Halloween Sensory Play on the Light Table {Light & Reflections Series}

By on October 19, 2014 2 Comments so far
For this month's Light & Reflections series, the theme is Halloween. So, inspired by candy corn, I put together this super simple sensory bin for the light table. Although a bit messy, this sensory activity is a great way to practice mark-making and writing.

Candy corn inspired Halloween sensory play on the light table for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

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To put together this candy corn inspired sensory bin, I used:


I used the leftover tapioca from this spider sensory play to create the candy corn sensory bin. I simply divided it into three portions and colored one section orange, one section yellow, and left the other section plain. I added a couple squirts of liquid watercolors to the tapioca until it was well combined. Then I arranged it in a glass dish as follows:


Halloween sensory play on the light table for toddlers and preschoolers that's inspired by candy corn from And Next Comes L

The boys loved to draw in the tapioca using their fingers, making this activity a great fine motor prewriting activity.

Drawing in a candy corn inspired sensory bin for Halloween on the light table from And Next Comes L

Drawing in a candy corn inspired sensory bin for Halloween on the light table from And Next Comes L

K lost interest quickly when his hands became sticky, but J, on the other hand, fully embraced it. J swirled and mixed the colors together, which caused the tapioca to end up looking like lava. So pretty, right?

Messy Halloween sensory play on the light table for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Messy Halloween sensory play on the light table for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

And I love that J left a handprint in the tapioca before declaring that he was all done. It looks so cool!

Handprints in simple Halloween sensory play for the light table from And Next Comes L

Check out these other great Halloween ideas for this month's Light & Reflections series:

Five Little Pumpkins on the Light Table from Still Playing School
Halloween ABC Learning on the Light Table from Where Imagination Grows

Join me and my fellow L&R ladies next month when we focus on science and cooking. You don't want to miss it, so be sure to follow along with Light & Reflections Series board on Pinterest.

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

Candy corn inspired Halloween sensory play on the light table for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

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Mix & Match Creature Puzzles with Magna-Tiles

By on October 18, 2014 3 Comments so far
Yesterday, my boys and I spent nearly four hours playing and learning with Magna-Tiles. One of the things that we did was create some mix and match creature puzzles. It's purely a silly and fun way to make my kids smile and laugh. They're reminiscent of those mix and match flap books where you can create ridiculously looking monsters or creatures, but I do remember my dad drawing and creating some homemade books for me and my brothers when we were little. And hopefully someone will know what I'm talking about because, frankly, I cannot remember what those books were called.

DIY mix and match creature puzzles for toddlers and preschoolers using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

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To make these mix and match creature puzzles, I used:


I simply drew some random heads, bodies, and legs on the small square Magna-Tiles. Then you can create crazy cat-spider-alien combinations like below.


DIY mix and match creature puzzles for toddlers and preschoolers using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

J didn't really have much interest in this activity, but I'm not surprised. He's not really into silly, abstract things. Heck, he gets upset whenever someone creates a sad monster with this mix and match felt set. They always have to be happy monsters. So like I said, I wasn't surprised when he showed zero interest in playing with my cute little puzzles.

K, on the other hand, played with it for a little bit (like 5-10 minutes), giggled a few times, and then moved on. So while I thought they were cool, my boys weren't really that interested. At least not on this particular day.

Simple DIY mix and match puzzles for toddlers and preschoolers using Magna-Tiles from And Next Comes L

I will be trying these puzzles again in the future, but to vary the presentation, I may put them on our freezer or fridge so that they can play on a vertical surface. They would also be a fun light table activity!

Love Magna-Tiles as much as we do? Then check out these other fun activities that use Magna-Tiles:


Mix and match creature puzzles using Magna-Tiles are a silly way for toddlers and preschoolers to play on or off of the light table from And Next Comes L

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Spider Sensory Play on the Light Table

By on October 17, 2014 Be the first to comment!
This spider sensory play idea for the light table is so simple to put together and it has just the right amount of spookiness for Halloween. It kind of creeps me out, mostly because I don't particularly like spiders. And when I showed the pictures to my husband, he was like, "That's really creepy." So if you don't like spiders, prepare yourself for colorful, glowing spiders plastered all over your screen.

Spiders and spider eggs Halloween sensory play on the light table from And Next Comes L

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This sensory tray is so easy to put together. I used:


I filled a glass dish with the quick tapioca and put in just enough water to cover it. When it was fully absorbed, I added a touch more until it was a slime-esque, mushy mixture. How's that for official measurements and directions?! Haha...my husband hates that I never measure things, especially when cooking.

Then I added the spiders and put it on the light table. Looks spooky doesn't it?

Spider sensory play on the light table for toddlers and preschoolers - great activity for Halloween from And Next Comes L


Spiders and spider eggs Halloween sensory play on the light table from And Next Comes L

The boys liked to drag the spiders through the "spider eggs." They also plucked the spiders out of the dish and counted them. They also enjoyed writing in the tapioca with their fingers. At least J did. K touched the tapioca, said "yucky," and then declared that he was all done.

Playing with spiders in a Halloween sensory tray on the light table - perfect for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Playing with spiders in a Halloween sensory tray on the light table - perfect for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Playing with spiders in a Halloween sensory tray on the light table - perfect for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Be sure to check out this other spider light table idea:


Spider sensory play on the light table for toddlers and preschoolers - great activity for Halloween from And Next Comes L

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Homemade Stretchy Resistance Bands

By on October 15, 2014 9 Comments so far
Awhile ago I made some stretchy resistance sensory tools for my kids, including a sensory tunnel and two homemade stretchy bands. They are a great way for J, who seeks proprioceptive input, to get the input his body needs and they are also a great tool for fidgety kids. These homemade stretchy resistance bands were so simple to make, even if you have zero sewing skills. And there are lots of ways to play with them!

Using homemade stretchy resistance bands as a DIY body sock alternative to stimulate proprioceptive sensory input from And Next Comes L

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The inspiration for these homemade stretchy bands came from the Stretch-Eze and some other large cloth tube-like stretchy thing J played with during summer camp. He loved them so I thought why not make him one.

To make your own stretchy bands, you'll need:

  • Spandex in the color of your choice (J wanted bright yellow)
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors

I used my spandex to make a sensory tunnel (tutorial is not on the blog yet) so I made two stretchy bands using the scraps. They measure 16" wide and roughly 58" long. I do wish ours were a bit bigger, maybe closer to 60", but again, these were the scraps. I made do with what I had leftover.

To make the stretchy band, use a zigzag stitch to sew the ends of the spandex together so that it forms a loop. Be sure to reinforce at the beginning and the end of your stitches. That's it! Told you it was ridiculously easy.

Ways to Use the Homemade Stretchy Resistance Bands


We gather a couple of kids (or kids and an adult) and loop the band around everyone, like pictured below. We then slowly walk around in a circle singing "Ring Around the Rosie." Then everyone falls and/or leans back at the end of the song. Alternatively, the boys like to play tug-a-war by looping the bands around their bellies (instead of their backs) and slowly walking in opposite directions (not pictured).

Using homemade stretchy resistance bands with more than one child to stimulate proprioceptive sensory input from And Next Comes L

You can also use the stretchy bands as a fidget tool for meal times and school time. Simply loop the band around the chair. Kids can push, kick, and pull on it using their legs, feet, or hands. It has worked great for us during mealtimes! And don't worry about it getting messy since you can simply toss the stretchy bands into the washing machine when needed.

Using homemade stretchy resistance bands as a fidget tool for kids from And Next Comes L

Using homemade stretchy resistance bands as a fidget tool for kids from And Next Comes L

You can also use the stretchy band like a body sock. I like to encourage the boys to try and make shapes with their body by pressing their hands out or spreading their legs.

Using homemade stretchy resistance bands as a DIY body sock alternative to stimulate proprioceptive sensory input from And Next Comes L

Using homemade stretchy resistance bands as a DIY body sock alternative to stimulate proprioceptive sensory input from And Next Comes L

You can also loop the two stretchy bands together and play tug-a-war with them (not pictured).

And finally, you can do an alternate version of the body sock, which has been affectionately dubbed "The Banana" by K. Here's K modeling the banana pose, mid jog. You can tell by the smile on his face that this idea is his favorite!

Using homemade stretchy resistance bands as a DIY body sock alternative to stimulate proprioceptive sensory input from And Next Comes L

Be sure to check out these other occupational therapy at home ideas:


Tutorial for making your own stretchy resistance bands for proprioceptive sensory input for fidgety kids and for kids with sensory processing disorder and/or autism. Includes suggestions on how to use them from And Next Comes L

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Tally Marks Math Busy Bag

By on October 13, 2014 1 Comment so far
Math is constantly happening at our house. And right now, tally marks, as well as skip counting by obscure numbers, have been hugely popular. Decimals too, but I have yet to find a suitable activity for my math-loving five year old to cover that topic! Anyway, the simple tally marks elementary math tray that I assembled was a hit and spurred more tally marks love in our house. So I came up with this simple math busy bag idea to further explore tally marks. We ended up using it in a variety of ways.

Tally marks craft sticks - a simple math busy bag activity for elementary kids from And Next Comes L

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To put this math busy bag together, I used:


I wrote individual numbers on the clothespins (0-9). I made two of each for most of the numbers. I did not do two eights or two nines because I wasn't about to draw up to 99 tallies on one craft stick. That would be crazy. And I'm not that crazy.

As for the craft sticks, I drew tally marks for the numbers 10-35. Or in other words, I drew enough tallies to make me cross-eyed and to deplete my supply of craft sticks.


Tally marks math busy bag for elementary kids from And Next Comes L

One way to play with these tally mark sticks is to organize them in numerical order, like below. J loved doing this both vertically and horizontally. He also organized them by skip counting by fives (10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35) and by tens (10, 20, 30).

Tally marks math busy bag for elementary kids: Arranging tally marks in numerical order from And Next Comes L

Another way to play with the tally marks sticks is to count the tallies and clip on the corresponding number using the clothespins.

Skip counting practice for elementary kids using a simple tally marks math busy bag from And Next Comes L

Practicing fine motor skills with a tally marks math busy bag from And Next Comes L

Practicing fine motor skills with a tally marks math busy bag from And Next Comes L

Tally marks math busy bag for kids is a great way to practice skip counting and work on fine motor skills from And Next Comes L

We also played a number scavenger hunt. I'd simply call out a number and then J would hunt for the matching craft stick.

Finally, J asked to put them on the light table. J would pick a tally mark craft stick and then count out the corresponding number of items. He used acrylic pumpkins and acorns from the dollar store. It is fall after all!

Using the tally marks math busy bag on the light table to practice counting from And Next Comes L

Using the tally marks math busy bag on the light table to practice counting from And Next Comes L

What are some other ways that we could use these tally mark sticks to learn? Give me some ideas in the comments!

Be sure to check out this other tally marks math activity: Tally Marks Math Tray

Simple math busy bag for elementary kids to practice math concepts such as skip counting and tally marks from And Next Comes L

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Rainbow Stone Sensory Soup {Water Sensory Play}

By on October 10, 2014 2 Comments so far
When it comes to simple, no prep sensory play, our go-to is water sensory play. Just by adding a few materials you can transform water into colorful sensory soups that encourage fine motor play, such as this fall one or this scented cinnamon one. Well, I put together this quick and easy rainbow water sensory bin a few weeks ago and as expected with my boys, it was a hit!

Rainbow stone sensory soup: fine motor water sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

The reason that we became addicted to sensory soups at our house is because of this pretty polka dot soup from Fun at Home with Kids. Our rainbow stone soup is just as easy to put together. I used:

  • Water
  • Kitchen utensils - We used a plastic bowl, a ladle, a whisk, and a large plastic spoon. Feel free to add whatever you'd like!
  • Glass stones in a variety of colors

The colorful glass stones sink to the bottom of this sensory soup, but they quickly transformed the water into a polka dotted frenzy.

Close up of rainbow stone sensory soup water sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Whenever I set out sensory soup water bins, the boys always attempt to scoop up all the loose parts and put them into the plastic bowl. 

Fine motor practice for toddlers and preschoolers with a simple water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

Fine motor practice for toddlers and preschoolers with a simple water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

Fine motor practice for toddlers and preschoolers with a simple water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

And once all the glass stones have been collected, the boys always stir it all up with the whisk.

Water sensory play for toddlers and preschooelrs with glass stones from And Next Comes L

Fine motor practice for toddlers and preschoolers with a simple water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

K even went in for a "taste." Please note, no water was consumed. Nor were any glass stones ingested, so don't panic! That's why I said "taste" not taste. Consider that my disclaimer ;)

Water sensory play for toddlers and preschooelrs with glass stones from And Next Comes L

Be sure to check out these other water sensory play ideas!


Rainbow stone sensory soup: fine motor water sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

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Pool Noodle Turkey {Thanksgiving Craft}

By on October 07, 2014 Be the first to comment!
Thanksgiving is just a few days away so my preschooler K made an adorable, mess-free turkey craft in anticipation of the holiday. It's a simple craft that works on fine motor skills and requires no gluing. Plus, the end product doubles as a puppet. Cute, right? Click here to find out how to make this Thanksgiving craft on CBC Parents

Pool noodle turkey Thanksgiving craft for toddlers and preschoolers that works on fine motor skills from And Next Comes L

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