Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Is it Hyperlexia or Just a Special Interest in Letters?

Do you have a child who's obsessed with the alphabet? Are you wondering if that means they're hyperlexic? Here's how to tell if it's simply a special interest in letters or if it's part of hyperlexia.

For many hyperlexic children, the alphabet is one of their first loves. 

By around 18 months, they've often mastered all the letters and become deeply fascinated with them, wanting to play with letters all the time.

Actually, this fascination with letters as a young toddler is one of the first signs of hyperlexia that many parents notice. 

However, an intense interest in letters alone doesn't necessarily mean that a child is hyperlexic. Other traits have to be in place for them to be considered hyperlexic. Instead, they might simply have a special interest in letters.

So what's the difference between a special interest in letters and hyperlexia? There's one easy way to tell.

Hyperlexia vs a special interest in letters

Quote: An intense interest in letters alone doesn't necessarily mean that a child is hyperlexic. Other traits have to be in place for them to be considered hyperlexic.

Hyperlexia vs. a Special Interest in Letters: What's the Difference?

If a child is extremely interested in letters, but not yet reading, they are not considered hyperlexic. Instead, they simply have a special interest or passion for letters.

However, if they are fascinated with letters and are self-taught readers, then they would be considered hyperlexic. 

It's the presence of this self-taught reading ability that differentiates hyperlexia from a special interest in letters.

However, the fascination with letters could eventually still lead to self-taught reading and then, at that point, it could be considered hyperlexia. Assuming it meets the other criteria for hyperlexia of course. After all, hyperlexia is more than just early reading. 

In other words, a child's special interest in letters could be a sign of something more to come, but it may not either. Some kids just really love letters and that's all it is. But for others, it's an early sign that they are a hyperlexic learner. Time will tell in this case.

Quote: A child's special interest in letters could be a sign of something more to come, but it may not either. Some kids just really love letters and that's all it is. But for others, it's an early sign that they are a hyperlexic learner.

Here's a simple flowchart to help you quickly tell if it's just a special interest in letters or if it's more of a hyperlexic trait.

Flowchart: is it hyperlexia or just a special interest in letters?

One Important Note on Letter Fascinations in Hyperlexia

While many hyperlexic kids are fascinated by letters, the intensity of their interest can vary widely. That means that some hyperlexic kids might be quite passionate or even obsessive while others might be only mildly interested in letters. 

Quote: While many hyperlexic kids are fascinated by letters, the intensity of their interest can vary widely.

So keep in mind that hyperlexia itself doesn't guarantee that a child will have a special interest in letters. 

In other words, it's possible to be hyperlexic and not have an intense fascination with letters. 

However, most hyperlexic children will have this intense interest with letters. But remember, as discussed above, not all kids with a special interest in letters are hyperlexic.

Is it hyperlexia or just a special interest in letters? A look at how a special interest in letters isn't the same as being hyperlexic.

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Thursday, August 04, 2022

11+ Sensory Bottle Benefits for Kids

Sensory bottles aren't just for infants or toddlers. They're great for kids of all ages. Here are some sensory bottle benefits you should know about.

You likely already know that sensory play is good for kids. Or maybe you've heard it's good for kids. You just don't really know why.

But seriously, you might be wondering how a bottle filled with sensory materials could possibly be that beneficial. Especially beyond the infant and toddler years. 

I mean there has to be a reason why there are so many cool sensory bottle ideas on Pinterest, right? So...what's the deal exactly?

Well, there are actually a lot of reasons why making your own DIY sensory bottle can be great for your child's development. And hopefully after reading through these benefits, you'll be convinced of their awesomeness and give it a try.

Obviously, there's the sensory exploration piece. Or, in the case of calm down sensory bottles, there's the added benefit of improving emotional regulation skills

But that's just the tip of the iceberg, as they say. There's more to sensory bottles than that, as you'll soon see.

Below you'll find a list of 11+ sensory bottle benefits as we explore why this type of sensory play is great for kids of all ages. You might be surprised by how helpful a discovery sensory bottle can be.

Sensory bottle benefits for kids

11+ Sensory Bottle Benefits for Kids

1. They offer safe and mess free sensory rich experiences. There's no mess to worry about and choking hazards are contained, which is one of the big benefits of sensory bottles for infants and toddlers, in particular. They can safely explore items that might be otherwise too small for them.

Quote about sensory bottles being great for kids of all ages because they're safe and mess free

2. Sensory bottles are fun and engaging to play with, regardless of the age. Kids love to shake them, squeeze them, and roll them, among many other things. 

3. They're designed to stimulate and engage the senses and can provide lots of great sensory input. Makes sense given that the word sensory is in the name, right? Here are some examples of their sensory benefits:

  • Kids can get proprioceptive input (definition here) by shaking or squeezing the bottle. Their sense of touch is engaged here as well.
  • The items inside the bottle may make noise as it's turned, twisted, and shaken, engaging the auditory sense. Especially if the bottle uses materials such as rice, beans, or jingle bells.
  • Obviously, the visual sense is actively used as kids look at how the bottle changes as it's moved around.

A look at the sensory benefits of sensory bottles

4. Another benefit of sensory bottles is that they're portable. Kids can bring them on the go. And parents don't have to worry about a piece going missing or the kids making a big mess since everything's contained inside.

5. They're great for emotional regulation by promoting relaxation. Many sensory bottles, such as glitter jars in particular, can be used to help kids practice deep breathing and mindfulness.

Benefits of sensory bottles for emotional regulation

6. Sensory bottles are great for language development. They can be used to:

  • Build vocabulary and practice core vocabulary words
  • Practice labeling and describing
  • Practice articulation

How to use sensory bottles for language development

7. They're also great for social skills development. Kids can use sensory bottles to practice turn taking, following directions, problem solving, and a variety of other social skills.

8. Another benefit of sensory bottles is that they can be used to teach math, science, and literacy. Depending on the theme of the sensory bottle, a child could be working on:

  • Pre-reading skills, including letter recognition or sight words (e.g.: alphabet sensory bottles or a name recognition sensory bottle)
  • Math skills such as counting or shapes (e.g.: I spy sensory bottles)
  • Color learning (e.g.: rainbow sensory bottles or a color mixing sensory bottle)
  • Scientific concepts such as viscosity, magnetism, or life cycles (e.g.: butterfly life cycle sensory bottle), but also skills such as making an observation, making predictions, testing a hypothesis, etc.

Early learning benefits of sensory bottles

9. Sensory bottles can help stimulate curiosity, exploration, and a desire to learn. I spy sensory bottles in particular draw kids in. They wonder what else might be floating or hiding inside the bottle. So they'll twist and turn and shake to discover what else is inside.

10. They can be used to improve attention and focus. Kids will focus purely on the bottle and what's inside, ignoring other distractions around them. There's just something about sensory bottles that suck kids in (okay, adults too!).

11. Sensory bottles are also great for developing motor skills. They can be used to help improve fine motor skills, especially if your child assists in making the bottle itself. Kids can also work on gross motor skills by shaking, rolling, squeezing, turning, and twisting the bottle as they play.

Sensory bottle benefits for kids

A Quick Recap of the Benefits of Sensory Bottles for Kids

As was covered above, there are lots of benefits of sensory bottles for kids. These benefits include:

  • Safe and mess free sensory exploration
  • They're fun and engaging to play with
  • Sensory stimulation and input
  • They're portable and great for on the go
  • Emotional regulation skills
  • Language skills
  • Social skills
  • Early learning in areas such as math, science, and literacy
  • Stimulate curiosity
  • Improve attention and focus
  • Motor skills development

Sensory bottle benefits for kids

Now that you know some of the sensory bottle benefits, you might as well go try making your own. Find ideas and inspiration here.

Sensory bottle benefits for kids

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Saturday, July 30, 2022

Free Back to School Word Scramble Printable for Kids

This free printable back to school word scramble game is perfect for kids of all ages.

It's hard to believe it's already that time of year! But I definitely saw a handful of first day of school photos already this week. So, I guess it's time to share some back to school tips and resources.

Personally, I'm dreading the whole school supply shopping thing. Especially given that I haven't had to do it in so long since my boys did online school for the last two years...Thankfully the kids are still weeks away from their first day of school. So, I can continue putting it off for another week or two.

But speaking of first day (or first week) of school, this back to school word scramble is a great activity to do. It features some common school supplies and school related vocabulary. 

And, if you enjoy this word scramble, try this back to school I spy game too.

Free printable back to school word scramble game for kids with answers

Why Word Scramble Games are Good for Kids

Word scramble games are a great way for kids to work on vocabulary, spelling, language skills, working memory, problem-solving skills, writing, and so much more! There's a wide range of skills you could target here. Just get creative.

You can use free printable word scramble games like this one at home, in the classroom, or even on the road. Or you could use them in Zoom meetings for online learning (tips on how to do so here). They'd even make a great rainy day activity too!

Also, if you've been looking for other ideas on how to use your hyperlexic child's interests in letters, then word scramble games are a great fit. They definitely build off of a hyperlexic child's interest in letters. I mean the game is literally just a bunch of letters. Besides, using your hyperlexic child's interest to teach new skills is definitely something you should be doing - and something you'll hear me say a lot around here!

So anyway, if you're looking for a quick back to school themed activity, then give this back to school word scramble printable for kids a try.

Download the Back to School Word Scramble Printable

This printable is three pages total. Two versions of the word scramble game are included (one with a word bank and one without the word list). Each game contains 20 school themed words. An answer key is also included.

To get your copy of the back to school word scramble, enter your name and email in the form below.

Free printable back to school word scramble game for kids with answers

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Friday, July 29, 2022

Free Summer Word Scramble Printable for Kids

This free printable summer word scramble game is perfect for kids of all ages.

Ah summer...Time for cold treats, hot sunny days, beach days, and lots and lots of swimming. It doesn't get any better, does it?

But some days the temperatures are too hot. Or it's rainy. And you find yourself stuck inside with the kids groaning about being bored. The complain that they don't know what to do...

Well, hopefully this summer word scramble can help save your sanity for a bit and preoccupy them for at least 10 minutes or so. Here's hoping!

Free printable summer word scramble game for kids with answers

Why Word Scramble Games are Good for Kids

Word scramble games are a great way for kids to work on vocabulary, spelling, language skills, working memory, problem-solving skills, writing, and so much more! There's a wide range of skills you could target here. Just get creative.

You can use free printable word scramble games like this one at home, in the classroom, or even on the road. Or you could use them in Zoom meetings for online learning (tips on how to do so here). They'd even make a great rainy day activity too!

Also, if you've been looking for other ideas on how to use your hyperlexic child's interests in letters, then word scramble games are a great fit. They definitely build off of a hyperlexic child's interest in letters. I mean the game is literally just a bunch of letters. Besides, using your hyperlexic child's interest to teach new skills is definitely something you should be doing - and something you'll hear me say a lot around here!

So anyway, if you're looking for a quick summer themed activity, then give this summer word scramble printable for kids a try.

Download the Summer Word Scramble Printable

This printable is three pages total. Two versions of the word scramble game are included (one with a word bank and one without the word list). Each game contains 20 summer themed words. An answer key is also included.

To get your copy of the summer word scramble, enter your name and email in the form below.

Free printable summer word scramble game for kids with answers

Continue reading "Free Summer Word Scramble Printable for Kids"