20 Sensory Soup Ideas for Kids {Water Sensory Play}

By on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 2 Comments so far
One of the quickest, cheapest, and easiest ways to engage in sensory play is to use water. Playing with water is a great way to work on fine motor skills. Plus, it's a great way to cool off when the weather is warm. However, we enjoy playing with water year round so I have rounded up the best sensory soup ideas that I could find. Some include colored water. Some engage the sense of smell. Some use fresh herbs and flowers. Yet, all of them are super easy to set up. These 20 sensory soup water play ideas for kids should keep you busy all year long.

20 water sensory soup ideas for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Colorful & Scented Water Sensory Play Ideas for Kids



Polka Dot Soup from Fun at Home with Kids (pictured)


Bottle Top Soup from Learning 4 Kids (pictured)


Fall water sensory soup ideas for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Fall Water Sensory Play Ideas for Kids

Apple Sensory Soup (pictured)


Googly Eye Soup from Fun at Home with Kids (pictured)



Winter water sensory soup ideas for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Winter Water Sensory Play Ideas for Kids


Sick Kid Sensory Soup from Mama. Papa. Bubba.

Jingle Bell Sensory Sound Soup from Kids Play Box (pictured)

Winter Nature Sensory Soup from Mama. Papa. Bubba. (pictured)

Valentine's Day Soup from Fun at Home with Kids (pictured)

Spring/Summer water sensory soup ideas for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Spring/Summer Water Sensory Play Ideas for Kids

Easter Egg Water Sensory Play from Things to Share & Remember

Sensory Soup with Fresh Herbs from Happy Hooligans (pictured)

Frozen Fractals Sensory Soup from Happy Hooligans (pictured)

Spring Flower Sensory Soup from Crafts on Sea (pictured)

Fairy Sensory Soup from Happy Hooligans (pictured)

20 water sensory soup ideas for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L
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8 More Inspirational Autism Quotes

By on Monday, April 13, 2015 Be the first to comment!
I've become a little bit addicted to making photos quotes. Just a little bit. It's such a fun way to combine my interest in photography with my interest in autism. And since it is still Autism Awareness Month, I thought it would be appropriate to share more inspirational quotes about autism

One of the best quotes that I have found in the past week was definitely not written about autism, but when I heard the particular line "What's going on in that beautiful mind?" from the song "All of Me" by John Legend, it struck a chord (nice music pun, right?!). I ask this question a lot. I am fascinated by the way my son thinks and, as a result, I would absolutely love to know more about what is going on in his mind. 

And of course, no collection of autism quotes would be complete without a quote from Dr. Temple Grandin. So I've included one from her too! PS: She's totally cool and I met her recently.

8 inspiring quotes about autism from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about autism from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about autism from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about autism from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about autism from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about autism from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about autism from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about autism from And Next Comes L

Want more inspirational photo quotes? Try theses:

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What is Hyperlexia?

By on Sunday, April 12, 2015 2 Comments so far
What is hyperlexia? 

Well, that is a question that I first asked myself back in November when my son was first diagnosed with it. Since that time, I have been busy trying to learn as much about hyperlexia as I can. When I first wrote about my son's hyperlexia, I didn't feel like I had an adequate grasp on the concept. Sure, I knew what it looked like. But I really did not feel confident in my ability to define it. I'm definitely still learning about hyperlexia and will continue to do so, but as I share more and more photos on Instagram, it has become evident that other people are fascinated by hyperlexia and would like to learn more too.

Most people aren't aware of what hyperlexia is, let alone that there are potentially three types of hyperlexia. Gee, I didn't know myself until November. So I will describe hyperlexia in detail, including the signs of hyperlexia and the proposed three types of hyperlexia. I've included two free printables on hyperlexia as well.

What is hyperlexia? Explanation of hyperlexia, its signs, and the three types of hyperlexia from And Next Comes L

What is Hyperlexia? 

Hyperlexia can be defined as:
"A precocious, self-taught ability to read words which appears before age 5, and/or an intense fascination with letters, numbers, logos...[accompanied with] significant difficulty in understanding and developing oral language." - Source: Hyperlexia Pamphlet on judyanddavid.com

The Signs of Hyperlexia & Other Special Characteristics

The key signs of hyperlexia are:

  • The precocious, self-taught ability to read words well above their age level, which appears before age 5
  • A significant difficulty understanding verbal language
  • An intense fascination with letters and/or numbers

There are plenty of additional signs, as you can see in the image below.

What are the signs of hyperlexia? from And Next Comes L


By following some of the Facebook groups on hyperlexia (see the resources here for more information), I have discovered that there is one other unique sign that doesn't seem to be listed anywhere. I refer to it as "air writing." My son loves to use his fingers to draw letters and write words in the air, on the table, and even on my leg. It looks like imaginary writing, but when I catch him doing it, I always ask, "What are you writing?" And he always gives me a specific word, number, or math question that he was writing. If you watch closely enough, then you can actually see him writing the shapes of those letters. Perhaps that's why I love this quote so much. It fits with my son's hyperlexia perfectly.

Quote from And Next Comes L

To get a better understanding of what hyperlexia looks like, you can read our personal account here and watch our hyperlexia video.

The 3 Types of Hyperlexia

Three types of hyperlexia have been proposed by Dr. Treffert. Type I is the bright, neurotypical children who learn to read early. Type II refers to the children with autism who seem to have hyperlexia as "a splinter skill." That's where my son falls. Type III includes children who read early, do not fall on the autism spectrum, and show autistic-like symptoms that they eventually outgrow. For further information on the three types of hyperlexia, I suggest reading this thorough article.

When I first began researching hyperlexia, I was surprised to learn about the possibility of three types of hyperlexia. In particular, I became fascinated with the third type. I believe my son truly falls into this category because he has had autistic-like traits that have disappeared (such as flapping). I wonder if the psychologist who diagnosed him is even aware of these three types. Regardless, my son's diagnoses place him as Type II and we, of course, are embracing it as such.

What is hyperlexia? The 3 types of hyperlexia from And Next Comes L


For more information on hyperlexia, please check out these other resources:


And don't forget to check out the hashtag #thisishyperlexia on social media for even more resources!
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8 Inspiring Quotes About Children & Play

By on Wednesday, April 08, 2015 Be the first to comment!
When I got my DSLR camera at the beginning of last year, I promised myself that I would never shoot in auto. I never did. I relied on shutter priority mode for the first part of 2014. Within a few months though, I made the leap to manual photography and I have never turned back. I have become quite proud of my photography as a result. But besides making photo gifts for family and taking photos for the blog, I didn't know what else to do with all these photographs. So I started pairing some of my favorite photos with inspirational quotes about children and play and started sharing them on my Facebook page. The response was incredible!

Here are a collection of quotes about children, the importance of play, music, and writing (something my hyperlexic son does all day long). All photos used in these photo quotes are my own. Which quote is your favorite?

8 inspiring quotes about children and the importance of play from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about children and the importance of play from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about children and the importance of play from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about children and the importance of play from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about children and the importance of play from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about children and the importance of play from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about children and the importance of play from And Next Comes L

8 inspiring quotes about children and the importance of play from And Next Comes L

For more inspiring photo quotes, be sure to check out:

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Play Dough Window Art {Light & Reflections Series}

By on Tuesday, April 07, 2015 6 Comments so far
Playing with play dough is great for developing fine motor skills and both of my boys love playing with it. However, we usually use play dough on a horizontal surface, which isn't terribly exciting after awhile if you play with play dough as much as we do. So to switch things up, the boys created some art by putting play dough on a vertical surface: windows! It ended up being a fun new way to explore with play dough.

Play dough window art for kids from And Next Comes L

You don't need any special materials other than your favorite play dough (we love this no-cook play dough recipe from The Imagination Tree) and a large window. Cookie cutters are optional.

With a slight bit of pressure, play dough sticks wonderfully to windows. It will leave your windows a bit cloudy and dirty looking when they're done playing, but I just gave my boys a spray bottle of water and a cloth and they cleaned up the mess.

My oldest, J, loved to rip off small pieces of play dough and press them into little "dots."

Creating art on windows with play dough from And Next Comes L

Sometimes he would peel off his "dots" and move them around.

Fine motor window art for kids using play dough from and Next Comes L

Depending on how much play dough is used and how hard it is pressed against the window, the natural light will stream through. The play dough becomes semi-transparent in places, as you can see below.

Creating art on windows with play dough from And Next Comes L

The boys also experimented with sticking large blobs of play dough to the window. It sticks pretty good too. K, my youngest, really enjoyed cutting the play dough on the vertical surface.

Play dough window art for kids from And Next Comes L

Lots of great fine motor practice was involved and the boys had a blast! Here's my favorite photo of the activity.

Playing with play dough on windows from And Next Comes L

Get artsy with these other ideas from this month's Light & Reflections series:

DIY Glowing Scratch Art Paper from Still Playing School
Painting with Light from Frog in a Pocket
Chalk Art on the Light Table from Where Imagination Grows

You can find all the previous posts in this series on the Light & Reflections Pinterest board. Tune in next month for our flowers theme.

Light & Reflections Series 2015 lineup at And Next Comes L

Fine motor art for kids using play dough and natural light from And Next Comes L
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Rainbow Scented Matching Game with Essential Oils

By on Sunday, April 05, 2015 Be the first to comment!
When my oldest is having an off day and needs help calming his body during sensory overload, I usually grab my essential oils. I always have a spray bottle of my DIY calm and focused essential oil blend ready on the kitchen counter in preparation for these moments, but sometimes a simple sensory activity can do the same trick. Well, this rainbow scented matching game is one of those calming sensory activities. It just happens to use a lot of the same essential oils found in my homemade blend too. Obviously when in a pinch, I wouldn't have time to make the beautiful rainbow dyed cotton pads to go along with the game. Yet, the colorful pads are a wonderful addition and are a great way to sneak in some extra fine motor practice.

Rainbow dyed cotton pads scented with essential oils from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

For this scented sensory matching game, I used:


To dye the cotton pads, I diluted a drop of liquid watercolors in a tiny bit of water. Then my boys used the eye droppers to thoroughly soak the cotton pads. We did one color per pad in rainbow colors. Then we set them out in the sunroom to dry. It took a few hours for the cotton pads to fully dry. Once dry, you will have puffy, beautiful dyed cotton pads.

DIY rainbow scented cotton pads for a matching game for kids from And Next Comes L

DIY rainbow scented cotton pads for a matching game for kids from And Next Comes L

Once dry, I placed one drop of essential oil on each dyed cotton pad:

  • Grapefruit for red
  • Mandarin orange for orange
  • Lemon for yellow
  • Vetiver for green
  • Frankincense for blue
  • Lavender for purple

I then placed one drop of essential oil on one matching plain cotton pad.

Homemade smelly matching game: Rainbow dyed cotton pads scented with essential oils from And Next Comes L

To play the game, I mixed up all the dyed cotton pads into one pile. Then I mixed all the non-dyed cotton pads into another pile. Then I encouraged the boys to pick one color and smell it. You can see that they really got into it!

Scented matching game for kids using essential oils from And Next Comes L

Then they have to smell the non-dyed cotton pads until they have found the matching scent, which isn't an easy feat. However, both of my boys were pretty good at the game. Meanwhile, they were breathing in lots of calming scents, which is a bonus!

Scented matching game for kids using essential oils from And Next Comes L

Don't forget to try these other scented sensory play ideas for kids!


DIY rainbow scented sensory matching game for kids using essential oils from And Next Comes L
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How Books with Speech Bubbles Can Improve Comprehension in Autism & Hyperlexia

By on Thursday, April 02, 2015 Be the first to comment!
One of the main struggles for children with hyperlexia and autism is comprehension. Through my research and personal experiences with my son, who has hyperlexia, I have discovered that books that use speech and thought bubbles have helped him to understand what he is reading. I will explain why speech bubbles can help improve reading comprehension in kids with autism and hyperlexia in more detail below. Additionally, I have included a list of books that make effective use of speech balloons, making them great choices for children with autism and hyperlexia.

How to improve reading comprehension in children with autism and hyperlexia using books that use speech bubbles from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I recently finished a course called "Children and Media," where I discovered some amazing resources on autism and hyperlexia. One particular article that I came across while preparing for my research paper was one by Susan Gately called Facilitating Reading Comprehension for Students on the Autism Spectrum. The article has numerous practical tips for improving reading comprehension in autism. She even mentions hyperlexia, which is exciting for me because there rarely seems to be anything available on the topic of hyperlexia.

Anyway, what I found particularly interesting in this article was the brief discussion on speech and thought bubbles. It certainly wasn't the first time that I came across the idea of using speech and thought bubbles with hyperlexic readers. I recall reading about the use of comics and graphic novels for hyperlexia elsewhere, but cannot remember the source, as it was something I read during my early research on hyperlexia.

But why speech bubbles?


How Speech & Thought Bubbles Can Improve Reading Comprehension

Using speech and thought bubbles can improve reading comprehension because they:
  • Help children understand the emotions, thoughts, and perspectives of characters in a story
  • Visually show the difference between what a character says and what they think
  • Show children the difference between thoughts and actions
  • Help children to understand the role of phrases such as "he said...", "...said the teacher," etc. in stories by turning those abstract phrases and concepts into concrete visuals 
How speech & thought bubbles improve reading comprehension, especially for children with autism and hyperlexia from And Next Comes L




Recommended Books for Improving Reading Comprehension in Autism & Hyperlexia

The obvious choices for books that use speech balloons and thought bubbles are comic books, comic strips, and graphic novels. However, in my experience, comic books and graphic novels end up being too visually stimulating for my son. It is also difficult to find comics and graphic novels that are developmentally and age-appropriate. So here are the 5 best book series that use speech balloons and thought bubbles and are appropriate for using with younger children with autism and hyperlexia.

5 awesome book series for children that use speech & thought bubbles and how they can improve reading comprehension, especially in autism and hyperlexia from And Next Comes L


1. The Pigeon Series by Mo Willems

Pretty sure Mo Willems is the master of using speech balloons and my boys love the Pigeon series. He's a quirky and sassy little Pigeon and the books make my kids laugh hysterically!

The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!
The Pigeon Needs a Bath!


2. Balloon Toons Series

These are like short comic books for early readers. Here are a few of titles in this series that we have enjoyed, but there are many others.

Dinosaurs in Space
Baxter the Tweeting Dog
Hiccup

3. Elephant & Piggie Books by Mo Willems

The Elephant and Piggie books have been favorites in our house for years now. Both of my boys love them. What makes these books particularly awesome for kids with autism and hyperlexia is that the speech balloons are color coded to match the character that's speaking. So Elephant is grey and has grey speech balloons, while Piggie has pink speech balloons to match her pink complexion.

There is a Bird on Your Head!
Can I Play Too?
We are in a Book
I'm a Frog!
Should I Share my Ice Cream?
Watch Me Throw a Ball!
Let's Go for a Drive!
Elephants Cannot Dance!

4. Scribbles and Ink Series by Ethan Long

I just learned about this series from the last Scholastic book order. I haven't read the books in this series yet, but I did take a peek at the inside of them on Amazon. They have a similar feel as the Elephant and Piggie Books by Mo Willems and use color coded speech balloons.

Scribbles and Ink, The Contest
Scribbles and Ink, Out of the Box
Scribbles and Ink
Scribbles and Ink, Doodles for Two

5. A Binky Adventure Series by Ashley Spires

A series of graphic novels about a cat. My son really enjoys these books.

Binky the Space Cat
Binky Under Pressure
Binky to the Rescue
Binky: License to Scratch
Binky in Charge

Looking for more comprehension tips and ideas? Try these tips to improve comprehension in children with hyperlexia.
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