Resources

Teachers' Corner

Welcome to your online educators’ resource. Get the most out of learning outdoors by sharing techniques and lesson plans from educators across the country who are already bringing the curriculum to life on your school ground.

Taking kids outdoors is a great way to support their natural curiosity in the world around them and helps to develop their respect for nature. Best of all, outdoor learning can take place right in your own school ground or neighbourhood. Learn more about the benefits of taking kids outdoors, and take Evergreen’s practical tips and resources to make your time outdoors safe, engaging and full of discovery.

Benefits to Using School Grounds for Learning

Understand the basics with this reference sheet on the seven key benefits of incorporating nearby nature into your everyday curriculum.

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Outdoor Teaching Strategies

Prepare for teaching in the outdoor classroom with this resource on setting expectations, building a teaching routine and making the most of your time outdoors.

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Activity Kits for Outdoor Learning

For activities outdoors, every child should be prepared with a few basic essentials. The basic personal kit can be made with a few simple items. For the supplementary kits, a small amount of additional equipment is required and a list of extra materials is included. Supplementary kits are designed to be used by several students, reducing the number of kits required.

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Watershed Champions Teaching Tools & Resources

Children have a natural curiosity about the world around them and an instinct to care for the environment and we want to reinforce it. By engaging students in understanding the dynamics of their local water ecosystem, and caring for it, schools can play a role in helping to maintain the vitality of their watershed.

Connect with Evergreen’s toolbox of resources for teaching and learning about local watersheds and water supply. Check out our Watershed Champions section for Teaching Strategies and Lesson Plan Activities to begin the journey of discovering your watershed with your class.

The Watershed Connection: Linking the school ground with local ecosystems

This integrated curriculum unit focuses on habitats and communities in Toronto’s Don River Watershed for grade 4 classes. The unit provides 16 lesson plans including a variety of classroom activities, outdoor activities in the school ground, and activities for field trips to local naturalized areas near a river or creek. Most of the lessons are easily adaptable to other Canadian watersheds. Evaluated and tested by teachers and students in three watersheds.

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Patterns Through the Seasons: A Year of School Garden Activities

This resource, a joint production of Lifecycles and Evergreen, is an experiential-learning tool focused on food gardening. Lessons grouped into seasons help support educators in making the most of learning opportunities in the garden throughout the school year. Designed for schools in BC, the lessons can be easily applied to school gardens across the country. 103 pages.

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Patterns, Plants and Playgrounds: Educational Activities for BC School Grounds

A collection of cross-curricular lesson plans grouped into themed units outdoor activities engage students in exploring their schoolyard and community ecosystems. Author, teacher and environmental educator, Steve Lott uses a patterns approach to learning in this must-have environmental education resource. Designed for Grades 4–7 in BC, the lessons can be adapted to other areas and grades. (ISBN 0-9681078-2-6).

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Patterns in Relationships: Ethnobotany

This learning module can be used in conjunction with Patterns, Plants and Playgrounds, and is designed for Grades 4–7. Activities all focus on the relationship between people and plants to engage students in learning about the native plants of the coastal region of British Columbia and the traditions associated with First Nations cultures. Activities range from making a medicine wheel to identifying plants in Halkomelem, a West Coast First Nations language. It was written by educator Illene Pevec and piloted at Grandview/?Uuqinak'uuh Elementary School in Vancouver, BC. 62 pages.

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Places in our School Yard - An "I Spy" Book

Grade level: K–Grade 1
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Language and Arts
Keywords: Observation

Create a class big book using the "I Spy" game format and adding 3 clues to help readers guess the areas of our naturalization project.

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Bug Study

Grade level: Grade 1
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science
Keywords: Insects, bugs, animals, nature, habitat.

Want your students to feed their curiosity and sense of discovery about insects and other critters? This lesson uses a hands-on approach for Grade 1 students to use their senses to explore and study the critters living in the naturalized area around their school.

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How Does Our Garden Grow?

Grade level: Grade 1, 2 or 3
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science; Mathematics
Keywords: Compost, garden, gardening, plants, soil, dirt, growth.

Students explore the impact of using compost on the growth of plants. A variety of plants in an Environmental Garden will be measured to see how the use of compost as a natural fertilizer affects their growth.

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Natural Figures

Grade level: Grade 1
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: Form, Function

Students will look for geometrical shapes in nature to help them appreciate the diversity of the natural environment.

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Sound Portraits

Grade level: Grade 1–8
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Language - Oral and Visual Communication
Keywords: Sound

Students observe a variety of sounds, which can be heard within their schoolyard habitat.

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The Night Tree

Grade level: Grade 2
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science; Language
Keywords: Animals, Feeding

Using a Christmas book about feeding animals, students learn how to share Christmas with the animals.

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Water Cycle, Evaporation & Condensation

Grade level: Grade 2
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science; Drama.
Keywords: Water, water cycle, drama, evaporation, lake, condensation.

Students will demonstrate their understanding of the Water Cycle through drama.

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Where's my Lunch? Using The Colours of the Seasons to Find Your Dinner

Grade level: Grade 2
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology - Life Systems; The Arts - Visual Arts
Keywords: Colours

Students examine their schoolyard habitat or garden area throughout the year on a seasonal basis, searching for colours which predominate and colours which are camouflaged.

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Who Has Seen the Wind?

Grade level: Grades 2–3
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: Wind, Energy

Students will gain an understanding of how energy, in the form of wind, can act on other objects to cause motion.

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Adopt-A-Tree

Grade level: Grade 3, 4 and 6
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: Shrub, tree, grow, measure, ecology, seasons

The students choose a tree or shrub to "adopt" over the course of the school year. The tree is named, measured in various ways, and then observed on a regular basis over the school year. Changes are recorded.

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Don't Leaf Without Me!

Grade level: Grades 3–4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology - Life Systems; English Language - Oral and Written Communication
Keywords: Leaf

Students observe a chosen tree throughout the spring, watching for signs of "leaf-out".

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How Does Our Garden Grow?

Grade level: Grade 1, 2 or 3
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science; Mathematics
Keywords: Compost, garden, gardening, plants, soil, dirt, growth.

Students explore the impact of using compost on the growth of plants. A variety of plants in an Environmental Garden will be measured to see how the use of compost as a natural fertilizer affects their growth.

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Leaf Magic

Grade level: Grade 3
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology - Life Systems
Subject: The Arts - Visual Arts
Keywords: leaf, colour

Students adopt a deciduous tree in September, and create a timeline to show how leaves change colour.

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Seeing Eye "Buddies"

Grade level: Grade 3
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Language
Keywords: Sights

Students observe a variety of sights within their schoolyard habitat by sitting quietly back-to-back with a partner and describing something unusual.

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Snow Fossils

Grade level: Grade 3, 4 and 5
Provincial curriculum links: Alberta
Subject: Winter Ecology
Keywords: Snow

This is an engaging activity that provides an opportunity to collect and classify snow crystals.

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Sound Portraits

Grade level: Grade 1–8
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Language - Oral and Visual Communication
Keywords: Sound

Students observe a variety of sounds, which can be heard within their schoolyard habitat.

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Weed Whackers

Grade level: Grades 3–5
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology; Mathematics
Keywords: Plants, Weeds

This is an activity that children of all ages can participate in. It assists in maintaining the project at our school as well as invites learning.

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Who Has Seen the Wind?

Grade level: Grades 2–3
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: Wind, Energy

Students will gain an understanding of how energy, in the form of wind, can act on other objects to cause motion.

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A Tree's Pleas

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology, Language
Keywords: stewardship, letter-writing

Students take on the role of their adopted school ground tree or shrub and write a letter to the humans (students) that take it for granted.

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Amazing Agriculture of Alberta

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Alberta
Subject: Science, Social Science
Keywords: Agriculture, Alberta, plants, growth, grain, seeds, geography

Agriculture is very important to the Albertan way of life. Students will learn about its significance and have the chance to plant and observe the growth of different grains.

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Drawing on Leaves

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Visual Arts
Keywords: drawing, printmaking, line

To develop their ability to observe and render the characteristics of leaves and plants, students learn how to do contour drawing of leaves/plants, and then prints of leaves.

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Growing Place-based Books

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Visual Arts, Language Arts
Keywords: book-making, found materials

Students will be asked to pull together what they have learned through a series of science, art and literacy activities into a culminating project.

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Insect Collecting: Berlese Funnel

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: berlese funnel, insect collecting, observation, arthropod

Using the Berlese funnel to collect insects that live in the soil or in the leaf litter just above the soil, students investigate leaf litter to discover and observe various types of insects from their ground.

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Insect Collecting: Suck-A-Bug

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: arthropod, insects, aspirator, community, habitat, classify, investigate

Many insects can be observed on the school ground and nets work well for large insects, but tiny ones often go unnoticed. One way to catch these small insects is with a Bug Sucker, also called a pooter or aspirator.

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Inspired by Litter

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Visual Arts
Keywords: collage, found materials

To introduce the concepts of human impacts and re-using in the context of art-making, participants will practice the technique of collage by using schoolyard litter and natural debris as their material.

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Is this Habitat for Me?

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: earthworm, population, habitat, environmental conditions

Part 1
Students answer the question "Where in the schoolyard will you find the greatest number of earthworms?" by counting numbers of worms in small measured amounts of soil from different areas of their schoolyard.
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Part 2
Students research environmental conditions that may have the largest impact on the population of worms in the schoolyard (found in Part 1 of this lesson plan) and conduct simple scientific experiments for these environmental conditions.
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Part 3
In this culminating activity, students create a visual representation from the class date to post in the classroom from the previous two sections of this lesson plan.
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Leaf Slides

Grade level: Grades 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9
Provincial curriculum links: Alberta
Subject: Plant Communities (Grade 4); Trees and Forests (Grade 6); Characteristics of Living Things (Grade 7); Interactions and Ecosystems (Grade 8); Species Diversity (Grade 9)
Keywords: Leaf

To provide a focusing tool for students to explore the detail in leaves.

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Let's Plant Some Garbage

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Alberta
Subject: Science; Language
Keywords: Garbage, gardening, garden, plant, biodegradability, recycling, reuse, environment, pollution, litter

Students bring in various items from home in order to plant a "Garbage Garden" in the schoolyard. Students plant garbage (apple cores, tin foil, Styrofoam, plastic materials, etc.) and analyze their condition months later to determine their biodegradability levels.

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Mapping the Ground: Transparent Drawings

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Visual Arts
Keywords: drawing, line, observation

This explorative process of drawing (mapping) the ground develops students' powers of observation by focusing them on a part of nature that is often overlooked, as well as increases their self-confidence in their ability to record natural objects via drawing.

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Nurturing Inquiry: School Ground Observations

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: observations, questions, habitats, community

An important building block in the inquiry process is close observation and the questions it generates. In this activity, students act as scientists in research teams to explore different school ground habitats. Students practice outdoor group work skills.

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Postcards from the Perfect Plot

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Language
Keywords: writing, postcards, habitat

Based on the book Meerkat Mail and referencing the Data Drawings from Is this a Habitat for Me? (see lesson plan above), students create postcards from a traveling earthworm that visits the school ground habitats looking for a new place to live.

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School Ground Newsletter

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Language
Keywords: forms of writing: report, narrative, recount, procedural, exposition, persuasive, interview

Students creates an individual newspaper or all of the writing pieces can be compiled into one large class newspaper on the school ground's Habitats and Communities.

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The Sensitive Scavenger

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology; Language
Keywords: Scavenger, Multi-sensory

Students will create a multi-sensory scavenger hunt worksheet to be used on a scavenger hunt throughout the schoolyard habitat area.

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Stories from the Outdoor Classroom

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Drama, Language Arts
Keywords: role-play, reflection

Intended as a culminating activity, students will visit an outdoor site they have been in frequently and work with others to represent their memorable moments at that site. Using assigned roles as their impetus, (eg. TV reporter, detective, etc.) they will create skits to share their stories with the larger group.

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Students as Scientists

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: observations, questions, habitats, community

Although not directly linked to the Ontario Curriculum, this is an important lesson to build a foundation for other outdoor inquiry activities. Students adopt the role of scientists who are given a "Research Request" from Evergreen to study the habitats and communities on their school ground.

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Web Word Poetry

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Literacy
Keywords: Litter, acrostic poem

Inspired by the web words in Charlotte's Web and Templeton's ability to find interesting words, students will use found words from litter they collect on the schoolyard to create acrostic poems about litter.

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Who Eats What and Where?

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Life Systems
Keywords: food chain, transect

Students answer the question "Which plants have the greatest amount of animals feeding on them-the plants on the edge of a garden, or the plants in the centre of the garden?" by surveying plant damage along a transect.

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Who Has Been Here?

Grade level: Grade 4
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Literacy
Keywords: riddles

Inspired by the book, In the Garden: Who Has Been There?, students will use one of the signs of wildlife found in the previous activity to create a riddle about that animal/insect. The riddles will be compiled into a class book.

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Changes to the Global Climate

Grade level: Grade 5
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: Global warming, Greenhouse effect

Students will conduct an experiment to demonstrate the greenhouse effect.

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Learning About Different Soils and Their Water Retention Ability

Grade level: Grade 5-6
Provincial curriculum links: Quebec
Subject: Science; Language
Keywords: Soil, water, earth, compost, clay, sand, dirt, experiment

A study of how different types of soil retain water that will encourage students to think about their soil choice when planting gardens.

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The Human Sundial

Grade level: Grade 6
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology
Keywords: Earth and Space Systems, Human Sundial Project

Although we, in southern Ontario, experience sunshine at least 84 days of the year as we walk out of our houses, how often do we stop and observe the interactions between the components of the universe? This Human Sundial Project encourages observation particularly of the great big fiery ball in the sky that we know in English as the Sun and its relationship to the Earth through the design of an analemmatic sundial, a unique sundial requiring user-participation.

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Colour Your World with Changes - the Camouflage Game

Grade level: Grade 7
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science and Technology - Life Systems; The Arts - Visual Arts; Mathematics
Keywords: Seasons, Colours

Students determine the dominant colours to be found in their habitat or garden area and create a piece of visual art.

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Leaf Slides

Grade level: Grades 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9
Provincial curriculum links: Alberta
Subject: Plant Communities (Grade 4); Trees and Forests (Grade 6); Characteristics of Living Things (Grade 7); Interactions and Ecosystems (Grade 8); Species Diversity (Grade 9)
Keywords: Leaf

To provide a focusing tool for students to explore the detail in leaves.

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School Ground Naturalization Project

Grade level: Grade 7–9
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Science/Environmental Science
Keywords: school naturalization, plant plan

Students will investigate micro climate, soil information and previous and current vegetation of the school site to determine which plants are best suited to this location.

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Sound Portraits

Grade level: Grade 1–8
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Language - Oral and Visual Communication
Keywords: Sound

Students observe a variety of sounds, which can be heard within their schoolyard habitat.

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Exploring Plant Reproduction and Seed Dispersal

Grade level: Grade 9
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario and Pan-Canadian
Subject: Science
Keywords: plant, reproduction, seeds, seed production, seed dispersal, pollination, adaptation, angiosperm, gymnosperm

Students explore the concept of adaptation by studying and comparing a variety of plants and their methods of sexual and asexual reproduction and seed dispersal.

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Give Me Back My School: A Back to Basics Approach to Ecological Restoration

Grade level: Grade 9
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Geography
Keywords: Ecological footprint, ecological restoration, mapping, urban development, waste management, ecological pest management, mulching, composting, recycling

Using the concept of the ecological footprint, students do the groundwork for a school ground greening project (either real or hypothetical). Students investigate local soil conditions, weather patterns, topography and vegetation, and propose a greening project that would reduce the school's ecological footprint.

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The Great GPS Scavenger Hunt

Grade level: Grade 9
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Geography
Keywords: Waypoint, route, multipath, weathering, mass wasting, sediment transportation, creep, slides, debris flow, geomorphology, geology

Students us a GPS receiver to survey an open area such as their school grounds or local park, investigating weathering patterns and their impact on plant populations, rock and land formations and soil types.

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Mapping My Community

Grade level: Grade 9
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario
Subject: Geography
Keywords: waypoint, route, multipath, GPS, urban land use, land-use planning

Students use a GPS receiver to map different types of land use in an urbanized setting near the school. This lesson plan provides an introduction to GPS technology and to the field of urban planning.

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Conducting an Ecological Inquiry Investigation

Grade level: Grade 10–11
Provincial curriculum links: Ontario and Pan-Canadian
Subject: Science
Keywords: independent inquiry, research method, research design, ecology, variable, independent variable, dependent variable, control group, analysis, presentation, group work

Students design, plan and undertake their own ecological inquiries on the school grounds, learning and applying skills of scientific method and investigation, design and communication.

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