Water Sensory Play with Magnets

By on July 21, 2014 2 Comments so far
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I was looking for a quick and easy sensory activity to set up for the boys today when I remembered Fun at Home with Kids' Polka Dot Soup.  I love how simple and bright it is, but I wondered if my boys would prefer a magnetic version.  K really loves to play with the magnet wands so I figured why not make our own version of the polka dot soup by using magnets.  So here's our quick and simple, but oh so colorful and scientifically fun, water sensory bin with magnets!

Colorful sensory bin play for kids using water and magnets from And Next Comes L

The magnetic transparent counters looked so colorful in the water.

Colorful sensory bin play for kids using water and magnets from And Next Comes L

Colorful sensory bin play for kids using water and magnets from And Next Comes L

Prettiness aside, the boys were definitely more interested in picking up the magnetic transparent counters with the magnet wands.  They would call out colors and try to pick up only those colors and sometimes they would count the number of counters that they picked up.  Other times they would try to collect all the counters before the other person could.  Regardless, it was a whole lot of fun for them!

Exploring magnets in a water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

Exploring magnets in a water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

Exploring magnets in a water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

Colorful sensory bin play for kids using water and magnets from And Next Comes L

As usual, the boys both eventually climbed into the sensory bin, making this sensory bin a perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day.

Colorful sensory bin play for kids using water and magnets from And Next Comes L

Playing in a water sensory bin with magnets from And Next Comes L

Want to recreate this sensory bin at home?  You'll need:


Looking for more ways to play and learn with magnets?  Check out these fabulous ideas:


Simple colorful sensory bin play for kids using water and magnets from And Next Comes L

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Building 3D Shapes on Windows {Light & Reflections}

By on July 20, 2014 6 Comments so far
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I'm fairly confident in saying that Magna-Tiles are now the most loved toy in our house. They have been played with nonstop since I purchased them. They are particularly awesome for building 3D structures, such as our tin can rockets. However, the boys usually build with the Magna-Tiles on a horizontal surface.  So I gathered some supplied to encourage some shape building on a vertical surface, which was also a great way to take advantage of the beautiful natural light in our sunroom.

Checking out a cube made from Magna-Tiles on a window from And Next Comes L

What we used to make 3D shapes on windows:


I taped the contact paper, sticky side out, to the window using some regular tape. Then it was building time!

At first, the boys assembled stain glass type windows by building flat designs.

Building with Magna-Tiles on windows from And Next Comes L

Then two year old K started doing some exploring. Soon enough he was building a 3D triangle all on his own. And then he made a cube.

Building 3D shapes on windows using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L


Building a 3D triangle on windows using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

Cube made from Magna-Tiles on a window from And Next Comes L

J took notice of K's 3D shape building and decided to give it a try too. Once his cube was built, he started designing a beautiful pattern around it.

Building 3D shapes on windows using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

Building 3D shapes on windows using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

Cube made from Magna-Tiles on a window from And Next Comes L

It was such a fun experience for the boys to build on a vertical surface. They found it to be a bit more challenging to construct the 3D shapes as they had to hold pieces steady with their one hand while assembling with the other. Besides, it made some for some pretty window art.

Be sure to check out what the rest of the lovely ladies from the Light & Reflections series were busy building and constructing:

Exploring Symmetry: Building with Rainbow Blocks on a Mirror from Where Imagination Grows

You can also follow this series on the Light & Reflections Series board on Pinterest. Then join us next month when we explore motor skills using light and reflections.

Light & Reflections Series Lineup for 2014 at And Next Comes L

Building 3D shapes on windows using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

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Feather Bowl {Fine Motor Craft}

By on July 18, 2014 2 Comments so far
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

It's really easy to work on fine motor skills with your kids using everyday materials around the house.  At least that's the main goal behind the series Everyday Fine Motor Materials from A to Z series (hosted by Still Playing School) - to show you just how easy it is to encourage some fine motor development in your kids.  One everyday craft supply that we always have on hand is a bag of colored craft feathers.  They are great for all sorts of crafts and sensory fun, such as this colorful feather bowl fine motor craft that my boys worked on together.  

It's seriously gorgeous.  I cannot get enough of it.  Like look at it!  Isn't it pretty?!

Colorful feather bowl fine motor craft for kids from And Next Comes L

I know it looks complicated, but it's really not.  What you'll need to make a feather bowl:


Step 1: Wrap the outside (or bottom depending on how you want to describe it) of the glass bowl in plastic wrap.


Plastic wrap on a glass bowl as part of a fine motor feather bowl craft for kids from And Next Comes L

Step 2: Paint the plastic wrapped bowl with a generous amount of Mod Podge.  The boys were extremely generous in their painting.

Glue and plastic wrap on a glass bowl as part of a fine motor feather bowl craft for kids from And Next Comes L

Step 3: Cut the stems off the feathers.  The boys also cut the feathers into smaller pieces, which, honestly, worked better than leaving a long feather.

Cutting colored feathers for a feather bowl fine motor craft from And Next Comes L

Step 4: Put feathers on the bowl.

Fine motor craft for kids using colored feathers from And Next Comes L

Step 5: Cover the entire bowl and feathers with another coat of Mod Podge.  I had to help with this part as the feathers had a tendency to move and wiggle while the boys tried to paint over top of them.  Once covered, leave the bowl to dry.  We left it overnight.

Once the bowl was dry, we slowly peeled the plastic wrap off of the glass bowl.  I then folded the plastic wrap at the top of the bowl inside so that it had a nicer finished edge.  The bowl holds its shape well, but is not intended to hold heavy objects.  The bowl can easily be collapsed with a tiny bit of force.  However, it's a beautiful art piece.

Colorful feather bowl fine motor craft for kids from And Next Comes L

The boys loved posing and showing off their creation.  Can't say I blame them because look how cool it is!  Yup, I'm totally obsessed with how it turned out.

Colorful feather bowl fine motor craft for kids from And Next Comes L

Colorful feather bowl fine motor craft for kids from And Next Comes L

Colorful feather bowl fine motor craft for kids from And Next Comes L

This post is part of the Everyday Fine Motor Materials from A to Z series hosted by Still Playing School.  Just click on the image below to see all the other posts in the series.  

Letter F of the Everyday Fine Motor Materials from A to Z series at And Next Comes L

Colorful feather bowl fine motor craft for kids from And Next Comes L - part of the Everyday Fine Motor Materials from A to Z Series

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Simple Earth Inspired Sensory Bin

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

My boys love to play with water beads.  In fact, we have been playing with the same blue water beads for well over a year now.  They have been a perfect sensory material to imitate large bodies of water like the Arctic ocean or a large bubble bath.  This time we used them to create all the oceans in the world with this simple Earth inspired sensory bin.  It was quick and simple to set up since it uses only two materials!  How's that for an easy sensory bin idea?!

Playing with water beads and aloe vera gel in an Earth inspired sensory bin for kids from And Next Comes L


To make this sensory bin, I used:

I'm no world map artist, so I just created random land masses with the aloe vera gel with an island here and a continent there.  No biggie.  Like I said, the sensory bin was Earth inspired so I wasn't aiming for perfect little continents.  I simply squirted some aloe vera gel and gently spread it with my fingers.

Simple Earth inspired sensory bin with water beads for kids from And Next Comes L


Close up of simple Earth inspired sensory bin with water beads for kids from And Next Comes L

When I presented the bin to the boys, I encouraged them to talk about what it looked like it might be.  J, being literal, said it was blue and green.  Then he specified further by saying that it was water beads.  So I prompted them with the simple question of "Does it look like any planet you know of?"  J then declared that it was Earth.

Initially, both boys just touched the water beads.  J was the first to touch the aloe vera gel and was really surprised by its texture.  He giggled when he touched it!  

Soon, both boys were swirling and mixing the materials together.

Playing with water beads and aloe vera gel in an Earth inspired sensory bin for kids from And Next Comes L

Playing with water beads and aloe vera gel in an Earth inspired sensory bin for kids from And Next Comes L

The really neat thing about this combination of materials is that the aloe vera gel made the water beads sticky and somewhat moldable.  The water beads were able to stick to their hands for a few moments, which was pretty cool.

Playing with water beads and aloe vera gel in an Earth inspired sensory bin for kids from And Next Comes L

Playing with water beads and aloe vera gel in an Earth inspired sensory bin for kids from And Next Comes L

Playing with water beads and aloe vera gel in an Earth inspired sensory bin for kids from And Next Comes L

Pretty and simple - this sensory bin was a hit!

Be sure to check out these other ways to play with water beads:


Simple Earth inspired sensory bin for kids that uses only 2 materials from And Next Comes L

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Lavender Scented Beans {Calming Sensory Play}

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There's one thing that we could use more of in our days and that is a sense of calm.  Thankfully, I now have a secret weapon for calming my boys.  I recently started exploring essential oils and lavender has quickly become a favorite in our house.  So I decided we needed to add some lavender scented sensory bin fillers to our sensory stash.  We haven't used dried beans for awhile, so I figured I'd try dyeing and scenting some.

Calming sensory play for kids: lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

To make lavender scented beans, I put navy beans and 4 drops of lavender essential oil into a resealable plastic bag.  I also added some color to my beans by using this dyeing method from Fun at Home with Kids.  Unfortunately, I ran out of purple food coloring so I had to improvise with other colors.  That's why my beans aren't uniform in color.  Anyway, they totally smell amazing even if the color isn't quite perfect.

Close up of lavender scented & dyed dried beans sensory play from And Next Comes L

After letting the beans dry fully, it was time to play.  I set out some measuring spoons and plastic cups for the boys, hoping they would engage in some quiet, calm sensory play.  And guess what?!  It totally worked!  For once, the sensory filler wasn't tossed around like we were celebrating someone's birthday.  Instead, simple scooping, pouring, and measuring took place.  Some bean sandcastles were also attempted, but, of course, they didn't turn out like J had hoped.

Playing with lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

Playing with lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

K insisted on helping me get some close up pictures of the lavender scented beans.  He made sure I took lots of pictures of the beans he scooped into his cup!

Playing with lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

Close up of calming sensory play for kids using lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

Close up of calming sensory play for kids using lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

I think K wants you take a whiff of these lovely lavender beans.  Too bad computer screens aren't equipped for scents yet.

Looking for more scented sensory play ideas?  Try these ideas out:


Calming sensory play for kids: lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

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Rainbow Coconut {How to Dye Shredded Coconut for Sensory Play}

By on July 14, 2014 2 Comments so far
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

We've been on a bit of a rainbow sensory play kick lately.  First it was rainbow shaving cream and then it was rainbow dyed oats.  Well, now I think I have found my favorite sensory bin filler ever: rainbow shredded coconut.  It's bright and colorful and yes, it still smells like delicious coconut!

Playing with rainbow dyed shredded coconut - colorful, scented sensory play from And Next Comes L

I haven't seen shredded coconut as a sensory base before.  Perhaps because it is more expensive than using rice, oats, or pasta.  However, when I consider the long-term storage and re-usability of all of our other sensory bin fillers, I know that we will easily get our money's worth from our rainbow dyed coconut.  Another bonus is that it's already scented, so it boosts the sensory experience without adding anything extra.

To dye the shredded coconut, I used the same technique as the rainbow dyed oats.  You can choose to make them edible or not.  I went for non-edible since my boys are beyond the mouthing stage when it comes to sensory play.  You will need:


I mixed 1 tbsp of water with a few drops of liquid watercolors (you will need more drops if using food coloring).  I then added 1 cup of shredded coconut and mixed it all until it was completely covered.  I then placed the shredded coconut onto some paper towel and left it in our sunroom to dry.  It took less than one hour to dry completely. 

Then arrange it into a rainbow for play time!

Rainbow shredded coconut for sensory play from And Next Comes L

It's so pretty that I could not stop taking photos of it.  Plus, the smell!  Oh my!  I love the smell of coconut.

Close up of rainbow shredded coconut for sensory play from And Next Comes L

Rainbow shredded coconut for sensory play from And Next Comes L

The boys patiently waited while I snapped photos and asked so sweetly, "Can I touch it?"  In a matter of seconds, the rainbow became a swirly, colorful mixture.

Playing with rainbow dyed shredded coconut - colorful, scented sensory play from And Next Comes L

Playing with rainbow dyed shredded coconut - colorful, scented sensory play from And Next Comes L

Close up of rainbow dyed shredded coconut sensory play from And Next Comes L

I even captured a sweet little hand-holding moment.  Awww...

Playing with rainbow dyed shredded coconut - colorful, scented sensory play from And Next Comes L

Then like every other sensory bin that we have done, a child climbed in.  K did some dancing in the coconut and had so much fun.

Playing with rainbow dyed shredded coconut - colorful, scented sensory play from And Next Comes L

Dancing led to holding the rainbow coconut, letting it sift through their fingers.  

Close up of rainbow dyed shredded coconut sensory play from And Next Comes L

Close up of rainbow dyed shredded coconut sensory play from And Next Comes L

That lead to some gentle confetti-type throwing and dumping...

Sensory play aftermath with rainbow dyed shredded coconut from And Next Comes L

No worries though since we play with our sensory bins on top of a shower curtain.  I simply dump the rainbow coconut (or whatever we are playing with) into a plastic bag or container for storage, making clean up a breeze!

Looking for more colorful sensory play ideas?  Try out these other colorful ideas:


How to dye shredded coconut for sensory play - colorful and scented fun for kids from And Next Comes L

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