Announcing the WHOLE Families toy lending library! A library for all of our families, except we have toys instead of books.
I am just back from training with the MIND Institute of the University of California, Davis and their WONDERFUL Early Start Denver Model for teaching parents with children on the autism spectrum. In the Early Start Denver Model, parents learn fun and playful ways to engage infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with autism diagnoses and teach super important language, attachment and social skills! And it is all fun, fun, fun.
I didn’t get to go to California, tho, sniff. Instead, I stayed with one of my oldest friends in New Jersey, and drove to the training in New York. My friend has a teen with an autism diagnosis herself, and she cleaned out her attic of old toddler and preschooler toys to donate to WHOLE Families! I drove home with a huge box of wooden puzzles, trains, musical instruments and wonderful wood toys. And now we can share them with all of our WHOLE Families and their kiddies!
It is going to work like this: on visits with Dr. Scotti or Claudia, we’ll bring a selection of toys. Families can choose to borrow one or two until our next visit, and while we are with your family I can coach you the parent in using Early Start Denver skills with your child. You and your child play with the toy together, and while having fun practice skills such as following your child’s lead and keeping your child facing you – easy stuff and super fun AND super important for teaching social skills.
We’ll be bringing toys this week on all of our visits, and we’ll keep a notebook of who has what, and at every visit families can switch the toys (another goal in the Early Start Denver Model)!
So look for us and the new toy lending library this week!
This program provides grants to assist families with medical bills not covered by medical insurance. You have to have commercial, private insurance, so if you use Medicaid, the Autism Waiver, or CHIP, you are not eligible. (Darn it!)
To get more information, go to the United Healtchcare website
What are the grants? UHCCF grants provide financial help/assistance for families with children that have medical needs not covered or not fully covered by their commercial health insurance plan. The Foundation aims to fill the gap between what medical services/items a child needs and what their commercial health benefit plan will pay for.”
Check them out if you need help with medical bills your insurance will not cover!
corn-starch or potato-starch peanuts (that dissolve in water – not styrafoam which is a choke hazard)
Try these ideas to keep kiddies in the pool, getting nice and tired, all day long…
Big Art on the Grass!
Summertime means paint outside. Throw down an old sheet, an old tablecloth (all cheap to find at summer garage sales), or old towels! Make some homemade paint, and then let the kids go.
In the pic, the mom gave the kids some old cardboard for painting, but her sons went wild and painted all over the place.
And LOOK at the result! Save the fabric to cover your table in the winter!
Paint with your FEET!
In the big art outside vein, don’t forget the fun of being barefoot! Get paint on your kids’ toes, and make the greatest pictures.
Make some homemade paint.
Grab an old sheet or towels or use paper bags from the grocery, or old cardboard boxes.
Put the paint in some old tubs for the kids to step in. Or use brushes and let kids paint their own toes!
Make Plaster Casts!
While your kids have painted toes, try mixing some plaster of paris (cheap at Walmart or a hardware store). Follow the directions on the plaster that you buy! And remember NEVER pour old plaster down your drain!
Mix the plaster according to directions.
Pour onto a paper plate.
Wait about two minutes, and then have your child press their foot into the plaster, but careful not to go to the bottom of the plate. Help your child stay in the squishy part!
Wait about a minute, or less if you have a wiggly kid on your hands.
Gently help your child pull their foot straight up, leaving their print. It is easy to smear, and this can still create a great piece of art, so no worries.
Let the plaster dry 24 hours and then peel away the plate.
Let your child paint the cast of their foot!
Hang a picture hook on the back to hang it on the wall.
And if you have a sand box, or sand tub, get super easy casts:
Just pour plaster into your child’s prints in the sand:
Never forget the wonderful fun to be had with water balloons!
Hey there was a brief moment of sunshine today, so perhaps here in West Virginia we will have fireworks tonight. Yay!
But for some families, fireworks and other loud events are difficult for children with sensitivities to noise and light and crowds. So you wanna go to the fireworks (if it doesn’t rain!), but what to do about your kid or kiddies who hate the noise?
Well, there are ways to slowly help your child build up tolerance for loud noises and busy events. If you are just starting to build up these “tolerance muscles,” then today you will have to go slowly and take it step by step. However, as you slowly help your child learn to deal with more and more noise and bustle, you can slowly increase how much and how close you go to a noise-event like fireworks.
I spent many of my son’s early Fourth of July fireworks on a hillside past where the really loud fireworks could startle him. If you are just starting today to try fireworks, this is the way to do it. Sit far from the fireworks, away from the crowds and the biggest noise. I helped my son hold his ears when he was little if he found the noise even too much from far away.
For crowds and bustle, this is another good strategy. Sit far away from the crowd, but perhaps invite a few people to sit with you. Lots of kids with or without special needs find fireworks overwhelming, so there are always other families grateful to you for providing a safe space. Build up slowly, year by year, until your children can deal with larger crowds.
I know families who use noise-cancelling earphones for events, but these are not much protection from the boom sounds of many fireworks. So, yes, if you use them, bring them along, but I still advise not getting too close and building up tolerance slowly.
And check in with your child(ren). Even at a distance, when he was three and four, my son could not sit through an hour of fireworks. I was the parent who took him home early, since I can take or leave fireworks. If you are in a couple, and one spouse/partner prefers fireworks, then the other parent can be the taker-home parent! If you both like fireworks, then best to share this: one year, one parent takes home, and one year the other.
What about families like mine? Two of mine struggled with the noise of fireworks and my youngest loved them? And what to do as a single parent? Well, strategize! Can you go with friends who will bring your noise-loving child home after the display? Can you do some fireworks at home with your noise-lover while the quiet one(s) get some downtime with books or videos? Can another family member take the quiet-loving kids home instead? Have a plan and be prepared. Sometimes even noise-loving kids lose it on the fourth of July!
And talk with the kids ahead of time. If you have noise lovers and noise haters, talk about how everyone gets a little of what they need. If you are a family who all hates noise, then maybe plan on 15 minutes and then heading home – with a treat on the way! Tell everybody that if one of you gets overwhelmed and melts down then you as a family have to take care of one another and go home. After all, special needs or not, we all melt down. We all need care. That is what family is for.
With all these ideas, the Fourth of July isn’t so difficult and overwhelming for parents! You can plan ahead, try short outings with lots of distance to the noise, and year by year slowly build up to getting closer. Or you may be a family that decides that the Fourth is a great day to watch a movie together, to go on hikes or camping, or to go ride bikes or do puzzles around the table.
The Fourth of July can be a lot for noise-sensitive kids (and noise-sensitive parents). But as a family you have the opportunity to make this holiday fun for everyone, with less stress, and more emphasis on being together and successful. I hope these ideas help!
It is the rainiest summer in West Virginia! I got my yard weed-whacked today, just before the rain came. Sigh.
So with another rainy weekend looming, here are some fun July Fourth activities for the whole (indoor) holiday!
Make Some Indoor Fireworks
Grab some of your favorite paint recipes, or check the website for some of my fave recipes, and make some indoor fireworks.
Get red and blue paint
Seven plastic straws per child
Tape, rubber bands or string
Put the paper on the table. Place paper plates or margarine tub lids out to hold paint. Put the seven straws in a bundle, and fold back the tops to create an L shape with each straw. Bundle the straws to look like a fireworks, and then tape them together.
Let children dip the straws into the paint and then stamp their straws onto the paper.
Fun idea: Add Glitter!
Get Red, white, and blue chalks
Get BLACK paper
water in cups for the chalk
Dip the chalk into water, and then scribble onto the black paper. Simple idea, but check out the dramatic results:
Red, White and Blue paint
any color paper (white is in the pic, but try other colors, too!)
bowls, margarine tub lids, or wide cups for the paint.
Dip the fork tines into the paint and rub onto the paper to make your own fireworks:
Make your own fireworks – in a Jar!
Get a mason jar or recycling jar out of your bin
Water – fill jar about 3/4 full
Mix 2 tablespoons of cooking oil with about 8 drops of different food colors. Drip the food colors about the oil, and then let your kiddos mix the colors and oil together.
Gently tilt the oil into the water. The colors drop out of the oil and mix together! Water fireworks!
Fireworks in a water bottle!
Use red, white, and blue pipe cleaners.
Use glitter or confetti, or star confetti if you have them!
Scrunch the pip cleaners into spiral shapes.
Add to bottle with confetti….
Pour water into the bottle and put the lid on (or hot glue the lid on if using inside!)
Fireworks in a bottle!
Water Balloon Fireworks
Red, White and Blue Water Balloons
NON-TOXIC glow sticks
Let the kids light up the glowsticks. Fold them gently into a roundish shape, and gently pull the water balloons over them. If the glowstick breaks, it is NON-TOXIC, so no worries. After the stick is in the balloon, add water!
Fireworks Bubble Tubs
Fill a bucket, pan, pot, or even the bathtub with water and dish soap. Add Red and Blue food coloring (or Kool Aid), and stir it up! BUBBLES! Colors! Fireworks in a tub.
I hope these ideas help everyone in the WHOLE Families community have a wonderful, safe, and rainy Fourth of July! I’ll cross my fingers for fireworks and parades…. 🙂
I love using soda cans to make crafts with kids. They are free after you drink your soda; they are easy to cut; they last forever, and they are so CUTE!
Here is a round up of soda can crafts, some for the wee ones, and some for the older crowd! Moms and dads find themselves liking these, too!
First of all: How to cut a soda can for crafting!
This video uses scissors and a craft knife; I have used scissors alone to cut cans, and it works fine. Just poke a hole with a sharp point in the scissors, and cut. I have never been cut too much from cutting cans, but if you let the kiddies do some cutting, you might want to use gloves or cut the can up first, and then let kids do the rest!
Soda Can flowers
This is the easiest soda can flower, super simple for wee ones! For the littlest folk, mom and dad do the can cutting, and let the toddlers and 2-year-olds do the paint!
Paints – for outdoor use, try acrylic, or spray clear acrylic on after the kids’ painting dries.
Cut off the top of the can, but not the bottom.
Cut down the can to the bottom, making “petals.” Try different widths and shapes of petals like the picture.
Flatten out the petals.
You can attach the flowers to dowels for the garden, or use to decorate around the house.
Soda Cans, with both ends cut off and the middle flattened
Paint if you want!
Brads for scrapbooking
Cut out three flowers of slightly different sizes:
Paint if you wanna!
Layer the flowers and insert a scrapbook brad into the center of all three flower shapes.
Soda Can Lanterns (for older kids)
Take an empty soda can and fill with water.
Freeze for about six hours.
Make twelve dots with a marker around the top and bottom of your can.
Draw a line from a dot at the top of the can to the dot just behind the same one as you just drew but at the bottom .
After drawing the lines, use the craft knife to cut the lines.
Let the ice melt!
Slightly twist and flatten the can to create the lantern shape.
Punch two holes in the top for a wire to hang, or use the tab if still intact!
Pop Tab Bracelets (or belts if you are inspired), for older kids
Flattened soda can portraits – super fun for all ages!
Who says you have to have perfect soda cans for art?
Take flattened soda cans.
In the pic above, older students then glued their soda cans onto collages they made with junk paper. And you can do that, too!
Just glue the pic onto a piece of cardboard (and let the kids marker and paint it first, too)
How cute are these?
Be as wild as you want:
Soda Can Dog Tags
For little ones, cut out the dog tag shapes from your soda can; for the bigger kids, let them cut their own.
Use a hole punch or your scissors (I have done both) to make a hole to hang the dog tag.
These in the picture are left unpainted.
Glue on them!
Soda Can dog tags, like the flowers above, are a great blank slate for kids to make art!
Feeling inspired! I was at a picnic this weekend and came home with dozens of cans, and am working on flowers! Please share any fun ideas you find.
Get out there, get your kids, and get making summer art!
Your child dislikes touching fingerprint or playing with paint? Try some of these ideas with the homemade paint recipes I posted two weeks ago…
Paint with straws!
Mix some food coloring homemade paint.
See pic above for the idea! Use food coloring and water paints, and let the kids drink this to their heart’s content.
Toy car or truck painting!
Find some matchbox cars or play trucks.
Mix some paint.
Let the kids explore!
Get a box to put the paper in.
Mix some homemade paint.
Put the paper into the box, and pour some blobs of paint onto the paper. Put marbles into the box and then let kids tilt and wiggle the box to create marble tracks through the paint.
Get some paper.
Make some homemade paint.
Get some kids with feet.
Tape the paper to the floor – outside is easy, inside put lots of extra paper down around your art paper – and squirt paint onto the paper. Get kids with bare feet and let them walk, squish, wiggle and slide through the paint.
If inside, have some towels and water pails ready when the fun is done!
Get some apples, oranges, pineapple, or strawberries.
Get some paper.
Get some bowls or margarine tubs.
Make some homemade paint.
Let kids dip the fruit into the paint and make prints – or smears – or globs.
All is good.
So start thinking of fun things to do with paint! Try feathers, sticks, rocks, q-tips, balloons, potato mashers, forks and spoons, corks, potatoes, pasta…. whatever you can dream of and have around the house!
Ok, lots of families have been asking me about art supplies, and what to buy, and what to keep on hand. So great idea for a web post!
Here are the supplies I suggest you keep around, from the bare minimum, to some store-bought special items. But remember, with the bare basics, you can do lots of art!
So here is the Bare Minimum Art Cabinet for a family:
Food colors ( a necessity for so many projects! )
Paper (get paper when you buy groceries and cut it into drawing and craft paper at home… also ask around for paper! Stores often have out of date flyers and will gladly share them for your child’s art!)
Salt (cheapest non-iodized salt you can find!)
Flour (I buy the cheapest white flour for art and save the better flour for cooking…)
Baking soda (I but the largest amount I can afford – this stuff is in so many projects!)
Vinegar (see above! get the most you can as you use this so much!)
Corn starch (another essential, so buy a big box!)
Home recyclables – any and all! Peanut butter jars and cardboard cereal boxes and toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls and parmesan cheese jars and margarine tubs and soda bottles and plastic lids of any shape and size! Save junk mail for paper or for crafting! Use #6 plastic from your veggies and fruit to use as a cheap shrink dink! Keep this stuff and glue it, paint it, smear it, and use it to store your art supplies as well!
And there you have it! With the above essentials, you can make all types of paint, watercolors, play dough, goop, paste, glue, slime, sensory activities, fun paintings… So I really recommend trying to keep these supplies on hand!
Now for the extras, things to pick up when you see them on sale, or when you notice someone throwing them away (cheap!), or I have pulled things out of other people’s trash. I especially “rescue” other people’s large boxes, those big plastic laundry jars people toss out, and any paper I see. So don’t think “extras” means paying out big $$$. Not at all.
Paint brushes. These are hard to find, not always easy to make (though be creative, as flowers, q-tips, sponges and just plain old fingers also work), and for some special art projects paint brushes are nice to have.
Tape. I prefer duct tape, which can be expensive, but then again ask all the shop guys in your life for the end of their rolls. Also scotch tape and painter’s tape can be handy.
Q-tips. Some families always have these, but not all, so I don’t list them as a basic. But q-tips make great paint brushes as well as fun ways to smear any type of slime or goop. If you have a kid who is a bit timid about touching goop, q-tips work (but so do spoons!)
Adult glue. You can make all the paste you want with flour and water, or glue as well, but for some fun art projects having a good adult glue about is great. I am thinking Aleene’s craft glue (nope, I’m not an affiliate) or any other kid safe glue that is strong and holds well. No! Don’t think crazy glue! I have heard horror stories about some of the super glues out there, so stick to stuff that is safe, though still more for adults.
Kid glue. I don’t use kid glue to glue – that is what homemade is for. But if you have one of those kids who loves slime and goop recipes, then watch for a Michael’s 50% off coupon and buy kid glue by the gallon. It comes in handy to make glitter glue paint, and is essential for some slime recipes.
Straws. Kids’ plastic drinking straws aren’t a necessity, but they can be so much fun. They look great on glue sculptures, and make great beads to string for necklaces. They also work great to blow glue, or paint, and you can make some fun balloon rockets. If you see sale straws, grab ’em.
Clear Contact paper. This is another great fun material. Buy it on sale at Walmart or Michael’s. You can use it to make fun placemats, sun catchers in the window, neat paintings, and it is wonderful for kids who struggle with glue mosaics.
Shaving cream. The all time most fun substance for some kids – gooey, wet, takes food colors well, can be used to clean the table or in the tub. I buy the cheapest I can find, and save it for those long rainy days when kids need something really fun.
Tissue paper in many colors. Again, don’t buy paper for drawing – too many stores will gladly share with you. But tissue paper makes a great material for watercoloring and for glueing. It goes on sale at Walmart regularly, so just watch for sales.
Construction paper. This is a pretty standard thing for parents to buy, but it isn’t necessary for many projects. But if you do want to add to your art supplies, it can come in handy. Buy on sale or save your coupons.
Stamp pads. Most any paint will work for stamp art, but sometimes permanent stamp pads are useful for making a special mother or father’s day gift, or for permanent art. These require supervision, kinda like sharpie markers, so use and buy sparingly.
Crayons. A lot of kids on the autism spectrum do not have the hand strength to use crayons well. So I don’t really suggest buying these except for special projects. On the other hand, old crayons are easy to buy at Goodwill or garage sales, and they are fun for things like melting into rainbow crayons or ironing in wax paper….
Markers. Cheap kids’ markers at Walmart or Michael’s are useful for the days when you don’t want to mix up another jarful of food coloring and water. But these can be expensive. My solution is to buy five boxes when on sale at the back-to-school sales in late summer, when you can get these boxes of markers for $1. Hide the boxes and try to remember where you hide them!
I’ve included a great pic from an organized mom’s blog – definitely not like me! My art supplies are always falling out of cupboards! But think of fun and easy places to store art supplies, and remember to fill up with the junk from the recycling bin!
Art is too important for our children’s development to NOT try fun art projects almost every day. You don’t need lots of cash, just lots of imagination. Share with the kids on those grumpy days when everyone has the blues. I recommend doing some kind of art every single day – it will make a huge difference in your day, in your kids’ skills, and it doesn’t have to cost much at all.
So many fun pinterest kid activities require paint. And paint at Walmart or Michael’s can cost up to $4 a bottle! YIKES!
So here are cheap and easy, make at home paint recipes to use all year long! Base ingredient is food coloring, so when I see food coloring on sale or have a good coupon I stock up! When you have food coloring, you always have paint. (For the adventurous, Discount School Supply and Oriental Trading have liquid watercolors in large bottles and great colors… I have used both, and prefer Discount School Supply. I have no affiliate links to either company, so just saying they make a great product. Or try Amazon!)
So here are the recipes!
DIY Bath Paint
1/2 cup Johnson’s Head to Toe body wash
1/2 cup corn starch
a few spoonfuls of water (add slowly)
Mix the ingredients together and add water slowly until a runny paste that sticks to the tub but is not too runny… Then put into ice cube trays, old yogurt tubs, margarine tubs – whatever you have handy. Finger paint or buy cheapie paint brushes. Just give to kids in the tub and have fun.
Condensed Milk Paint
One of the easiest, creamiest, and safest to eat of all DIY paint recipes: condensed milk paint.
Simple: mix food coloring into small pots or tubs of sweetened condensed milk. Keep this one covered in the refrigerator, and it will last several weeks.
Another simple paint, but be sure to wash brushes thoroughly!!!
Mix food coloring into white glue (such as Elmer’s or Rose’s). Use in squeeze bottles (save your ketchup and mustard tubs!!!) or use with brushes, but the glue will dry so do wash everything well! Store the glue paint in tubs and use again and again.
Homemade powdered tempera paint
Powdered tempera paint is used in SO many fun paint recipes. But it is not cheap, and not easy to find at that. But you can MAKE YOUR OWN! fun fun
Get cheapie colored chalk at the dollar store or Walmart, and buy some good ziplock bags as well (you will need them). Put one color of chalk in each bag, and then get a mallet or hammer and smash the crap out of the chalk. This is a fun activity all by itself! After crushing, store in plastic tubs. When you use powdered tempera to make other recipes, be sure to wear a mask, as airborne powders are not good for your lungs!
To make a simple paint, simply add water (wear masks until mixed!) and maybe a little kool aid for scent! Once mixed, paint away.
Kool Aid Paint
Mix water, Kool Aid, and corn starch into whatever paint consistency you need. Lots of water makes a thick watercolor paint. More corn starch makes a thicker, tempera style paint. Make extra thick paint and you will get a paint to put into squeeze bottles (remember save those ketchup bottles!). Store these in the fridge, and if they separate, just stir again before using!
It looks to be a rainy week here in West Virginia, and is raining as I write today! This is the best kind of weather for fun indoor play, and paints of all types are easy and cheap ways to get kids messy and exploring. Let them paint and get a cup of coffee.
For a fun rainy week activity, try putting pictures made from your homemade paints out in the rain, and create neat impressionist-style watercolor prints! Don’t forget to don rain gear and go for a rainy spring walk. Kids and puddles don’t last forever.
Ok, last week was fun and free for spring…. this week I add to the ideas for fun stuff with easy exploding paint, recycling crafts, and fun outdoor adventures! Enjoy!
Ok, erupting sidewalk paint you make at home?? How cool!
Take 1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup baking soda
some food coloring – use different colors! have fun!
1/2 cup water
Mix ingredients together and spoon into ice cube trays to freeze! Once done, get outside and use the melting mess to make wonderful art! If you don’t have sidewalk, you can use cardboard boxes from the supermarket instead. Let kids blend, play and explore melting colors.
After the coloring is done, give kids squirt bottles of vinegar and let them squirt their creations! Instant exploding color, plus oozing paintings. How much fun is that? If you wanna save the resulting art work, use plain paper to print over the oozing mess, and voila! Exploding refrigerator art!
Jellyfish in a bottle!
Toilet paper tube fish kite!
Supplies are simple:
toilet paper roll
cut up colorful plastic bags (I love the bags from Sheets)
markers or construction paper or crayons
Decorate the toilet roll with cut up plastic bag fish scales – or use markers, paint, food coloring, or any fun supplies you have. Add a white paper with black marker eye – or draw one! Or color one! Or use paint or anything else you have! The fun is the goal!
Cut strips and strings from the leftover plastic bags, and glue, staple or tape the strings to the end of the roll, creating lovely fins! You can hang these from strings, wire, yarn, or anything handy! Let kids run about in the wind and watch their carp fly! And when they break (which they will), make some more!
Get OUTSIDE activity! for rainy days!
A super fun activity for outdoors in getting outside in spring showers! Don’t think you need lots of supplies to enjoy time with your kids.
So on a rainy day when kids are bouncing off the walls, go outside and take a walk. A definite plus for this activity is old, broken umbrellas for carrying, but I’ve walked with kids in rain gear and boots. Or just throw on some coats and plan on doing laundry when you get home.
Rain makes for wonderful play. Explore puddles, (do jump!), watch rain in street gutters or your house gutters if you’re in the country. Stand under trees and see what happens to the rain – pine and spruce and hemlock give more protection than a redbud, for example! While out there in the mud, find sticks, throw them in a stream, build stick and grass boats, watch water run downhill, and enjoy being outside! Kids are learning so much when they are outside with you!
And don’t think this is for toddlers alone. I have walked my church youth group around in the rain, and they loved it! Teens like time with grown ups, even though they don’t admit it!
So there you have it: a week of fun activities! Get out and enjoy parenting!