Teaching Kids How to Set the Table Using the Light Table {Light & Reflections Series}

By on November 23, 2014 1 Comment so far
We do a lot of open ended play on the light table, but sometimes I also like to use our light table as a way to learn practical life skills. So here's a simple activity to teach kids how to set the table.

Learning how to set the table on the light table from And Next Comes L

For this light table activity, I used:


To set up this activity, all I had to do was trace all of the cutlery and the plate onto the transparency using a permanent marker.


Teaching kids how to set the table using the light table from And Next Comes L

Naturally, you need to put food on the plate once the table is fully set. Here the boys added some of their felt play food.

Learning how to set the table on the light table from And Next Comes L

Learning how to set the table on the light table from And Next Comes L

K even took the opportunity to practice some fine motor skills by cutting up his felt ravioli.

Learning practical life skills at the light table: teaching kids how to set the table from And Next Comes L

Then J added some of our plastic play food. I love how it just glows on the light table!

Learning practical life skills at the light table: teaching kids how to set the table from And Next Comes L

Play food on the light table from And Next Comes L

Play food on the light table from And Next Comes L

Here are some other science and cooking ideas for this month's Light & Reflections series:

Sink or Float Science for Kids on the Light Table from Where Imagination Grows

Tune in next month when we focus on winter light play. You don't want to miss it, so be sure to follow along with Light & Reflections Series board on Pinterest.

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

Teaching kids how to set the table - learning practical life skills at the light table from And Next Comes L
Continue reading >>

Minion Quiet Book Page {Free Printable Pattern}

By on November 22, 2014 1 Comment so far
Finally, a new quiet book page! This dress up Minion quiet book page has been sitting on my craft desk for months. Only recently have I been able to find the time to actually sew it. And I must say, it's my favorite quiet book page to date.

Minion dress up quiet book page with free printable pattern from And Next Comes L

This Minion quiet book pattern comes with what you see below. The eyes and the mouth can be removed, so if the kids feel like making a two-eyed or an one-eyed minion, then they can. 

Close up of Minion quiet book page - comes with a free printable pattern from And Next Comes L

I machine sewed everything for this quiet book page, except for a few hand sewn details. However, it could easily be made using a hot glue gun. Actually, to tell you the truth, a hot glue gun would have been a better option than sewing for assembling the eyes and the mouth. I hate machine sewing little details. It's so tricky!

As a fun add on, I have created one accessories pack for this quiet book page. It includes a banana, an apple, a Santa hat to celebrate Christmas, an Elvis wig, and a mustache to help celebrate Movember.

Accessories pack for dress up minion quiet book page {free printable pattern} from And Next Comes L

Once you make the accessories, then you can make cool one-eyed Elvis minions that like bananas...

Dress up minion quiet book page {free printable pattern} from And Next Comes L

Or a completely silly Santa Minion who sports a wicked mustache for Movember.

Close up of dress up Minion quiet book page - comes with a free printable pattern from And Next Comes L

There is a free printable pattern for both the main quiet book page and the accessories pack. They are only available to email subscribers. Creating these printable patterns are a lot of work so that's why they're being offered to my loyalest fans only. 


Looking for more quiet book ideas? Browse all of my quiet book pages here or read my how-to guide.

Minion dress up quiet book page with free printable pattern from And Next Comes L

Continue reading >>

Light Table Play with Dollar Store Sun Catchers

By on November 19, 2014 Be the first to comment!
If you are immersed in light table play like we are, then you are likely best friends with the clerks at the dollar store already. If not, then surely you've noticed that the dollar store is the best way to find light table accessories. We have used all sorts of crazy things from the dollar store on our light table. But sometimes you can take one item from the dollar store and do multiple activities with it. For instance, we did about 11 billion things with sun catchers from the craft aisle. Okay, maybe not a 11 billion, but we used the sun catchers to explore art, math, and literacy. And it kept the boys busy and quiet for an entire day.

Light table invitation to play with dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Beware, there are lots of pictures in this post because we did a lot of things with two simple materials. You'll need:


You might also want to keep a damp cloth handy to wipe the light table in between activities. Also, please try out the dry erase markers in a corner first to make sure they will not stain your light table. However, if a color does leave marks behind, then try using a Magic Eraser to clean it up! It works perfectly.

The first thing that the boys did was color the sun catchers. Coloring in between all those lines is great fine motor work.

Coloring dollar store sun catchers on the light table from And Next Comes L

You'll end up with a cast of colorful characters. Note the pink and green giraffe. 

Coloring dollar store sun catchers on the light table from And Next Comes L

We also sorted and classified the different sun catchers. J liked to create his own categories, like food, and/or trace over the category words that I wrote.

Sorting and classifying dollar store sun catchers on the light table from And Next Comes L

Sorting and classifying dollar store sun catchers on the light table from And Next Comes L

Sorting and classifying dollar store sun catchers on the light table from And Next Comes L

We also created a giant light table puzzle by tracing the sun catchers onto the light table.

Creating a puzzle on the light table using dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers from And Next Comes L

Creating a puzzle on the light table using dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers from And Next Comes L

Creating a puzzle on the light table using dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers from And Next Comes L

Once J matched up all the pieces of our puzzle, he went around and wrote the name of each object.

Writing and labeling dollar store sun catchers on the light table from And Next Comes L

Writing and labeling dollar store sun catchers on the light table from And Next Comes L

Then as can be expected with J, it turned into math. We did some simple addition sentences, including adding three numbers. He set up all the equations by himself and loved it.

Exploring math concepts on the light table using dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers from And Next Comes L

Exploring math concepts on the light table using dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers from And Next Comes L


He also wanted to do some greater than and less than comparisons.

Exploring math concepts on the light table using dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers from And Next Comes L

And then we did what any math-obsessed five year old would do: fractions! Ha! This kid loves fractions. He would grab a handful of sun catchers and create a fraction based on how many were shaded/colored. So for example, three of the five sun catchers have been colored.

Using dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers on the light table to learn fractions from And Next Comes L

Using dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers on the light table to learn fractions from And Next Comes L

I'm sure that there are many other things we could use these sun catchers for, but I think that's a pretty good start! Here are some other dollar store light table ideas:


Using dollar store sun catchers and dry erase markers to explore math and literacy and work on fine motor skills from And Next Comes L

Continue reading >>

Free Printable Social Story: Getting Dressed for Winter

By on November 14, 2014 Be the first to comment!
With every season change, we encounter issues transitioning into wearing appropriate clothing, new shoes or boots, and playing outside when the weather is colder. Earlier this year, we discovered that social stories have helped my oldest son tremendously. A quick read through and he's ready to try whatever is in the story. 

So now that the snow and freezing cold temperatures have arrived here, J is resistant to wear new winter boots and new winter gear. To help with the transition, I quickly whipped up this social story about getting dressed for winter. We immediately had success! No more tears or fights about putting on all the new winter gear. 

Free printable social story for learning to get dressed for winter - perfect for kids with autism, sensory processing disorder, and hyperlexia from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I like to laminate all of our social stories to make them extra durable, but it is completely optional. I also printed and laminated one to put inside his locker at school to help make him more successful at school. Day one at school was a success, so YAY! Here's what the printable looks like. It's free to download.

Free printable social story for learning to get dressed for winter - perfect for kids with autism, sensory processing disorder, and hyperlexia from And Next Comes L

Continue reading >>

Citrus Scented Easy Dough {150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids Book Review}

By on November 11, 2014 Be the first to comment!
My boys love playing with play dough and other sensory doughs. So when I was given the chance to review the new 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids book by the oh-so-talented Asia of Fun at Home With Kids, I was super excited to see a sensory dough called "Easy Dough" that looked fun and, best of all, easy. Plus, we had never tried anything like it before! I was especially intrigued by her variations on the easy dough, in particular, the lavender scented one. However, it was the middle of the day on a cold, snow-filled day, so I needed to brighten things up. I decided to make citrus scented easy dough based on her scented variation of the easy dough recipe.

Citrus scented easy dough inspired by the book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. I was also sent a copy of the book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

But first, I'm going to tell you why you want the book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids.

150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids book cover

I've been following Asia's blog Fun at Home with Kids since she pretty much started it. Her photographs always drew me in and her creativity always amazed me. Plus, I blame her for getting me addicted to liquid watercolors. So, of course, I was excited to see what her book would have in store. Honestly, it did not disappoint. The things that I love most about this book are:

  • The gorgeous photographs. Just like I expect to find on her blog, the book is filled with beautiful, color photos of each activity.
  • The organization of the book. Every activity has a checklist of the materials you need, the target age, the time it takes to prepare, and step-by-step instructions. I mean, how easy is that?!
  • The allergy coding. We don't have allergies in our household, but I do know lots of friends who have to be careful with nuts, dairy, and gluten. So having that clearly defined allergy section for each activity is a definite plus.
  • The variety of activities. There is something for everyone in this book. And there is something for every age: babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school age. So from sensory play to homemade toys (love the puppet theatre!) to homemade art supplies, this book has it all!
  • The variations section was by far my favorite. I absolutely loved how the activities had a section for different ways to modify the activity. For example, the easy dough that we tried from the book, had five different variations to try! You certainly cannot be bored with this book in your arsenal!


So to sum it up: I love this book!

Since the variations sections were one of my favorite parts about the book's layout, I am here to show you how we took one of her variations and, yup, did a variation on it. Ha! We tried the easy dough recipe. If you already own the book (or when you do!), then you can find the full recipe on page 50.

Just like the name suggests, easy dough is ridiculously easy to make. I made three colors and scents: pink grapefruit, mandarin orange, and lemon. I followed her recipe for lavender easy dough, but I just substituted grapefruit, orange, and lemon essential oils instead. The smelly absolutely yummy!

Citrus scented easy dough inspired by the book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids from And Next Comes L

And just as I had anticipated, the boys couldn't wait to dig in and play with it! J was like, "I'll take this one please!"

Sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers with citrus scented easy dough from And Next Comes L

Both boys picked up a ball of easy dough and gave it a whiff. Mmmm...if only it was a scratch and sniff screen, eh?

Sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers with citrus scented easy dough from And Next Comes L

Scented sensory play - citrus easy dough inspired by the book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids - from And Next Comes L

J was more into playing with the easy dough than K, so J happily mixed all three colors together. As Asia noted in her book, the easy dough is a bit crumbly, but that didn't seem to bother J. The messier the better!

Scented sensory play with citrus easy dough - inspired by the book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids - from And Next Comes L

Scented sensory play with citrus easy dough - inspired by the book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids - from And Next Comes L

And look how pretty it is when you mix all of those colors together!

Messy sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers with citrus scented easy dough from And Next Comes L

Messy sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers with citrus scented easy dough from And Next Comes L

Messy sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers with citrus scented easy dough from And Next Comes L

Colorful scented sensory play with citrus scented easy dough from And Next Comes L

And of course when baking soda is involved, one must make it fizz! So I decided to give this baking soda and vinegar tip (also from Fun at Home with Kids) a try! Asia is totally right. It does make the best bubbly reaction ever.

Hands on science for toddlers and preschoolers using citrus scented easy dough from And Next Comes L

You can find the full recipe for this easy dough in the beautiful book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids by Asia Citro. Here is where you can purchase a copy of the book:


Citrus scented easy dough - sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers {150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids Book Review} from And Next Comes L

Continue reading >>