Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to Teach Kids the Social Skill of Think it or Say it?

One of my favorite things about my son J is his brutal honesty. He always tells us exactly what he is thinking, which is a great. We know we can count on him to tell the truth when needed. And we always know when he does or does not like something.

But sometimes, his comments can be inappropriate or hurtful.

Like when he said, "that guy has a really big tummy" while passing the receipt checking employee on the way out of Canadian Tire.

Or that a loved one has a big butt right to her face.

Or the time he made a comment about a little person, one I'm sure that person has heard many times before.

He has absolutely no filter, like many kids on the spectrum. Okay, like most kids in general. So we are constantly working on teaching him when to think it or when to say it, especially when out in public. Here are some of the ways that we have been working on teaching kids the social skill of think it or say it.

How to teach kids how to filter thoughts so that they know when to think it and when to say it from And Next Comes L

My Favorite Ways to Teach Kids When to Think it and When to Say it

When it comes to teaching the social skills of think it or say it, books have always been the best method for us. My hyperlexic son obviously loves to read and it is his strength so naturally we use it to work on other skills.

However, with regards to working on think it or say it?, I like to use a lot of books that use thought bubbles and speech balloons to reinforce this particular skill. We also love to use these types of books to work on comprehension so you can already find a list of picture books to start with there. You can also read comic books and graphic novels to further help with teaching this social skill.

The other thing we like to do is model language that is helpful for teaching the difference between thinking it and saying it

When it comes to teaching social skills to hyperlexic kids, it is best to teach them directly and give them the scripts and phrases they need to be successful. For instance, in the privacy of our own home or in the car, I will frequently ask J to share what he is thinking about and encourage him to use phrases like "I am thinking about..." or "I wonder if..." Then we will discuss whether it should remain an inside thought (something to keep to himself) or an outside thought (one that he can share with others by saying it to others). This practice will help him become more proficient at filtering out what he can say and what he cannot say to someone else.

Free Printable Resources to Work on this Social Skill

Here are some wonderful free resources to work on this social skill.

1. Think it or Say It Cut & Paste Sorting Worksheet - Practice makes perfect, right? Help your child practice the difference between things we can say and things we can think with this handy worksheet.

2. Thinking & Talking Bubble Visual Posters - You could print these off as small cue cards to keep handy with you while out and about or hang them up as posters to reinforce the important difference between when to think it and when to say it.

3. Brain Social Filter & Thinking and Talking Printables - There are two great printables available here to help kids work on when to think something or when to say it instead. Just scroll through the list until you find the printables called "Brain Social Filter" and "Thinking and Talking Bubbles."

4. Comic Book Templates - Drawing and writing your own comic is a great way to reinforce this skill as it encourages your child to think about whether a character would be saying or thinking something in particular. I personally love these free templates. I also really love these social emotional comic strips, although they are not free.

Social Skills Video to Teach Kids When to Think it and When to Say it

Video modeling is especially helpful for kids with autism so I highly recommend watching the following social skills video with your child. You could also pair it with the printable resources found above to further discuss the distinction between when to think it and when to say it.

Other Ideas You'll Love

This post is part of a monthly series called Parenting Children with Special Needs. This month's topic is managing public situations and you can find the other posts regarding this topic below.

Dear Mom at the Park | This Outnumbered Mama

How to teach kids how to filter thoughts so that they know when to think it and when to say it from And Next Comes L
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Photography Challenge for Kids

"Mom, can I borrow your phone for a minute?"

"What for?"

"I want to take a picture."


And off five year old K runs, only to return a few minutes later to show me his latest photograph: a picture of the words Angry Birds written all by himself on the whiteboard in his bedroom. He is so proud, not only of his written words, but of his photo. He is 100% happy in this moment. As am I.

His interest in photography has really grown over the past two years and he has truly captured some amazing photos of me, which, if you are a mom, then you too probably have few pictures that include you in the shot.

Since around here, we chose to follow our children's leads and interests, I came up with a list of 30 photography prompts for kids so that K could continue to practice his latest passion.

30 photography prompts for kids from And Next Comes L

30 Photography Prompts for Kids

While K is happy to take photos with just my phone or iPod, he is mostly interested in shooting with my DSLR camera. Sometimes when we are doing activities for the blog, he stops playing, grabs my camera, and asks to take some action shots of me playing too. 

Future blogger, perhaps?

The point is he is happy to take photos using whatever device he can get his hands on. So if your kids are starting to show an interest in photography too, then use a camera that you are comfortable giving your children, whether it is a smartphone, a point and shoot, a DSLR, or something else.

30 photography prompts for kids from And Next Comes L
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Monday, May 01, 2017

Sensory Play Tips

If you are new to sensory bins, then you might be a bit overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.

Or maybe you need some help containing the mess?

I know that when I first introduced my oldest son to sensory play that I was worried about the mess and wasn't entirely sure if what I was doing was right. I, too, was once overwhelmed with all of the possibilities and that was before I even used Pinterest to find sensory ideas for my kids!

Regardless of whether you are new to sensory play or not, I want sensory play to be stress-free for you and fun for your child. So here are my sensory play tips that will help you and your child get the most out of sensory bins, while minimizing messes.

Tips for doing sensory play with kids from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links.

Tips for Making the Most Out of Sensory Bins

Here are my tips for making the most out of sensory bins with your child:

1. Always supervise your child during sensory play

This tip is obvious, I know, but it is the most important, especially if your child is a baby, toddler, or young preschooler. Many sensory bin materials present choking hazards so I cannot stress enough that you should supervise your children while they are playing with a sensory bin. Always.

2. Take sensory play outdoors

If you anticipate things getting messy, then take the sensory bin outdoors. You can always use the hose for easy cleanup.

3. Start with something simple

I think one of the first sensory bin materials that we tried out with J was water beads. I literally offered him a container of water beads and some scoops. It was super simple and stress-free for both of us. It wasn't overwhelming with the bells and whistles of some of our other sensory bins that we have done over the years, but sensory bins were new to him and to I at the time. So if you are new to sensory play, then start simple. Plain rice, plain oats, or similar are a great place to start.

4. Set basic rules for sensory play

Be sure to set some ground rules for your child when they are playing with a sensory bin. For instance, if it is something that is inedible, then be sure to let your child know that they should not put the objects in their mouths. Usually our only rule for sensory play is to keep the materials limited to the bin and the shower curtain splat mat we use underneath the sensory bin.

5. Use a splat mat

A splat mat is a must for us! It helps to contain the mess and makes clean up so much easier. You can use a sheet, tablecloth, shower curtain, or traditional splat mat. We personally use white shower curtains because my parents own a motel and gave us a bunch of retired shower curtains. They are waterproof too, making them perfect for water based sensory bins too. If they get dirty, then no worries. Simply toss it into the washing machine and it will be ready to go the next time you need it.

6. Embrace the mess and prepare for cleanup

When I first started introducing sensory play to my kids, I really struggled with the messiness factor. However, I slowly became more comfortable with it. Establishing sensory play rules and using a splat mat are two simple ways to contain the mess. I also like to keep baby wipes, a bowl of water, vacuum, towels, etc. (it really depends on what sensory bin fillers are being used) handy for easy cleanup.

7. Play alongside your child

Bond with your child by joining in and playing alongside them, especially if they are a bit hesitant to try it out. Show them different ways that they can play or ask them to describe what they are doing as they play.

8. Pick materials that are suitable for your child's age, abilities, and skills

This tip is super important. For instance, if your child is still mouthing objects, then avoid using inedible objects until they are no longer mouthing. Or if you are wanting to encourage fine motor skills development, then offer materials that will help build those skills.

9. Consider your child's interests

Take your child's interests and make a themed sensory bin. It is one of the easiest ways to get your child interested in the sensory activity.

10. Consider your child's sensory preferences

If your child is a sensory seeker or a sensory avoider, then it is important to consider these sensory preferences. 

11. Dress accordingly

If things are apt to getting messy, then wear old clothes. Or, if the weather is appropriate, then wear a swimsuit and hose off after playtime.

12. Opt for washable coloring

I highly recommend using liquid watercolors instead of food coloring when it comes to dyeing sensory materials. Unlike food coloring, liquid watercolors are washable and will not stain clothing or skin.

13. Do activities that fit your space

If you are tight on space, then you will want to consider using some space saving sensory hacks, such as doing sensory bins in the sink instead of a large container or using an under-the-bed storage container and storing all materials inside. Just simply slide the container under a bed when not in use.

14. Reuse sensory bin materials

Be sure to store sensory bin materials in an airtight container or zipper seal bags as many, if not most, sensory bin fillers can be reused over and over.

Other Ideas You'll Love

Tips for doing sensory play with kids from And Next Comes L
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Saturday, April 29, 2017

130+ Sensory Bin Fillers

We have done our fair share of sensory bins over the years so I thought it was time to finally compile one great big list of sensory bin fillers for kids to try.

From rice and salt to pom poms and water beads, you'll find the regular sensory bin materials and some that you might not have considered before. Regardless, this list should inspire you to change up your sensory bins on a regular basis!

Massive list of sensory bin fillers for kids from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links.

Massive List of Sensory Bin Fillers for Kids

This list of sensory bin fillers for kids is huge! It includes both non-food and food items, but I recognize that not everyone is comfortable using food for play. So if you fall into that category, you can read more about the ways I use food for sensory play without being wasteful in hopes that you can see its benefits.

  1. Rice
  2. Oats
  3. Sand
  4. Dry pasta
  5. Barley
  6. Shaving cream
  7. Beans
  8. Pom poms
  9. Cotton balls
  10. Play dough
  11. Straw/hay
  12. Packing peanuts
  13. Chickpeas
  14. Corn kernels
  15. Rice noodles
  16. Feathers
  17. Epsom salt
  18. Water
  19. Shredded paper
  20. Cooked spaghetti
  21. Grass (fake or real)
  22. Leaves (fake or real)
  23. Cereal
  24. Salt
  25. Water beads
  26. Kinetic sand
  27. Aquarium gravel
  28. Glass stones
  29. Rocks
  30. Cocoa powder
  31. Baking soda
  32. Tapioca pearls
  33. Pudding
  34. Buttons
  35. Dirt
  36. Ice
  37. Yogurt
  38. Mud
  39. Soap foam
  40. Fabric scraps
  41. Cornmeal 
  42. Snow
  43. Coins (fake or real)
  44. Flour
  45. Popcorn
  46. Lentils
  47. Split peas
  48. Baby oil
  49. Tinsel
  50. Ribbon
  51. Spices
  52. Seeds
  53. Coffee grounds
  54. Cornstarch
  55. Frozen vegetables
  56. Vegetable peelings
  57. Herbs
  58. Jell-O or gelatin
  59. Candy
  60. Nuts
  61. Raffia
  62. Flower petals (fake or real)
  63. Potato flakes
  64. Beads
  65. Foam bits or blocks
  66. Shredded coconut
  67. Whipped cream
  68. Baby cereal
  69. Egg shells
  70. Soap shavings
  71. Corks
  72. Seashells
  73. Aloe vera gel
  74. Cut up straws
  75. Cotton batting
  76. Tissue paper
  77. Crepe paper or streamers
  78. Play silks or scarves
  79. Polyfill pellets
  80. Balls
  81. LEGO
  82. Sticks
  83. Wool roving
  84. Yarn or string
  85. Jingle bells
  86. Rubber bands or loom bands
  87. Cut up sponges
  88. Baby powder
  89. Lace
  90. Flex mesh tube ribbon
  91. Wood chips
  92. Tree bark
  93. Broken crayons
  94. Silly string
  95. Slime
  96. Bubble wrap
  97. Acrylic vase fillers
  98. Plastic alphabet magnets
  99. Milk jug lids
  100. Cut up pipe cleaners
  101. Pinecones
  102. Gift bows
  103. Water balloons
  104. Foam shapes, letters, or numbers
  105. Bingo chips
  106. Makeup sponges
  107. Costume jewelry
  108. Moss
  109. Lotion
  110. Sawdust
  111. Mini erasers
  112. Toothpaste
  113. Clay
  114. Silly putty
  115. Paper clips
  116. Plastic baby links
  117. Cut up pool noodles
  118. Plastic leis
  119. Puzzle pieces
  120. Confetti
  121. Pot scrubbers
  122. Balls of tin foil
  123. Marbles
  124. Cut up cardboard tubes or toilet paper rolls
  125. Sequins or large glitter
  126. Plastic eggs
  127. Paint
  128. Styrofoam balls
  129. Glow in the dark stars
  130. Dandelions
  131. Chalk dust
  132. Googly eyes
  133. Clean mud
  134. Floam
  135. Plastic ice cubes
  136. Pouch cap lids
  137. Hair gel
  138. Shampoo

Other Ideas You'll Love

Massive list of sensory bin fillers for kids from And Next Comes L

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

The One Missing Trait from the List of Hyperlexia Signs

When I first starting writing about hyperlexia, I was hesitant to explain what hyperlexia was because, to be honest, I wasn't sure I completely understood what it was. Yet, as soon as I looked up hyperlexia, I knew, without a doubt, that that is what my son has.

Yet, after reading various articles about hyperlexia and its signs, I've come to the conclusion that there is one thing missing from that list. And every so often, a discussion about this missing trait crops up in the hyperlexia parents Facebook group. And every time, hundreds of parents respond with an enthusiastic yes about it.

Now obviously this is a highly scientific research study I'm conducting here, right?

However, this trait does seem to be particularly common amongst hyperlexic children.

Taking a closer look at the signs of hyperlexia and what I think it missing from the list from And Next Comes L

Missing Trait of Hyperlexia

Obviously, hyperlexic children spend countless hours reading, writing, spelling, and playing with letters, but if you watch them closely, then you will spot them doing some air writing. They'll gracefully glide their fingers through the air as if conducting some grand symphony, scribbling out words or math problems or maybe some country's name.

I can fondly recall many times watching in awe as J would scribble his thoughts in the air or on his leg. Sometimes I would catch him off guard by saying what he wrote and he would instantly light up. 

Other times, I would have difficulty deciphering his air messages and ask him about what he was writing. Sometimes he would tell me. And other times, he would quickly air erase his message, giggle, and say, "Oh nothing."

It appears J is not alone in this air writing. Like I said, this topic comes up regularly in the support groups and judging by the responses, many parents, like myself, think this air writing is a trait missing from the list of hyperlexia signs.

So I'm going to go ahead and just add it to the list of signs. Yep, I'm going to unofficially add "writing words in the air with fingers" to the list of hyperlexia traits.

Consider it done.

I can do that, right?

Other Ideas You'll Love

Taking a closer look at the signs of hyperlexia and what I think it missing from the list from And Next Comes L
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

STEM Challenge with Recyclables

When it comes to coming up with a quick boredom buster activity or loose parts play idea for the kids, I look no further than my recycling bin. The possibilities are endless with all the different materials that can be found in the recycling bin. 

This STEM challenge for kids using recyclables encourages kids to build and explore without using glue and without using tape. What will they build?

STEM challenge for kids using recyclables - a perfect Earth Day activity from And Next Comes L

The No Glue, No Tape Earth Day STEM Challenge for Kids

Since I wanted the kids to be able to explore all the possibilities with the materials and still return the items to the recycle bin, I challenged my kids to build a list of creations using only the materials on hand. No tape and no glue were allowed.

Come check out what five year old K built and grab the list of prompts for this STEM challenge.

STEM challenge for kids using recyclables - a perfect Earth Day activity from And Next Comes L
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Heavy Work Activities for School

Heavy work is beneficial for all kids, but is particularly calming for kids with sensory needs and/or autism.

Doing a simple heavy work activity, like those listed below, quickly helps to improve focus and attention. These ideas can quickly reset a day for kids and provide a much need sensory body break for those kids who have sensory needs.

This list of heavy work activities for kids is geared specifically towards the classroom and provides quick and easy ideas for implementing heavy work naturally into the school day. There is also a free printable list of heavy work activities for school included.

Heavy work activities for school with free printable list of ideas for the classroom from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links.

Heavy Work Activities for Kids to Do at School

This list of heavy work activities are ones that occur naturally throughout the school day and/or can be done right within the classroom. So if your child needs a quick body break at school, then these heavy work activities for the classroom are perfect for that!

  1. Erase chalkboards or whiteboards
  2. Sharpen pencils with a manual pencil sharpener
  3. Fill plastic crates with books to take to other classrooms
  4. Stack chairs
  5. Move packs of paper for the printer/photocopier
  6. Staple paper, especially onto bulletin boards
  7. Take down chairs at the beginning of the day
  8. Place chairs on desks at the end of the day
  9. Rearrange desks or furniture in the classroom
  10. Help the gym teacher move mats, hang them up, etc.
  11. Ride a scooter board around the hallway
  12. Carry books with both hands, hugging tight to chest
  13. Open and hold doors for people
  14. Help the janitor or caretaker empty garbage cans, recycling, mopping, sweeping, etc.
  15. Climb on playground equipment

Other Ideas You'll Love

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