Monday, December 10, 2018

Jingle Bell Christmas Slime

Get ready to make some Christmas slime for kids! Find out how to make slime with this simple jingle bell Christmas slime recipe.

Nothing says Merry Christmas like slime...

Okay, not really, but this jingle bell Christmas slime recipe is a pretty festive way to enjoy the season through sensory play. It's a perfect mix of tactile sensory play and auditory sensory input.

The itty bitty red, gold, and green bells are so so cute. Seriously, they're so tiny and have the tiniest little jingle that rings when you shake them.

I whipped up this batch of Christmas slime as a surprise for the kids as an after school activity recently and it was such a hit! It's super simple to make and I used supplies from the dollar store so it's inexpensive too. Also, just a heads up, but the clear glue from the dollar store works amazing for homemade slime. I had my doubts that it would because sometimes the craft supplies from the dollar store aren't that great.

Christmas slime recipe: how to make slime with jingle bells

How to Make Jingle Bell Christmas Slime

I'm pretty sure this Christmas slime has been the most favorite slime we've made to date. My youngest, K, has spent hours playing with this slime. I'm convinced that this won't be considered Christmas slime for much longer. Or maybe he will think Christmas lasts for weeks or months.

And honestly, I'm as obsessed with this slime as much as he is, but for a different reason. I loved taking photos of the slime. Even if we had to take photos squished in a corner of my kitchen with giant photography lights placed on each end of the table. You gotta do whatcha gotta do when it's pitch black outside by like 4:30 PM each day, right? 

But don't worry, I'm not going to spam you with all the photos of this glorious slime...but just know I had a very hard time deciding which were my favorites out of the almost 100 photos. Eek.

Ready to learn how to make this homemade Christmas slime?



Christmas slime recipe: how to make slime with jingle bells
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Friday, December 07, 2018

DIY Super Mario Themed Climbing Wall for Kids {How to Build a DIY Climbing Wall Tutorial}

Tutorial for how to make a DIY climbing wall for kids that's inspired by Super Mario. It's easy to build a rock climbing wall indoors with these step-by-step instructions and photos.

Sometimes I decide to make a project and put it off for a year or two.

Then when I do finally get around to tackling said project, it turns out even better than I imagined.

This Super Mario themed DIY climbing wall is just one of those projects. And honestly, I can't remember a time one of our big projects went so smoothly. Usually we encounter some kind of hiccup, but nope, not with this one. It was eerie how smoothly the building and painting process went...

Honestly, this project may look ambitious, but I promise, it's not. The actual building part is relatively quick. You could easily build the wall part in an afternoon.

DIY Super Mario themed climbing wall for kids - how to build a rock climbing wall for kids tutorial

About Our Super Mario Climbing Wall

This DIY climbing wall was a project that I had been wanting to tackle for quite a few years. We found the climbing holds on sale like almost two years prior to actually building this project. So yeah, it was on our to do list for a long time!

Our finished climbing wall is 8' x 8' in size. We built it from floor to ceiling in our basement.

The total cost of the project was around $250.

We finished the entire project in less than 24 hours - painting and all! It turned out fabulous!! I mean just look at it!

How to build a rock climbing wall for kids inspired by Super Mario

Here's What You'll Need to Make a DIY Climbing Wall for Kids

We used the following materials:

You'll also need the following tools:

For the Super Mario mural, we used a variety of paint that we had on hand and a small can of mistint blue paint that we found at Rona for $5. It was the perfect sky blue color! The tan (for the ground) and the white (for the clouds) were cans of paint that we found in our garage from the people who owned the house before us. Then we used acrylic paint from the dollar store to paint all the other details. In total, we spent $5 on paint since we already had everything else on hand - score! Here's what you'll need for the mural part:

How to build a rock climbing wall for kids inspired by Super Mario

DIY Climbing Wall Tutorial {Step-by-Step}

Disclaimer: This tutorial is presented only as a guide. Build at your own risk. I don't pretend to be a carpenter or engineer or anything so don't blame me for things going wrong or injuries or whatnot. Okay?

We based our climbing wall on some DIY climbing wall plans from Three Ball Climbing. It appears the PDF is no longer available on their website now. Or maybe I'm just blind...Anyway, we changed a few things about their plan since we had no intentions of moving the climbing holds around.

1. Use the stud finder to locate the left edge and the right edge of each stud. Then mark the approximate middle of each stud. Use a 2 x 4 to draw vertical lines through the middle of each stud. You'll end up with a bunch of lines on your wall like below. You'll noticed that we removed our baseboard for this project. Don't forget to do that as well!

DIY climbing wall for kids tutorial {step-by-step}

2. Lay one of your 2x4s along the floor at the base of the wall. See that's why we removed the baseboard...Try to get the 2x4 centered along the lines that you marked on the wall. Mark the stud at each point where the lines on the wall meet the 2x4. Drill two holes (one hole above another) at each point you marked on the 2x4. Make sure the 2x4 is level. Then attach the 2x4 to the wall using the 3 1/2" screws.

3. Grab another 2x4 and your level. Line up the 2x4 vertically at the edge of the 2x4 you just attached along the base of the wall. Trace along the vertical 2x4 up to the ceiling. This line will help you line up the other 2x4s on the wall.

4. Time to make some spacers! We actually used some scrap 2x4s for this step. Make two spacers the exact same length. The plan we were following suggested 14 1/2", but I think we actually went with a slightly smaller size. I honestly can't remember! You'll use the spacers (and the vertical line you drew in step 3) to make it easier to attach the other 2x4s to the wall.

DIY climbing wall for kids tutorial {step-by-step}

5. Keep attaching the remaining 2x4s to the wall using the spacers you made in step 4. Remember to use two 3 1/2" screws for each stud marked on the wall. Repeat this step until you have only one 2x4 remaining and you've built a mighty fine wall ladder.

DIY climbing wall for kids tutorial {step-by-step}

6. In the picture above, you'll noticed two 2x4s right on top of each other near the middle. That's because that is where the one sheet of plywood will end and the other sheet will start. You need to attach a 2x4 to the wall where both sheets of plywood will meet on the wall so that both sheets can be attached to it.

7. Next, you'll need to plan out where you will be attaching the climbing holds. We just placed them on the board then marked the holes with pencil.

DIY climbing wall for kids tutorial {step-by-step}

8. Drill holes for each climbing hold so that you can install the t nut hardware that comes with the climbing holds. You'll need to hammer each t nut into place.

DIY climbing wall for kids tutorial {step-by-step}

9. Once all the holes are drilled and the t nuts are installed, it's time to hang the plywood! You'll use the 2" screws to attach the plywood to the 2x4 anchor studs. 

DIY climbing wall for kids tutorial {step-by-step}

Soon you'll have an awesome plywood wall. Woooo...

DIY climbing wall for kids tutorial {step-by-step}

Now you can either install the climbing holds and call it good. Or you could go big and paint a fantastic mural first. Obviously, we went with option number two...

Painting the DIY Super Mario Climbing Wall

There's not much for painting process photos since I did a bulk of the painting. Although my Instagram story highlight (see the climbing wall highlight) makes it look like my husband did all the painting...You can tell who the picture taker in the family is. Hint: it's me.

First, I planned out the basic shape of the ground that I wanted for the mural and taped out its shape using the painter's tape. Then I painted the sky blue and the ground tan.

Once the paint was dry, I peeled the tape off and used a pencil to draw all the fun details like blocks and coins, etc.

The vine was free handed. And it shows...haha

Close up of Super Mario themed DIY climbing wall for kids

I made a cardstock template for the blocks. Then I traced three blocks onto the plywood. The details on the blocks were free handed.

Close up of Super Mario themed DIY climbing wall for kids

Next, I mixed all the different green acrylic paints I had on hand because my supply was a little limited and it was like 10 PM at this point...stores were closed by then so I had to make this work out! I free handed the bush and grass covering. I then also painted random yellow dashes all around the ground.

Once the green was dry, I free handed the apples onto the bush.

Close up of Super Mario themed DIY climbing wall for kids

For the coins, I, once again, made a cardstock template so that they would be the same shape and size. I did the same thing for the clouds in the sky.

Close up of Super Mario themed DIY climbing wall for kids

I added additional coats of paint (as needed) for many of the details. Then once everything was dry, my husband and I outlined everything in black. This step was a bit painful, but totally worth it. Even if it was approaching midnight at this point...

Then once all the painting was finished and dry to the touch, my husband installed all the climbing holds. Each hold is held up by the included t nut hardware and a 2" screw.

Shall we recap with a quick video overview? Yep, let's DO IT!



The Finished Product is Pretty Super!

When the boys woke up the next morning, they were eager to try it out! Here are a few (of the hundreds!) of photos that I took of the first few climbs. Hey, just be happy I narrowed it down to this many!

Find out how to build a climbing wall indoors for kids with this DIY Super Mario themed climbing wall tutorial

Find out how to build a climbing wall indoors for kids with this DIY Super Mario themed climbing wall tutorial

Find out how to build a climbing wall indoors for kids with this DIY Super Mario themed climbing wall tutorial

Find out how to build a climbing wall indoors for kids with this DIY Super Mario themed climbing wall tutorial

Find out how to build a climbing wall indoors for kids with this DIY Super Mario themed climbing wall tutorial

Other "Super" Ideas You'll Love





DIY Super Mario themed climbing wall for kids - how to build a rock climbing wall for kids tutorial
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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Free Printable Christmas Social Story About Seeing Santa

You're going to love this free printable visiting Santa social story for kids with autism that explains going to see Santa at Christmas time.

Visiting Santa at the mall can be exciting, but it can also be extremely difficult for kids with autism or sensory issues. This free printable social story about seeing Santa will help teach your kids about what to expect when it comes to visiting Santa Claus at the mall.

I hope you find this social story helpful for your child!

Free printable social story for kids about visiting Santa at Christmas time

About the Free Printable Social Story

This social story explains what happens when you go to see Santa at the mall or store. It describes waiting in line, smiling for the camera, how to answer Santa when he asks your child what they want for Christmas, and more.

I highly suggest laminating the social story for durability. You can use binder rings to keep the social story together or store it in a binder. As an alternative to laminating, you could use sheet protectors in a binder. Or if you find yourself printing off lots of social stories, then this binding machine is a lifesaver!

Download the Free Printable Visiting Santa Social Story

This printable is 11 pages long and includes full color photos.

Click here to subscribe

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Free Printable Social Story About Hugging

You're going to love this free printable hugging social story for kids with autism that explains how to give and receive hugs.

When it comes to hugging, many kids struggle knowing when to ask for a hug, how to ask for one, and how to tell a hug is ending. This free printable hugging social story is a great tool for helping your autistic kids learn all about hugging. It includes asking for permission/consent first too.


About the Free Printable Social Story

This social story explains how to give and receive hugs. It describes how to tell a hug is ending, how to ask for a hug, how to ask if you can give a hug, and so much more. A special shout out to one of my readers, Emma, for requesting this particular social story!

I highly suggest laminating the social story for durability. You can use binder rings to keep the social story together or store it in a binder. As an alternative to laminating, you could use sheet protectors in a binder. Or if you find yourself printing off lots of social stories, then this binding machine is a lifesaver!

Download the Free Printable Hugging Social Story

This printable is 12 pages long and includes full color photos.

Click here to subscribe

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Friday, November 30, 2018

5 Tips for Managing Sensitivities During the Holidays

Five sensory-friendly holiday tips for autism families to help support your child's sensory sensitivities during the holidays.

With Christmas quickly approaching, you're probably busy shopping, baking, decorating, and so on. The holiday season also brings along a host of sensory information like the smell of gingerbread cookies baking, the smell of evergreen, the ringing of bells as you shuffle in and out of stores...the list goes on and on.

Throw in some changes in routines and you might as well start embracing for that impending sensory meltdown that's coming your way.

Yep, Christmas is lovely and all that jazz, but when you have sensory kids at home like I do, you know that it can be an extremely overwhelming time of year for your little one.

Don't worry though, I'm not just going to wish you luck and hope you survive it all. Nope, not how things operate around here...

Instead, I'm going to give you five tips for how to manage your child's sensory sensitivities during the holidays so that you don't lose your mind (too much!) this holiday season.

Sensory friendly holiday tips for autism families

Sensory-Friendly Holiday Tips for Autism Families

I personally like having almost zero holiday plans. It really simplifies things. However, there's still the family get togethers, the Christmas parties, and the billion little things that need to be done before Christmas morning that we still partake in.

So what do we do to make holidays a breeze?

Well, I'm sharing my five best holiday tips for autism families over at CBC Parents and I hope you find them helpful!


Holiday tips for autism families: how to support your child's sensory sensitivities
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Meltdowns vs. Tantrums: What's the Difference? Plus 8 Ways to Help Your Child When They're Having a Meltdown

Learn about the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown. Plus, you'll find 8 tips to help your child during an autism meltdown.

When it comes to parenting, handling "outbursts" of emotions can be tough.

Maybe you've dealt with your fair share of tantrums over the years. Or maybe you're raising an autistic child or a child with sensory issues who frequently has meltdowns.

Tantrums and meltdowns.

Two simple words that often get used to describe a child's behavioral and/or emotional outbursts.

But do you really know the difference between tantrums and meltdowns?

I can almost guarantee that those judgy people throwing shade at you in the grocery store while your child is currently in meltdown mode could use this lesson too. Yep, those jerks could definitely use some education on the whole tantrum vs meltdown thing. Then maybe they could offer a helping hand instead of shooting invisible lasers of judgment out of their eyeballs towards you.

My point is simple though. Tantrums and meltdowns are two different things.

And the distinction between the two is important to understand because the way you respond and react to each is entirely different.

What is a meltdown? How is it different from a tantrum?

What is the Difference Between a Tantrum and a Meltdown?

While on the surface meltdowns and tantrums may present similarly, they are not the same thing. 

Let me repeat that again one more time.

Meltdowns and tantrums are not the same thing.

Many people use the terms interchangeably - heck, I probably did once upon a time too. But when you have a child that has frequent meltdowns, you quickly learn that tantrums and meltdowns are two very different things.

Meltdowns are rarely ever about the little things, but sometimes those little things pile up on top of each other until it just becomes too much. Your child becomes overwhelmed and can no longer cope. They shut down and a meltdown can be the result of their overwhelming senses.

I recently wrote a long article for CBC Parents on this topic (so long that they had to break it up into two parts haha!). This piece will help you learn what a meltdown is, what a tantrum is, and how the two differ. Plus, I'm sharing 8 tips on how to help your child during a meltdown. So pop on over there and give it a read!


What is a meltdown? How is it different from a tantrum?

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Friday, November 02, 2018

Rayquaza Birthday Cake

Thinking of making a Pokemon birthday cake for one of your kids? This Rayquaza Pokemon cake tutorial is super easy. Find out how to make a Rayquaza birthday cake below.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this Rayquaza birthday cake was one of the hardest cakes I have made over the years. I could say some of my first few cakes were hard, but that's simply because I didn't really have any experience making complex cakes yet.

Oh wait...maybe J's 5th birthday cake where it had an actual number 5 embedded in the middle of each slice of cake was one of the most difficult. But that one was easy to decorate at least...

Annnnnyway, my oldest had his heart set on a Rayquaza cake for his 9th birthday and I was determined to make it happen.

And happen it did.

I mean look at this BEAST.

This cake may not look super pretty up close, but whatever, I love how it turned out. And so did J. He absolutely loved it!

Rayquaza birthday cake tutorial: How to make a Pokemon birthday cake

What You'll Need to Make this Rayquaza Pokemon Cake

When my son J requested a Rayquaza cake for his 9th birthday, I wasn't entirely sure how I was going to make it a reality. I figured that I could start with a snake shape and then hope for the best. So that's what I did. Here's what you'll need to make this Pokemon birthday cake:

Bake the cake as the recipe calls for. You will need to make two 9-inch round cakes. Let cool completely before assembling the cake.

Here's what we're going to make:

Pokemon cake tutorial for Rayquaza

How to Make a Rayquaza Birthday Cake

1. After the two cakes have cooled, transfer to a cutting board or somewhere to cut the cake. Do not place the cakes on the tray you'll be serving it on yet. We need to do some major cutting first!

2. Using a round object smaller than the cake pan, cut out the centers of both cakes. These inside pieces will become the hands, arms, ears, and chin whisker thingies. Set the inside pieces aside.

3. Cut the outside circular pieces into smaller pieces and start assembling a snake shape on a serving tray lined with parchment paper (we need to line it as some of the details will be iced on the parchment to give some dimension and depth to the cake). The cut pieces don't need to fit together perfectly. That's what icing is for, right? *wink wink*

4. Cut a mouth at one end of your snake shape.

5. Once you have your basic snake shape assembled, start cutting and hacking away on those inside pieces you set aside in step 2. Use a google image of Rayquaza to help you figure out the basic shapes you need. It's basically two slender triangles for his ears and two more smaller ones for his chin whiskers. His arms are a small curvy bit and you'll need two three pronged blobs for his hands. Assemble these pieces to the cake on the serving tray. <-- Good descriptions or what, right? I mean, I'm not striving for perfection here. Just a cool looking cake.

6. Make your icing (skip if using store bought). Split into three portions (one portion should be about 90%, one 8%, and one 2%).

7. Add a copious amount of drops of green food coloring to the largest portion of icing and mix until the color is evenly distributed. Repeat for the yellow using the medium portion. Leave the remaining small portion white.
8. Add a generous layer of green icing to the entire shape of the cake and along all edges. I'm serious...be generous, especially if your cake has some gaps here and there like mine did.

9. Chill the cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

10. Add an additional layer of green icing if needed. Otherwise, run a butter knife or cake knife over the entire cake to smooth the icing as best as you can. Be sure to save some green icing for other details.

11. Use the leftover green icing from step 10 to draw some of Rayquaza's fins onto the parchment paper.

12. Use the red icing tube to draw lips and outline the green fins you made in step 11.

13. Use the black icing tube to draw an eye and some body sections. Use your inspiration image as a guide or my photos here. Note: I did a terrible job of counting the number of sections for his body, but did anyone notice? Nope!

14. Use a piping bag filled with yellow icing to draw some of the details along Rayquaza's back and body. Again, use your inspiration image or the photos here as a guide. Be sure to put a yellow dot inside his eye too!

15. Use a piping bag filled with the white icing to draw claws onto Rayquaza's hands.

16. Chill until serving time.

Here are some closer up shots of some of his details. You'll notice I did put a bit of pink inside Rayquaza's mouth. That's because I was also working on this Patrick birthday cake at the same time and had some leftover pink icing.

Pokemon cake tutorial for Rayquaza

Pokemon cake tutorial for Rayquaza

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Rayquaza birthday cake tutorial: How to make a Pokemon birthday cake

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