Thursday, July 02, 2020

Free Social Stories About Divorce

Need a divorce social story? Below you'll find some free social stories about divorce.

Explaining divorce to a child isn't easy.

Especially since divorce brings about a lot of changes and big emotions, both for parents and their children. It's a transition that many kids might struggle with (psst...these transition social stories might also help!).

Your child might have questions about who will live where, when they'll get to see one parent and when they won't, who will sleep where and when, what divorce even means, why their parents are getting divorced...and so much more.

So if you are currently in this situation and need some help explaining divorce to your children (autistic or not), then these free social stories about divorce will be helpful.

Also, I'm going to preface this list for any friends or family who know me in real life: no, I'm not getting divorced. I'm simply sharing this information for other families who need it. It's dumb that I even need to put disclaimers like this in the first place, but I don't want anyone I personally know to read too much into things...okay? Cool.

Free printable social stories about divorce

Free Printable Social Stories About Divorce

There seems to be quite a lot of paid social stories about this particular topic, but not so much for free printable social stories about divorce. However, here are a few options for you to check out and share with your child.

Or, you can also always use these social stories as inspiration and write your own using these free social story templates.

1. Divorce Visual Social Stories (4 Versions) from Panda Speech Therapy

2. My Family & Divorce Social Story from Board Maker Online - Elise Klink

3. What Happens When my Parents Divorce Social Story from Able 2 Learn

4. Where Will Mommy & Daddy Sleep? Social Story from Carol Gray Social Stories

5. Divorce & Custody Social Story from Indiana Disability Rights

Other Social Story Resources You'll Love

More Social Stories for Kids

Free Social Stories About Transitions

Free Social Stories About Moving

Free social stories about divorce for children
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6 Awesome Outer Space Sensory Bags

Looking for sensory bags for toddlers and preschool? Then you'll love these outer space themed sensory bags!

Outer space and planets are common interests of hyperlexic kids, especially during the late toddler and preschool years. They love to learn about space and read about space.

I mean, my son has been interested in all things outer space, off and on, since he was about two. It's why we've done quite a few outer space activities ourselves over the years.

These outer space sensory bags are especially great for tactile sensory avoiders and/or the littlest space loving kids. Plus, they look pretty!

Outer space activities and sensory bags for toddlers and preschoolers

6 Toddler Sensory Bags that are Outer Space Themed!

Get ready for some mess free sensory play with these out-of-this-world space themed sensory bags! They're perfect for kids who love outer space, planets, stars and constellations, and all things galaxy related.

1. Galaxy Sensory Bag with Cotton Balls from Views From a Step Stool (pictured)

2. Constellation Sensory Bag from Playground Parkbench (pictured)

3. Glow in the Dark Space Sensory Bag from Rainy Day Mum

4. Solar System I Spy Sensory Bag from Research Parent (pictured)

5. DIY Galaxy Sensory Bags from Crafty Little Gnome

6. Starry Sky Water Sensory Bag from Learning and Exploring Through Play

Other Outer Space Activities You'll Love

Planet Crafts

Outer Space Sensory Bottles

Free Printable Planets I Spy Game

Totally awesome outer space sensory bags for toddlers and preschoolers
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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

How to Make a Homemade Taco Swing

A tutorial for making your own taco swing for kids. This DIY sensory swing is pretty easy to make and tons of fun for the kids!

I made a homemade taco swing for my boys for Christmas and I have been so excited to share the tutorial with you. 

The actual sewing and assembly of this swing went so smoothly that I actually impressed myself by how well it came together...haha 

From start to finish, this DIY taco swing took me about a hour to make. And I was hoping to do it for under $50. Well, not only does the final product look and work amazing, but I made it for about $25. 

How much does a store bought one cost, you ask? 

Only a whopping $175-300! 

So about that tutorial then?

Homemade taco swing tutorial - how to make a sensory swing for kids from scratch!

Important Safety Precautions & Reminders for DIY Sensory Swings for Kids

I know some of these seem obvious, but I will state these reminders clearly.

  • Do not use stretchy fabric for this swing. 
  • Make sure the thread strength matches the fabric used. Also, make sure you use the appropriate needle on the sewing machine!
  • Always test homemade swings first before letting children play with them.  
  • Do not leave children unattended in swings. 
  • Put swings away when not in use. 
  • Make sure the swing is in a clear, unobstructed space. 
  • I am not responsible for injuries or damage pertaining to or caused by this homemade swing. 
  • Please use at your own risk.

Taco swing DIY tutorial

Homemade Taco Swing: What You'll Need

Here's what we used to make this gorgeous DIY sensory swing:

  • 1.7 metres (1.9 yards) of canvas or other non-stretchy fabric - I found this beautiful striped fabric on clearance and paid $10. I did not end up using all of the fabric so I will save the huge scraps for another project!
  • 1" thick wooden dowels - We used two that were 36" long and paid $5 in total from Michaels using two 50% off coupons. More details to follow.
  • Carabiner hooks - We used ones that could hold 100+ lbs each. I think we paid around $8 for two hooks.
  • Drill with 1/4" drill bit

A homemade taco swing for kids

Some Special Tips & Notes About Making this Taco Swing for Cheap!

We went fabric hunting as a family hoping to find a perfect fabric for our swing on clearance. We lucked out and bought some pretty striped fabric. And it's not even hideous fabric or a plain boring color!

However, if you can't find any fabric you like to fit your budget, then why not try using canvas drop cloth as an alternative. It's 100% canvas and is fairly cheap to buy. It was going to be our back-up plan until I found the striped fabric.

When I originally priced out wooden dowels at Rona, it was going to cost me $20 just for that part... 

Well, enter the ever-brilliant husband: "Does Michaels carry wooden dowels?" I knew that I had seen them before, but I had never looked closely at them. 

The answer is yes! 

Michaels had 1" wooden dowels precut to 36" long. And to make things even sweeter, their coupon for the week was 50% off an original price item. So we ended up buying our wooden dowels for $5, plus we didn't have to worry about cutting them!

Okay, okay, now that I shared some of our tips for making this taco swing, it's time to move on to the tutorial, right?
Colorful taco swing for kids + tutorial so you can make your own

How to Make a DIY Taco Sensory Swing

1. Our dowels were much shorter than the width of our fabric. So I cut the fabric to be about 40" wide, just slightly larger than the length of the dowels (36").

2. Fold the edge of the fabric along the long side of the fabric and tuck the raw edge inside. You'll likely use about 2"-2.5" worth of fabric for this hem. Pin and sew. This edge will be the front (or back) of the swing.

3. Repeat on the other long edge, making sure that the finished rectangle is shorter than the length of the dowel.

4. Now we need to make pockets for the wooden dowels. Fold the fabric around the wooden dowel, tucking the raw edge inside, to create the pocket. Don't make the pocket too tight! Pin into place. Remove the wooden dowel. Then sew.

5. Repeat step four on the remaining edge of the fabric.

6. Drill two holes in each wooden dowel, about 1" in from each end.

7. Determine the length of rope you will need. This step depends on the height of your space. Our swing hangs in an extra-wide doorway so we used about 70" of rope per side. You will use one solid piece of rope per side.

8. Put a piece of tape on the end of a piece of rope. It makes threading the rope so much easier! Plus it keeps the rope from fraying. Tie a knot or two on the underside of the dowel. Repeat for all four holes. See picture below.

How to make a taco swing for kids

9. To attach the carabiner hook, locate the middle of the rope for each side. Loop the rope around the carabiner hook. See picture below.

How to make a taco swing for kids

10. Now that the swing is assembled, you will need to install some hardware to hook the swing onto (if you don't already have a swing set-up in your house). You can get a better view of our swing hooks here. We use two eye bolts (about 18" apart) screwed into the frame of a large doorway. Swing hooks should always be installed into a ceiling joist or door frame.

11. Test it out! Before I ever put my own children in a homemade swing, I always test the weight limit myself. The swing held me comfortably. I also had my husband try it out, but he was definitely just too much for our swing to hold. He's roughly 175 lbs.

Storing & Playing with the DIY Taco Sensory Swing

The wooden dowels make it easy to store the finished swing. Simply roll it all up around the wooden dowels and voila!

Storing a taco swing

But more importantly, it works amazing! You can fly it in by laying on your tummy.

Swinging in a homemade sensory swing

Or you can encourage a good core workout and balance by standing in the swing. This type of play is better for older kids.

Swinging in a homemade sensory swing

Our favorite way to play is to swing while laying on the tummy, picking up toys, and throwing them at a target. It usually results in the most giggles too!

Swinging in a homemade sensory swing

Other DIY Sensory Swings You'll Love

DIY Woven Wrap Sensory Swing

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Camping Themed I Spy Game {Free Printable for Kids}

This free camping themed I spy printable for kids is a perfect way to work on a variety of skills!

Summer is a great time to head outdoors and do fun things like go camping, even if it's in your backyard, like we recently did. This free printable camping I spy game for kids is a great way to get your kids excited for any upcoming camping trips and pairs perfectly with our free camping themed WH question cards.

Free I spy game printable for kids: camping themed

The Benefits of I Spy Games for Kids

I Spy printables like this camping themed 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 Camping 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.


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

Free Printable LEGO Emotions Chart

Free Printable Daily Visual Schedule

Free I spy game printable for kids: camping themed
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Kinetic Sand Cupcakes Sensory Play

Try this kinetic sand cupcakes activity with your toddlers and preschoolers as a way to work on fine motor skills and to encourage creative play.

This kinetic sand activity is definitely the most popular one in the eyes of my three year old. To say he loved it would be an understatement. Together we made cupcakes, sang "Happy Birthday," and engaged in lots of adorable pretend play.

Now if you want to do this kinetic sand cupcakes sensory activity with your child, then you're going to love that it requires no prep and uses materials that you likely already have on hand.

Kinetic sand cupcakes sensory activity for toddlers and preschoolers

Kinetic Sand Cupcakes: What You'll Need

For this cupcake pretend play idea, we used:

This Kinetic Sand Cupcakes Activity is Great for Preschoolers and Toddlers!

There is one thing my three year old really loves and that is cooking. For as long as I can remember, he has had an interest in cooking, whether it's for real or for pretend. So one sunny day, I paired his love for cooking with some kinetic sand and together we made birthday cupcakes.

Just fill up the muffin tin with kinetic sand and add candles. What a fun way to work on fine motor skills and engage in sensory play!

Making kinetic sand cupcakes

Making kinetic sand cupcakes

Preschooler playing with kinetic sand

You can even pop out the cupcakes and hold them in your hands, which was easily my son's favorite part. 

Cupcakes made out of kinetic sand

He would sing "Happy Birthday," blow out the candle, remove the candle, and pretend to eat the cupcake. He even let his stuffed kitty cat join in on the fun. He would sing to the cat or let the cat remove the candle.

Cupcakes made out of kinetic sand

K also enjoyed filling up the muffin tin and pretended to put them in his pretend oven. He would ask me how long to cook it for, count, and then make a dinging noise for when they were done cooking. So much fun!

Other Activities for Kids You'll Love

Looking for kinetic sand activities? Try this kinetic sand cupcakes activity for toddlers and preschoolers. It's great for working on fine motor skills and encouraging pretend play.
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Monday, June 29, 2020

Kinetic Sand Rainbow Activity for Preschoolers

A simple fine motor rainbow activity for preschoolers using kinetic sand and pipe cleaners.

If you've been searching for a simple preschool rainbow activity, then you've got to give this kinetic sand rainbow idea a try! 

It's a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers to work on fine motor skills, color names, and the order of the colors of the rainbow while also getting in a bit of sensory play.

This preschool rainbow activity uses kinetic sand and pipe cleaners to work on fine motor skills

What You'll Need for this Preschool Rainbow Activity

Like most of the kinetic sand activities for kids you can find here on the blog, you won't need much in terms of materials. It's a simple low prep activity that you can set up for your toddlers or preschoolers in just mere minutes. 

I set this activity up for three year old K using:

  • Kinetic sand - Rolled and compacted into two medium sized balls

Fine motor activity for kids using kinetic sand and pipe cleaners

This Kinetic Sand Rainbow Activity for Preschoolers is Great for Building Fine Motor Skills

Not only is this activity great for working on fine motor skills, but it's a great way to work on the order of the colors of the rainbow.

I was curious if my three year old, K, would put the pipe cleaners in rainbow color order or not. Well, he certainly did! With no prompting or help from me, K assembled a perfect little rainbow, naming the colors as he went along.


Rainbow activity for preschoolers and toddlers using kinetic sand


Fine motor activity kinetic sand rainbow activity for kids


Want rainbow activities for kids? Try this kinetic sand rainbow activity

And the rainbow is complete!

Kinetic sand rainbow activity for toddlers and preschoolers

It was so pretty while it lasted because shortly after, in typical little kid fashion, K smashed this rainbow to pieces...haha

Other Rainbow Activities for Kids You'll Love

This post is part of the Fine Motor Series and includes these other fun fine motor activities:

This kinetic sand rainbow activity is perfect for preschool kids and toddlers to work on fine motor skills
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How to Make a DIY Ball Swing

If you're looking for an easy DIY kids swing to make for your kids, then try this DIY ball swing.

Our long, cold winters are the main reason we installed swing hooks in our playroom in the first place. Then we discovered my son was a vestibular sensory seeker so swings became an absolute must.

And I must admit that I'm a wee bit addicted to making DIY kids swing. Just a bit.

Our latest sensory swing hack is this ball swing, which will have you singing Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" in no time.

...or is that just me who sings randomly about things going on around me?

Well, Miley or not, the kids had a blast with this DIY kid swing. It's also super simple and inexpensive to make.

How to make a DIY ball swing for kids

Important Safety Precautions & Reminders for Using DIY Swings for Kids

When it comes to DIY kids swings like this ball swing, it's always best to keep these things in mind:

  • Always test homemade swings first before letting children play with them. 
  • Do not leave children unattended on swings. 
  • Put swings away when not in use. 
  • Make sure that the swing is in a clear, unobstructed space. 
  • I am not responsible for injuries or damage pertaining to or caused by this DIY swing. 
  • Please use at your own risk.
  • The handle on the hopper ball may eventually rip or tear, so look for signs of wear before using it as a swing.

DIY ball swing for kids

DIY Ball Swing for Kids: What You'll Need

This sensory swing is super easy to make. All you need is:

How to Make a DIY Ball Swing

The inspiration for this DIY ball swing came from Play at Home Mom LLC where they made a ball swing for under $5.

However, our swing hooks are installed in an extra wide doorway, so if we were to tie our ball swing to only one hook, then the kids would have ran into the door frame, surely hurting themselves.

Instead, I used two ropes and tied them to our swing hooks (you can see how our swing hooks are installed here).

Just tie the ropes around the handle and the swing hooks using a non-slip knot. Be sure to test the swing before putting your kids on it! The kids always love watching me attempt to swing on these DIY swings many giggles!

DIY ball swing for kids

Once you've done the weight test and ensured it can hold an adult's weight, it's finally time to let the kids try it out.

DIY kid swing using a hopper ball

DIY kid swing using a hopper ball

The kids had a blast with this swing, especially trying to climb on and off by themselves (as it's tricky to climb onto a round ball hanging in mid air!).

Other Ways to Play with the DIY Ball Swing

Four year old K was perfectly content to hit the ball swing back and forth with his hands for about 20-30 minutes. So let them chase and hit the swing as much as they'd like! 

You could also try these ideas:

  • Hitting the ball back and forth with a partner
  • Hitting the ball with a plastic bat
  • Hitting the ball with a tennis racket
  • Hitting the ball with alternating hands (hit it with left hand first and then the right hand when the ball comes back)
DIY kid swing play ideas

Other DIY Sensory Swings You'll Love

How to make a DIY ball swing for kids
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