some fine motor in with his mental learning through the activities. It isn’t necessary to use the app. He loves tapping along and playing with his fingers too. His favorite games seem to involve space ships and fast-moving objects that get him choosing an answer quickly. He also really likes the memory matching games though right now he’s terrible at them.

It’s ok though because not all kids learn in the same way. There are extra activities in his “My Learning Lab” section of LeapFrog Academy to give him extra practice in subjects he needs help getting down, or more difficult activities designed to keep him challenged.

Toys and games

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

We’e also started working on some of these things just goofing off with his toys. I used his cars to teach addition concepts. One game we play is when I put five cars out, ask him to close his eyes then hide some behind my back and ask him how many were missing. This game went surprisingly well. I’m also going to start having him match piles of cars with the corresponding number that matches how many are in the pile. I’ve started teaching letter sounds using words he likes such as “L is for Lllllightning McQueen” “M is for MmmmAter.”

Getting dressed and stuff

I blame a lot of his lack of life skills on myself. He’s my baby, and I’ve treated him like one for a long time. I assume he can’t dress himself, or do other simple tasks and just do them for him. He’s become really reliant on me for things like getting him dressed. We finally put our foot down and taught him how to get his shoes on. He can at least put his sandals on. When winder comes we’ll see how he does with his sneakers. These tasks may take the most patience of all as he learns to do these skills himself and we give him time to get it.

With this clear list of goals and a lot of practice I know we’ll get there. And who knows, maybe in the process we’ll decide we make a good homeschool pair after all.


I’m passionate about getting my children excited about learning. That’s why I’ve partnered with LeapFrog for 2017, to share our journey to making learning fun and inspiring my kids to be the best they can be. LeapFrog Academy takes kids on Learning Adventures that guide children around the islands in My World to explore eBooks, games, puzzles, videos, music, and art activities. Adventures focus on specific subjects and have titles like Get Ready for Preschool; Letters, Sounds, and Rhymes; Math and Science; and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. You can learn more about the program and sign up for a free trial here.

Getting my son ready for kindergarten. Making kindergarten readiness goals and checklists.

When it comes to schooling decisions we are taking it year by year and kid by kid. I’ve finally settled on the approach we’re taking with our son this year. Today’s post is sponsored by LeapFrog, but the story, and opinions I’m about to share are all my own.

I went back and forth trying to decide if my son would go to preschool this year. He is a completely different kind of learner than my daughter. He can sit and work with his hands, build, and play for hours. But he’s not one to sit down and color a piece of paper, work on crafts or anything like that. But I have a serious problem with underestimating him. He’s my youngest and in my eyes I still seem him as a 2-year-old. Not the 4-year-old he is. I often assume he can’t understand me, or he’s not ready for chores, this or that, but I’m totally selling him short in the process.

He is finally starting to sit and listen to a lot of books, he’ll make requests for what he’d like us to read to him, and he’s communicating a lot better, so I figured we’d give some preschool a try at home. Last year I didn’t do much with him since I was just getting my footing with homeschooling Lil’ J, but this year I’m going to put some of the focus on him as well. He will still be in his gymnastics mothers’ morning out program four hours a day twice a week, but the other three days I’m going to try to have a little schedule planned for him as well. I’m still working out the kinks but here are a few things I’m wanting to experiment with.

Montessori Activities and puzzles

I’m not a pro at putting together Montessori lessons but I did try a couple last year. The first one involved me taking a muffin tin and putting a different colored piece of construction paper at the bottom of each circle. Then I gave him tweezers and had him move different-colored puff balls from a Tupperware container to the matching color paper. I showed him how to do it once then he took over. I was thrilled when he completed the task with a proud look on his face then proceeded to do the activity two more times.

The second one involved a bowl of hot and cold water and tongs. He moved his color-changing card between them. He loved this too!

Cars lightning mcqueen montessori activity

The next day I researched a dozen other Montessori activities and hit up the dollar store to make a handful more to try later that week. He liked one with bowls of hot and cold water that he could change the colors but he decided he’d rather play with his toy trains and dinosaurs and I gave up, considered it a bust. I think that he would be interested in more of these activities but probably not back to back, and in short increments of time.

Leap Frog Academy

This is an online interactive learning tool for kids 3-6. I thought LeapFrog would be a great brand to partner with because we love their educational videos on Netflix. They recently launched a new online/app based learning program and we just started it last month. As I was getting it going I thought it may be more for my daughter. She is struggling a bit with reading but excelling at math and really savvy on computers. I set up profiles for both of them and my daughter was chomping at the bit to try first. I set her level to intro to 1st grade–The highest option right now, and she sat down and as I expected, started flying through it.

She did get hung up on some of the reading words but what I loved about the game is that it has a very good mix of fun and education. We’ve tried a couple similar programs and usually either she gets bored with education games that are all flash cards or trying to get correct answers, or I cap limits on games that offer no educational value. So far this seems to have a really good mix of both. My Learning Lab gives extra practice in subjects she needs help mastering and gives more difficult activities to challenged.

Next up I gave my son a try. There is an app I can install on our iPad, and I knew since that’s what he’s familiar with he’d probably be able to play it better, but I figured since we were already on the computer I’d give him a shot.

Watch his first try

I set up a profile for him, choosing the pre-k level. Mind you he’s never sat at a computer before, besides to bang on my keyboard and drive me nuts when I’m trying to work. This was my first time showing him how to use a track pad and computer.

Once again, I realized I have seriously been underestimating his capabilities. It took a little bit of coaching but within a couple minutes he was getting it on his own and laughing at making the game work. He was really excited to be using the computer on his own, and did really well identifying the numbers on the screen and completing the game. But his attention span was much shorter than my daughter’s. He was ready to go back to playing with his cars and bridges after three or four games where my daughter probably could have played for an hour. But you know what? That’s totally ok! I’m putting this down as a free-time activity for her, and a lesson activity for him during this school year. I’m excited to see how it goes and watch his skills progress.

Reading Practice

I’m taking this approach with a bit of trepidation because I don’t want to go overboard and stress either of us out. But I feel pulled to play with this a little with my son and see where it leads. See, he has an incredible memory. He knew all of his letters at 2 just from watching YouTube videos of letters on a train. I’ve told him the numbers of his Cars toys and he remembers… “Lightning McQueen is ninety five”, “Cal Weathers is forty two” and so on.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

When I present information in a way that’s interesting to him, he will remember a lot. So I’m wanting to play with sight word flash cards, and letter sounds. Nothing too intense and only for 5-10 minutes a day. But I think if I stick with it, he will really pick up on it. And if he doesn’t? No pressure, we can try other strategies.

I think the main thing with this guy will be remembering his short attention span. And not forcing him to do any activity for too long. Going for 5-10 minutes then letting him take a break while I work some more with his sister. Most importantly I want to incorporate things that make learning fun for him. That will likely mean incorporating his dinosaurs and toy cars. I really don’t want to stress out about this, but keep it simple and enjoyable. We’ll still plan a lot of time outside and time for me to read aloud to both of them. I may even get Lil’ J to do some kind of learning activity with him daily. Maybe even just selecting his profile on Leapfrog Academy, or doing a puzzle with him. Something that gets her helping and keeps both of them learning and learning how to work together.

Do you have preschoolers? What are your strategies for encouraging learning?


Homeschooling a preschooler.

I’m passionate about getting my children excited about learning. That’s why I’ve partnered with LeapFrog for 2017, to share our journey to making learning fun and inspiring my kids to be the best they can be. LeapFrog Academy takes kids on Learning Adventures that guide children around the islands in My World to explore eBooks, games, puzzles, videos, music, and art activities. Adventures focus on specific subjects and have titles like Get Ready for Preschool; Letters, Sounds, and Rhymes; Math and Science; and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. You can learn more about the program and sign up for a free trial here.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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