Jingle Bell Busy Box {Fine Motor Fridays}

By on December 19, 2014 2 Comments so far
My kids have been enjoying lots of activities using a container of jingle bells. We've used them for fine motor threading, to build some 3D Christmas trees, some Christmas themed mirror play, and even added them to a sparkly sensory bin. But then a particular fine motor toddler busy box post of mine went a wee bit viral this past week and it sparked this jingle bell busy box idea. It's one of those quick activities that you can do like right now because it requires no prep. Plus, the added auditory component is a nice bonus!

Fine motor Christmas busy box idea using jingle bells from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

For this Christmas busy box idea, you will need:

Jingle bell busy box: Christmas fine motor play from And Next Comes L

Opening and closing the empty wipes container is great fine motor practice, as is putting those jingle bells into the small hole in the container. Three year old K loved to fill the wipes container up with the jingle bells and then violently shake the container. It offered great auditory input!


Christmas busy box: playing with jingle bells from And Next Comes L

Fine motor Christmas busy box idea using jingle bells from And Next Comes L

And that's it! Told you it was simple!

Here are some other great fine motor Christmas ideas from my Fine Motor Fridays co-hosts:

Kinetic Christmas Tree from Still Playing School
Velcro Christmas Tree from School Time Snippets
Painting with Ornaments from House of Burke
Christmas Lights Slime Sensory Play from Little Bins for Little Hands

Fine Motor Fridays at And Next Comes L


Jingle bell busy box: Christmas fine motor play from And Next Comes L
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Christmas Invitation to Play: Jingle Bells & Mirrors

By on December 18, 2014 Be the first to comment!
Mirror play has been making a regular appearance at our house lately, usually with some dry erase markers. However, I set up this simple Christmas invitation to play for three year old K and he enjoyed it quite a bit. When I picked J up from school, he was excited to check it out too. He saw it and exclaimed, "Wow! What's this?!"

Christmas invitation to play for toddlers and preschoolers: jingle bells & mirrors from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

For this Christmas invitation to play, I used:

Christmas invitation to play for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Although this Christmas invitation is so simple, it reinforces math concepts such as volume and estimation. K made a green tree and a gold bell.

Christmas invitation to play for toddlers and preschoolers: jingle bells & mirrors from And Next Comes L

Christmas mirror play for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

He then did some patterning work to make a red and gold striped candy cane. Red, gold, red, gold, red...

Christmas mirror play for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Then he explored with the "cookie" cookie cutters (aka the gingerbread men cookie cutters) and made them dance around the mirror. It was pretty cute to see his imagination in action!

Don't forget that these jingle bells can be used for these other great Christmas activities!



Christmas themed mirror play for toddlers and preschoolers using jingle bells from And Next Comes L
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Christmas Sensory Play with Gold & Silver Epsom Salts

By on December 16, 2014 Be the first to comment!
Here's a Christmas sensory bin that I put together for my preschooler K, while his older brother was at school. It's inspired by the song "Silver and Gold," which always makes me want to watch that classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie. I love that movie! Anyway, here's how we took the metallic colors of Christmas and turned them into a simple preschool sensory bin.

Christmas sensory play with gold & silver epsom salts from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I've been slightly addicted to our metallic liquid watercolors lately. We used gold in our frozen Christmas shapes and pearl white in our snowflake water sensory play. So I thought I would try dyeing some epsom salts with our metallic liquid watercolors as part of a Christmas sensory bin. They turned out so pretty!

Here's what we used for this Christmas sensory play idea:


First, I dyed the epsom salts with the liquid watercolors using this method. Once dry, I laid the dyed epsom salts in the glass dish so that half the tray was silver and the other half was gold. I then added the jingle bells, cookie cutter, and snowflakes.


Close up of metallic dyed epsom salts in a Christmas sensory bin from And Next Comes L

Close up of metallic dyed epsom salts in a Christmas sensory bin from And Next Comes L

While I tried refraining from singing "Silver and Gold" on repeat, K checked out this sensory bin. H really enjoyed pushing each item down into the epsom salts until they were buried.

Playing with gold & silver epsom salts in a Christmas sensory bin from And Next Comes L

But he was particularly enamored with the star cookie cutter! He loved pushing it into the epsom salts to leave star shapes throughout.

Playing with gold & silver epsom salts in a Christmas sensory bin from And Next Comes L

Playing with gold & silver epsom salts in a Christmas sensory bin from And Next Comes L

He even managed to make a jingle bell star "cookie."

Playing with gold & silver epsom salts in a Christmas sensory bin from And Next Comes L

Don't forget to try one of these other Christmas activites!



Christmas sensory play with gold & silver epsom salts from And Next Comes L
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Christmas Science on the Light Table {Light & Reflections Series}

By on December 15, 2014 4 Comments so far
Playing with ice on the light table is a fun way to explore. Colored ice is even better! So I made some frozen Christmas shapes to melt as part of a sensory science experiment on the light table. It is also a great way to work on fine motor skills!

Frozen Christmas tree on the light table - sensory science for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

For this Christmas science activity, we used:


I froze two green Christmas trees and two gold bells overnight.

The next morning I placed one tree and one bell in a glass dish. I set one up for both boys so that they would each have one tree and one bell. I placed the glass dishes on the light table, along with red water, table salt, eye droppers, and some clear plastic spoons.


The colored ice looks so magical on the light table. Although if I were to redo it, I would skip the gold liquid watercolor and use yellow instead. The gold didn't work as well as I had hoped on the light table.

Frozen Christmas tree on the light table - sensory science for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

The boys used the water and salt to try and melt the frozen Christmas shapes. All that scooping with the spoons and squeezing of the eye droppers is great fine motor practice.

Practicing fine motor skills on the light table from And Next Comes L

Practicing fine motor skills on the light table from And Next Comes L

Christmas sensory science: melting frozen shapes on the light table from And Next Comes L

Christmas sensory science: melting frozen shapes on the light table from And Next Comes L

J also liked to pick up the frozen shapes, which is a great sensory experience on its own.

Frozen Christmas tree on the light table - sensory science for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Sensory science on the light table with frozen Christmas shapes from And Next Comes L

Don't forget to check out what my co-hosts for the Light & Reflections series came up with!

Retelling "The Mitten" on the Light Table from Still Playing School
Arctic Animal Small World on the Light Table from Where Imagination Grows
Christmas Tree Activity from Happily Ever Mom

Good news, folks!The Light & Reflections Series will be continuing on in 2015! You can find all posts in this series on the Light & Reflections Series board on Pinterest. Here are the themes that we covered this year.

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


Christmas sensory science on the light table - melting frozen trees and bells from And Next Comes L
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Supersonics Piano Review & Giveaway

By on December 11, 2014 21 Comments so far
As a piano teacher, I am always looking for fresh new piano music for my students, either to spice up a recital or to encourage a student who may be starting to lose interest in piano and/or practicing. Well, not only did I find a collection that I love, but, more importantly, I found a collection that my students love! Even my own children love listening and dancing to it. My three year old happens to know the names to most of the songs in this collection now because he likes the songs that much.

So what is this magical music I speak of? 

Introducing...Supersonics Piano!

If you are a fellow piano teacher and are looking to add to your music library, then you will want to check out Supersonics Piano! Or perhaps you are a parent struggling to encourage your child to practice? Or maybe you are a parent looking for a great gift for a piano teacher? Well, then Supersonics Piano is going to be a great fit for you too!

I also have a pretty big giveaway to further entice you. Read on...you know you want to...

Piano teacher resources: review of Supersonics Piano, a great collection of contemporary piano music for kids from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. I was provided with music from Supersonics Piano in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are mine and were not influenced by the free goodies.

Supersonics Piano Review

The first thing that I noticed about Supersonics Piano's website was how well organized it was. Not only can I preview all of the songs, but I can actually listen to them beforehand. How handy is that as a piano teacher? It sure beats (pun, intended!) picking up a piece of music at the music store and looking at it, wondering what it may or may not sound like.

Find out more about Supersonics Piano - read the review at And Next Comes L

Once I printed off my copies of the Supersonics Piano Books A, B, and C, I was excited to try them out before giving them to my students to try. What I noticed right away was the variety of music in the collections. There are slow songs. There are really fast songs (the song "Furioso" for example was a favorite for my three year old to listen to!). There are spooky songs. There are jazzy songs, which in my opinion, is where the composer Daniel McFarlane really shines. His jazzy tunes were definitely my favorites as a teacher, and were the favorites among my students. Some of our favorite songs (and the ones that I recommend you must buy) are:

  • "Off the Beat," "Keep in Time!," "Furioso," and "I'm Grumpy" from Book A
  • "Creepy Crawlies," "Drive," "Feel the Beat," "Hard Rock," and "Run" from Book B
  • "Yeah I'm Cool," "Terry Tortellini,"and "Hacked" from Book C

As a teacher, I loved the variety of technical aspects presented in the songs throughout all three books. From fun glissandos to odd time signatures to tricky rhythms, there is certainly enough to challenge piano students. But since the songs are so fun to play, the students are easily motivated to practice them, despite their technical challenges. If you are a non-musical parent that just said, "Ummm...what?", I'm basically saying the songs are fun to play, teach lots of cool things, and your kids will actually want to play the songs. Sounds good, right?

Okay, so let's recap. Here is what I loved about Supersonics Piano:

  • Piano pieces with catchy tunes and fun titles that capture the mood of the piece.
  • A handy-dandy website that lets you preview and hear what the song sounds like before you purchase.
  • Music that is easy to teach and that kids will actually enjoy practicing.
  • Books that present a wide variety of songs, rhythms, and technical demands.
  • The option to purchase a studio license that allows me to print off as many copies as I want for my students.
  • Also, the studio license gives you the option to get customized song titles to further motivate students. So "I'm Grumpy" could be changed to "Dyan's Grumpy." 

And finally, the big reason that I love Supersonics Piano...I actually enjoy playing the pieces myself. I just find Daniel's jazz-inspired songs so much fun to play. You know it's got to be good when the teacher wants to play it and keep it all to herself, right? Yeah...definitely a good sign. And good thing I have a studio license so that I can keep a copy for myself and share other copies with my students.


Supersonics Piano Giveaway: A Great Gift Idea for Your Piano Teacher!

Looking for a great gift for your piano teacher? Ditch the gift card to a coffee shop idea. Instead, consider purchasing some individual songs from Supersonics Piano. Or better yet, how about winning the entire value pack to gift to your teacher this Christmas?!

Up for grabs is one digital Supersonics Piano Value Pack, including studio license and backing tracks. It is open worldwide. Giveaway ends December 18, 2014 at 11:59 PM.

Perfect gift for your piano teacher! Enter to win a Supersonics Piano Value Pack worth $150 from And Next Comes L

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Homemade Sensory Tunnel

By on December 09, 2014 2 Comments so far
I created a homemade sensory resistance tunnel for my boys, as I mentioned in my homemade stretchy resistance bands tutorial and in my O.T. at home jar. This sensory tunnel is great for gross motor play and proprioceptive sensory input. Just like the stretchy bands, the tutorial is really simple!

Tutorial for sewing a homemade sensory tunnel - perfect for kids with autism and sensory processing disorder from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I have always wanted to sew a sensory tunnel since they are so expensive, especially when you consider the fact that they are just a piece of stretchy fabric. This rocket resistance tunnel and this sensory tunnel both cost over $100! I made mine (as well as the two stretchy resistance bands) for $25. Plus, I could make it any color I wanted. Or rather any color the kids wanted.

To make a sensory resistance tunnel of your own, you will need:

  • Spandex in the color of your choice - 3 meters long (or approximately 3 yards long) - J picked bright yellow, which is fun, but totally hard to photograph.
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors

The spandex was too wide to make a good resistance tunnel. So I cut the fabric so that it was about 45 inches wide. I made my tunnel a bit roomy so that it would grow with the boys and so that it could fit an exercise ball through as well.

Once your fabric is cut to about 3 meters long x 45 inches wide, then it's time to sew. Now the sewing part is relatively easy and straightforward, but it is a lot of fabric to get through the machine - just as a FYI. Fold the fabric in half so that it makes a long rectangle (like pictured below). Use a zigzag stitch along to sew the ends of the spandex together. Don't forget to backstitch at the start and the finish. That's it! Easy, right?!


Tutorial for making a homemade sensory tunnel - a perfect tool for kids with autism and sensory processing disorder from And Next Comes L

Ways to Use the Homemade Sensory Resistance Tunnel

The best part about this sensory tunnel is that it is versatile. We use it for so many different activities. Obviously we use it as a tunnel, like below, but sometimes I get the boys to crawl through the tunnel while pushing an exercise ball. It's a great heavy work activity!

Tutorial for sewing a homemade sensory tunnel - perfect for kids with autism and sensory processing disorder from And Next Comes L

We also use it like stretchy resistance bands. Simply stand in the middle of the sensory tunnel, grab each end with your hands, and stretch! Here's J demonstrating.

Playing with a homemade sensory resistance tunnel from And Next Comes L

The sensory tunnel also doubles as a body sock like this sensory sock. Just climb on in and start making shapes.

Using a homemade sensory tunnel as a body sock - perfect for kids with autism and sensory processing disorder from And Next Comes L

Or play peek-a-boo.

Using a homemade sensory tunnel as a body sock - perfect for kids with autism and sensory processing disorder from And Next Comes L

Seriously...how darn cute is this?!

Playing peek-a-boo with a homemade sensory tunnel from And Next Comes L

K also likes to wrap himself up like a mummy and walk around. Banana man returns (see reference)! And sometimes the boys will climb into different ends to make a double body sock.

Using a homemade sensory tunnel as a body sock - perfect for kids with autism and sensory processing disorder from And Next Comes L

We also use our homemade sensory tunnel as a toy trampoline, which was an idea that I got from the book Motivate to Communicate: 300 Games & Activities for Your Child with Autism. The boys grab some stuffed animals (Lubies work perfectly because they are round like balls), grab the ends of the tunnel, and shake it like a parachute.

Using a homemade sensory tunnel as a toy trampoline from And Next Comes L

Using a homemade sensory tunnel as a toy trampoline from And Next Comes L

We also like to use it as a sensory swing. My husband and I just grab each end of the tunnel, pick it up, and gently swing it back and forth. Sometimes, if I'm feeling like a good workout, I grab both ends myself so that the boys have to curl their body into a V shape and spin them around for a bit. J particularly loves doing that!

Using a homemade sensory tunnel as a swing from And Next Comes L

And finally, here are some other suggestions:

  • Play tug of war. Two people grab opposite ends of the sensory tunnel and pull back and forth
  • Create a high jump or limbo bar with it. Two people hold each end, lower and raise it, while encouraging the kids to jump over, crawl under, roll under, etc. It's a great way to work on the words "over" and "under."
  • If you have a smooth soft surface like some tumbling gymnastic mats, then you can have your child climb into the sensory tunnel or lay on top, then pull them across the mats. It's sort of like riding a magic carpet!


Looking for more DIY O.T. tools? Try these:


Tutorial for making a homemade sensory tunnel - a perfect tool for kids with autism and sensory processing disorder from And Next Comes L
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Scented Snowflake Soup {Water Sensory Play}

By on December 04, 2014 6 Comments so far
We have fallen in love with simple water sensory play or "sensory soups." They are so easy to put together, but encourage lots of fine motor practice. Here's our peppermint scented winter themed sensory soup.

Peppermint scented water sensory play with snowflakes - great fine motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

For this peppermint scented snowflake sensory soup, I used:

  • Water
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Metallic pearl white liquid watercolor - I use a brand from Michaels.
  • Foam snowflakes
  • Silver snowflakes - I cut up a cheap snowflake garland for these.
  • Kitchen utensils - We like to use a whisk, a ladle, a large spoon, and a plastic bowl. The boys eventually added some measuring cups and an ice cream container to extend the play.

I used a generous amount of metallic pearl white liquid watercolor to achieve this shiny white water. It hid the silver snowflakes perfectly as these snowflakes don't float. They just sit on the bottom of the sensory bin. The foam snowflakes, in blues and white, float perfectly on top of the water. I also put in two drops of the peppermint essential oil for two reasons. First, we were all recovering from being sick with colds so we were all still a bit stuffed up. Second, I just associate peppermint with winter and Christmas time.


Close up of scented snowflake sensory soup for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Close up of scented snowflake sensory soup for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

The boys loved to scoop and pour the shiny snow-colored water and the different snowflakes. Fun fact: K thinks snowflakes look like the maple leaf he sees on the Canadian flag so he kept saying, "Oh! A Canada flag!" every time he picked up a snowflake. I have tried correcting him, but he still insists that they're little Canada flags. Ha!

Fine motor practice with scented snowflake water sensory play from And Next Comes L

Fine motor practice with scented snowflake water sensory play from And Next Comes L

Fine motor practice with scented snowflake water sensory play from And Next Comes L

Don't forget to check out these other Christmas and winter themed fine motor activities from my Fine Motor Fridays co-hosts!

Cute Mini Christmas Trees from Powerful Mothering
Invitation to Create: Christmas Ornaments from P is for Preschooler
Pouch Cap Wreath Craft from House of Burke
Christmas Scissor Skills and Craft from Little Bins for Little Hands
Christmas Lights on the Light Table from Still Playing School
DIY Fine Motor Kit from Stir the Wonder

Fine Motor Fridays at And Next Comes L

But wait! There's more! You can enter to win a copy of our beautiful book 99 Fine Motor Ideas for Ages 1 to 5. Up for grabs are two print copies (where available) and two ebook versions (open worldwide)! Good luck!


Scented snowflake water sensory play - great fine motor fun for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L
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