Spring Flower Hunt

I love getting out in Spring.  The weather is warmer, the flowers come out and the colours just feel so alive after winter.  Recently we bought a membership to the RHS Gardens (UK) and the kids and I have been making good use of it.

My daughter is keen to learn more about plants so we took advantage of the warmer weather and did a Spring Flower Hunt (part of the paid for Platinum pages from Twinkl).

Twinkl Spring Flower Hunt

We have done colour hunts / season themed hunts / minibeast hunts before but never a flower hunt.  The kids loved it.

Initially my youngest was just trying to match the flowers on colour so I showed him he needed to look at other details like the shape of the petals and how the leaves look.  He happily started doing that.  And when he found a flower he thought might match he would call his sister over and the two would decided together.

Working together tryingg to decide of they have spotted the correct flower

What I also really liked about the flower hunt was while the kids were walking around looking they naturally started reading the flower signs that were in the garden.  And they did not just read the names they started reading the details about the different plants.  So even though lots of the flowers were not on our list the kids still ended up learning about them.

Doing a Spring Flower Hunt and learning about other flowers in the process

And then just when I was getting ready to go and get a coffee my youngest noticed I had a colour hunt page in my bag (I actually had this colour checklist page with me for a completely different idea but when the kids get on a learning roll I adjust my plans and follow their lead).  So the two rascals quickly had a go at making sure they had spotted all the colours while we were out.  And my youngest pointed out that the only black he had spotted was actually man-made signs, he thought this was interesting as mommy (me) is always telling them that the shadows are not always pitch black but darker shades of colours.

Kids doing a Spring Flower Hunt and a colour hunt

And my daughter had a great time taking photographs of the flowers, she was talking about using her photographs to make her own flower hunt list for our next visit (but to be honest by the time we got home she was exhausted – the venue was crowded with lots of school children on holiday and although she manages the outings like a pro these days by the time she gets home she needs quite a bit of time to get over the sensory overload – maybe over the weekend I will remind her of the idea to make her own flower hunt list).

taking some flower photos while we did a Spring Flower hunt

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Easter Eggs on our sliding doors

Yes the title is correct we have Easter Eggs on our sliding doors.

Easter Eggs traced onto our sliding doors

We have done a version of this activity a few times already but it is such a great activity for a number of reasons so we had another go but this time using Easter Eggs.  The Easter eggs that we used are these ones – Easter Eggs Templates from Twinkl (part of their gold package).  I taped a few up on the outside of our sliding doors using masking tape and then we got out our STABILO 3-in-1 pencils and some water and the kids had a go at tracing over the templates.

STABILO 3-in-1 pencils. Our favourite pencil for younger children

The STABILO 3-in-1 pencils are perfect for this type of activity as they wipe off the glass very easily afterwards.  And for younger children they are a nice thick shape which really helps them get their pencil grip correct. (We have used ours a LOT over the 5 years that we have had them – HUGE FANS).

The main reason why I wanted to do this was from an OT angle. Our Occupational Therapist is always encouaging us to do activities where the kids are writing / drawing with their arms raised eg on a wall, as it is a way of working on their shoulder strength.

Tracing over Twinkl egg templates taped onto the back of sliding doors

Tracing over Easter pictures taped onto the outside of the sliding doors

One thing I must mention about this activity is you are not always going to get perfectly neat drawings.

Easter Egg traced onto glass and then coloured in using Twinkl egg templates and STABILO pencils

It is a fun tracing activity where the kids get to write on sliding door or windows.  We never go into this with an idea that the drawings are going to be detailed and neat, there are going to be some smudges and it can be hard to trace the shapes perfectly but we make that part of the fun.

Easter Egg traced and coloured in on glass using Stabilo 3-in-1 pencils

Also my youngest loves wiping off the drawings and then redoing them which is REALLY good for his shoulder strength but it does tend to leave dirty streaks on the glass. For me the dirty looking streaks are not a big deal as I know he is doing a very useful activity and more importantly he is having fun while he strengthens his shoulders so I live with the dirty streaks on my sliding doors. And I leave them there for a few days as he will often come back and add to his pictures.

Easter Eggs traced onto our sliding doors using a Twinkl egg template

The STABILO 3-in-1 pencils are these ones (Tip if you do get some make sure you get a sharpener as normal sized sharpeners are not going to work) – STABILO Woody 3-in-1 Multi-Talented Pencil with Sharpener and Paint Brush – Assorted Colours, Wallet of 18

Tracing Easter eggs onto sliding doors using Twinkl Easter Egg Templates and STABILO 3-in-1 pencils

I have included Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same.  I only include affiliate links for products that we own, use and love.

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Posted in Art and Craft Ideas | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Arts and Crafts have helped my SPD kids

I am a huge believer in spending time helping SPD kiddies access arts and crafts that might possibly be “tough” on a sensory level.

I believe that art and craft activities are good for all children regardless of whether they have sensory difficulties but for sensory kids it is vital.   Not only are they getting the normal benefits of doing arts and crafts but they are also often challenging themselves on a sensory  level in a fun, relaxing manner.

My kids did not naturally take to art activities but I was determined to work on it, so we did and bit by bit we made progress.  It was SLOW but we recognised the small improvements and expanded on them, all the time trying to keep it fun and interesting.

To begin with my daughter really resisted colouring and painting.  So we switched to using oil pastels (she liked the feeling of the oil pastels on her fingers and she found the pressure easier to manage than normal pencils)

Using Oil pastles is often easier for SPD kids

and then we moved her onto the Woody 3 in 1 pencils.  The nice thing about the 3-in-1 pencils was they could be dipped in water and used as water-colour pencils, so we played with that for a while and then when she was happy with that we re-introduced simple water-colour paints.  We did not force her to use the orignal pencils that caused all the sensory problems, we tried alternatives and got her comfortable with the alternatives and slowly built from there.  Now she enjoys colouring and happily uses a wide range of pencils without complaining about the feeling of them on her hands.

We have also had to practice with glue – yes I know might sound a bit strange – but the feeling of glue on their skin for a child with SPD can be VERY distressing.  The first time we tried decopatch both kids hated the glue (Mod-Podge) and got very distressed by it.  So we did lots of small projects using the glue.  Initially the kids would just glue one or two small pieces of paper onto an old glass jar and then I would help them clean their hands.  As they got more comfortable so we worked with the glue for longer and longer periods.

Wet clay was another one.  The sticky wet feeling can be quite a challenge for sensory-avoiders.  I had to find activities that they really wanted to do in order to encourage them to use the clay.  This was one of those examples where I often worked with some clay and the kids would just watch and ask to join me.  Initially they sat on my lap and we worked with the clay together (this has helped both my kids get involved in activities they found difficult on a sensory level – them being on my lap and us doing it together – it gives them extra security to try to tolerate that difficult feeling). Also with the clay I have found that we could not leave the interval between using it too long.  We once did not work with clay for about 7 months and we had to take a few steps back to get my daughter comfortable with it again.

making Roman coins using air drying clay

The key for us has been variety, doing small projects and building up.  Keeping it fun and finding themes that they enjoy.  We have had a number of false starts but whenever we have tried something that has gone horribly wrong I try to figure out why – was it the feeling of the glue / did they need to press very hard to get a colour and ended up with sore hands / was there a very strong smell that made them gag ?  Once I think I understand why it went wrong I try to see if we can practice the issue in small doses – maybe give them a picture that is already partly coloured in and they just need to finish it / maybe using the paint dabbers instead of brushes might help with exhausted hands.  Small steps.  All the small steps add up and as they get more confident with the different sensory inputs from the arts and crafts they often start asking for more and more activities.

The feeling of glue is now something my daughter is able to tolerate if it means she can complete a craft project.  Both kids now enjoy working with wet clay and paint is always popular in our house.

Often art and craft activities can be difficult for kids with SPD as they are having to deal with something that is uncomfortable possibly even distressing on a sensory level.  But I do think art and craft activities can be an excellent way to help sensory kids experience those scary feelings in a relaxed, fun, non-threatening enviroment.  It has worked well for us and is one of the reasons why we do so many art and craft activities in our home.

The finger paint from Baker Ross is brilliant

Some of the items I mentioned in the post –

Pentel PHN4-50 Oil Pastels – Pack of 50

STABILO Woody 3-in-1 Multi-Talented Pencil with Sharpener and Paint Brush – Assorted Colours, Wallet of 18

Mod Podge 8 oz Waterbase Sealer, Glue and Finish, Gloss

DAS Modelling Clay 500 g White Air-Dry

 

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Usborne See Inside How Things Work

We actually gave this stunning book to my son (aged 6) as a Christmas present and it is such a brilliant book that I wanted to share some photos and details about the book.

Usborne See Inside How Things Work. An excellent book which helps kids understand how everyday objects actually work

How Things Work (See Inside) (Usborne See Inside)is broken down into 7 sections. All sections (except for the first and last) are double pages.

  • Simple machines  – a quick explanation of a wheel, cog, pulley, an inclined plane, wedge, screw and a lever work.
  • Movers and shakers – diggers, cranes and other items from a construction site.
  • Getting going – cars and bicycles.  My son really likes this page as it features how a car’s engine works and how a bicycle manages to move forward without an engine.
  • Making music – how instruments work – includes a piano, french horn, trombone and a pipe organ.

Usborne See Inside How Things Work. the Making music page includes how a pipe organ works

  • Waterworks.  The kids see how the toilet and pipes in a house work.
  • Floating and flying.  Planes and boats.
  • Everyday inventions – like hair dryers, toasters, vacuum cleaners etc

Usborne See Inside How THings Work. A padlock featured on the Everday inventions page

  • Up, down and around – lifts, escalators

The graphics are of the high standard that you expect from Usborne books and they manage to explain how the items work in short, to the point phrases.

Take the bicycle as an example

Usborne See Inside How Things works includes a bicycle

and when you lift the bicycle flap you see

Usborne See Inside How Things Works explains how the gears on a bicycle work

I also really liked the fact that the book includes the items you would expect like cars, construction vehicles etc but they also included the water system in a house (I was not expecting this).  This page has been the starting point for lots of discussions about toilets.

Usborne See Inside How Things works includes en axplanation of the water system in a house

I am a fan of the Usborne flap books because all the ones we own manage to keep the kids interested.  The kids enjoy reading the books, lifting the flaps to see what is underneath and all the while they are learning.  This one is exactly that.  The kids enjoy it, they keep going back to it and every time they read it they are learning.

I am thrilled we bought this book for my son as I think it makes a great addition to our home book collection.

Usborne See Inside How THings work.  Book for children who want to know how everyday objects work

I have included Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same.  I only include affiliate links for products that we own, use and love.

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Common Word poster games

We have two common word posters which were on a notice board by the kids desks but beginning of this year we moved the posters upstairs to the kid’s bedroom and a new game evolved.  It was quite by accident.  One evening my youngest wanted to know what one of the words on the poster was, he used his toy goat to point (IKEA) to the word and our new word game started.  He started pointing at other words telling me which words he could read, which words sounded the same, which words were special words (mum and dad) and which ones were silly words.

Common Word Poster activities for children to practice reading.

After a while I started asking him questions.  Like can you say the word that is in the second column 6 words down.  And he would use his toy goat to point.  He thought this was fun and he started asking me questions like – mum can you tell me where on the poster the word – play – is ?  I would then have to find the word and describe its position.  eg third column, 10 words from the top.  We also included rhyming words eg can you find a word that rhymes with dig.

Common Word posters level 1 and level 2. High frequency words

The following evening he called me to play the word game but this time he said we should include more instructions.  So we started with questions like – “what word is below “day” and what word is above “day”, or what word is to the right of “she” – those kind of scenarios.

It has actually now become part of the kids bedtime routine (yes he sister has also started joining in).  He always reminds me to play the word game.

Common Word posters can be interactive and fun if you include some games

And we even put an extra twist on the game last night.  Both my kids speak Afrikaans (it is their dad’s home language).  So now we have started including our 2nd language.  Can you find the English word for Pa.

Lots of fun and they are learning without even realizing it.

The Common Word Posters that we have are these ones

Common Words – Level 1 – Educational Poster 40x60cm

Common Words – Level 2 – Educational Poster 40x60cm

Common Word posters. High Frequency word posters

I have included Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same.  I only include affiliate links for products that we own, use and love.

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