Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Themed Gross Motor Learning Games

When it comes to activities for my kids, I like to make sure it is easy. And I also like to make sure that it gets my kids moving since, well, I have two boys and they always seem to have excess energy! These simple Valentine's themed gross motor learning games are the perfect way to get the kids moving and practicing math, sight words, spelling, letter identification, and more!

Valentine's Day themed gross motor learning games for kids from And Next Comes L

Easy Valentine's Day Gross Motor Activities for Kids

We did a math spin on this gross motor game, but you can definitely extend it to cover any topic you'd wish. You can find all of our variations over on CBC Parents.

Also, if your kids enjoy nerf guns, then try combining these learning games with this shootout activity.

Valentine's Day themed gross motor learning games for kids from And Next Comes L
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Homemade Duct Tape Sled

Embracing winter is what we do best here in the Canadian prairies. We happily bundle up and head outside, even if it's -30C or colder. We recently made some DIY duct tape sleds and headed for the hill to try them out.

How to make a duct tape sled - a fun winter craft for kids from And Next Comes L

How to Make a DIY Duct Tape Sled

Making a duct tape sled is such a fun winter craft idea for kids of all ages, especially since duct tape now comes in a variety of colors and patterns. It's easy and frugal too! I have seen homemade duct tape sleds before and was always intrigued by them. I wondered how good of a sled they could actually be. The results were totally amazing, by the way, and the kids adored their homemade sleds!

Also, fun fact: we made these duct tape sleds using the cardboard box from the GT snowracers the kids received for Christmas. Nothing like making a sled out of a box from a sled!

PS: How awesome is K's crochet Pokeball toque? It was my first crochet project ever and it turned out amazing, didn't it?

How to make a duct tape sled - a fun winter craft for kids from And Next Comes L
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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

10 Easy Indoor Gross Motor Activities for Kids

When the kids are cooped up indoors because of frigid temperatures or rain, we like to gather up some everyday materials and items from around the house and repurpose them for some good old fashioned gross motor play! Our DIY crash mat is one example. As are these gross motor ideas using an exercise ball.

Most of these ideas require zero prep (yay!!), which means you can literally grab the materials and go. Then the kids will be burning off their excess energy in no time!

10 easy ways to get the kids moving indoors using everyday objects from And Next Comes L

10 Easy Ways to Get the Kids Moving Indoors Using Everyday Items

These ideas are seriously easy and fun. Just grab a few materials like the laundry basket that's holding piles of laundry to either be folded or washed. Or all those Amazon prime boxes waiting to be recycled.

Your kids are going to love these!

10 easy ways to get the kids moving indoors using everyday objects from And Next Comes L
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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Snow Maze

When you are gifted with generous amounts of snow every winter, you tend to get tired of the regular winter activities like snowball fights and building a snowman. So whenever we have a fresh batch of snow in the backyard, we like to do something a wee bit different.

See, my son J went through a maze phase where he would happily draw and complete a variety of mazes every single day. So I was inspired by his love of mazes to make a giant life sized one in the snow right in our backyard. Well, let me tell you...he thought I was just the most awesome mom ever and we have been making them every winter since. Sometimes even multiple times per winter!

So this snow maze winter activity for kids is loads of fun and easy to do!

Winter activity for kids: make a snow maze from And Next Comes L

Get Outdoors this Winter and Make a Snow Maze with the Kids!

Switch things up this winter! Instead of making a snowman, building a snow fort, or having an epic snowball fight, try making a snow maze with your kids. It's really simple to do and encourages the kids to get moving!

Winter activity for kids: make a snow maze from And Next Comes L
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Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Intense Fascination with Letters in Children with Hyperlexia & How it Looks in the Early Years

When I reflect back on J's toddlerhood, I must admit it's all a blur. A big old blur of letters, singing the ABCs, and reading the same books over and over. He would sit for hours playing, organizing, and rearranging his different letter toys, while naming those letters out loud in the sweetest little toddler voice. Dubba-dubba (what he would call the letter W initially) was always my favorite to hear him say. That and his pirate-esque letter R sound.

Those days seem so long ago, yet I am thankful to relive those early moments of his letter fascination through videos.

A few months ago I began to wonder what other parents' experiences were like during the toddler years. In particular, I was curious to hear how and when they first noticed their child's intense fascination with letters. The responses were so interesting!

So to really capture what hyperlexia looks like in the early years, I asked other parents in my hyperlexia support group to share their experiences. I asked them a variety of questions and their answers, along with mine, are below. It is my hope that by sharing these experiences that you can see that the appearance of hyperlexia varies.

The intense fascination with letters in hyperlexia & how it looks in the early years from And Next Comes L

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The Early Years of Hyperlexia: How & When the Fascination with Letters Appears

It's really difficult to explain just how intense this fascination with letters in hyperlexic children can be, especially if you are not there firsthand to experience it. 

However, I have come across quite a few parents who wonder if their child really does have hyperlexia because they're not sure if their child's fascination with letters is intense enough. Here's the thing, though, hyperlexia seems to present itself differently for different kids, much like autism does. 

When did you first notice your child's interest in letters?

When I reflect back, I can recall J's intense interest in books around the age of five months. He sat up independently unusually early at only 4 1/2 months old. It was around that time that he would spend hours upon hours sitting and quietly flipping through books of all sizes, including chapter books that I was reading. He flipped the pages so carefully too! However, it wasn't until he was about 18-19 months old that his interest in letters became fully apparent to us.

Here's what other parents shared:

  • Amy: "1 year old"
  • Olive: "16 months of age"
  • Sarah: "Alex was 18 months when he grew incredibly fascinated with foam letters we had on a mat. He continued to show us the letters and started to say letters. He also loved reading Dr. Seuss’s ABCs and his first pointing was at the letters in the book. "
  • Kara: "At around 2 years old, my son started carrying a letter W magnet with him everywhere he went. He also loved matching our letter magnets to an alphabet poster."
  • Danielle: "I think I noticed a difference from other children when my son before the age of two could identify the entire alphabet, knew all of his shapes, could count to twenty, spelled his name, knew his colors and could identify all animals. He always had an intense fascination with books, puzzles and would sit for hours on end (if I let him looking at them). This was at 16 months."
  • Kirra: "My son Rylen was about two when I realised he was unusually fascinated with words on receipts, books and especially the credits on movies he would stand there after the movie finished and just watch the credits roll down, he showed more interest in them than in the movie itself!"
  • Tonya: "When he was one he was so focused on the number 7. By 18 mo he would have us count to him and sing ABC's."
  • Kristy: "Around 6 months"
  • Lacey: "My son was 18-months-old. We had a set of bathtub foam letters that we'd been playing with for a few months. He would lift up a letter to stick to the wall and we would tell him what it was. We were playing our letters game like always when he picked up the "O" and said "ooooo". He was still non-verbal, so we laughed and chalked it up to a coincidence. Then he picked up the "T". "Tay" he said. I don't know if our eyes could have gotten any wider. We tried "O" again. Then "T" again. We got adventurous and grabbed a "B" and were rewarded with a clear "B"."
  • Annette: "By 18 months he loved to sing the alphabet. He sometimes would do the alphabet in letter order, and sometimes he would make the sound of each letter in alphabetical order. It was obvious to us that he learned the alphabet quickly, but it became more obvious that letters were an “interest” (and not just something he was learning) closer to about 2 to 2 ½."
  • Roslyn: "One day, when Zane was 18 months old and knew the sounds of the letters, we were walking through a vacant parking lot and he insisted on stopping, crouching down, and sounding out the letters "no parking" on the curb at the edge of the lot."
  • Dhivya: "I noticed only 6 months back. He is almost 3 and a half now. He knew his numbers and letters a year or so back."
What toys or books were your child's favorites when you first noticed their interest in letters?

Goodness, the book that was most loved in our house during this time period was Dr. Seuss' ABCs. The poor book was falling apart from so much reading. Although not sure why I still read from the book since I could recite that entire book off by heart with my eyes closed!

The toy though that really showed us my son's interest was an old set of plastic letters and numbers that my mother-in-law had picked up at a garage sale. J absolutely adored them! He would line them up, sleep with them, carry them everywhere, and basically spend hours just playing with them. Some of my fondest memories of him as a toddler involve this set of letters.

He also adored foam alphabet mats where he could pop out the letters to play with them and during bathtime, foam letters were a must for him.

Here's what other parents shared:

  • Olive: "Baby Alphabet Book and foam letters. He never likes to play with normal toys."
  • Sarah: "Foam mat letters, Dr. Seuss’s ABCs, magnet letters with a white board, letters on blocks that he would line up in order, chalk letters everywhere outside."
  • Tonya: "No books...he loved flash cards!"
  • Kristy: "Leapfrog fridge phonics"
  • Lacey: "My son's favorite toys around that time were marble runs, blocks, and my phone/tablet where he would watch videos with numbers and letters. He loved, and still loves, Llama Llama Red Pajamas."
  • Annette: "He loved the Dr. Seuss's ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! and Star Wars ABC (He read it so much, he could do the Star Wars ABC by heart!)."
What age did your child begin reading?

It was just before J's second birthday that I discovered that not only could he read a handful of words, but he could spell them too! It wasn't long after that that he was reading his first book entirely by himself.

Here's what other parents shared:

  • Amy: "Age 2"
  • Olive: "1y9m - he could read printed words (e.g. shop names, product labels) and count to 100. By almost age 3 he could read childrens books (sentences) - all self-taught."
  • Sarah: "Somewhere between 2-2 ½ was when I noticed he was reading."
  • Kara: "At 2.5, he first spelled his name with our letter magnets. He also spelled "dog" and "cat" with the magnets and put them next to a toy dog and cat. He still wasn't speaking at that point, so we were completely blown away!"
  • Tonya: "He can read simple 3 letter words...he will be 3"
  • Kristy: "3"
  • Lacey: "I suspect he could read the word "Go" as early as two-years, but he didn't clearly demonstrate he could read until about 2.5. He read "orange" on the television screen while we were watching a YouTube video of a marble run in Germany."
  • Annette: "2 1/2"
  • Roslyn: "Words at Two yrs, books by 3yrs"

A Closer Look at Hyperlexia in the Early Years

As you can see, there are some commonalities between all of these different hyperlexic kids. The interest in letters seems to develop sometime around the 18 month mark while the reading and spelling starts to become more apparent around ages 2 1/2 to 3. Obviously, I'm not running a scientific study here so that's just what I have gathered from my informal survey...just as a disclaimer! For a closer look at how hyperlexia looks in the early years, I encourage you to check out these 30+ photos that capture the fascinating minds of kids with hyperlexia.
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Monday, January 16, 2017

Snowflake Balance Game

If there's one craft supply that I like to hoard the most, it's quite possibly seasonal foam shapes. I have bunnies, hearts, Christmas ones, snowflakes, snowmen, and so many more. They're so versatile, which is why I like to keep a healthy supply of them around my house! Ha!

For instance, we like to play this snowflake gross motor balance activity as a quick way to burn off energy and work on different skills. It's simple and my kids love it!

Easy snowflake gross motor balance activity for kids from And Next Comes L

Easy Snowflake Balance Game for Kids

We have done lots of seasonal variations of this game in the past. So often, in fact, that every time K sees me grab a set of foam shapes, he's like: "Can I jump or walk across those?!"

But here's the can easily transform this simple gross motor activity into a superb learning activity to target sight words, math skills, and so much more! You can read more about those variations over on CBC Parents.

Easy snowflake gross motor balance activity for kids from And Next Comes L
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fun Ways to Play with Snow Indoors

Snow is something that we get a lot of. And usually for six months of the year. However, this winter was a bit unusual in that we didn't get any snow in November of December until Christmas.

Regardless of when the inevitable snow arrives, January is always full of extreme cold warning days. Days where it is simply too cold to head outdoors because skin will freeze in minutes. On those days, we like to bring the snow indoors for a little fun and learning. 

Here are 7 fun ways to play and learn with snow indoors.

7 fun ways for kids to play and learn with snow indoors from And Next Comes L

Simple Ways for Kids to Play & Learn with Snow Indoors

From science and art to sensory play and fine motor, this list of seven ways to play and learn with snow indoors is loads of fun for kids of any age! So go scoop up a big container full of snow and get ready to try these activities with your kids! 

7 fun ways for kids to play and learn with snow indoors from And Next Comes L
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