Friday, February 15, 2019

How to Make a DIY Weighted Blanket {Sensory Hacks for Kids}

DIY weighted blanket hack and tutorials for how to make a weighted blanket for kids.

The one DIY sensory hack that I have wanted to do for a long time is to sew a weighted blanket for my son with autism. However, I get freaked out just looking at the amount of work involved in making one. They seem like so much work to make, so I must admit, I have been brainstorming an easier way to make one. Yet, I cannot seem to come up with a good solution. At least, not yet.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some amazing tutorials for making a DIY weighted sensory blanket for kids with autism and/or sensory processing disorder.

Weighted blankets are a great way to provide proprioceptive sensory input to your child. They can help calm your child and even, gasp, help them sleep better!

DIY weighted blanket hacks for kids

Tutorials for How to Make a Weighted Blanket for Kids

Buying a weighted blanket is expensive! Thankfully, there's these wonderful tutorials for how to make a weighted blanket for kids with autism and/or sensory processing disorder to help you save you some money!

1. Homemade Weighted Blanket (pictured) from Mama Smiles - This step-by-step tutorial is very detailed!

2. How to Make a Weighted Tie Blanket (pictured) from Parenting Chaos - A nice alternative to sewing an entire weighted blanket from scratch. The kids could even help with the tying.

3. Weighted Blanket with Printable Pattern from Craft Nectar - This tutorial includes a free printable pattern, so you don't have to hover over you computer while you sew. Nice, right?

4. Adjustable Weighted Blanket Tutorial (pictured) from Confessions of a Fabric Addict - Love the idea of an adjustable weighted blanket so that it can grow with your child.

5. Weighted Blanket Tutorial (pictured) from The Squishy Pickles - I love the fabric on this one. Such a bright and colorful weighted blanket for kids!

6. How to Make a DIY Weighted Blanket from I Love My Kids - Another very detailed step-by-step tutorial!

7. How to Make a No Sew Weighted Blanket from Junior *gluten-free* Chefs - Yes, no sewing is required for this weighted blanket!

8. DIY Duct Tape Weighted Blanket with Printable Instructions from Jest Tu Positive - No fabric is involved in this DIY weighted blanket. So grab some rolls of colorful and/or printed duct tape to give this one a try!

9. How to Make a Weighted Blanket (pictured) from Sharing the Weight - I love that this tutorial has a chart of the finished dimensions for different target weights of the blankets.

10. Weighted Blanket Tutorial (pictured) from Dandelion Mama - I love the fabric that was used for this weighted blanket.

11. How to Make a Weighted Blanket Tutorial from East Coast Mama - This one is a really cute dinosaur print!

12. Weighted Blanket Tutorial from Feeding Raya - Another beautiful blanket with a detailed tutorial!

13. DIY Adjustable Weighted Blanket Tutorial from Needles & Bows - Another awesome weighted blanket that's adjustable!

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DIY weighted blanket hacks for kids
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Free Printable Winter Themed Comprehension Language Prompts

Free printable winter themed comprehension and WH questions language prompts for kids with hyperlexia or autism.

My hyperlexic son needs extra help with comprehension so I'm always looking for new ways to work on helping him understand what he reads and hears. This free printable comprehension language prompts pack focuses on a variety of skills that will help aid in his comprehension, including answering WH questions and making inferences.

And since winter is fierce right now (hello, yet again minus -40 C temps!), I decided to put together a winter themed set of prompts for him.

Free printable comprehension & WH questions language prompts for kids with hyperlexia or autism

About these Free Printable Comprehension Language Prompts

This set of language prompts is designed to help your child practice:

  • Describing what they see in the picture
  • Responding to questions about the picture
  • Putting their thoughts into words
  • Following directions
  • Pointing to objects in the picture when asked
  • Counting objects in the picture
  • Understanding what is asked of them
  • Scanning visually for objects
  • Answering WH questions
  • Making inferences
  • Explaining why they make those inferences
This pack of language prompts contains five pictures and a set of prompts to go with each picture. There are four sections of prompts for each picture:

  1. Describe the scene
  2. Search and find
  3. Answer WH questions
  4. Make inferences

How to Use these Comprehension Language Prompts

To use these prompts, simply pick one of the pictures from the pack and show it to your child. Then simply work your way through the coordinating prompts sheet to help your child describe, search, answer, and infer. I recommend using the order given on the prompts page, but you certainly don't have to go in that order.

Download the Free Printable Comprehension Language Prompts

This free printable comprehension language prompts is 12 pages long and includes five pictures with their own set of prompts. To get your copy, simply click the pink image below.

Read More

Monday, February 11, 2019

How to Make a DIY Weighted Vest for Kids {10 Awesome Tutorials}

Tutorials for how to make a DIY weighted vest for kids or a DIY pressure vest for kids. These tutorials would be great to make for a child with autism or sensory issues.

As an alternative to weighted blankets for kids with autism, a weighted vest or pressure vest can be a nice way to give your child some proprioceptive sensory input.

However, just like weighted blankets, the store bought versions of weighted vests can be quite expensive! It doesn't have to be anymore because here are some lovely tutorials for how to make a DIY weighted vest for kids.

I've also included some DIY pressure vest tutorials for kids, which are yet another way to provide proprioceptive sensory input.

DIY weighted vest tutorials

Tutorials for How to Make a DIY Weighted Vest for Kids

Don't want to spend money on an expensive weighted vest for your child? Then these amazing tutorials are for you. And seriously, how cute is that ruffled weighted vest?! Such an adorable and stylish idea for a little girl!

1. Cute DIY Ruffled Weighted Vest Tutorial from Holding Tomorrow - Probably the cutest DIY weighted vest you'll find. Such a brilliant hack idea too!

2. DIY Weighted Vest from Classroom Treasure Hunting - This DIY vest just upcycles a denim vest and looks easy to make.

3. Homemade Weighted Vest from Homeschooling, Autism, & "Stuff" - Turn a thrift store jean jacket into a weighted vest with this easy tutorial.

4. DIY Weighted Vest from I am an Autism Parent - This vest is more obvious and colorful, but a nice alternative to consider.

5. How to Make a Weighted Vest from pocketplatypus - Find out how to turn a fleece vest into a weighted sensory vest with this tutorial.

6. DIY Weighted Sensory Vest from Little Miss Kimberly Ann - Another tutorial using a jean jacket or vest.

7. How to Make a Weighted Sensory Vest from Surviving a Teacher's Salary - This vest is made from scratch, but looks really easy to make.

Tutorials for How to Make a DIY Pressure Vest for Kids

Perhaps you're more interested in a compression or pressure vest? Well, no worries! You won't believe how easy (and how frugal!) making one of these vest can be with these great tutorials.

1. Homemade Pressure Vest from Something Sew Special - This pressure vest looks cozy and fairly straightforward to make.

2. Easy Low Budget DIY Sensory Vest from I Break Crayons - A brilliant and inexpensive pressure vest hack! Definitely want to try this one.

3. DIY Deep Pressure Vest from This I Know - Similar process as the tutorial above.

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Friday, February 08, 2019

The Best French Music Videos for Kids

Teach your kids French with these fun and educational music videos for kids - they will likely get stuck in your head too!

When my kids started French Immersion kindergarten, we would watch a lot of French music videos on YouTube to reinforce some of the concepts they were learning at school.

From learning about the alphabet, colors, and the days of the week, these songs are ridiculously catchy and fun. So if your child is currently learning French, then you are going to find this list of French music videos for kids helpful!

French music videos for kids on YouTube

The Best French Music Videos for Kids

Perhaps the most catchy music video on this list is this "Papa pingouin" music video. It gets stuck in my head all the time. But how can you go wrong when cute dancing penguins are involved?! I just wish that this video also showed the lyrics in French. My little hyperlexic learner needs those written words to help him learn. Regardless, the song is super cute, as is the video.

The other song that gets stuck in my head all the time is "Ya a un chat." It's a cute way to practice prepositions in French.

This "La famille des doigts" video is a great way to practice the names of the different fingers, to learn about family members, and to practice asking questions. J likes to sing this song quite a bit.

But the video that five year old J loves to sing the most is "Lundi Matin." I've already mentioned this video in the days of the week Scrabble math printable, but since J loves it so much, it is worth mentioning again.

Want to teach your kids how to say the alphabet in French? We love to watch this video.

How about teaching the numbers in French? These dancing Jamaican worms (so random, I know!) will help you learn them!

Here are two French music videos that teach colors.

Here's a catchy song to work on French greetings. J also adores singing this one!

Here's the other video that we enjoy watching to work on the French days of the week.

This French months of the year music video is great too!

If you have any recommendations for fun French music videos, then leave them in the comments so we can check them out!

Other French Learning Ideas You'll Love

Free Printable Months of the Year Scrabble Math (English & French)

Free Printable Days of the Week Scrabble Math (English & French)

Counting Peas Busy Bag (English & French)

French music videos for kids on YouTube
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Thursday, February 07, 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Using Essential Oils for Autism

The ultimate guide to autism and essential oils, including a list of the best essential oils for autism, some autism essential oil blend ideas, and essential oil safety tips.

With autism, you encounter anger, anxiety, meltdowns, lack of sleep, poor focus, problems concentrating...the list goes on, right? 

Just yesterday I found bite marks, complete with full dental imprints, on my four year old's arm because my older son wasn't able to control his anger and frustration in a proper way. It is because I let down my guard down and missed the signs. I then also remembered that I had forgotten the essential oils that day. If I had remembered the oils, then things may have ended differently. I know they would have ended differently. 

Yes, essential oils have become that important to our daily rhythm. 

Ever since my son's diagnosis in November of 2014, I have gathered a set of tools that help him to have better days: a visual schedule, social stories, fidgets, oral motor sensory tools, and homemade sensory tools.

But prior to his assessment, I dabbled and experimented with essential oils for our family and they had such a positive impact on our daily life, that I was instantly converted. Good-bye, inner skeptic! Hello, essential-oil-loving inner hippy!

Essential oils have become an integral part of our daily life. As such, I thought I would share what I think are the best essential oils for autism. The essential oils on this list would also be great for any child with sensory processing issues. Actually, for any child in general.

Best essential oil for autism

Disclaimer for this Autism & Essential Oils Guide

Just to be clear, I am not a trained aromatherapist. I am just passionate about essential oils because they have worked for my family.

The information presented here is merely an introduction to the topic of using essential oils to reduce anxieties, improve sleep, and calm meltdowns in autistic individuals and is not meant to replace traditional medical advice.

It is also, by no means, thorough. I'm still learning myself.

Most people roll their eyes when they are first introduced to the topic of using essential oils when it comes to autism...

I get it. Remember I used to be skeptic too. And there are tons of people who push essential oils to make a sale because they're working for one of those MLM companies (that is NOT me, by the way). I personally refuse to support these companies due to their promotion of unsafe practices, among many other things.

Why Essential Oils for Autism?

There are many reasons why you might be considering using essential oils with your autistic child, including:

  • Looking for practical solutions to use on a daily basis and without a big time commitment 
  • Interested in trying other sensory therapy strategies
  • Prefer to use natural methods
  • Want to avoid prescription medications
  • Hoping to find something that will help your child sleep better
  • Tired of other strategies not working or having little impact
  • Hoping to find something that will help with your child's anxiety
  • Finding a less expensive therapy solution to try (admit it: autism therapies are expensive!)
  • Want to have some tools that you can take with you on the road or while traveling
The list could go on and on.

Our decision to try essential oils was based on a few factors. First, we were faced with the first of many wait lists and needed something that we could try right away. We were also hoping it would help with my son's anxiety and sensory issues, while helping him to better regulate his emotions.

The upfront cost of using essential oils can be as much or as little as you'd like. And the oils and supplies that you get will last you a long time, like years.

Essential oils can be used every day unlike other therapies where you have an appointment scheduled once a week or once or month. There is also no huge time commitment. Simply apply or diffuse as needed.

You can also take essential oils with you everywhere you go. I always keep a roller bottle with our DIY essential oil blend in my purse.

Essential Oil Safety Tips for Autism

I've already alluded to the fact that there is a lot of unsafe practices promoted by many MLM sales people, so it's time to discuss essential oil safety, okay?

First, if your child is sensitive to scents, then essential oils likely won't be a good fit for you. Or you might need to be cautious about which essential oils you use. They might enjoy one scent, but might find others overwhelming. So be cautious and consider your child's sensory preferences and needs when introducing essential oils.

Second, you'll want to become best friends with the website Using Essential Oils Safely and their corresponding Facebook group. I cannot recommend their resources enough.

Third, you always need to dilute essential oils with some kind of carrier oil.

Four, many essential oils aren't safe to use around pets and young children, so please research the essential oils thoroughly before using them. Again, you'll want to reference the Using Essential Oils Safely website.

Best essential oil for autism

Which Essential Oils are Good for Autism?

This list of essential oils for autism is not exhaustive and may be added to as we find new favorites. There are plenty of essential oils that may be beneficial to kids who have autism and sensory processing issues, but these are our absolute go-to oils! These essential oils are what we have found to be the most helpful and effective for my son who has autism and sensory issues.

Vetiver - Of all the oils on this list, vetiver is my favorite and the most important. Vetiver has a sedative quality that can help sedate emotional outbursts such as anger, anxiety, and hysteria. It calms the nervous system and stabilizes emotions. I like to apply vetiver, diluted with a carrier oil, to the base of the neck and the base of the spine. I think vetiver was the first oil I ever tried with my son and saw immediate results.

Texas Cedarwood - This oil has a soothing and calming effect on the mind, helps with sleep, and helps to balance emotions.

Frankincense - An effective sedative, frankincense lowers anxiety, anger, and stress. It promotes deep breathing, relaxation, and a sense of peace and calm.

Lavender - Lavender is great for promoting sleep and for reducing anxiety and stress. A must have oil!

Mandarin Orange - Most kids enjoy the scent of citrus fruits and honestly, so do I. Mandarin orange balances emotions, provides stress relief, and calms the nervous system.

Happy Kids Blend - A blend of lime, tangerine, cardamom, and benzoin, the Happy Kids Blend is seriously the most amazing smelling essential oil blend that I've ever encountered. More importantly, it is an uplifting scent that keeps my kids...well...happy. Just like the bottle's label says. I like to diffuse it at home during the day and add it to our DIY calm & focused child blend.

Other Essential Oils to Try for Autism

There are lots of other essential oils that may be good for autism, including the following. We have not yet incorporated these particular oils into our routine, but I'm sharing them in case you are interested in exploring them further.

Ylang Ylang - This essential oil strengthens the nervous system, making it great for relieving stress, anger, and anxiety.

Bergamot - This essential oil relaxes nerves and muscles. It also reduces anxiety and stress. It would be a lovely oil for kids with autism.

For further information on any of these oils, you can read more at the Organic Facts Essential Oils database.

A guide to autism essential oils

How to Use Essential Oils for Autism

Incorporating essential oils into your day can be super easy to do! You can:

Essential Oil Blends for Autism

Sometimes we use a single essential oil or premade blends (like the happy kids blend mentioned above) and other times, I like to make a blend of essential oils. Here are a couple of recipes that we use:

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DIY Color Blocks for Kids

Tutorial for how to make your own set of DIY color blocks for light play. A video tutorial is included.

My kids enjoy playing with light, whether it's exploring natural light or mirrors or playing with our DIY light table.

So oftentimes, I find myself creating homemade materials to aide them in their curiousness of light play.

These DIY color blocks are just one of the many homemade light table toys that I have made. At just a fraction of the cost, these color blocks can be made in just a few minutes with simple materials from the dollar store.

They're so pretty and way cheaper than the store bought versions.

Tutorial for making DIY homemade color blocks for light play

About Our Homemade Color Blocks for Light Play

I have always admired color blocks.  I think they are gorgeous on light tables and overhead projectors, but even more beautiful in natural light.  I just don't like the price tag that goes along with them.  Sure, color blocks aren't all that expensive, but when you think about what they are actually made of, I figured I could make something similar for much cheaper.

And I did!

My price tag: $3.00.

DIY color blocks tutorial - made from dollar store items for only $3 from And Next Comes L

Only three dollars?!  Well, actually I could have done it for $1.50 if I had bought my supplies at the dollar store versus the liquidation center.  Next time...darn time!

Tutorial for How to Make DIY Color Blocks from Dollar Store Wooden Blocks

To make these blocks, you will need a game of wooden tumbling towers (aka Jenga).  Mine were $3.00, but like I said, I found them cheaper at the dollar store.

You will also need some colorful translucent duotangs or transparencies (also found at the dollar store).  I used the leftover transparencies from my homemade light table manipulatives.

Then grab some scissors and your hot glue gun.  I promise these are really easy to make.

To make one block, you will need eight wood blocks from the tumbling towers "jenga" game and a piece of colored transparency.

1. Arrange four blocks into a square shape and hot glue gun it together so that it looks like a picture frame.

2. Cut a piece of transparency so that it's big enough to cover the middle of the "picture frame."

3. Lightly glue the transparency into place, just so that it won't move on you.

4. Then create another picture frame shape with the remaining four blocks.

5. Hot glue it onto the picture frame with the transparency on it.  I didn't take pictures along the way, but you can always watch the accompanying video tutorial for an overview of how to assemble the blocks.

Repeat multiple times, using a different colored transparency for each block.  I ended up with six blocks in each of the following colors: orange, yellow, clear, green, blue, and purple.

Stacking DIY color blocks in natural light from And Next Comes L

Playing with our Homemade Color Blocks for Kids

The only downside (or limitation) to my homemade version of the color blocks is that I could only make little rectangles or squares.  No semi-circles or triangles for me, but I'm okay with that because I love how mine turned out.  And more importantly, the boys love them!

They work great on the light table.

Tutorial for making DIY color blocks for light table play from And Next Comes L

Tutorial for making DIY color blocks for light table play from And Next Comes L

They would also work great with the overhead projector, but I think I love them the most in natural light. Seriously, look at how wonderful they look in front of a window.  Gorgeous!

DIY color blocks tutorial - made from dollar store items for only $3 from And Next Comes L

Stacking DIY color blocks in natural light from And Next Comes L

Stacking DIY color blocks in natural light from And Next Comes L

And that's it!  Simple, frugal, and fabulous!

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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Free Printable List of 50 Social Skills for Kids

A free printable list of social skills for kids.

We've been working a lot on social skills with my son. Due to his hyperlexia and autism, we have to teach him directly about social skills concepts that develop in most kids naturally.

So to make sure we don't miss anything important, I put together this basic social skills list. And yes, it includes a free printable cheat sheet so you can reference it at any time.

The free printable list of social skills is a great start, but there's even more social skills activities and printables here, if you're interested.

List of social skills for elementary students and middle school students

List of Social Skills for Elementary Students, Middle School Students, and Autism

When we discuss social skills with my son, we like to work together through the Social Thinking curriculum and its accompanying Thinksheets. I really love the terminology that they use, especially the concepts of expected and unexpected behaviors as an alternative to saying good or bad behaviors. So some of the social skills listed below borrow ideas and wording from the Social Thinking curriculum.

I also encourage you to check out the free printable social scripts for kids as many of them align with the social skills on this list.

Here are 50 different social skills for kids:

  1. Taking turns - 8 Strategies for Teaching Turn Taking + Free Printable Visual Turn Taking Cue Cards
  2. Praising others - 7 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Praise Others
  3. Celebrating successes
  4. Helping others
  5. Respecting personal space - 9 Strategies to Teach Kids About Personal Space
  6. Sharing materials
  7. Asking for help
  8. Being a good sport and a good loser
  9. Asking permission
  10. Giving criticism
  11. Using appropriate voice tone & volume
  12. Making an apology
  13. Participating
  14. Waiting until the speaker is finished before speaking (i.e., no interrupting)
  15. Being a good friend
  16. Staying on task
  17. Being kind
  18. Using names
  19. Encouraging others
  20. Waiting patiently 
  21. Communicating clearly
  22. Accepting differences
  23. Listening actively
  24. Conflict resolution
  25. Following directions
  26. Paraphrasing
  27. Staying with the team or group
  28. Complimenting others
  29. Disagreeing politely, appropriately, and respectfully
  30. Taking risks
  31. Accepting criticism
  32. Accepting no for an answer
  33. Recognizing the difference between expected and unexpected behaviors
  34. Resisting peer pressure
  35. Sharing ideas
  36. Making eye contact
  37. Respecting the opinions of others
  38. Compromising
  39. Negotiating
  40. Cooperating with others and working together
  41. Using good manners
  42. Thinking before speaking
  43. Learning to forgive
  44. Problem solving
  45. Being a flexible thinker
  46. Recognizing body language and picking up on nonverbal cues
  47. Recognizing the feelings of oneself
  48. Recognizing the feelings of others
  49. Taking someone else's perspective
  50. Understanding that my actions impact others
Free printable list of 50 social skills to teach kids from And Next Comes L

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Basic Social Skills List Poster

This social skills cheat sheet is now available as an 11" x 17" poster! LEARN MORE >>

Printable social skills poster from And Next Comes L

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