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As my litrle guy gets older, he has taken more and more interest in having his bedroom be more than just a place where he sleeps. So, we figured it was time to make his room more of a big kid room, and opted to start with a reading nook (since he loves his cozy tent corner in his playroom so much). Putting this together was super easy.
Some of the other room essentials my little one loves are his hooded dinosaur blanket, his large giraffe, his weighted dinosaur plush (our OT prescribed weighted items, and we ensured the weighting was appropriate for his size), and his road rug.
The room is still a work in progress. We'll be upgrading to a big kid bed soon, and have been changing his decor from safari to dinosaur (since he is totally at that age!!). Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to make progress on his big kid room!
Be sure to pin this so you can easily reference it later!!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. Commissions earned help support my small business, and my participation in the program comes at no added risk to you. You can learn more here.
New Sensory Bin Inspiration! Summer Themed Sensory "Beach"
Sensory play continues to be a family favorite, and with summer approaching, it was time to bring the season to the sensory bin! But why stick with a basic kinetic sand sensory bin? I upped the ante by including water beads (for some extra texture contrast).
Putting together this sensory activity is easy with a few simple items:
Water beads can be a choking hazard, so this may not be appropriate for younger toddlers (and make sure to monitor a child of any age, especially if they may put the beads in their mouth or nose). That said, this is a great preschool activity (and can be a good toddler activity for the right child, with supervision).
Looking for more sensory bin inspiration? Check out my growing library of ideas, perfect for toddlers and preschoolers!
And check out more great summer content:
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support my small business. You can learn more here.
You loved my 10 Toys Your Toddler Will Love (it was one of my most popular posts of 2020!), so I'm back with a new post, almost a year later. My child is obviously a bit older now, and has some new interests. These are the toys my little one is obsessed with right now. Of course, he is still interested in the toys on that last list, so be sure to check it out, too.
This list contains a number of educational options, as well as fun movement and art options. With it being cold and snowy in my part of the country, having tons of activities to choose from has been a lifesaver. Where relevant, I've included some of the activities we do using these products. So, without further ado, here is the roundup!
10 of the Best Toys for 2 and 3 Year Olds
Melissa and Doug Train Sets
My little one has been loving playing with his train sets (we have both of the sets below, plus an activity table). The toys build fine motor skills (i.e. putting tracks together), STEM skills (testing how to built elevated tracks, learning about cause and effect through working with the magnets and the swivel bridge), vocabulary skills, and imaginative play skills, making them perfect as an educational toy, too.
Some of the best vocabulary these sets can be used for are teaching relationship concepts and words, such as over, under, in, on, etc. These are difficult concepts for young children to begin with, so having visual aides is a huge help! Plus, the sets have the quality you expect from Melissa and Doug toys.
2. Play Food Sets
My little one loves his play food sets. Along with the Fisher Price food truck and thekitchen set we have, my child has been loving his ice cream parlor set. We paired it with kinetic sand for extra fun!
My child loves all things dinosaurs, but his favorite by far has been this amazing, educational dinosaur toy from Learning Resources. The toy builds color awareness and vocabulary, shape awareness and vocabulary, and fine motor skills. Other dinosaur toys he is obsessed with right now? The Melissa and Doug Dinosaur Party set, and his big T-Rex stuffed animal (also from Melissa and Doug, predictably; it is currently out of stock, but you can check back if interested here).
Of course Play-Doh would make an appearance on this list! It is a great sensory activity for young kids, and this truck builds find motor skills, too! Play- Doh makes products for every interest; they have cooking sets, truck sets, and more.
5. Mega Bloks
I've written before about why blocks are a great educational toy, so it isn't surprising that we have tons of them in our home. This Mega Bloks Peek a Blocks Amusement Park was a Christmas gift from my child's uncle (an industrial designer and inventor, no joke!), and it is a great activity to help build awareness about several different simple machines (specifically a lever and an inclined plane)!
6. Magnet Toys
Magnets are an excellent STEM toy, and these PicassoTiles are a lower cost (but durable) substitute for expensive MagnaTiles.We love using them for testing cause and effect, working on basic engineering skills, and discussing relational, shape, and color vocabulary!
7. Animal Play Sets
My child is obsessed with animals, so our home is filled with tons of animal toys. One of my child's favorites is the Battat Big Red Barn. It comes with 4 animals and a farmer, as well as the barn. My child spends tons of time playing imaginary games with the set!
Another favorite activity? Playing vet! My child loves his Melissa and Doug vet kit, and "fixing" his kitty and puppy.
8. Reusable Vinyl Sticker Sets
Tired of buying stickers only to have your child go through them quickly and need to buy more? We love vinyl stickers for this reason! My child loves playing with stickers, which means traditional options are an expensive choice (if you don't have sticker piles on paper, are you even a toddler/preschool parent?!). And what about stickers all. over. everything. Vinyl stickers stick to a ton of surfaces, but come off. Plus, these Melissa and Doug sticker pads come with great scenes that your child can use to mix and match during play. Huge score for my kid, for me, and for my furniture!
If your child isn't into dinosaurs or animals, Melissa and Doug also makes a ton of other varieties.
9. Active Movement Toys
My child is still obsessed with all the active movement toys included on last year's list, but we've added a few new items (including a Nugget couch and a new swing set!). Here are some of the other great new additions to our collection!
A balance bike can be a great way to start getting a child ready to move on to a real bike... and get moving! Make sure to get a helmet, too! My child absolutely love his Velo balance bike, and all his cousins have had one, too. While it is a bit too cold and snowy to use it at the moment, we look forward to spring so we can pull it out again!
PS: Nugget not in your budget? Check out the blocks I put on last year's list. We still use them a lot, and they are on many Nugget alternative round up lists I've seen! You can also add extra sets to get even more building capacity!
We also have a Little Tykes Mini Trampoline with a stability bar that my child absolutely loves. Why no link, then? Because the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend them. Not even mini ones! Why do we have one, then? In consultation with our child's therapy team, we decided (with adequate supervision and in following other recommendations for trampoline use from the American Academy of Pediatrics) that the risks of a mini trampoline were less than the risks of the other places my child was finding to bounce. Our home has specific factors that influenced our decision. Considering one for your home, too? Speak with your child's pediatrician first! There are many, many ways for children to stay active! .
10. Art Supplies
Looking to elevate your child's art supplies beyond the standard crayons and markers? My child loves his tabletop easel! It is great for painting, coloring, and comes with a white board, roll of paper, magnets, and chalk board! We have also paired Crayola markers, crayons, and finger paint, the Melissa and Doug vinyl stickers seen above, and Melissa and Doug animal magnets with the easel for even more fun!
Aside from fostering creativity, art activities are great for teaching fine motor skills, vocabulary, and color awareness, and this product offers letter magnets to help with teaching letter awareness and basic literacy skills such as phonological awareness!
I hope you'll find this roundup as helpful as last year's! Have an idea to add? Comment and share!
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Get your holiday shopping out of the way with great gifts for the entire family! This post contains links to all my gift guides, as well as my Must Have Products page. More content will be added throughout the holiday season, so check back regularly! As always, many of the products I recommend are ones we use in our own home, and love (if there is a product we haven't used, I always make selections based on overall product rating, brand, and a review of the product's details).
The Gift Guide Roundup!
1. 10 Great Toddler Toys - Toys my child loves, and your's will, too!
2.Stocking Stuffers (and small gifts) for Toddlers and Preschoolers - This post contains both Christmas and Hanukkah gifts and books!
3. 3 Types of Bath Toys Your Toddler Will Love - These bath toys make for amazing gifts for your toddler, or an addition to a baby registry.
4. Great Nonfiction Reads for Dog Parents - Get the dog lover in your life a book they will love! These are some of my favorite nonfiction books about dogs (mostly...).
5. Fishing Themed Toys and Books - Does your child love the ocean? Is your family big into fishing? These ocean and fish themed books and toys make for great additions!
6. Gifts for Her - Great gifts for the woman in your life. Home spa and self care products, clothing, accessories, and much more!
7. Gifts for Him - These gifts are sure to impress, and with top ratings (and an enthusiastic recommendation from my husband), you will have no problem finding the perfect gift for the guy in your life!
8. Top Rated Gifts for Kids - These 4+ Star gifts (almost all are 4.5 and higher) for kids of all ages are sure to impress!
9. Holiday Deals on Amazon - Find the latest deals on Amazon here!
Nothing on this list striking your interest? Check out my Must Have Products page for tons of recommendations for craft materials, organizational items, decor, books, toys, and much more!
And be sure to check back regularly for more additions to this list! Coming soon: Budget Gifts, The Best Gifts for Book Lovers, and more!
Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. You can learn more about my participation in this program here.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, check out these great books and activities! They are perfect for both homeschooling families, and those just looking for themed activities.
Classic Handprint Turkey
If you grew up in the United States, you almost certainly have memories of doing handprint turkeys around Thanksgiving. The concept is simple; trace your hand, then add a beak and some legs. Voila! You have a turkey!
As a mommy blogger, of course I have to give my own take on the project!
The core concept remains the same, but I've added a few flairs of my own. Here is my take on the classic handprint turkey craft!
What you will need:
How to make your turkeys:
And that's it! Want to elaborate on this activity, or dress it up some? Try these great modifications:
No subscription needed for these great coloring pages!
Create a family gratitude list or journal! You can do this in several ways. One is to use a nice journal or notebook, and add entries each day with what each family member is grateful for. Younger children can add drawings to the book. Another option is to create a scrapbook of collages with what each family member is grateful for. An alternate form of this activity is to have your child create a gratitude collage by printing pictures of things that symbolize what they are grateful for, and gluing them on paper. Older children can also add captions or printed words to their collages. Finally, you can also use my gratitude journal printables and put them in a binder using page protectors or just a 3 hole punch.
If you are a newsletter subscriber, be sure to check out the Thanksgiving folder for some great new printables! Included are some velcro activities (I used them to make a Thanksgiving binder book game; you can get instructions on how to make one here), a counting worksheet, and gratitude journaling pages for the entire family!
Great Read: I am Thankful
I am Thankful is a new seasonal favorite in our home this year (both me and my child love it!). Featuring a diverse cast of characters, this relatable story discusses the many things children may experience as Thanksgiving traditions, and the many things (and people) they may be grateful for. The book also contains a variety of activities you can do.
Other Highly Rated Thanksgiving Books Your Child Might Like!
Create Your Own Parade Floats
Using materials of your choice (boxes, plastic bottles, paper, pom poms, sequins, toys, balloons, etc.), create parade floats and put on your own Thanksgiving Parade around the house!
Baking is one of my favorite activities to do as a family, and Thanksgiving baking is no different. Check out some of my favorite recipes, or use your own!
I'll be sharing even more soon!
Even More Ideas!
I love this turkey building activity from Beary Sweet Home. There are also tons of recommendations for other activities, books, and printables!
I also love this turkey weaving activity from The Growing Creatives (you can also find it pinned on my Pinterest).
You can also find a bunch of great activities on Amazon. Here are a few highly rated options your kids may love!
Want even more ideas? Be sure to check out my Pinterest account! I have tons of Thanksgiving and autumn ideas from other bloggers across a number of different boards. And stay tuned to my blog; I will be adding more activities soon!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. You can learn more about my participation in this program here.
For our homeschooling letter W theme, I picked the seasonally appropriate word 'witch'. And what better book to celebrate Halloween and discuss the concept of witches than 'Room on the Broom'. This adorable picture book discusses the themes of kindness and friendship, as a witch is helped by a series of new pals, who she (in return) allows to join her and her cat on their adventures. But that is just the start of how these new friends help one another on a particularly stormy autumn evening! I'll not give spoiler, but I will provide you access to some of the awesome activities I developed (or in some cases, collected) just for this book!
Room on the Broom Velcro Activity
As you read the book, you can use this velcro activity to help children track what is happening in the story. Have your child pick out the appropriate pieces, removing them or adding them to the velcro board. The activity is a great, hands on, visual aid for comprehension.
You can find this activity in my free subscriber's resource library.
Room on the Broom Videos
My little one has been enjoying watching this cute Room on the Broom cartoon on YouTube. It pairs imagery with the classic book text, read out loud.
A second fun version reads the book outloud as a song, with video graphics!
Witch Themed Coloring Pages; Letter W Coloring Page
I'm making a few of these pages available for immediate download. The rest are available in my subscriber's only resource library.
For immediate download:
And for those who have subscribed to the library, check out the newest addition to coloring pages! The letter W page is already uploaded there.
Witch Matching Velcro Activity
Another subscriber's resource library exclusive, I added this activity to my busy book for independent play and learning. Simple laminate two copies, cut out the shapes from one copy, and add velcro to make your own. You can also have your child color the pages prior to laminating (for extra fun).
Witch's Hat Craft
What you'll need:
This activity is super simple! Just cut out a witch's had shape (use the stencil below)- use one plate/piece of paper for the triangle shape, and one to make a flattened oval. Glue them into the shape of a hat, and then decorate!
If you want to make a band, simple place the hat on your child's forehead, use the paper or twine and measure the circumference, and then tie or glue to the hat! Make sure to leave room for your child to pull the hat on and off, though.
Magical Mud Sensory Play
Making magical mud is easy. It is just ooblek! If you've not made it before, the recipe is easy, and uses ingredients you probably already have in house:
That's it! You'll need a 2:1 ratio, so 1 cup of cornstarch for 1/2 cup of water (or whatever sized batch you'd like)
Want to make it extra 'muddy'? Just add food dye; you'll want to add all the colors to make a nice, gunky, brown color.
Then, let your kids play! If you'd like, you can let them cover animals in the ooblek, too (just like the animals cover themselves in mud in the book).
The great thing about ooblek is it really does seem magical. Defying the boundary between solids and liquids, this amazing activity is bound to get your kids thinking.
Witch's Brew Sensory Play
This one isn't my activity, but head over to Tot School Resources for their Spooky Witch's Brew Science Experiment. It is a perfect complement to my Room on the Broom activities!
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The winter holidays will be here before you know it, and if you are like me, you sometimes need a bit of inspiration to come up with great stocking stuffers for children who are a bit young for small trinkets (many small toys contain choking hazards for toddlers!). I remember googling, trying to find great lists of creative gift ideas for my toddler. This year, I am sharing my little one's favorite small toys, perfect for stocking stuffers or Hanukkah presents (if you do smaller gifts each evening), as well as ideas from friends, family, and based on high ratings!
You'll surely be able to find something your toddler will love on this list!
Disclaimer: This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. You can read more about my participation in this program here.
From Our Home
We have another Eric Carle puzzle set by this same brand, and my little one loves it! I wasn't able to find the version we have, but these are quite similar!
These bath toys make tubby time fun and educational! My child absolutely loves the letters and numbers, and I found that Munchkin makes an animal shape version, too!
This puzzle has been a staple in my home for months. It is a great educational toy, and like all Melissa and Doug products, is of great quality.
This monkey is soft and adorable! One of my toddler's favorite stuffed toys, I'm sure your little one will love it as much as mine does!
Daniel Tiger is a TV favorite in our home, and this trolley keeps my child busy long after the TV is off. It has a pull back and go feature that your toddler is sure to love.
Want even more awesome Daniel Tiger characters? We also have O the Owl, though not any of the other friends. Here are some other sets:
Some Favorite Toddler Board Books from Our Home
My little one is a bookworm, so I'd have to do multiple posts to share his entire library. But here are a few great options my little one loves, and yours will, too!
Loved by Friends, Family, and My Classroom
These are toys and books I love, but that we don't have at our home. My friends' children and my students have loved them, and your children are sure to love them, too!
Highly Rated Toys on Amazon
The options above just not quite right? Here are some other great stocking stuffers that come from great brands and are highly rated on Amazon. I've found that bath toys are one of the best stocking stuffer options, and most are water play safe!
Highly Rated Holiday Board Books* on Amazon
*Mostly! There are a few that aren't board books, but looked too good not to share.
Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
Okay, so this one isn't a board book, but it looked too good not to share!
Be sure to share this with anyone shopping for a toddler this holiday season!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. If you want to learn more about my participation in this program, click here.
As I noted inmy post about our first week homeschooling, sometimes everything doesn't get done when we want, or how we want. And that is perfectly okay! But because I didn't want us to fall behind with what letters I was planning to review each week, I made the choice cover a few letters at a time throughout the rest of September, and into October. Since I know I'll be covering the alphabet repeatedly, this felt like a good modification to make sure I could get through content I wanted to review while also being able to do other activities in October
Here is a breakdown of each of the activities we did for the remainder of the alphabet!
You can find our letter A and B activities here.
Calendar and Story Time - Daily (Mostly!)
Our calendar and story time routine doesn't vary much! Therefore, it has looked pretty much like what we did the week before. Be sure to check that out here. You'll also find a link to our daily circle time book, Shadow Boxes. We read the page related to the letter(s) of the day!
Why does the header say "mostly", by the way? Because we didn't do the calendar daily. Between early intervention therapies, doctors appointments, general life, and refusing to enforce calendar time rigidly (my kid is a toddler, remember?), it didn't happen every day. And that is okay! While I always try to do fun homeschool activities with my child daily, I never want to give the impression that I have it all together, and things run seamlessly. That isn't fair to you, the reader. That isn't real life. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise!
Book: 10 Little Pumpkins
Activities: 10 little pumpkins velcro activity, Fall Numbers Binder Book Activity (from the subscriber's library)
You can learn more about the 10 little pumpkins activity here.
Letters D, E, and F
Nat Geo Dinosaurs 101 Video
Many kids love dinosaurs, but given they are something no human being has or can experience in person, they are also a highly conceptual topic to cover. As such, I wanted to find ways to make the content more accessible to my toddler.
The video I'm sharing with you is geared towards slightly older children and contains larger vocabulary, but my toddler loved it! It is never too early to start exposing your child to more advanced academic content, so long as it is in a developmentally appropriate way. In this case, the video was just over 3 minutes (so, short), contained exciting imagery, and was presented in a way that made my child more interested (I played the video on my phone after reading a book about dinosaurs, and he normally doesn't have access to my content via my phone). From the time I was a small child, I loved National Geographic and PBS documentaries. I hope to instill the same sense of academic curiosity in my child!
While I try not to use screen time as a way to teach, in this case, it made a lot of sense to provide video content.
Dinosaur coloring pages:
These coloring pages can be found on the Subscribers' Library!
Dinosaur Spikes and Spots Shape Activity
We added spikes and spots to the dinosaur template from my subscriber's library (or any dinosaur coloring page). While doing so, we discussed shape and color.
This activity is easy. All you need is a dinosaur shape, a glue stick, some colored construction paper, and scissors. Cut out circles and triangles for your child using different colored paper. Then, let them have fun decorating their dinosaur however they want!
Letters D, E, and F letter tracing/coloring pages
Letters G and H - Ghosts and Halloween
Craft and Sensory Activity: Tissue Paper Ghosts
Making tissue paper ghosts is easy! Just grab some white tissue paper, crumple, and glue to a piece of black construction paper (though you really could use whatever color you want)! Then add eyes with black paint or marker. If your child is a bit older, they can paint a Halloween scene on the paper first (like I did on mine).
Literacy/Letter Activities: Reading Halloween books, as well as about the letters G and H in our Shadow Boxes book. We then colored the letters G and H, and did ghost and halloween coloring pages from the resource library.
One of our favorite Halloween books is "When the Goblins Came Knocking". It is a great social emotional story for young kids who may find costumed trick or treaters scary of overwhelming. The protagonist tells of last Halloween, when he was scared and hid, but also, of how this Halloween he is able to wear a scary costume. The last page shows the child with his scary dinosaur hood off, letting little readers know that behind those costumes are other kids. It is a sweet story that you'll love sharing with your child.
I believe the book is out of print, but there are tons of used copies available for less than a new hardcover copy!
Letter I - Ice
For the letter I we painted with ice cubes and colored the letter I (see coloring pages in the resource library). We also discussed the concepts of cold, and melting (while my little one likely didn't take in everything I told him, it is a great idea to share ideas with your toddler. They are sponges, and as long as you aren't giving lengthy explanations of high level concepts, the only thing it can do is get their little minds working!)
J - Jack O Lantern
For Jack O Lantern we made pumpkin faces out of paper plates and black construction paper shapes (you can find that activity here), and watched Sesame Street's Making Pumpkin Faces Video. Just like all Sesame Street content, this cute music video is educational, talking about shapes and family.
Letter K - Kitten
We didn't spend a lot of time on letter K, but we did do the letter K coloring page from my library, and spent a lot of time with our own cats. We also did the same animal finding activity with easter eggs (see the Letter E section), but this time searched for different kinds of "kitties" (big cats).
Letter L - Leaves (did along with letters O, R, and Y for orange, red, and yellow)
For the letter L we collected and played with leaves (sensory), watched a Nat Geo video about leaves changing, as well as doing the leaf matching activity in the resource library. We also did the L for Leaf and fall finds velcro activities from the resource library. We also did a number of velcro activities I put together sorting the colors we see in autumn, and discussed letters R, O, and Y for the brilliant colors our leaves turn this time of year. You can find those velcro activities in the Subscribers' Resource Library.
Letters M and N - Moon, Monsters, and Night
Letter Activities: M for Moon Velcro Activity, coloring/tracing pages for letters M and N.
YouTube Video: Moon 101
Craft and Literacy: Making a Monster (from subscriber's library)
This activity is simple! Just print the pages and let your child mix and match bodies, arms, legs, and other add ons for their monster. Want to expand on the activity? Have your child tell or write a story about their monster. What is their name? Where do they live? What do they eat? Do they have a family? A job? A hobby? Are they friendly or scary? Your child decides! There are two worksheet pages (not shown) to get your child started with writing in the printables kit.
Letters O and P - Orange and Pumpkins
I did an entire blog post about the great pumpkin activities we've done. You can find that here.
Letter Q - Quiet
We did letter Q along on the same day as letters O and P. How to help a young toddler learn about the concept of quiet? We practiced! We tip toed around the house, and then practiced being loud by stomping and roaring before going back to trying to be quiet.
Letter R (did along with letter L, plus reviewed O, and skipped ahead to discuss letter Y): Red, Leaves, Orange, and Yellow (Autumn Colors)
See the section for L above for more!
Letter S, skipped ahead to letter X - Spiders, Six
For the letter S we discussed spiders, and the difference between spiders and insects. One great way to tell them apart? Insects have six legs, while spiders have eight!
I'm putting up a separate post about the spider activities we did soon, so keep an eye on the blog! I'll link that here once it is live.
Letters T and U - Ten, Up, Teal
We came back to 10 little pumpkins for the number ten, danced and practiced being up and down (through dance and song; we sang the Wheels on the Bus and did If You're Happy and You Know It (jump up, put your arms up), and painted Teal Pumpkins for the Teal Pumpkin Project.
You can find the 10 Little Pumpkins Activity and the Teal Pumpkin activity here.
Letter V - Volcanos
We didn't spend much time on letter V, but we did do a bit of learning about volcanos. I look forward to returning to the letter V and doing a volcano unit in a few months, when my child is a little older!
Nat Geo Volcanos 101:
Letter V coloring pages (see resource library)
Letter W - Witch
I did an entire post about our letter W activities. You can find that here.
Letter X - See Letter S
Letter Y - See Letter R
Letter Z - Zoo
We were initially planning to take our little one to the Bronx Zoo for this unit, but weather and responsibilities got in our way. Instead, we focused on doing a lot of learning about animals that might be in a zoo!
I added wild animals you might find in a zoo to my child's sensory bin, and he had a blast playing with and labeling the different animals he found. I also gave him some salt dough I'd made, since he seemed to have been craving the smooshy texture.
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May 2020 (Prior to 5/31)
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