Friday, January 24, 2020

Snowman Deep Breathing Exercise {Free Printable Poster Included!}

Looking for some deep breathing exercises to teach the kids? Try this snowman themed technique and grab a copy of the free printable poster too!

Building a snowman is a great example of a winter heavy work activity that is calming for kids.

But maybe you live somewhere where there is no snow.

Or it's simply too cold to go outside to build a snowman to reap the calming benefits of such a heavy work activity.

Or your child is already minutes away from a meltdown and the last thing you want to do is wrestle your child into their snowsuit to send them outside to build a snowman.

Well, try this snowman deep breathing exercise instead. It's a quick and simple mindfulness and coping strategy that you can do to help them reset (and hopefully avoid a full on meltdown).

Snowman themed breathing exercise for kids with free printable poster

A Simple Breathing Exercise for Kids with a Winter Twist

Counting is a great calm down strategy for kids. So is deep breathing. This snowman deep breathing exercise combines the two strategies into one.

You point to the buttons of the snowman, count, and breathe. You could even do the same thing to the snowman's mouth if you really wanted.

Free deep breathing printable for kids that's perfect for winter

About the Free Printable Snowman Deep Breathing Exercise Poster

This one page printable offers a simple deep breathing technique using a snowman theme (as you've obviously figured out). I highly recommend laminating the poster for durability.

As for how to do the actual deep breathing technique, simply count and breathe by following the instructions on the printable. And repeat as needed..

To get your copy of the printable, simply click the link below.


Or subscribe to the Weekly Autism Planner newsletter to gain access to hundreds of printables in the subscriber library!

Other Mindfulness Resources You'll Love

Mindfulness Picture Books for Kids

Free Printable Deep Breathing Social Story

Mindfulness & Meditation Resources, Activities, & Printables

Snowman deep breathing exercise for kids with free printable mindfulness poster
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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Valentine's Day Fine Motor Activity

Valentine's fine motor activities for toddlers and preschoolers.

For as long as I can remember, my youngest son has been interested in tools that encourage fine motor development, namely scissors, wooden clothespins, and paper punches. As a young toddler, he would spend countless hours just cutting and punching out paper. Or clipping clothespins to different objects.

Now, as a four year old, he still loves scissors, clothespins, and paper punches.

This Valentine's fine motor activity is a great way to play and learn with his beloved clothespins. It's a low prep activity, making it a quick boredom buster for cold winter days.

Plus, the hearts can then be used for some gross motor fun when your done.

Valentine fine motor activities

Preschool Valentine Fine Motor Activity: What You'll Need

For this fine motor activity, we used:

  • Large felt hearts from the dollar store (the same ones we used for this activity) - You could substitute foam hearts, paper hearts, or even cut out your own heart shapes from felt.
  • String
The only clothespins that I could locate in my house recently were labeled with the numbers 1-10 (just write on them with permanent marker), so I set out the numbered clothespins and ten hearts. I tied a piece of string to a chair and a railing, but you can tie them to two chairs.

Since the clothespins are numbered, the hearts could be hung in numerical order like below.

Fine motor activities for Valentine's Day

However, my four year old preferred to hang his hearts up in a random order, which is perfectly fine, since the main objective of this activity is to work on fine motor skills. As he picked up the clothespins, he would identify the number and count out loud to that number. Then he would pin the hearts to the string.

Valentine's Day themed fine motor activities

Fine motor practice with hearts

He also liked to hang the hearts upside down.

Valentine's hearts fine motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers

Your child could also explore patterning with the hearts by alternating colors.

Other Valentine's Day Activities You'll Love

Valentine's Gross Motor Activities (uses the same package of hearts)

This post is part of the Fine Motor Fridays series and includes these other fun ideas:

Heart Flower Cards from Powerful Mothering

Or are you looking for more ways to play with these felt hearts? Try using them for some fun Valentine's themed gross motor games.

A simple Valentine's Day fine motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers
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Valentine's Day Slime Favors with Free Printable Labels

Valentine slime favors with free printable Valentine slime labels.

I am not a big fan of Valentine's Day cards, simply because they get looked at for a few seconds and then that's kind of it. Although we have found many ways to reuse the store-bought cards before recycling them.

I'm also not a big fan of all the candy that comes along with Valentine's Day either.

So this year, ditch the store-bought Valentine's Day cards and make something fun for the kids instead!

Whip up a batch of this Valentine slime and then turn them into slime favors to use as an alternative to candy on Valentine's Day. There's a set of free printable Valentine slime labels included as well.

Slime Valentine free printable

Valentine's Day Slime Recipe

You can simply use your favorite slime recipe for these slime favors. I prefer to use a contact solution slime recipe myself.

Red, pink, glittery, non-glittery...that's up to you!

We went with a simple pink slime as you can see.

Valentine's Day slime

How to Make Valentine Slime Favors for Kids

I love that you can personalize these Valentine's slime favors to include as much or as little slime as you'd like or whatever color of slime you want.

You can also decorate the containers however you see fit. We used glass jars for photography purposes only. I would definitely suggest using plastic containers or zipper seal baggies instead!

To get the free printable slime labels, as well as the slime recipe I use, simply head to CBC Parents.

Valentine slime favors with free printable Valentine slime labels

Valentine slime recipe plus free printable Valentine slime labels so that you can make slime favors
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Valentine's Day Gross Motor Balance Activity

Looking for Valentine gross motor activities for preschool? Try this simple gross motor balance activity!

We've been doing a lot of Valentine's themed gross motor activities lately, including this simple heart themed gross motor balance activity

It's really low prep, making it a perfect boredom buster for cold winter days. And trust me, in Saskatchewan we get a lot of cold winter days! Days where the temperatures plummet to -40 C or colder and it's simply too cold to play outdoors.

So if you find yourself trapped indoors because your car won't start or you just don't feel like braving the cold, then this low prep Valentine's themed boredom buster is perfect for you. 

The kids can even help you set it up and keep their bodies moving!

Gross motor balance activities for preschoolers and toddlers that's perfect for Valentine's Day

Heart Balance Game: A Simple Valentine Gross Motor Activity

I already mentioned that this activity is low prep and you don't need much in terms of materials.

And while this activity is intended to work on balance and gross motor movements, there is a fine motor learning component to it as well. You'll just have to read the full post over on CBC Parents to get the full details.

Valentine's Day gross motor balance activity for toddlers and preschoolers
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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Loose Parts Play with Buttons & Hearts {Valentine's Day Activity}

Valentine's Day themed loose parts play activity with buttons and hearts.

Play doesn't need to be complicated.

You can simply give the kids some random bits to explore with and let them create and explore on their own terms. Which is exactly what this loose parts play idea for Valentine's Day is all about.

You'll see how two kids took the same materials from this Valentine's themed invitation to play and then played with them in their own unique ways.

Valentine's Day activity for toddlers and preschoolers using loose parts

Loose Parts Play for Valentine's Day: What You'll Need

This activity is a simple invitation to play. Here's what you'll need:

  • Picture frame
  • Pink and red buttons
  • Transparent hearts of various sizes (heart cookie cutters would make a great substitute)
The transparent hearts you see pictured were dollar store Valentine's Day mobiles that I cut apart to originally use on the light table.

Simple Valentine's themed loose parts play idea for toddlers and preschoolers

What's an Invitation to Play?

I get asked all the time why I use the word invitation and what it means.

Invitations to play simply refer to open-ended explorations for children.

I personally love invitations to play because it allows the boys to be creative in their own ways with no expectations or particular agenda in mind. I often end up surprised and amazed by what the boys choose to do with particular invitations. I also often get to see how different my boys' personalities truly are.

This activity is the perfect example of how two children can take the same materials and use them in two entirely different directions.

Valentine's Day activity and loose parts play

Loose Parts Play: The Preschooler's Approach...

J first placed one giant heart in the middle of the picture frame and then used the buttons to follow the picture frame.

Loose parts play idea for Valentine's Day

Next, J placed buttons around the outline of the heart.

Loose parts play idea for Valentine's Day

He then stacked some hearts and filled them with buttons.

Playing with loose parts - a Valentine's Day activity

Which lead to some beautiful creations.

Playing with loose parts - a Valentine's Day activity

Loose Parts Play: The Toddler's Approach...

When K woke up from his nap, which is a very rare moment in this house lately, he saw J's creations on the picture frame.  Since J was done with it, K was happy to explore it on his own terms, completely uninterrupted.  First, K needed to pick up the buttons.

Valentine's loose parts play for toddlers

And sometimes toddler arms aren't quite long enough, so it only makes sense to stretch out on the picture frame to pick up all those buttons.

Valentine's loose parts play for toddlers

After putting all the buttons back into their container, K dumped them out onto the picture frame.  What toddler doesn't enjoy dumping stuff out of containers?!

Loose parts Valentine's activity for toddlers

Then like a typical toddler, K got temporarily distracted by the empty container.  He just had to put it on his foot, which of course made him giggle like crazy.  

Loose parts Valentine's activity for toddlers

The empty container quickly lost its appeal though.  However, K spotted the transparent hearts, which lead to him making heart sunglasses.

Toddler exploring transparent hearts

Toddler exploring transparent hearts

Other Valentine's Day Activities You'll Love

Be sure to check out these other Valentine's Day activities from the Show Me the Love series:

A simple Valentine's Day loose parts play idea for toddlers and preschool kids
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Foam Heart Tangram Puzzles

Try these homemade foam heart tangram puzzles for kids as a quick and easy Valentine's Day activity.

If you've been looking for a quick and easy Valentine's Day math activity for kids, then you might want to try making a set of these DIY heart shaped tangram puzzles for kids.

You can make them as simple or as difficult as you like and they even make a great busy bag idea.

Easy tangram puzzles for kids that you can make yourself for a quick and easy Valentine's Day math activity

DIY Tangram Puzzles for Kids that are Perfect for Valentine's Day

To make these DIY foam heart tangram puzzles, I used:

  • Scissors
I cut out four large hearts using a different color for each heart. Then I cut each heart into random pieces. Some are more basic, like the purple one pictured below, but others, like the yellow one, have more pieces and are trickier to put together. Just be sure to tailor the puzzles to your child's skills and age.

Heart tangrams Valentine's Day activity for kids

You can store these tangram puzzles in little zipper seal bags and keep them as busy bags or present them on a tray like I did for a quick math activity.

Heart shaped tangram puzzles for kids

Playing with Heart Tangram Puzzles

The boys loved putting these puzzles together. The purple one is really all three year old K could handle independently. 

Easy tangram puzzles that you can make for kids

Five year old J, who has "very superior visual-spatial skills," excelled at putting these puzzles together, even the ones that were trickier. And here I thought I could stump him...pfft. Of course not!

Building heart tangram puzzles

Valentine's Day activity for kids with heart tangram puzzles

Other Valentine's Day Activities You'll Love

This was part of the Show Me the Love Valentine's series! Here's what my friends were up to:

Melt My Heart Valentine's Day Art from Still Playing School

Heart shaped tangram puzzles for kids are a great Valentine's Day activity!
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Valentine's Sensory Writing Tray & Light Table Activity

Valentine's Day themed salt tray writing activity for the light table.

Both of my boys like to write. So we used this Valentine's writing tray as a way to practice writing Valentine's themed words and shapes. Salt trays like this one are great for toddlers and preschoolers to practice mark making and writing skills.

This activity is quick and simple to set up.

And you can add additional sensory dimensions by placing it on a light table and turning it into a Valentine's Day light table activity.

Valentine's salt writing tray and light table activity for kids

Valentine Sensory Writing Tray: What You'll Need

Here's what you'll need for this salt tray writing activity:

  • Plastic heart jewelry links - I found ours at Target and the Dollar Tree.
  • Glass dish
  • Light table (optional)

Valentine's Day themed salt tray for writing

Valentine's Day Light Table Activity

I put this Valentine writing tray on the light table just to add another sensory dimension. Plus, my boys loves light table play so I knew it would be even more appealing to them.

Valentine's writing tray on the light table

The feathers were perfect for practicing writing and helped to encourage good fine motor skills. J practiced writing words like heart and love in the salt. He also drew some hearts freehand and traced some of the plastic hearts.

Writing in a Valentine's salt tray on the light table

The boys also liked to press the plastic hearts into the salt to make little heart impressions. They continued to do these impressions for a few minutes before declaring they were all done. So it wasn't major success in their books, but it did keep them busy for like 10 minutes.

Valentine's Day light table activity to practice writing

Other Ideas You'll Love

This post is part of the Show Me the Love series and includes these other fun ideas:

Bubble Wrap Heart Prints from House of Burke

A simple Valentine sensory writing tray that's perfect for kids to develop their prewriting skills - great light table activity too!
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