Ball in a Box Boredom Buster {Light & Reflections Series}

By on August 19, 2014 4 Comments so far
This boredom buster is such a simple idea and uses only two items. And it ended up being the perfect activity for two year old K. He played with it for many days! It encouraged gross motor play, which just happened to fit this month's theme of "Motor Skills" for the Light & Reflections series

Gross motor boredom buster idea for toddlers using a glow ball - teaches kids about cause and effect from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

For this ball in a box boredom buster, we used:
  • Flashing Spiky Ball - My husband seems to bring these home from conferences all of the time, but the one we used was from the Target Dollar Spot.
  • Clear plastic container with lid
Simply put the ball in the box and shake! We tried it in and out of the dark, as seen below.

Gross motor boredom buster: playing with a glow ball in a box from And Next Comes L

Gross motor boredom buster: playing with a glow ball in a box from And Next Comes L

The ball will eventually light up as long as the box is shaken just right.


Gross motor boredom buster: playing with a glow ball in a box from And Next Comes L

Gross motor boredom buster: playing with a glow ball in a box from And Next Comes L

K liked to open the clear tote every time the ball started flashing. Opening the latches just happens to be great fine motor practice for him too!

Gross motor boredom buster: playing with a glow ball in a box from And Next Comes L

Check out these other motor skills posts from this month's Light & Reflections series:

Giant Window Calculator from Still Playing School
Weaving with Straws on the Light Table from Where Imagination Grows

Next month's theme will be All About Me. You can also follow this series on the Light & Reflections Series board on Pinterest.

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

Gross motor boredom buster idea for toddlers that teaches kids about cause and effect from And Next Comes L

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10 Ways to Learn the Alphabet on the Light Table

By on August 17, 2014 4 Comments so far
Light tables definitely make everything more appealing and are a great way to introduce kids to all sorts of concepts, including the letters of the alphabet. Check out these 10 amazing light table activities that will help toddlers and preschoolers learn their letters! Just click on the link below each picture to get the full details on the alphabet learning activity.

10 light table activities for kids to learn their ABCs from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Alphabet sorting on the light table from And Next Comes L

Alphabet Sorting on the Light Table from And Next Comes L

Alphabet slime from Still Playing School

Alphabet Slime on the Light Table from Still Playing School

DIY light table alphabet

DIY Alphabet Letters from Raising Wild Ones

DIY transparent alphabet manipulatives for light table play from And Next Comes L

Homemade Alphabet Manipulatives from And Next Comes L

Alphabet cups on the light table from The Imagination Tree

Alphabet Cups on the Light Table from The Imagination Tree

Alphabet matching on light table from Teach Preschool


DIY alphabet stones for light table play from And Next Comes L

DIY Alphabet Stones from And Next Comes L

Stamping the alphabet in slime on light table from Still Playing School

Letter Stamping on the Light Table from Still Playing School

Alphabet matching on the light table from Kitchen Floor Crafts

Light Table Letter Match from Kitchen Floor Crafts

Letter matching with beads from Caution! Twins at Play

Letter Matching with Beads from Caution! Twins at Play

Finally, try building the letters on the alphabet!

Letter construction set on the light table


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Montessori Music Tray: Building Rhythms

By on August 15, 2014 Be the first to comment!
We've done our fair share of music theory games around here. For instance, I've introduced my boys to different music notation with our music note matching games here and here and we've used our music rocks as a stepping stone (ha!) to learning about rests in music. We've explored the grand staff using mirrors and a DIY grand staff board. Now we've moved on to learning about rhythms in music. This simple Montessori music theory tray is a great way to explore rhythms, time signatures, bar lines, and more.

Montessori music theory tray for kids to explore rhythms from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Since J isn't quite 5 and K isn't quite 3, I kept this exploration of rhythms fairly simply. We used simple rhythms in 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures with no rests.  For this activity, we used:


Montessori music theory tray for kids to explore rhythms from And Next Comes L

This music activity was a perfect fit for J. He carefully examined, searched for, and matched the notes to his rhythm flashcard.

Building rhythms with a Montessori music theory activity from And Next Comes L

He even made sure to add "sticks," as he liked to call them, for the bar lines. I told J that they were called bar lines, as it was his first introduction to them.

Building rhythms with a Montessori music theory activity from And Next Comes L

Building rhythms with a Montessori music theory activity from And Next Comes L

Once he completed the rhythm, I clapped and counted the rhythm out loud for him. J then clapped along with me when I repeated the rhythm.

K is still a bit young for this activity, although he did manage to match the numbers of the time signature correctly.

Building rhythms with a Montessori music theory activity from And Next Comes L

His rhythm building, on the other hand, could use some more practice.

Building rhythms with a Montessori music theory activity from And Next Comes L

Looking for more rhythm activities? Try out these ideas:


Building rhythms with a Montessori music theory activity from And Next Comes L

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Back to School Personalized Prize Pack Giveaway {I See Me Review}

By on August 13, 2014 66 Comments so far
It's hard to believe that my oldest son, J, will be turning five next month and starting Kindergarten! That means I have been busy prepping him for the routine of school and getting his school supplies labeled and in order. Thankfully, I See Me sent us some personalized gear, including a new personalized lunch box, to help with J's big transition. It will also be a transition period for my youngest, K. He will have to adjust to having his big brother (and best friend!) spending a few days a week at school. And okay, it's going to be a transition for me too. My baby is going to school! How did that happen?!

Perhaps you're in the same boat as me? Well, I'll help ease the pain with an awesome back to school giveaway prize pack. It's worth $75! Then you and I can go cry in the corner about our babies growing up.

Send your kids back to school in style with a personalized I See Me prize pack worth $75! from And Next Comes L #giveaway #backtoschool

I received the products shown from I See Me in exchange for a honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by the free product.

J was very excited to pick out a lunch box for school. He picked the Outer Space Personalized Lunch Box and he was mighty proud to show it off!

Personalized lunch box from I See Me {review & giveaway} from And Next Comes L

The outer space design is adorable, vibrant, and colorful. Inside, the lunch box is huge and has a chalkboard to write personalized messages. The chalkboard easily wipes clean with no chalk residue left behind. The interior has room for so much food and snacks. Good thing because J's a pretty big eater. One other thing that I loved about this lunch box was that it is really easy to open. Some metal lunch boxes can be tricky to open, but J can easily open this one on his own. So it's a perfect lunch box for little ones to eat independently at home.

Personalized lunch box from I See Me {review & giveaway} from And Next Comes L

Getting a good breakfast before school is very important too! We were given a placemat for each of my boys. J again choose the space theme with this Outer Space Personalized Placemat. K chose the Dino-Mite Personalized Placemat. Both designs are super cute. I really like the artsy dinosaurs. I also like that both placemats label the items. So all the dinosaurs and planets have their proper name, which means my kids can learn while they eat. Cheesy, but true. J likes to name all the planets in order thanks to his placemat.

Personalized placemats from I See Me {review & giveaway} from And Next Comes L

We also received a personalized storybook for each of my boys. Each story book is personalized with the child's name throughout the story. Not only in the text, but on items in the illustrations too! You can even personalize the dedication page with your child's name, birth date, and a special message like "Love always, mom & dad." My boys love that their birthdays are in the book. Even two year old K has been telling everyone he meets when his birthday is!

J received an I'm an All Star personalized story book, which was the perfect book for him. He has been all about winning everything and K losing. He is really not a good sport! So this story ended up having a perfect lesson just for him!

Reading the new I'm an All Star personalized storybook from I See Me {review & giveaway} from And Next Comes L

The story has great tips on how to be a good sport and every two page spread has a picture of J's face, which I loved!

Inside the new I'm an All Star personalized storybook from I See Me {review & giveaway} from And Next Comes L

I also loved that it had a picture of him on the front cover. This book also lets you pick five sports to feature so we picked sports that J was interested in. The I'm an All Star personalized story book also comes in a pink book with a female character.

K turns three next month so he's well on his way to becoming a big boy. His story book was the I'm a Big Boy Now! personalized story book. There is no picture of K on the front. Instead, it is on the dedication page alongside his birth date.

Reading the I'm a Big Boy Now personalized storybook from I See Me {review & giveaway} from And Next Comes L

K loves, loves, LOVES his book. I think we have read it fifty billion times since it arrived on our doorstep. He is obsessed with it! The story itself is really cute and the illustrations are totally adorable. You can even customize the skin and hair color of the child in the book. Perhaps the best part about this book is all of the personalized details. Check out this two page spread. K's name is plastered everywhere. Even on the piggy bank!

Inside the I'm a Big Boy Now personalized storybook from I See Me {review & giveaway} from And Next Comes L

Clearly, we are a big fan of all the I See Me personalized gear that we received. There are so many other wonderful personalized products that they offer from board books to puzzles to stickers. They even have a new farm series that looks totally adorable!

But the number one reason I fell in love with their products is simple. My name is Dyan. I have never had anything personalized ever. I remember wanting to find my name on anything at souvenir shops. I knew my kids would have similar problems because of their unique names, but with I See Me products, it's possible!

Now for $75 personalized prize pack giveaway! It's open to Canada and US only. The winner will receive:
  • 1 personalized lunch box (winner's choice of design)
  • 1 personalized story book (winner's choice of design)
  • 2 sets of personalized stickers (winner's choice of design)


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OT at Home Activity Jar

By on August 12, 2014 8 Comments so far
J is a sensory seeker. He needs to be active and constantly seeks activities that involve swinging, spinning, and jumping. With him starting kindergarten next month, I know that he may have a hard time staying focused for a full day unless he gets the appropriate stimulation. So I have decided to start doing some occupational therapy with him at home as part of his morning routine. I put together this OT at Home Activity Jar, focusing on gross motor, heavy work, and vestibular activities.

OT at Home Activity Jar - ideas for doing occupational therapy at home from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

To make the activity jar, I used:

It's pretty straightforward to make. Simply write one activity on each craft stick, put them in a jar, and voila! Done!  As for the activities, here is what is included in our jar:
  • Obstacle course
  • Play catch
  • Climb the slide
  • Bean bag toss
  • Jump on mini trampoline
  • Swinging - We have a variety of swings indoors and outdoors, including our DIY sensory swing.
  • Ride balance bike - We have this one, but in a different design.
  • Spin on the office chair - J can spin and never get dizzy so we often find him doing this activity on his own.
  • Animal walks - Crawl like a crab, slither on the ground like a snack, etc.
  • Hopper ball
  • Balance board - We just put a piece of scrap wood on a pool noodle. It works great!
  • Wheelbarrow walk - I hold their ankles and they have to walk using their hands.
  • Parachute - Remember our homemade play parachute?
  • Pillow sandwich - The boys lay on their back. Then I put a large pillow on their body (it never covers their face) and then I lay on top of it.
  • Yoga
  • Sit on exercise ball
  • Big ball roll - The boys lay on their back. Then I roll a large exercise ball on their body, starting at their ankles and rolling up to their shoulders.
  • Sensory tunnel - I made my own. Tutorial to follow soon. There are many, many, many activities that can be done with it!

So when it's time to do OT, the boys each pick a stick or two from the jar for us to try.

OT at Home Activity Jar - ideas for doing occupational therapy at home from And Next Comes L

Of course, you can modify your jar to include anything you want, fine motor, gross motor, vestibular, etc.

Looking for more sensory resources? Check out this Autism & Sensory Processing Disorder board on Pinterest.

OT at Home Activity Jar - ideas for doing occupational therapy at home from And Next Comes L

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Exploring Symmetry with Wooden Shapes

By on August 11, 2014 Be the first to comment!
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Our homemade mirror box is such a fun thing to play and explore with. The boys love to watch how materials transform in the box. The mirror box is also a great way to explore simple math concepts like symmetry, shapes, and counting. I recently purchased some colored wooden shapes at the dollar store (Dollarama, for those who want to know). They are so vibrant that I just had to pair them with the mirror box and let the boys explore.

Exploring symmetry using wooden shapes in a mirror box from And Next Comes L

The wooden shapes take on a life of their own in the mirror box. J loved to place one shape in the box and then count how many would appear in all the mirrors. Then he would repeat it over and over.

Exploring symmetry using wooden shapes in a mirror box from And Next Comes L

Toddler & preschool math: wooden shapes in a mirror box from And Next Comes L

K didn't participate too much in the constructing part. He preferred to observe and hand J the occasional shape. You can see his arms as he leans over J. And I guess K also enjoyed emptying the contents of the mirror box each time.

Exploring symmetry using wooden shapes in a mirror box from And Next Comes L

Don't the wooden shapes look so fun in the mirror box?

Toddler & preschool math: wooden shapes in a mirror box from And Next Comes L

Here are some other symmetry invitations for toddlers and preschoolers:


Simple toddler & preschool math - exploring symmetry with wooden shapes from And Next Comes L

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Our Playroom: Imaginary Play Area

By on August 09, 2014 Be the first to comment!
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Our imaginary play area of our playroom has been a work in progress for quite some time, but I am thrilled to finally show it off! It acts as a general store, a restaurant, a kitchen, or even a post office! I designed this space with two year old K in mind. He loves to cook, both pretend and real, and I am hoping to foster that love even further. So far, it's working. Both J and K love to make smoothies and other delights, such as cheese tea, in this play area. They have spent countless hours playing (and making a mess!) in this little corner of our playroom.

Playroom idea: imaginary play area with kitchen, homemade felt food, real cash register, and more! from And Next Comes L

This space is filled with wonderful little details from homemade goodies to real machines and containers.

Playroom idea: imaginary play area with kitchen, homemade felt food, real cash register, and more! from And Next Comes L

Here's a list of things you can find in our imaginary play area:
  • Green Toys dish set
  • Royal brand cash register - It's a hand-me-down cash register given to us by my parents.
  • Cordless telephone - Our phone from our old house.
  • Small play kitchen - A garage sale find for $5!
  • Plastic play food - Random bits given to us by a friend.
  • Homemade felt oven mitts from our pack and play stove
  • Felt play food
  • Recipe book (in French) from Blendtec blender
  • Glass spice jars with labels on the lid
  • Measuring spoons, measuring cups, wooden spoons, and various other utensils - Most are purchased from the dollar store.
  • Stovetop lid from our pack and play stove
  • Old wallets filled with expired cards, fake credit cards, and used gift cards
  • A basket with envelopes and small packages
  • Empty recyclables

My boys especially love the real containers that are used in their play area. It's a great way for them to practice fine motor skills (opening and closing containers), while exposing them to environmental print. Pretty much every recipe they cook has a squirt of mustard or a generous serving of maple syrup! I've eaten many bizarre combinations!

Using recycled containers in imaginary play area in kids' playroom from And Next Comes L

I love the personalized details on the wall, such as the DIY felt bunting. I also cut out some vinyl using my Silhouette Cameo to make the sign below. I used chalkboard vinyl to create the mini chalkboard with "Today's Specials" that you can see above the cash register (see photos at the top of this post). The boys, especially J, love to write their daily specials with chalk. That's where cheese tea was once featured.

DIY vinyl decals for kids' playroom made with Silhouette Cameo from And Next Comes L

Like I said, this imaginary play area has been a huge hit with the boys for cooking...

Pretend play in the playroom from And Next Comes L

Or running a store...

Pretend play in the playroom with a real cash register from And Next Comes L

Or practicing real life skills. Don't forget those oven mitts!

Pretend play in the playroom from And Next Comes L

Looking for more playroom inspiration? Check out these other ideas:


Or browse my Play Spaces for Kids board on Pinterest for even more ideas!

Playroom idea: imaginary play area with kitchen, homemade felt food, real cash register, and more! from And Next Comes L

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