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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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Heavy Work Activities for Home

It's no secret that heavy work activities are beneficial for kids, especially those with sensory issues or autism. You certainly don't have to get creative when it comes to finding heavy work activities for kids because most household chores work perfectly. So if you are looking for some heavy work activities for kids to do at home, then look no further than this list of 30 simple ideas.

Heavy work activities for kids to do at home - includes free printable list of ideas from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links.

Heavy Work Activities for Kids to Do at Home

Chores are good for kids, right? You bet! They are one of the easiest heavy work activities that you likely already incorporate into your day. But, in case you need a little more inspiration, here are 30 heavy work activities that kids can do right at home.

  1. Carry groceries into the house
  2. Carry a laundry basket full of clothes
  3. Build a fort
  4. Move garbage or recycling bins to the curb
  5. Make the bed
  6. Do outdoor chores: mow the grass, shovel snow, rake the leaves, etc.
  7. Do indoor chores: vacuum, sweep, mop, etc.
  8. Load or unload the dishwasher
  9. Push, move, or drag furniture
  10. Sort recycling
  11. Water plants with a watering can
  12. Stack chairs
  13. Wash the car
  14. Remove couch cushions and put them back
  15. Fill a pillowcase or bag with stuffed animals
  16. Make or build something using real tools like a hammer, sander, screwdriver, etc.
  17. Give the dog a bath
  18. Carry a small pet
  19. Drink thick liquids through a straw or try some fun twisty straws
  20. Clean windows
  21. Have a pillow fight
  22. Push chairs in at the table
  23. Push or pull boxes or laundry basket filled with toys, books, or small child
  24. Stuff pillows into pillowcases
  25. Stuff duvet into a duvet cover
  26. Empty the garbage
  27. Pull laundry out of the washer or dryer
  28. Climb a chair or couch
  29. Make an obstacle course
  30. Stack and unstack cans or boxes of food

Other Ideas You'll Love

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