Friday, December 13, 2019

Christmas Gift Deep Breathing Exercise {Free Printable Poster Included!}

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

I think we can agree that the most favorite part about Christmas for most kids is opening presents. Well, that and having a break from school...

But that change in routine and the sensory aspects involved with opening Christmas gifts can get a bit overwhelming for some kids. Some kids with anxiety and some autistic kids might get worked up about the unknown and uncertainly involved in seeing a bunch of wrapped gifts.

What's inside? How do I react if I don't like it? What if it's not what I asked for?

The questions swirl around in the anxious child's mind.

So when your kids are feeling anxious or overwhelmed by it all, try this deep breathing exercise. And be sure to grab a copy of the free printable poster so you can easily teach it to your kids.

Christmas themed breathing exercise for kids with free printable poster

A Simple Breathing Exercise for Kids with a Christmas Twist

Square breathing is a popular deep breathing technique to teach to kids, but obviously, since it's Christmas, I had to give it a Christmas twist!

This breathing exercise has four simple steps (one for each side of the square) and can be repeated as much as your child (or you!) needs to.

Free deep breathing printable for kids inspired by Christmas

About the Free Printable Christmas Deep Breathing Exercise Poster

This one page printable offers a simple deep breathing technique using a Christmas gift theme. I highly recommend laminating the poster for durability.

As for how to do the actual deep breathing technique, simply trace the outside of the Christmas present and follow the instructions. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Rest. Repeat.

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

>> 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!

Other Mindfulness Resources You'll Love

Mindfulness Picture Books for Kids

Free Printable Deep Breathing Social Story

Mindfulness & Meditation Resources, Activities, & Printables

Christmas gift deep breathing exercise for kids with free printable mindfulness poster
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DIY Calm Down Sensory Travel Kit for Kids

This DIY travel sensory kit is a perfect calm down kit for kids with autism to take on the go or when traveling.

Customized to your child, these travel sized calm down kits are great to toss in the car or in your child's backpack and are jam packed with tools to help them self-regulate, fidget, and stim.

So whether you're planning on traveling with an autistic child during the holidays, over summer break, or on a field trip through school, you'll definitely want to consider making your child a travel sensory kit.

Because, trust me, they can be a lifesaver when you're out and about!

And I'm going to show you how you make one of your own!

Travel sensory kit for kids with autism

How to Make a Travel Sensory Kit for Kids

I'm a wee bit passionate about using calm down kits with kids.

In the past, I've compiled a list of calm down tools for small kids and even one geared towards older kids, both of which will be handy for referencing when putting together a travel sized calm down kit for your kids.

But those ideas are mostly designed for making a larger kit to use at home as part of a calm down corner.

So if you are interested in making a more miniature version of a calm down kit, then you'll definitely want to check out what's included in ours and what other ideas to consider when making your own. I cover all of that over on the CBC Parents website.


Sensory/autism travel kit for kids - a calm down kit that kids can take on the go!
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7 Easy Ways to Help Prepare an Autistic Child for Traveling, Field Trips, or Special Events

Below you'll find tips for traveling with an autistic child, as well as ideas to help you prepare them for upcoming vacations, field trips, or special events like weddings, funerals, or birthday parties. You'll love these autism travel tips!

Spring and summer are filled with weddings, year-end field trips at school, attending summer camps, and maybe - hopefully - going on a little holiday with the family.

So basically, there's just lots and lots of transitions that come along with spring and summer...

Then there's other breaks like Christmas break, winter break, or March break throughout the year where you might be considering traveling with an autistic child.

And if your child struggles with transitions, then you know that you might need to do a little extra work and preparation to help support your child with these transitions.

Extra work?

Eek, don't say that!

Hey, don't panic. I promise these ideas aren't hard or complicated.

The autism travel tips and strategies that I share below are the ones that we've used with great success over the years and still use today. Yep, I'm sharing my best tips and strategies to help prepare an autistic child for traveling, field trips, or special events.

Autism travel: tips for traveling with an autistic child and how to prepare them for field trips, vacations, and other special events

How to Help Prepare an Autistic Child for Vacations, Traveling, Field Trips, and/or Special Events

Like I said, these strategies are the ones that we have personally implemented with great success over the years. Both of my boys find these strategies helpful and I hope you will too!

1. Break down the event or trip to help your child understand what will be happening

Fill in the free printable visual schedule planner so that your child can know all the details about the event including when it is taking place, where they are going, who will be there, and what they will be doing there. It's a useful tool for breaking down the event or trip for your child ahead of time.

2. Use a social story to help prepare your child

Social stories are a great way to help prepare an autistic child for an upcoming event or trip. You can use it to explain flying on an airplane, attending a funeral, attending a birthday party, riding a school bus, attending summer camp, etc. The possibilities are endless.

I do highly recommend writing your own social stories when possible for this purpose because then you can put specific names, places, and addresses as well as photos of family members and friends. The more detailed and personalized, the more effective, I find.

3. Show relevant videos or photos of the place or people involved

Whenever we go on a trip to somewhere new, we always show my son what the place looks like or the people involved. This strategy includes showing him maps of the places too.

For example, when J was a preschooler, we had to make a few trips to Eastern Canada for weddings. I would use Google Street View to show him what my brother's house looked like, what the wedding venue looked like, etc. Then I showed him photos of all unfamiliar relatives or friends that he would be meeting/seeing while there (Facebook is handy for this purpose!).

As another example, we recently went to the World Waterpark in West Edmonton Mall for the first time. Since it was a new experience for him, we looked at the map of the waterpark together multiple times so that he could see all the different slides, where the bathrooms were, where the pop stations were, etc. We then watched videos and looked at photos of every single waterslide that he would be able to go on. Their website had lots of helpful resources for this, but we also found some helpful videos on YouTube.

So if you are traveling, sending your child to summer camp, or something similar, then be sure to use relevant websites, social media profiles, and/or YouTube videos as needed. It is incredibly helpful!

4. Ask for itineraries ahead of time and give a copy to your child

My son recently went on an all-day out-of-town field trip that involved three hours of bus rides, being at the school an extra hour early, and ending the school day 2.5 hours later than usual. Of course, I was nervous about how it would go (for a variety of reasons that I won't share here), but one thing I did was ask for a copy of the day's itinerary.

Being able to share with him when and what he would be doing was helpful for him, especially when paired with strategy #3 above.

So this strategy may include giving your child a copy of flight itineraries, summer camp schedules for the week or each individual day, the name of your child's summer camp instructor, etc. You might also consider writing out a detailed itinerary yourself for your child.

5. Check for closures, scheduled maintenance, etc.

Okay, I learned this the hard way, unfortunately.

Every year, we take the boys to Galaxyland in West Edmonton Mall. It's one of J's favorite places to go. He loves one ride in particular (the Galaxy Orbiter, in case you are wondering) and one year, it happened to be under scheduled maintenance the day we visited. I had no idea and he was quite sad about it.

Now, every time we go somewhere new, I always check the website for information about closures, scheduled maintenance, etc. so that I can let him know ahead of time if things like his favorite ride will be closed.

6. Talk about it and discuss your child's concerns

Be open and discuss it with your child. Explain why it's important to go to your husband's cousin's wedding even though "weddings are SO boring!" (J's words, not mine as I like weddings) or why you are going to the science center on a Tuesday and not a Saturday (i.e., less busy, cheaper, or insert whatever other relevant reason for this decision).

If your child is highly anxious, then find out what their sources of anxiety about the event, field trip, or trip might be. That way you can plan and help them accordingly.

7. Consider your child's sensory needs, preferences, interests, etc. when planning a trip

Obviously, some things like weddings, birthday parties, or funerals cannot be avoided or planned out the way you'd like so this strategy is geared more towards planning a vacation or trip.

There are lots of things to consider when you are planning a trip like when you go, where you go, what you'll do there, etc. You might need to consider things like:

  • Picking a sensory friendly destination to go to
  • Picking a less busy day or even time of day to attend a museum
  • Checking if the place offers a sensory friendly time
  • Checking if the place offers disability passes
  • Planning to visit a place that aligns with your child's interests (e.g., taking them to a dinosaur museum to look at fossils if they love dinosaurs)
  • Including your child in the planning (i.e., let them help decide how to spend your days on vacation)
For example, I mentioned we like to go to Galaxyland in West Edmonton Mall every year. I usually check the Edmonton Public School's calendar first to make sure that school is in session that day because school in session mean it's less busy at the mall. 

I also use information available on Google to check for popular times and days and to find out how long people typically spend there.

Other Things to Remember

While there are lots of different ways to prepare an autistic child for these special outings and events, sometimes it just doesn't work out. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Remember, your child doesn't need to attend if it's simply too much or too uncomfortable for them. Never force your child to do anything that they don't want to do.
  • You can always come up with an alternative plan like arranging a babysitter so he/she doesn't have to attend the wedding ceremony, for instance.
  • Create an exit strategy or plan ahead of time. That way if things go wrong, you have a strategy in place to exit quickly, quietly, and/or gracefully.
  • Keep it simple and plan for lots of breaks in the itinerary, if possible.
  • Include your child in the planning.

Other Resources You'll Love

How to Help Kids with Transitions

Benefits of Visual Schedules for Autistic & Hyperlexic Kids

Free Printable Visual Calm Down Cards


Traveling with an autistic child - great autism travel tips to help prepare your autistic child for field trips, vacations, and other special events
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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Candy Cane Deep Breathing Exercise {Free Printable Poster Included!}

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

Since Christmas is so busy and full of changes in routines, anxiety can skyrocket during the holidays for many kids (okay, people in general). So it's important to make sure your child is armed with as many helpful self-regulation tools as possible, in case they need some extra help getting through the holidays.

This free deep breathing printable for kids teaches kids how to do deep breathing using a candy cane and is a great visual tool to help them self-regulate. Just trace and breathe. It's so simple, yet effective.

Candy cane themed breathing exercise for kids with free printable poster

A Simple Breathing Exercise for Kids with a Christmas Twist

We've been pretty big into mindfulness and meditation around here, especially learning different deep breathing techniques. And it's kind of fun to put a seasonal twist into our deep breathing exercises. Because why not?

This candy cane technique is really simple and straightforward, making it great for kids of all ages (yes, even you adults can make use of it too!).

Free deep breathing printable for kids inspired by Christmas

About the Free Printable Candy Cane Deep Breathing Exercise Poster

This one page printable offers a simple deep breathing technique using a candy cane theme. I highly recommend laminating the poster for durability.

As for how to do the actual deep breathing technique, simply trace the candy cane down and back up and follow the instructions. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Repeat.

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

>> 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!

Other Mindfulness Resources You'll Love

Mindfulness Picture Books for Kids

Free Printable Deep Breathing Social Story

Mindfulness & Meditation Resources, Activities, & Printables

Candy cane deep breathing exercise for kids with free printable mindfulness poster
Read More

Holly Deep Breathing Exercise {Free Printable Poster Included!}

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

I'm not one of those people who gets majorly stressed out at Christmas, mostly because we keep things pretty low key around here. And because I always aim to finish all my Christmas shopping early and online. If I can avoid the stores, I'm good.

However, anxious kids like my son can be thrown off by the changes in routines and all the overwhelming sensory aspects that Christmas brings. So I'm making sure he has as many tools as possible to help him cope and self-regulate.

This free printable Christmas themed deep breathing exercise is perfect for helping kids manage their anxiety during the holidays.

Holly themed breathing exercise for kids with free printable poster

A Simple Breathing Exercise for Kids with a Christmas Twist

Triangle breathing is a common deep breathing technique, where you draw a triangle as your breathe.

So this Christmas holly exercise is based on that. It's such a great mindfulness strategy to teach your kids! Or maybe you need to use this technique yourself to make it through the holidays.

Free deep breathing printable for kids inspired by Christmas

About the Free Printable Holly Deep Breathing Exercise Poster

This one page printable offers a simple deep breathing technique using a Christmas holly theme. I highly recommend laminating the poster for durability.

As for how to do the actual deep breathing technique, simply trace the arrows around the holly and follow the instructions. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Repeat.

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

>> 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!

Other Mindfulness Resources You'll Love

Mindfulness Picture Books for Kids

Free Printable Deep Breathing Social Story

Mindfulness & Meditation Resources, Activities, & Printables

Christmas holly themed deep breathing exercise for kids with free printable mindfulness poster
Read More

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Christmas Doodles I Spy Game {Free Printable for Kids}

This free Christmas themed I spy printable for kids would be a fun advent calendar activity for kids or even a great stocking stuffer idea!

Here's another adorable free printable Christmas themed I spy game for kids. With simple Christmas doodles of Santa, wreaths, and more, this I spy game is a perfect Christmas quiet time activity for kids of all ages!

Remember, you could add this printable to an activity advent calendar or use it as a stocking stuffer at Christmas.

Free I spy game printable for kids: Christmas themed

The Benefits of I Spy Games for Kids

I Spy printables like this Christmas doodles 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 Christmas Doodles 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.

>> 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!

Want More I Spy Games?

You'll find even more themes in the I spy games bundle!

Printable I spy games for kids

Other Ideas You'll Love

More Free Printable I Spy Games for Kids

I Spy Bundle Packs

Christmas Activities & Crafts for Kids

Free Printable Christmas Activity Calendar


Free I spy game printable for kids: Christmas themed
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Candy Canes Christmas I Spy Game {Free Printable for Kids}

This free Christmas themed I spy printable for kids features colorful candy canes and would be a fun advent calendar activity for kids or even a great stocking stuffer idea!

Candy canes are a classic Christmas treat. Although it has been years since I've actually enjoyed eating a candy cane myself!

However, my kids enjoy the occasional one during the Christmas season. So I thought it would be cute to make a free printable candy cane themed I spy game for kids.

It represents all different flavors from mint to cherry to orange. Maybe even dill pickle flavored? Yes, I'm not even kidding. I recently learned that there are dill pickle flavored candy canes. Now, I love dill pickles and can easily consume an entire jar in one sitting, but the thought of eating a dill pickle candy cane makes me want to gag! Seriously, who would try one?

Free I spy game printable for kids: Christmas themed

The Benefits of I Spy Games for Kids

I Spy printables like this candy canes themed 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 Candy Canes Christmas 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.

>> 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!

Want More I Spy Games?

You'll find even more themes in the I spy games bundle!

Printable I spy games for kids

Other Ideas You'll Love

More Free Printable I Spy Games for Kids

I Spy Bundle Packs

Christmas Activities & Crafts for Kids

Free Printable Christmas Activity Calendar


Free I spy game printable for kids: Christmas themed
Read More