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

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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

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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

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Threading with Jingle Bells {Fine Motor Activity}

By on November 10, 2014 4 Comments so far
Here's a simple fine motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers with a musical spin. This simple invitation to thread can be set up in mere seconds, engages the auditory sense, and would even be a great fine motor activity for Christmas time. Read the full post over at CBC Parents.

Simple, no prep fine motor threading activity for toddlers and preschoolers using jingle bells from And Next Comes L
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Magna-Tiles Review & Giveaway {Kids Holiday Wishlist: Reviewed!}

By on November 05, 2014 154 Comments so far
Last Christmas, Magna-Tiles were on our wish list. I knew they would make a fabulous addition to our light table collection. Then one day, I splurged and we haven't looked back. Since the moment we first opened the box, the kids fell in love with them. Magna-Tiles have since been a favorite toy for both of my boys (and for many of my piano students' siblings!). So here are seven reasons why we love them and why I think every kid should own a set. Plus, you have a chance to win yourself a set!

Reasons why we love Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 


7 Reasons Why Magna-Tiles are a Must-Own Toy!


I know I have raved about how much my boys love the Magna-Tiles before, but if you need further convincing why you must own this building set, then here are my top seven reasons why you and your kids need them.


1. Magna-Tiles make a great addition to light table play. 

The clear colors set is ideal for light table play. I mean look...

How Magna-Tiles clear colors set look on the light table from And Next Comes L

Ooooh-aaaah! So pretty, right? So whether you have a small light panel, a DIY light box, or a large light table, your kids will definitely enjoy how the Magna-Tiles look when the light shines through. Layer a couple Magna-Tiles and you can explore color mixing too! Don't have a light table? Well, they look fabulous in natural light too!


2. Magna-Tiles are open-ended and versatile. 

The possibilities are endless when it comes to building with Magna-Tiles. From a giant, colorful soccer field for figurines to tin can and Magna-Tiles rockets to houses and 3D shapes, my boys never seem to run out of creative ways to build with them. Recently, three year old K has been building fancy garages out of the Magna-Tiles so that he would have somewhere to park his cars.


3. Magna-Tiles are great for kids of multiple ages. 

My boys are currently three and five and both enjoy building with them. Kids aside, I also enjoy playing with Magna-Tiles. They are just plain fun! I usually set out Magna-Tiles for the boys to play with while I'm teaching piano. Oftentimes, I catch some of the parents and their other children playing with them too. Magna-Tiles are irresistible to little and big hands.


4. Magna-Tiles are super easy to store. 

When we need to store the Magna-Tiles, which is rare, or transport them from room to room, we store our Magna-Tiles in a clear tote. We own the 100 piece set and it all fits in this one bin (pictured below). Since the Magna-Tiles are magnetic, you can stack and store them quite easily. They don't take up much room at all. And please disregard my model's extra dirty clothes...he was coloring furiously with chalk just before I asked him to do some modeling. I may or may not have been fending off an angry three year old as well. Why was he angry, you ask? Because I packed up his Magna-Tiles to transport them upstairs. True story.

Magna-Tiles are so easy to store! Just one of many reasons why we love Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L


5. Magna-Tiles are durable. 

The boys love to build tall towers and destroy them. That means that oftentimes, Magna-Tiles come crashing down onto hard surfaces. Many months in and we've yet to break, scratch, or dent a Magna-Tile. Knock on wood. I hope to keep it that way!


6. There are no tiny pieces. 

My kids like building with blocks and LEGO and such, but they have tiny pieces. Tiny pieces that hurt when you step on them. Tiny pieces that easily get lost. Tiny pieces that easily (and quite accidentally) get eaten (a LEGO eye may have recently been consumed by a child in my house). That is not a problem with Magna-Tiles. They don't hurt to step on, trust me, which also supports reason number five.


7. Magna-Tiles are easy to build with. 

I remember both of my boys being frustrated by certain types of building sets because the pieces wouldn't hold their place or the pieces were difficult to take apart. Since Magna-Tiles are magnetic, the pieces just simply stick together, making them great for little toddler hands or kids with fine motor difficulties. Plus, playing with magnets is just plain old fun!


So now that I have convinced you of their awesomeness, here's where you can purchase them:


Or better yet, how about that giveaway?! It's open to Canada and US only. The winner will receive a Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100 piece set. Yippee! A special thank you to Magna-Tiles for sponsoring the giveaway. You can check out their website here or visit them on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

And ONE special announcement before that giveaway! Magna-Tiles has also agreed to donate a 32 piece set to a local charity for Christmas. We will be including it in a great gift basket package to one deserving non-profit organization, along with some necessities. I'll be sharing updates on this extra special Christmas donation on Instagram and Facebook.

Enter to win a Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100 piece set from And Next Comes L (ends Nov. 13, 2014)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This review is part of the Kid's Holiday Wishlist: Reviewed! series. You can read about all the other great products by perusing the full wishlist here.
Kid's Holiday Wishlist: Reviewed! series image at And Next Comes L
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Tally Marks Math with Magna-Tiles

By on November 02, 2014 Be the first to comment!
We are fully immersed in tally marks math mode here! J loves tallies and counting by fives, so to further encourage his interests, we used our Magna-Tiles to work on tallies. It was also a great way to practice writing and addition. 

Using Magna-Tiles to explore elementary math concept of tally marks from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

J and I came up with this math activity together after spending hours playing with Magna-Tiles and dry erase markers. He spent over four hours with just these two materials. First, it was open-ended play. Then it was DIY mix and match creature puzzles. Then it was DIY dominoes with Magna-Tiles. And then there was the tally marks.

Only one group of five tallies were allowed per small square, which visually reinforces how multiplication by fives works. Here's his representation of the number 17. As a side note, I have no idea why he writes his sevens like this. He does it only occasionally though.

Counting tally marks on Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

Anyway, J being J, small numbers just weren't going to do. He worked on big numbers like 120.

Using Magna-Tiles to explore elementary math concept of tally marks from And Next Comes L

And 185.

Using Magna-Tiles to explore elementary math concept of tally marks from And Next Comes L

205...and so on...until he ran out of Magna-Tiles.

Using Magna-Tiles to explore elementary math concept of tally marks from And Next Comes L

Using Magna-Tiles to explore elementary math concept of tally marks from And Next Comes L

Once he ran out of Magna-Tiles, he switched to addition mode. He would write an addition problem, of his own choosing, on a large Magna-Tile. Then he would write out the addition sentence using the small square Magna-Tiles, such as this one.

Adding tally marks on Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

Working on tally marks with your kids? Try these other ideas:


Exploring tally marks: elementary math with Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L
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Magna-Tiles Dominoes

By on October 27, 2014 2 Comments so far
I mentioned the other day that we spent almost four hours playing with Magna-Tiles and dry erase markers. During that time, J came up with the idea to create dominoes, which I thought was an absolutely awesome idea. He asked me to make them for him, so I obliged.

DIY dominoes for math and number learning - made using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

These DIY dominoes are super simple to make. I just used two square Magna-Tiles per domino. I then drew dots on each square using a dry erase marker. However, the dry erase markers rubbed off so easily, so I think that using dot stickers would be an even better alternative.

DIY dominoes for math and number learning - made using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

Anyway, after I spent about 10 minutes drawing dots on the Magna-Tiles for J, he quickly exclaimed, "Okay, now I erase them!" 

And he did.

So even though it was his idea to make them, and a brilliant idea at that, he had absolutely zero interest in using them to play dominoes with.

Did you know that Magna-Tiles can also be used for these other math activities? Why not give them a try too!


Turn your Magna-Tiles into dominoes to encourage math and number learning for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

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