Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Lavender Scented Beans {Calming Sensory Play}

How to dye beans for sensory play that are lavender scented. A great calming activity for kids.

Calm and kids don't seem to mix...it's practically an oxymoron.

But sensory play can have a calming effect on kids, especially when it's paired with a calming scent like lavender. Well, at least that's the thought I had when I made these lavender scented sensory beans.

So if you've been searching for calming activities for kids, then you'll definitely want to try making this lavender scented and dyed beans sensory bin.

Calming activity for kids using lavender scented sensory beans

How to Dye Beans for Sensory Play & How to Make them Scented!

To make lavender scented beans, I put navy beans and 4 drops of lavender essential oil into a resealable plastic bag. 

I also added some color to my beans by using this dyeing method from Fun at Home with Kids. Unfortunately, I ran out of purple food coloring so I had to improvise with other colors. That's why my beans aren't uniform in color. Anyway, they totally smell amazing even if the color isn't quite perfect.

Calming sensory play for kids: lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

Close up of lavender scented & dyed dried beans sensory play from And Next Comes L

Calming Activity Idea for Kids: Play with Lavender Scented Sensory Beans!

I paired this sensory bin filler with some measuring spoons and plastic cups for the boys, hoping they would engage in some quiet, calm sensory play. 

And guess what?! It totally worked! For once, the sensory filler wasn't tossed around like we were celebrating someone's birthday. Instead, simple scooping, pouring, and measuring took place. Some bean sandcastles were also attempted, but, of course, they didn't turn out like J had hoped.

Playing with lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

Playing with lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

K insisted on helping me get some close up pictures of the lavender scented beans.  He made sure I took lots of pictures of the beans he scooped into his cup!

Playing with lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

Close up of calming sensory play for kids using lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

Close up of calming sensory play for kids using lavender scented & dyed beans from And Next Comes L

I think K wants you take a whiff of these lovely lavender beans.  Too bad computer screens aren't equipped for scents yet, hey?

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Calming activity for kids using lavender scented sensory beans
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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Two Simple Sensory Bins Using Invisible Letters & Numbers

Two simple sensory bins for kids using invisible letters and numbers.

I'm all about simple sensory bin ideas and following the interests of my kids. These two simple sensory bins for kids use invisible letters and numbers and are tons of fun and encourage lots of learning.

You likely have everything you need on hand to make both of these sensory bins. Although there is a bit of prep to make the invisible letters and numbers first and the dyed rice, both items are something that can be reused over and over.

2 simple sensory bins for kids using invisible letters and numbers made out of hot glue

How to Make Invisible Letters & Numbers Using Hot Glue

I came across the idea of making invisible letters and numbers on I Can Teach My Child and thought it was absolutely awesome.  And if you know my boys, letters and numbers are their passion/obsession.  So of course, I had to try this idea with the boys.

To make the invisible letters and numbers (or really anything you want!), simply hot glue the designs onto some parchment paper.  Once they are cool, just peel them off.  Then you are left with these beautiful invisible designs.

"invisible" hot glue letters and numbers

We did two different sensory bins before J decided to play with the individual letters and numbers on the floor.

Both sensory bins only used two items and cost nearly nothing to make.  So if you have been wondering how to set up an inexpensive sensory bin, then these are for you.

Easy Sensory Bin Idea #1: Colored Rice With Invisible Letters & Numbers

It has been awhile since the boys have done some play with colored rice.  However, I had some rice to use up after dropping my cell phone in the toilet (I used the rice to help dry out my phone).  So I colored the rice with some food coloring and added it to our big tub of colored rice that has been in circulation for over two years.

Materials
  • Colored rice
  • Invisible letters and numbers

Close up of colored rice sensory bin for kids

After a short glimpse of spring, some snow, rain, and colder temperatures greeted us, and dampened our spirits, early this week.  So we started off the day with this sensory bin.  As you can see, this sensory bin is so bright and cheery.

Colored rice sensory bin close up

Playing with a rice sensory bin

Of course, J gravitated towards the numbers...

Colored rice sensory bin with invisible numbers

K, on the other hand, loves his ABCs, so he preferred the letters, but he took a moment to climb into the sensory bin as well.

Then both boys started throwing the rice all over the floor as if it were confetti.  J kept saying, "Happy birthday" before tossing it in the air, which was cute.  Now if only the weather would stay nice, then they could happily toss rice around outside instead of on my floor because let's face it...I hate cleaning up colored rice.


Easy Sensory Bin Idea #2: Water With Invisible Letters & Numbers

After the rice had been mostly picked up and K had gone for his nap, I set up this sensory bin for J using water.  The water really does make the letters and numbers appear invisible.

Water sensory bin with invisible letters and numbers

Materials
  • Water
  • Invisible letters and numbers
  • OPTIONAL: a sieve or slotted spoon
I noticed that when wet, the invisible letters and numbers could stick to the sides of the bin.  I decided to set up the bin with a word stuck to the side to see if J would pursue the idea of spelling some words for me.  Well, he showed zero interest in that....ha!  He just wanted the numbers, which was fine with me.

Invisible letters made out of hot glue

I noticed how he was scooping the numbers up and waited for them to drain.  I asked if he would like a sieve or something similar, which he enthusiastically said, "Yes!"  He loved filling the sieve, lifting it to see the water fall out, and shake the sieve.  He repeated it over and over.

So there you have it.  Two simple and inexpensive ways to play!

Other Sensory Bins You'll Love




2 simple sensory bins for kids using invisible letters and numbers made out of hot glue
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Thursday, July 04, 2019

Kinetic Sand Potato Heads Sensory Activity

Looking for Mr. Potato Head activities for toddlers and preschoolers? Try this simple kinetic sand potato head idea that works on fine motor skills and imaginative play.

This kinetic sand Mr. Potato Head activity is simple sensory play at its finest. 

It all started when three year old K declared, "I want to play with kinetic sand." 

While I was grabbing our sensory container for the kinetic sand, I was thinking of what I could pair with it this time. 

Then I stepped on some random limb of Mr. Potato Head. Poor, poor, Mr. Potato Head...

So yes, this genius idea born from toy clutter on the floor.

Simple Mr. Potato Head preschool activity using kinetic sand - great for toddlers too!

Simple Mr. Potato Head Activity for Toddlers & Preschoolers - Using Kinetic Sand!

Here's what you'll need for this activity:

I helped K form big and little balls of kinetic sand for the bodies, but otherwise these creations are all his. It was such a fun mix of fine motor play, sensory play, and imaginative play.

Kinetic sand potato head sensory play for toddlers & preschoolers from And Next Comes L

How to Use Kinetic Sand to Teach Body Parts & Language

This sensory activity was also a great way to discuss body parts and build vocabulary and language skills. When your child is playing, you can say things like, "I like that you're adding ears! Ears go on the side of the head."

Fine motor sensory play with kinetic sand & potato head pieces from And Next Comes L

You can also describe things like "Oh I see you are putting the hat on his head. Great idea!" Phrases like this make use of prepositions in addition to teaching vocabulary.

Kinetic sand potato head sensory play from And Next Comes L

And you can explain how to form the body by compacting the kinetic sand or forming it into a ball and then adding it to the shoes. You can use all sorts of awesome verbs and adjectives like hard, squeeze, squish, roll, pat, squish, mold, etc.

Fine motor sensory play with kinetic sand & potato head pieces from And Next Comes L

Kinetic Sand Creations Using Potato Head Pieces

Here are a couple of K's kinetic sand potato head creations. First up, "the baby."

Kinetic sand potato head sensory play from And Next Comes L

And this gorgeous creature is none other than me aka "mommy." He carefully cradled my kinetic sand body from one end of the sensory bin container to the other, chattering away about mommy related things.

Kinetic sand potato head sensory play for toddlers & preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Then somehow from there he moved to "making smoothies" with the kinetic sand. He talked about adding "some sprinkles" and "little bit of cocoa powder." I tell you, this kid is going to be a chef when he grows up! He loves everything about food and cooking.

Toddler and preschool kinetic sand activity using Mr. Potato Head pieces

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Fine motor sensory play with kinetic sand & potato head pieces from And Next Comes L



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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

How Common is Hyperlexia? A Look at What the Research Says

Is hyperlexia rare? Let's take a closer look at how common hyperlexia is, based on research.

Your child has hyperlexia.

That's what the diagnosis paper - yes, singular paper - said as the assessment team shoved me out the door.

I zipped home as quick as I could, tricky considering it was rush hour. I was so eager to consume all the information I could about this new-to-me term.

I start typing furiously into Google, h-y-p-e-r-l-e-x-i-a, as soon as I get home.

And that's when I learned how scarce the information on hyperlexia actually was.

I mean, how often do you type something into Google and get basically no information in return?

That was my reality that day.

I am sure the search results are exponentially greater than what it was when I first searched the word in late 2014...

Regardless, the information is scarce because the diagnosis is rare. Hardly anyone has heard of hyperlexia, even the almighty Google, but just how rare is hyperlexia?

Well, it's time to get nerdy and dig into the research so we can answer the question that's on your mind: how common is hyperlexia?

What is hyperlexia? And is it rare?

What is Hyperlexia?

Quickly defined, hyperlexia is a syndrome characterized by the following:

  • A precocious, self-taught ability to read words well above age level
  • A significant difficulty understanding and using verbal language
  • Significant difficulties with social interactions
These resources will help you dig deeper into defining hyperlexia and what hyperlexia means, if you need to familiarize yourself with the diagnosis first:

Is Hyperlexia Rare?

The prevalence of hyperlexia in the general population is unknown. There is no information available on this particular topic at the moment, as Ostrolenk et al. (2017) have pointed out.

However, a few studies have tried to pinpoint how common hyperlexia is in pervasive developmental disorders and autism populations.

Estimates based on these populations range from 5-20%.

The problem is, each study used slightly different definitions of hyperlexia, which makes it trickier to give an accurate prevalence rate.

I think it's safe to say that hyperlexia isn't that common.

I mean I've already mentioned that I personally think it's rare.

Which is why most people have never heard of hyperlexia in the first place...

A Closer Look at How Common Hyperlexia Is

Here is an overview of the different estimates that have been published in research journals:

  • Grigorenko et al. (2002) - estimate that the rate of developmental hyperlexia is 5-20%, but they used a really vague definition of hyperlexia
  • Burd et al. (1985) - estimate that the co-occurrence of hyperlexia in autistic children is 6.6%
  • Jones et al. (2009) via Ostrolenk et al. (2017) - estimate the rate is 14.1%, but use less strict criteria for their definition of hyperlexia
I usually just summarize the stats above and say that anywhere from 5-10% of autistic children are believed to have hyperlexia.

Is Hyperlexia More Common in Boys or in Girls?

Interestingly, there is no evidence of significant gender differences in the prevalence of hyperlexia (Grigorenko et al., 2002).

Sources Referenced in this Article

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Free Printable Tree Grounding Technique for Kids

Looking for simple grounding techniques to help kids with anxiety? Try this tree grounding exercise. It comes with a free printable poster!

As the boys get older, we have been introducing family meditation time, worry time, and mindfulness techniques to build their coping skills toolbox and to help them deal with their anxiety (especially J's).

That includes things like practicing deep breathing exercises and learning different grounding exercises.

One grounding technique that we have been trying is this "be a tree" grounding exercise, where we simply pretend to be tall, strong trees.

I've included a free printable version of this tree grounding meditation technique for the kids who benefit from visual supports, like my son J does.

Ready to learn this simple technique?

Use this tree grounding meditation technique for anxiety in kids

How to Do this Simple Tree Grounding Exercise

This grounding technique for kids is all about pretending to be a firmly planted tree.

While you can find lots of variations of this tree grounding exercises, we have adapted and developed this particular version and wording to fit our needs.

Our version goes as follows:

  • I am a strong tree.
  • I stand shoulder width apart from my feet firmly planted like roots of a tree.
  • I keep my body tall and straight like the trunk of a tree.
  • I place my arms out or above my head like the branches of a tree.
  • I breathe in and out slowly like the wind and gently sway my arms.
You can either read the prompts from the poster out loud to your child (although you might want to switch the wording to say you instead of I) or have your child repeat or say the phrases themselves.

About the Free Printable Tree Grounding Technique Poster for Kids

This one page printable acts as a visual reminder to help guide your child through the "be a tree" grounding technique outlined above.

It would be a great addition to a calm down corner!

>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLE

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

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Be a tree grounding technique for kids with a free printable poster
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Monday, June 10, 2019

Cinnamon Soap Foam Sensory Play

Cinnamon scented soap foam sensory play recipe and instructions on how to make soap foam for toddlers.

Of all the soap foam sensory bins that we have made and played with, I think my favorite may be this cinnamon soap foam. 

Not only does this sensory bin smell amazing, but the cinnamon gives the soap foam a really unique texture and look. It almost looks like sand, making it a great sensory bin filler for construction themed sensory bins. 

And like all of our soap foam sensory play activities, this one's easy to make too!

A fun cinnamon scented twist on how to make soap foam for toddlers

Easy Sensory Play Idea: How to Make Cinnamon Scented Soap Foam

Here's what you'll need to make cinnamon soap foam:

  • Liquid hand soap or foaming soap
  • Cinnamon
To make this soap foam recipe, combine liquid hand soap, a splash of water, and a generous amount of cinnamon and mix thoroughly using a hand mixer, electric mixer, or stand mixer. 

Alternatively, you can use a foaming hand soap dispenser to make soap foam and then add the cinnamon afterwards.

Cinnamon Soap Foam Sensory Play

Cinnamon soap foam ends up looking like fluffy dirt or sand, so I paired it with some tractors and a construction truck. I really think that this soap foam would be a great base for a construction themed sensory bin.

Messy sensory play idea for kids using cinnamon soap foam and tractors from And Next Comes L

Messy sensory play idea for kids using cinnamon soap foam and tractors from And Next Comes L

My boys enjoyed the addition of tractors to the sensory bin. They loved driving the tractors through the soap foam and "washing" the tractors with the soap foam.

Messy sensory play idea for kids using cinnamon soap foam and tractors from And Next Comes L

Cinnamon soap foam sensory play idea for kids from And Next Comes L

Messy sensory play idea for kids using cinnamon soap foam and tractors from And Next Comes L

Here's an easy clean up tip: keep a bucket of clean water and a towel handy so that kids can clean their hands (or toys!) along the way. 

I also like to use a shower curtain underneath all of our sensory bins to help contain the mess. Then you can toss the shower curtain into the washing machine for easy clean up!

Other Soap Foam Recipes You'll Love




You can also find more fun soap foam ideas in the book Pop! Squirt! Splash!

A fun cinnamon scented twist on how to make soap foam for toddlers
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Thursday, June 06, 2019

Free Printable Alphabet Grounding Technique for Kids

Looking for grounding techniques? Try this alphabet grounding technique that's perfect for kids with hyperlexia who are obsessed with letters.

If you have a hyperlexic child, then you likely already know how calming the alphabet can be for your child. These kids frequently stim with alphabet toys as a way to self-regulate and cope.

So naturally, it makes sense to use their special interest and passion as a way to teach mindfulness and self-regulation skills.

The result?

This free printable ABC grounding technique for kids.

ABC grounding techniques for kids with free printable

About the Free Printable ABC Grounding Technique for Kids

This one page printable outlines a simple grounding technique using the alphabet.

In this technique, the child looks around them to identify and name objects that they can see and hear that start with each letter of the alphabet (or as many letters of the alphabet as possible before they feel calm and grounded). They don't have to go in the order of the alphabet (unless, of course, they want to).

You could also laminate this printable and then encourage your child to cross off each letter with a dry erase marker as they name something that starts with that letter.

>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLE

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

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