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Hi - we changed our routine today. We had free play from 9.30 - 11.45 with a rolling snack time, tidy up and storytime then home. Some of the children became very tired even fractious and I did wondered whether at one point I was making the right decision to go this way.

 

for years we have had free play until 11.a.m and then for the last hour, a sit down snack time all together, music/movement/p.e. and storytime.

 

I'm all for carrying on with the new routine, but would like to know from others who follow a similar style how their youngest children cope - do you plan in a quiet time somewhere into the session with one or two small group storytimes/music etc. and 'gather up' the littlies (the youngest today was 3 who was a bit whingie), so that you impose a rest time on them, or do you let them decide themselves that they need to go off and be quiet.

 

I'm doing this for the children - the adults were very happy with our routine as it was, I just wanted the children to have more time for themselves. Obviously I know it will take some time for the children to settle into a new routine such as it is - far less routine than before! But I'm worried that I'm missing out on doing something - that it's not as simple as giving it up to just free play for most of the session.

 

Any suggestions?

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Hi Panders

 

I'm really dubious about this fashion for rolling snack bar. After countless discussions and debates, we've decided against it, because of the social value of sitting together to eat. I can see all the arguments for, but I think there comes a point where we are offering children TOO MUCH choice. In and of itself, choice is not necessarily a good thing - a 2 year old can't necessarily make the right decisions (I'm hungry, I should eat something, I'm tired, I should have a rest) for themselves. Sometimes the adult needs to step in and create a routine that works for everyone.

 

Sorry if that is not much help but I would go with your instincts and if it doesn't seem to be working at your setting and for your children then don't do it just because others say you 'should'.

 

Good luck.

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We also have free flow but like Suzie stop for a whole group social snack time so that the children can recharge and tank up for more free play. We did a rolling snack and evaluated it with the children who all preferred the whole group arrangement.

 

Once tanked up the children are raring to go again and those that don't want to take advantage of some of the quieter activities that we lay on after our snack break.

 

We then stop at about 12.30/1.00pm for lunch again by this time the children are ready for a sit down and some refreshments.

 

Having a bit of routine gives some structure to our day and helps the children settle in better as they begin to know what to expect. Structure to the day can be as rigid or as flexible as you want to make it so that the children flow with it and the structure flows with the children.

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We have always had sit down snack, but were finding with 26 children in at each session it was taking such a long time to wash hands etc. We have had rolling snack for the last 4 weeks and are finding it really good...so far. We have several children who chose not to have snack, during sit down snack they used to get really restless etc, so for them its great, we are also finding that the children are becoming more independent about who they sit with, when they stop etc.

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One thing I learnt from my EYPS course is that if you want to change something, you need to plan out the process first. So if you identify a need for change, spend some time making observations and gathering your evidence, then more time researching the next step, then planning out how long a trial, then making the change, then evaluating. It sounds long winded, but it makes sure you are doing the right thing.

 

Did your wish for change come from what the children said they wanted, or what you thought they might prefer? Were they prepared for the change by discussions etc about it?

 

But 1 day isn't long enough to see if the new arrangement works!

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We decided to introduce rolling snack last year - feeling very dubious about it, but we thoguth we'd give it half a term trial. We're still doing it now, and the odd occassion when we do have group snack it is a nightmare - it takes an age!

 

However like Panders I am struggling to fit in a focussed time. We run full days 9 - 3.30, children can stay morning, afternoon or all day. We start day with circle time, register, counting phonics Wake up shake up - last about 20 mins by the time they've all said their piece. then we free play till around 11.30 tidy up and story - an adult led is usually available during this time. However they are often so absorbed in their own play that its not needed - wasted planning and prep time!

The afternoons are more difficult though - we did follow same routine as mornings but found the circle time at beginning of afternoon a nightmare - if we're really listening to the children they were telling us they didn't want it! and weren't engaging either. So we have our lunch then freeplay (again adult led available) till 2.50 ish , tidy then group game and story - but they are so tired its a bad time to introduce something new in a game - or do a letters & sounds thing (which needs a quiet time/space anyway)

 

The children are really much happier with less structure - but - The balance is swaying a little too far in their direction i think -and we have several children with IEP's requiring individual , focussed or small group work - when can this fit in???? They don't want to be taken out of freeplay - and it's too distracting anyway

 

 

Oh my goodness - I am soooostuck with this one!

 

any thoughts very welcome!!!!

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Hi,

 

I agree with cupcake's reasons and others. We changed to a rolling snack cafe last year due to same reasons of too many children and it not being the right time for all of them. It works brilliantly - it is still a very social time - with an adult there joining in conversations and always with groups of children. We find that our youngest 2 year olds know what they need when it comes to food and are always the first there when it opens.

Sometimes it still becomes a whole group snack time when everyone wants to eat straight away and we accommodate that, or for birthday times or special occasions.

With regard to free play we are a 3 hour session and also a pack away so children help in tidyying up. We have from 9am to 11 am as free play and i think this is very valuable. I agree at times it can be difficult to fit in focussed time and sometimes the younger ones can be tired by 11.30am but as with all routines there are constants that provide security and stability but also fluidity to change as needs arise.

I do find that if the key persons are attuned to their children then they can spot when a young one needs diverting to the cosy corner for some quiet story time during the session.

 

Give it a good go you will soon see what needs 'tweaked' and good luck.

 

Gwennie

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The children are really much happier with less structure - but - The balance is swaying a little too far in their direction i think -and we have several children with IEP's requiring individual , focussed or small group work - when can this fit in???? They don't want to be taken out of freeplay - and it's too distracting anyway

 

We have a similar problem with 2 on the autistic spectrum and two who are very restless during sit down snack time.

 

I am hoping that the children will thrive on having more time for themselves and to be fair some did today. I really didn't like the affect it had on a few. It would seem fair to keep on for a few weeks more and evaluate as we go. I think I know what some of the staff will say at the Friday meeting!

 

How long did it take before the children began to "individualise" when they took their snacks, once one child came and got their drink and snack today all the children wanted theirs too, now this is obvious because that's what they have been used to, but how long before that doesn't really happen any longer?

 

During whole group snack we have also found in the past that if we allow the children to get up before most have finished their snack - then some of the others just get up to go off and play without having eaten and drunk. So the adults tended to really keep the children sat down far longer than perhaps we should.

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It took us a good two weeks and we stipulate only five at the snack table at any one time. At first we had a constant stream of children, where we had to explain, that when there was a space we would call them over, now four weeks in you can see the children looking over at the snack table, seeing a space and telling the staff member on the snack table, 'save my place Im going to do my hands. We have also observed children going to ask their friends 'when you having snack' . We have a board with all the children's names on it, when they have snack they take down their name, this way we are able to monitor who has had snack etc. I am glad we stuck with it, we have no more children becoming restless and bored with waiting to wash hands and no more trying to keep all the children at the table while everyone finishes. It is still a very social occassion, as a different member of staff runs the snack bar each day, so lots of conversation about their play, what they are going to do next etc. In the first week we did have more children wetting themselves, especially the younger ones, as we always used to wash hands and remind the children to have a wee if they needed one, as we no longer had sit down snack, we no longer had groups of children visiting the toilet at a set time, so we had to remind ourselves to remind the children to have a wee if they needed one, after the first week this was no longer a concern.

 

However I have to say that the children still have the same amount of free play that they used to have before, which is 9.30 until 11am, now instead of sitting down at 11am for snack, we tidy up and do small group stuff, such as show and tell, letters and sounds, stories, singing etc, which we now have more time to do as we arent spending 30minutes on snack. Our rolling snack bar opens when the children arrive and closes when we stop to do tidy up.

Edited by cupcake
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Our rolling snack has been running for a while and works really well, most of our children stay for lunch and therefore enjoy the sitting together time then.....but during a session trying to get 22 children to sit nicely together for a snack it just too stressful for them and us.

We find our youngest children quickly pick up the routine, yesterday I watched a two year old come to the snack table, get a cup, plate sit down, pour water, spill some, wipe it up, sit back down fill up the water again, help herself to houmous and a breadstick, eat it, drink the water, get up put her plate, bowl and cup in the bowl and carry on playing - all independently :oxD

We have a mixed age setting and the younger ones definetly learn from the older ones.

The changes we are making to our routine at the moment is less time on the carpet at the end of the day....they keep falling asleep at story time....

Edited by Guest
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The children are really much happier with less structure - but - The balance is swaying a little too far in their direction i think -and we have several children with IEP's requiring individual , focussed or small group work - when can this fit in???? They don't want to be taken out of freeplay - and it's too distracting anyway

 

 

I know this goes against all the ideals of having uninterupted free play but could you stop all the children part way through the afternoon to have small group work etc? It just seems to me such a shame if the children with IEPs aren't getting what they need or are too tired to benefit from it. After lunch they probably feel sleepy, just as we do after eating a meal (at least I do!) so I can see why they might not respond well at this time, but about an hour after lunch when they have digested it might be an ideal time to do this input. I know stopping the free play isn't ideal but in my experience children who are truely absorbed will go back and pick up where they left off even if interupted. It would also take away the distraction of having other children playing around them if there is no seperate room to use for focussed activities.

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Our rolling snack has been running for a while and works really well, most of our children stay for lunch and therefore enjoy the sitting together time then.....but during a session trying to get 22 children to sit nicely together for a snack it just too stressful for them and us.

We find our youngest children quickly pick up the routine, yesterday I watched a two year old come to the snack table, get a cup, plate sit down, pour water, spill some, wipe it up, sit back down fill up the water again, help herself to houmous and a breadstick, eat it, drink the water, get up put her plate, bowl and cup in the bowl and carry on playing - all independently :oxD

We have a mixed age setting and the younger ones definetly learn from the older ones.

The changes we are making to our routine at the moment is less time on the carpet at the end of the day....they keep falling asleep at story time....

 

I would hope to be able to get to that point in a couple of weeks time! We were a little sneaky today - we set up snack table inside, and majority of children were outside - we just let the news that snack was available "filter" to the children outside and gradually they began to come in. I think it's the nitty gritty too of the adult role we are trying to get to grips with which seems much more hands on than our old way - however, it is early days yet!

 

 

Thank you everyone - I know we are all so different in how we approach our routines - and i am able to pick up a little here and there from all that you have said.

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Hmm this is really difficult - if only i had a magic wand!!

I know I need to fit in that IEP and focussed time somewhere - but some children that only come in the afternoon take a little time to decide then become really absorbed - to have a whole group adult time in the middle of it would reallly spoil it for them. Perhaps we could have a slightly extended lunch time - till maybe 1.30 then gather the group - they should have worked off the lunch time lethargy by then - but I suppose that's what you are suggesting isn't it Kariana??!

 

Back to the snack -which for us is an easy concept now (hurray) - we also struggled with the adult role. initially one adult makes snack with 2 children then its self service. All the adults top up milk jugs etc if they see that they're empty - or the children shout that they need more.... we also have a snack registration board - their names to stick up on a board when they've had it. When they've finished they take their dishes away .Our 2 year olds do take time to adjust - only one snack is the biggest issue. There is spilt milk but I think that's ok - how do you learn to use a jug effectively and not overflow your cup if you don't have a go? One member of staff initially found it really difficult to just let them get on with it -but now no problem.

 

Hopefully we'll soon have a simple solution for the other routine issues we have as well - here's hoping!

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.Our 2 year olds do take time to adjust - only one snack is the biggest issue. There is spilt milk but I think that's ok - how do you learn to use a jug effectively and not overflow your cup if you don't have a go? One member of staff initially found it really difficult to just let them get on with it -but now no problem.

 

Hopefully we'll soon have a simple solution for the other routine issues we have as well - here's hoping!

Hopefully youve provided a jug the size a two year old can manage and not adult size too ! Ive read all your posts and find it intriguing to say the least that you expect 2yr olds to know when they are hungry! They thrive on routine and a regular snack time is essential. Also when they hit "big school" its nothing but routines despite EYFS so how will they adjust to that ? Im all for 'Free play' but I think kids need to know when snack time is, and need a wind down time too especially older kids ie 3- 4 yrs. Cant you do both ? by this I mean keep the previous routine for the younger kids and let the older ones decide ?- it would save congestion at snack time too..... Im speaking as a mum now of a two year old and a four year old ( I obviously also childmind) and they definitely feel more confident with a regular time slot for food. How does the rolling snack affect their appetite for lunch ?..... just a thought

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We have tried snack times as a rolling snack bar and it didn't work for us. We persevered for a term. We start snack time in keyperson groups between 9.45 and 10.15 .1.15-2.00p.m.

Children chat to keypersons, have a story and sometimes we do a phonics activity or focus activity.We spend about 10-20 mins depending on age/ mood of children and what else we have planned.I feel it is important for children to have a routine and to sit down and eat together at fairly regular times.

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I have been a childminder for many a year, worked in pre-schools etc., Rolling snack bars are fantastic, particularly for children who come in and have not had breakfast. A 2 year old will automatically aim for food if hungry, this has been observed on many occasion and when parents are later questioned - yes they forgot to tell us that their child had not had breakfast! As soon as my children could toddle they knew where to find bowls plates cutlery etc., and were able to take these out and serve themselves. If i had not gotten food out early enough they would take plaes out which was the biggest hint going that they at the age of 2 were hungry. Although it is a rolling snack bar adults are still responsible for monitoring if the child has accessed the snack bar, if not then you simply role model and support in its use and encourage the child towards independence gradually.

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I do worry though that we are encouraging the children to feel that they can snack whenever they want, whereas when they start school this is not at all how it works. Also, I'm not convinced how healthy it is to encourage snacking between meals rather than a more structured kind of 10.30/elevenses.

 

Also, they really do need to be having breakfast before they go to school, rather than when they 'feel' hungry. So many times I've taught children who can't concentrate because they haven't eaten at home in the mornings.

 

It's fascinating to see everyone's experiences of this and the different viewpoints.

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Many of our children haven't had breakfast before school or indeed anything after the previous day's school lunch so they are ready for something as soon as they arrive. Some of our children like to have their milk in the morning and save fruit for afternoons but I think as long as they are aware that they have one snack (at whatever time) and don't continually graze there isn't a problem with eating between meals.

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or indeed anything after the previous day's school lunch

 

 

Gosh!! Can't believe this happens!

 

This must really play on your heart strings, Marion.

 

 

 

We have tried both ways, many times, to reflect the different needs of the groups of children each year. The biggest thing we found was rolling snack manifested itself with some children unable to sit at lunch time (they didn't have to wait until all children had finished, just the ones on their table - 4)

 

I think its very individual. it also helps to have a time slot for rolling snack rather than being available all morning and right up to lunchtime.

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Hello, at the setting where I work (2 and 3 year olds, max. 20 per session) we operate a small group snack time where 5 children at a time sit down with a member of staff for their snack. The hungrier ones get there first and the others are given the choice of sitting down and waiting or to go and play. We are all in one big hall so all the free play activities (except the one replaced with the snack table and food trolley) carry on through out. On the whole we have found this works very well for us.

 

The advantages for us are:

children can choose when to have their snack (whilst snack table is open, approx. 1 hour in a 3 hour session or until all children have visited), children can carry on playing for a while until they are ready, when a child has finished their snack and cleared their plate/cup away they can go straight back to their play (no waiting for others to finish), reluctant children can see the others eating and the food on offer and are more likely to want to join in, member of staff can dedicate their attention to the 5 children at the table, free play carries on uninterrupted whilst snack is taking place.

 

The disadvantages are:

sometimes hungry children waiting (we open at 9.15 and snack starts just after 10.00, but as others have said some children come in without breakfast).

 

The whole of our session is free play with a tidy up and carpet time at the end for stories and songs. We don't really do a circle time, but the small group snack is a great time to sit down and chat together.

 

This may not work for everyone, but after trying out various other routines this is the one that has been the most successful for both children and staff.

 

Jenimouse

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We've always had full snack time at a set time. Children are offered fruit, crudites, milk, water or very diluted juice and they all sit at tables where their own mat is, so they know where to sit. They make their own mat picture and I stick their name label on it and laminate it when they first start. This helps them to bond with their key group of children and their key person who sits with them, with her own drink.

 

The morning snack is less carbohydrate 'heavy' than the afternoon one as we found that children weren't eating their lunch an hour later.

 

I agree that giving the opportunity for children to 'graze' or 'drip feed drink' all session isn't a good one, I know that this doesn't happen with rolling snack when it's done properly, I'm just not comfortable with the idea of it I suppose. If I'm honest, and stick my head over the parapet, I can't see why children shouldn't be able to go for two and a half hours without a snack anyway; my own children didn't eat between meals and just had breakfast, lunch and tea/dinner (no supper). I understand that not all children are fortunate enough to have a proper breakfast before they leave home in the morning, so for them, it's necessary.

 

Whenever the subject of snack is mentioned on here it always seems to elicit very strong responses from everyone

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Hopefully youve provided a jug the size a two year old can manage and not adult size too ! Ive read all your posts and find it intriguing to say the least that you expect 2yr olds to know when they are hungry! They thrive on routine and a regular snack time is essential. Also when they hit "big school" its nothing but routines despite EYFS so how will they adjust to that ? Im all for 'Free play' but I think kids need to know when snack time is, and need a wind down time too especially older kids ie 3- 4 yrs. Cant you do both ? by this I mean keep the previous routine for the younger kids and let the older ones decide ?- it would save congestion at snack time too..... Im speaking as a mum now of a two year old and a four year old ( I obviously also childmind) and they definitely feel more confident with a regular time slot for food. How does the rolling snack affect their appetite for lunch ?..... just a thought

 

It would be great if we had the space andstaff to have some children following one routiine and some another - but that's just a non starter for us i'm afraid. But I can say with absolute confidence that my 2 year olds do know when they're hungry - I have no doubts! I assume you fit your regular food slot in with their needs which is what we're trying to to do too. As far as the lunch issue is concerened - we do tidy snack away at around 11 - 11.15 - after several last chance for snack warnings.

 

My feeling is that rolling snack works really well for us - its the small group times I need help with!!

 

Also these early yaers are not preparation for school, but a valuable time to be reciginsed and nurtured. 'Big school' is a completely different thing.

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Our children don't graze all morning....the snack is set out from 10 until 11 and then it is cleared away...it is there choice, they have the opportunity to eat or not....you need to see it work to understand, it works so well for us and I am someone who has come from a setting where we all sat down at a set time and so realise it can work both ways but I have been convinced since in this setting that this works better, it is amazing to watch.....it is not a free for all it is dignified....some children come in from outside look at the table and if it is full they go back and come back when it is free...if they miss snack its fine too...as we lunch at 12 we always give the remaining names that are left in their cups a call before the children clear away......I think it is horses for courses.....

"Ive read all your posts and find it intriguing to say the least that you expect 2yr olds to know when they are hungry!"

 

I would say a 2 year old definetly knows when they are hungry - they are born with that ability... and lots changes at school but laying the foundations in the early years can do exactly that set them in good stead prepare them, know that they have a right to make decisions about themselves.... :o

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I hate snack....!!!

 

Is that bad?????

 

We do rolling snack bar which works well but does even at this stage need a bit of overseeing so ties up an adult. I know they are having nice chats with the children at this time but I always feel the adult would get more from playing with the children. and the children would get more from the adult in this way..

 

I know, I know...... I can hear you.

 

I say, everyone have a lovely hearty breakfast and lets just keep playing all morning because I have so many lovely things that I would like you to experience and boring old snack isn't one if them.....

 

At home my 4 year old and I have elevenses and just eat it whilst we carry on playing. But my home is a lovely health and safety/ food hygiene regs. free zone . If only the whole world were still like that.......

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If I'm honest, and stick my head over the parapet, I can't see why children shouldn't be able to go for two and a half hours without a snack anyway;

 

 

I've had this thought too Cait. Particularly when young babies tend to go three to four hours between feeds.

 

I think it's possibly one of those things that we do 'because we always have done'

 

 

I'll join you up there on the parapet (have you your hard hat on!) and say I expect children to have had breakfast before they come in to nursery. otherwise I feel we are taking on the whole responsibility for feeding the children

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Ive read all your posts and find it intriguing to say the least that you expect 2yr olds to know when they are hungry!

 

Even a baby knows when it's hungry! All humans are born with the ability to know when they are hungry, it's innate and the species would not have survived if it wasn't. If you want to argue that the child may get so absorbed in play that they forget to eat then quite honestly they can't have been that hungry in the first place!

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I've had this thought too Cait. Particularly when young babies tend to go three to four hours between feeds.

 

I think it's possibly one of those things that we do 'because we always have done'

 

 

I'll join you up there on the parapet (have you your hard hat on!) and say I expect children to have had breakfast before they come in to nursery. otherwise I feel we are taking on the whole responsibility for feeding the children

 

Is there space on the parapet for me!!?? Surely we are educators not social/health workers?

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I hate snack too!! Currently trying to work out how to combine a reception class system of rolling snack bar, fruit and milk only, not regulated by an adult, children sometimes munching a lot of fruit some having none...with our preschool set snack time, all sit down together, have toast or cracker, or breadstick or pitta and fruit too with our milk. School side won't want to 'man' the area nor probably pay for the extra bit of carbohydrate snack that my staff think the children need. But we can't in a foundation stage unit from september tell the children that only the preschool children can have the toast, nor can we tell the preschool children that they can't have the snack from the rolling snack bar table, they have to wait until their snack time.....argggggggggh. Get rid of it altogether I say!! lol

 

Clare

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This is so interesting. We have always done a snack where we all sit down together. but today we had a visit from the EYFSA and guess what 'Have you tried a rolling snack?' She gave lots of the advantages which some of you have mentioned and I kept thinking of all the disadvantages that some of you have mentioned but hey may give it a go in September!

 

Rachel

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But we can't in a foundation stage unit from september tell the children that only the preschool children can have the toast,

 

Although it's not ideal I actually don't see why you can't do this. Children are often quite happy with an explanation like "it's only for the nursery children", what they find unfair is their direct peers (eg. other reception children in this case) getting something they don't. Actually having said that in many schools reception/KS1 children only get milk if their parents pay for it or they get free school meals. The ones who don't get milk because of this never really seem to mind.

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