Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Zoey & Sassafras Printable Pack

One issue that I ran into after discovering J's early reading ability due to hyperlexia was the lack of good chapter books for early readers. The choices were limited and the ones that were appropriate for his age were not that great of a read, unfortunately.

Fast forward a few years and we finally find a book series that is PERFECT for early readers. The Zoey & Sassafras series is a hit at our house as you can tell by our need to make Sassafras the cat out of perler beads for K to play with.

I made this free set of printables to complement the book series and it includes lots of fun activities and games to help kids work on social skills, speech, and more!

Free printable pack of games for kids based on the book series Zoey & Sassafras from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links. I received the first book of Zoey & Sassafras for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The book was so awesome I bought the rest of the series and now read them like ALL THE TIME with the kids. K is obsessed with Sassafras!

About this Zoey & Sassafras Printable Pack

This printable pack for kids is based on the book series Zoey & Sassafras, which currently has four books. I designed this pack with autistic kids in mind who might need extra practice with social skills, speech, language, and movement breaks. It includes:

  • Two barrier games
  • One matching game
  • "Thinking Goggles" poster
  • Set of brain break cards
  • One I spy game
  • Set of social skills task cards

Free printable pack of games for kids based on the book series Zoey & Sassafras from And Next Comes L


How to Download this Free Printable Pack

You will need a Teachers Pay Teachers account in order to download this printable pack. The printable pack is free.


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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

12 Animal Walks for Kids Who Crave Sensory Input

Last week we received our first official dump of snow and the cold arctic air came with it. Just like that, we're shoveling snow and bundling up to brave the -30 C wind chills.

Wind chills like that though mean that we can't always spend a lot of time playing outdoors. So it doesn't take long for the kids to get a bit squirrely with our long cold winters.

Thankfully, we can burn off excess energy indoors with these 12 fun animal walks for kids. They're also a great way to provide proprioceptive and vestibular sensory input to my sensory seeking kids.

12 super simple and fun animal walks for kids that will calm their bodies and get them moving from And Next Comes L

Animal Walks for Kids That Will Get the Kids Moving!

There are many reasons to love these animal walks, but there are two main reasons I love them. 

One, they require zero prep and zero additional materials. You just need kids and some open space. 

Second, they're a great way to burn off excess energy, making them perfect for rainy or cold winter days. And we are definitely into winter already here! So we need these animal walks to prevent the kids from going crazy when it's simply too cold to play outside.


12 super simple and fun animal walks for kids that will calm their bodies and get them moving from And Next Comes L

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Best Games for Families

It's no secret that I love games of all kinds: board games, card games, video games...I love them all! Just the other day I bought a bunch of new games which led to a discussion with a friend about what games are included in my game closet.

For the record, I don't have a game closet. My games never seem to leave the dining room table and get put away...that's how much we love to play games around here. Although a game closet should be in the works soon considering how many games we have in our collection at the moment...

So here I present a list of the best board games and card games for families that everyone should add to their game closet...or table or wherever you store your games. Games that you will love to play over and over with the kids as they grow.

The best board games and card games for families from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links.

The Best Board Games for Families


Ticket to Ride board game

Ticket to Ride

People always raved about this game and I understood why after the first time I played it. It is such a fun game to play with a variety of ages! This game involves trying to place trains along specific train routes to try and score the most points. I love the strategy involved, even if I seem to lose to my kids and my husband quite often. There are also lots of expansion packs for this game. We've never tried any of the expansions, personally.

Ice Cool board game

Ice Cool

We first played this game at my husband's boss's house about a year ago and my kids still bring this game up all the time. They loved it so much! I'm still on the hunt to find it for a reasonable price and in stock here in Canada so I can grab a copy for us to own. Basically you flick penguins through the school, trying to catch fish.

Lost Cities board game

Lost Cities

I found a copy of this game for 50% at a board game store and it was the only one left in stock. I had heard of it before so figured it was worth taking a gamble on for 50% off. Well, I'm glad I did because it has quickly become a favorite in our house, especially for my husband. The basic gist of the game is to get your explorers as far down the paths as possible to score as many points as possible. However, you can quickly lose lots of points if you don't move far along the paths so it requires a lot of strategy and planning to try and score the most points possible.

Animal Upon Animal game

Animal Upon Animal

This game was an instant hit with my kids when we first tried it. It involves rolling a dice and then stacking wooden animals accordingly. But watch out! If you knock any animals down, then you have to keep those and that's not good because you want to be the first to get rid of all of your animals. My kids still enjoy this game even at ages 6 and 8.


Kingdomino

This is a really cool game using dominoes with different landscape artwork on them. You have to try and make the best scoring kingdom. Lots of fun, but requires a lot of strategy and planning ahead.

The Magic Labyrinth game

The Magic Labyrinth

My kids love this game! It combines a maze with a memory game. Honestly, I find this game so hard because, well, my memory isn't what it used to be...haha. My son J, on the other hand, crushes at this game. Not surprising considering his love of mazes and his off-the-charts visual spatial skills.

Hamsterrolle stacking game

Hamsterrolle Stacking Game

This game is so different from everything else on this list. It's a stacking game that takes place inside a giant circle so as you stack higher up the circle, it will roll. It's a really cool concept and definitely a good challenge to play!

Forbidden Island game

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island is a fun cooperative game that my kids really enjoy. You have to work together to escape from the island before it floods, which is easier said than done. There is another game in this series called Forbidden Desert, but we haven't tried it personally.

Settlers of Catan game

Settlers of Catan

No game list would be complete without Catan. It is an extremely popular game. It isn't my favorite on this list of games, but it still a fun game to play as a family.

Carcassone game

Carcassonne

My friend Liska introduced me to this game and I instantly fell in love with it. Basically you place tiles to build a city and try to score as many points as possible by placing your followers strategically on the tiles. Tons of fun! We personally own the Carcassonne Big Box since it contains lots of expansions.

The Best Card Games for Families


Hogwarts Battle game

Hogwarts Battle: A Cooperative Deck Building Game

This game is by far my favorite. I adore all things Harry Potter so when I first got wind of this game, I had to have it. You work through the seven years (which align with the plots of the books) and they get progressively more challenging. I still think year four is the hardest of them all (we failed so many times!). I also love that this game is cooperative and different every single time you play it. So if you have a Harry Potter fan in your house, then you'll definitely want to add this to your game collection.

There is also a Monster Box of Monsters expansion pack, which allows you to play as the character Luna Lovegood. This expansion is on my Christmas wish list this year for myself!

Dragonwood card game

Dragonwood

Dragonwood is easily one of my top favorite games, same with my husband. I think we actually enjoy this game more than my kids do, to be honest. I love the creatures, the artwork, the game play, and the strategy involved. Super fun game!

Sleeping Queens card game

Sleeping Queens

My oldest quickly fell in love with this game, as did my niece. The artwork is beautiful and the game play is simple, but incorporates lots of math learning in it. A perfect game for any kid who loves queens, dragons, knights, or fantasy.

There's a Moose in the House card game

There's a Moose in the House

Whenever we play this game, it seems like everyone gangs up on me to put as many moose in my house as possible. The game is simple and silly, but tons of fun!

Sushi Go! card game

Sushi Go!

The artwork is simply adorable on this card game! This game is a pick and pass card game where you pick a card from your hand and then pass the hand to the next player. So your strategy can be quickly disrupted by other players, which makes the game extra exciting!

Slamwich card game

Slamwich

My kids love shouting "Stop thief!" in this fast paced card flipping game. My husband and I have had a few aggressive Slamwich duels in the past and he usually ends up winning. So this game is a hit with the entire family. Who can resist a weird sandwich combo with sardines and gummy candy anyway?!

UNO card game

UNO

This game is such a classic. When my boys were about 3 and 5, we played this game multiple times every single day. They just couldn't get enough of it. We still play it regularly even as the kids have gotten older.

Skip-Bo card game

Skip-Bo

I have fond memories of playing this game as a child. Especially around the time the Spice Girls were popular. I remember my friend Kara would play this game while listening to Spice Girls. I still own that same deck of Skip-Bo cards. When I introduced this game to my husband many years ago, he quickly dominated. I don't think I have ever beat him in a game of Skip-Bo, so it is obviously one of his favorite games to play! My kids love it because of all the numbers.

Exploding Kittens card game

Exploding Kittens

We bought Exploding Kittens around the time it came out and all of us quickly fell in love with it, especially my youngest. I frequently reference the nope cards in this game in my daily life too, which the kids think is hilarious.

There are also some fun expansion packs. Imploding Kittens Expansion Pack is safe for kids and adds some fun new elements, but if you want some inappropriate NSFW cards to play with when the kids are in bed, then you'll want to grab the NSFW (Adults Only!) Expansion Pack too.

Boss Monster card game

Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game

This game appeals to my love of retro video games, pixelated art, and card games. My husband is a big fan of this game too and frequently wants to play it. Basically, you want to assemble the best dungeon possible to lure and destroy heroes in this game.

The best board games and card games for families from And Next Comes L
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Monday, November 06, 2017

Fairy Tale Themed I Spy Game {Free Printable for Kids}

The kids are going to love this adorable free printable fairy tale themed I spy game with familiar characters like Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and Rapunzel, just to name a few. Plus, it makes a great accompanying activity to the fairy tale themed barrier game.

Free fairy tale themed I Spy game for kids from And Next Comes L

The Benefits of I Spy Games for Kids

I Spy printables like this fairy tale themed one are great for providing visual sensory input to kids, making them a great choice for visual sensory seekers. They also help develop a child's visual tracking ability and improve visual discrimination. This printable requires kids to visually scan through the objects and find ones that are the same.

Playing I Spy with your kids is also a great way to improve speech, language, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. I've discussed how playing I Spy games with kids can improve comprehension in kids with autism and hyperlexia before.

These types of I Spy games also encourage math learning by asking kids to count how many of each object they find.

Download the Free Printable Fairy Tale Themed I Spy Game

This printable includes one I Spy game sheet and one answer sheet to record the number of objects found. The answer sheet uses the written word as well as an image of the object to search for to help improve comprehension - something kids with hyperlexia struggle with.


Other Ideas You'll Love

More Free Printable I Spy Games for Kids

I Spy Bundle Packs

Free Printable Fairy Tale Themed Barrier Game
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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Music Symbols Themed I Spy Game {Free Printable for Kids}

This free printable music themed I spy game for kids is a perfect way to work on identifying different music symbols, especially for piano students working on learning bass clef and treble clef. It would also be a great game to add to a general music class for young kids.

Free music themed I Spy game for kids from And Next Comes L

The Benefits of I Spy Games for Kids

I Spy printables like this music themed one are great for providing visual sensory input to kids, making them a great choice for visual sensory seekers. They also help develop a child's visual tracking ability and improve visual discrimination. This printable requires kids to visually scan through the objects and find ones that are the same.

Playing I Spy with your kids is also a great way to improve speech, language, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. I've discussed how playing I Spy games with kids can improve comprehension in kids with autism and hyperlexia before.

These types of I Spy games also encourage math learning by asking kids to count how many of each object they find.

Download the Free Printable Music Themed I Spy Game

This printable includes one I Spy game sheet and one answer sheet to record the number of objects found. The answer sheet uses the written word as well as an image of the object to search for to help improve comprehension - something kids with hyperlexia struggle with.


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More Free Printable I Spy Games for Kids

I Spy Bundle Packs

Music Themed I Spy Bundle Pack
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Monday, October 23, 2017

10 Things to Remember When Advocating for Your Special Needs Child

If you know me in real life and happened to ask me one simple question at all last year, I would have responded in one of two ways: tears or a lengthy rant. It really depended on the day.

See, things did not go well for my son J at school last year. 

Not one bit.

It was not only a difficult year for him, but for me as well. I'm still recovering from hours of lost sleep and stress, still scrambling to find myself again.

"How is school going for your kids?" 

That was my trigger.

Seemingly innocent question, right?

Well, now that things have settled, I have more clarity on the entire situation. 

I have had plenty of time to reflect on last year and I am trying my best to focus on the positive. And I think the most positive thing I learned from last year is that now I truly know how to best advocate for J and his needs at school.

So whether you are struggling with your own school advocacy fight or with some other stupid system, I want you to keep some things in mind. Even in the thick of an advocacy battle, there are 10 things you should always remember when advocating for your special needs child.

Tips for advocating for your special needs child from And Next Comes L

Things to Consider When Advocating for Your Child

Advocating is not easy, especially when you are stressed out and so is your child. 

But it is so important that you advocate hard to make sure your child's needs are met because if you won't, who will?


Tips for advocating for your special needs child from And Next Comes L

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to Create a Calm Down Space for Your Kids

One thing we have worked really hard on with my son J over the past couple of years is self-regulation and coping skills. He has made great gains in this area through a variety of methods, but one thing I swear by is creating a dedicated calm down space for kids in the house.

While our basement looks like a full blown occupational therapy sensory room, J's bedroom, on the other hand, is where he goes when he needs a safe space to go to calm his body and emotions. He can crash into a bean bag chair or squeeze his stuffies for some deep pressure or draw some intersections (he loves traffic lights!) or Geometry Dash levels on some old printer paper. The kind with the dotted strips along the side that you have to rip off. Yes, that really old printer paper that's practically see-through.

I've shared my favorite resources and tips for creating a calm down space for your kids so that you can create a safe space at home for your kids too!


This post contains affiliate links.

Tips for Creating a Calm Down Space for Kids

I've talked a lot about calm down kits recently as a great tool for helping kids learn to self-regulate their emotions and bodies. I especially love that you can make a calm down kit as portable as you'd like so that you can take it on the go with you. 

However, I really prefer having a dedicated calm down space in our house for J to retreat to when he is overwhelmed and anxious

It is the first place he goes as soon as he gets home from school, which has drastically cut down on the number of after school meltdowns.

J's calm down corner is a space in his bedroom that includes a large whiteboard for doodling on, a desk filled with plenty of scrap paper and pencils, a bean bag chair, books, chewies, and, of course, his beloved Pikachu from Build-A-Bear. He also has the board game Rush Hour in his corner and finds playing some of the hard levels calms him too. Usually he just needs some quiet time to write and draw in order to self-regulate, which is why we have included so many things to draw with.


Awesome Free Printable Calm Down Resources for Kids

If you need some inspiration to help you build your own calm down corner for kids, then you'll want to check out these free printables in addition to the tips I have shared over at CBC Parents.


Tips for creating a calm down corner for your kids from And Next Comes L
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