DIY Eye Spy Bag

by Katy

Have you seen Eye Spy Pillows? They are these little pillows that have a clear window in them that allows you to see the stuffing. Inside, the pillow has all these tiny objects floating around inside the stuffing. They’re really great for younger kids who are still considered a choking risk because they can see the little pieces, but they can’t put them in their mouth.

Well, we do a lot of activities around here, so I didn’t want a special pillow for just one segment. Also, I’m cheap (you guys should know this by now), so I decided to make my own.

For this project you will need a zip lock bag, some small plastic items, duct tape, and bottle of clear body wash. For my plastic items I chose bugs because that’s what we were studying at the time. I found the clear body wash at Walmart.

So you fill your zip lock bag with the plastic items. Note: I chose slightly larger plastic items because my son has some vision issues. If your child doesn’t have vision issues, I’d encourage you to do many more small items.

Then you add a LOT of clear body wash.

Next, seal the zip lock.

Then, place the duct tape over the zip lock seal for extra protection (that sounds like a deodorant commercial).

Allow your child to explore bag and find all the different plastic items inside.

My son has some sensory sensitivity, so he found the bag especially disgusting. His mom is mean and made him play with it anyway.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Texture Sorting { Touch & Feel City}

We had a blast making this Touch and Feel City! Young children learn with all their senses and when I can incorporate a sensory element into a craft my son suggested making I can’t wait to share it.  My son plays “City” all day with his Legos and when I asked him what he wanted to make for craft time he suggested making ” Daddy’s building” I looked in my craft closet to see what we could make with it and decided to use some felt, sandpaper, foil and foam and turn it into a texture lesson.This can also be used as a shape lesson!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of paper ( a brown grocery bag cut open and laid flat would be awesome), some construction paper, materials with different textures ( I am using sandpaper, felt, foam and foil) , scissors and glue. Also after we were done I regretted not having my son use crayons or markers to make clouds, perhaps a plane in the sky etc… so if you want to do that it should be the first step.
  2. Start by cutting the texture materials into small pieces.
  3. Cut the construction paper into various sized rectangles.
  4. Glue the buildings onto the larger paper.
  5. Glue the texture materials on as windows, as you do this explore how they feel talk about which ones is soft, rough, smooth and squishy. Ask your child to use their own words to describe the textures.
  6. Let dry.

Beach Learning

by Katy


Going on vacation is wonderful–you escape from the everyday stresses of ringing phones and errand running. You can keep learning with your kids, though, even if you are on vacation. Kids love learning and most will see these activities as fun rather than work.

We spent a week at the beach with my son Charlie who has special needs. The activities we did were pretty simple because of his physical limitations, but there are all sorts of fun ways to incorporate learning into your trips and I’ll include some more suggestions at the bottom of this post.

One of the simplest and easiest things you can do is collect sea shells.

Don’t just pick them up, though, observe them. Talk about different sizes and colors. You might try sorting them into different piles. I sorted these sea shells into piles based on their shape in front of Charlie. Then we guided him through counting the different piles. If your child can speak, have them count out loud with you–we counted out loud for Charlie since he’s non verbal.

Sand writing is another great way to take advantage of your surroundings. I’ve blogged about the benefits of multi-sensory activities before. Here, mother nature is giving you the perfect pallet for practicing writing. Guide your child through writing letters in the sand, taking time to tell them the name of the letter and the sounds that it makes. We enjoyed showing Charlie the letters of his name and let mother nature do the erasing for us!

As a final activity, you can teach your child about simple machines with a little purchase from the discount bins at Target. For $1.50 I got this “sand sifter.” You pour sand in and then watch as it spins the wheels below.  You can talk about how the weight of the sand makes the wheels spin as it falls through the machine. Something as cheap and easy as this is really the beginning of much bigger scientific topics like physics. I was always lousy at physics–maybe if my mom had gotten me a sand sifter I wouldn’t be in the shape I am today. Kidding!
There are many activities you can do with your children at the beach. I chose simple ones because of Charlie’s disability. Here are a few more ideas you can try if your child is better at talking, walking, standing, etc.:

You can observe local birds and talk about their characteristics. For example, sea gulls have webbed feet, which makes them better adapted to the water.
You can experiment with what types of items sink in the pool or ocean, and which float.
With older children, you can talk about endangered species–our area has brown pelicans and sea turtles which are both endangered species.
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Here are some great books about the beach you may enjoy.

Stella, Star of the Sea by Marie Louise Gay is a little long for my easily-distracted child, but I absolutely loved it and we’ll definitely be trying it again when he’s a little older. It’s all about a little girl named Stella and her adventures at the beach–some of them traditional and some of them less so (think riding a seahorse). The illustrations are gorgeous too.

Seashore Baby by Elise Broach with its ryhming rhythm and liftable flaps was more Charlie’s style. Definitely for younger children, but really cute.
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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Sensory Alphabet Activities

by Katy
Sensory Alphabet Activity
One of the best ways to help a child learn is to have them use more than one sense at the same time.  I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons why Allie is so passionate about doing crafts with kids–all kinds of senses are engaged, which makes learning easier and also fun. It can be hard, though, when your child has issues that prevent them from participating in crafts.  Today I’m sharing three ways to do the alphabet with kids with limited motor skills although I think they would be fun for all kids.
Alphabet StampsSensory Alphabet Activity

I bought a pack of foam letters at Walmart for one dollar and turned them into two activities.  First, I used them as stamps and let Charlie stamp on a sheet of paper.  As we’re stamping out the letter, it’s good to name it and tell your child the sound it makes.
I then took the foam pieces and glued them to a piece of cardboard to make an alphabet puzzle.  Since Charlie’s aim is rough, I put all the letters in and then let him pull them out.  I let him decided which letter looked good and then I would again, name the letter he was touching and say it’s sound aloud.
Big LettersSensory Alphabet Activity
This activity is also great for improving fine motor skills–I don’t completely understand the relationship between big motions and improving fine motor, but multiple therapists have told me this, so I’m going to believe them.  Take a sheet of paper and put it up on your refrigerator. Give your child a crayon or marker and help them make BIG letters on the paper.  I found that Charlie was able to make some c-like motions, which is pretty impressive for him.  Children with poor neck control often do better when activities are propped up in front of them because it requires less head control.
Sugar Writing
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You can also use sand, but sugar is easier for me to find.  Pour about half a cup of sugar into a baking pan.  If you can find one with a dark finish, then that will work great.  Help your child form letters in the sugar with their fingers.  This was probably Charlie’s favorite activity of the bunch–probably because it was one of the few that he was allowed to taste!
As always, don’t be discouraged if you try and activity and your child doesn’t like it.  All children are picky and special needs kids can often be intimidated by new experiences.  Experiment with different ideas, try activities multiple times, and remember that not every activity is going to be a hit.
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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.