Blog Archive

Halloween Sensory Bins and Invitations to Play

Sensory bins are a fabulous addition to any classroom whether at home or school.  This is especially the case when working with children who have sensory needs.

They are extra special when they have a holiday theme.  

Halloween is one of my children's favorite holidays.  They beg for new Halloween themed sensory activities every year.  

For this reason I've put together a list of my favorite Halloween sensory bins and invitations to play.

Halloween sensory bins and invitations to play

The following links are to my favorite Halloween sensory bins and invitations to play finds across the web.  I just love how each one is so different and has such a specific theme.

I hope you enjoy all of this inspiration as much as I do!

Halloween Sensory Bins and Invitations to Play

Alphabet Halloween Sensory Bin from Little Bins for Little Hands

I just love how letters are incorporated into this Halloween sensory bin. The letters provide such great learning opportunities.

Halloween Play Dough from Simple Fun For Kids

Cupcake toppers and cookie cutters are my favorite items to include in invitations to play. They make the sensory experience so much more fun!

Halloween Sensory Bin from There's Just One Mommy

What do you do with a sensory bin once you're finished with it? This post shares a great idea and also uses one of my favorite bases.

Simple Ghost Sensory Bin from And Next Comes L

I love the use of water in this sensory bin, especially with some added texture to make things super spooky!

Spider Play Dough from Fantastic Fun and Learning

This is such fun and fabulous invitation to play idea for kids. Whether they like spiders or not, it will still be tons of fun.

X-Ray Play Dough Invitation to Play from Best Toys 4 Toddlers

This is such a fabulous invitation to play when learning about skeletons. I love all of the options provided to create the skeletal system.

Halloween Cloud Dough Sensory Bin from Simple Fun For Kids

I like how this sensory bin is designed for outdoor play and getting messy. There are so many ways it can be used.

I like how this sensory experience is turned into a search and find that requires kids to sift through the contents.

5 Little Pumpkins Sensory Bin from Parenting Chaos

This sensory experience is such creative way to incorporate senses and literature! I love how it can be used to tell a story.

Halloween Sensory Bin from Every Star Is Different

This sensory bin is so easy and inexpensive to make. I love how the colors pop!

Halloween Sensory Bin from Every Star Is Different

This sensory bin is so sparkly and bright! 

I hope you have a fabulous time creating amazing Halloween sensory bins and invitations to play for your own kiddos.

Whether using them for learning or for fun, they are so great to have on hand, especially around Halloween!

For those that are looking for more sensory resources, be sure to sign up for our free newsletter by clicking the link below.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.

Trick-or-Treating Social Story The Best Halloween Movies for Kids Our Halloween Countdown Montessori-inspired Halloween Jack-o-lantern Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Halloween Animals Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Halloween Themed Language Bundle
Halloween Sensory Bins and Invitations to Play for Kids
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The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Special Needs

Our family visited The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown last year for the first time and loved it so much that the kiddos asked for an annual family pass for Christmas. 

Seeing as it can be difficult to find history museums that are kid friendly, let alone friendly to those with special needs, I couldn't resist writing about all of the fun to be had there.  And believe me this is just a sampling of our favorite things there.

The kids have had so much fun there.  There is something for everyone to enjoy no matter their age.  I just love how hands on and interactive this museum is.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Special Needs

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Special Needs

Our family has visited the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown in the heat of the summer and also in the middle of the winter. 

The hot temperatures and humidity can be brutal in the summer while exploring outdoor exhibits.  

More people visit the museum in the summer, so you can expect bigger crowds. But still, crowds are minimal to begin with, so don't take this into account too much. 

The winter brings fabulous weather to explore indoor and outdoor exhibits, but we noticed that one whole exhibit was closed during that time, without as many hands on activities out for the kids to enjoy.

No matter what time of year you go though, there's still so much to do!  The museum is absolutely beautiful.

Our Favorite Indoor Exhibits and Experiences

Dressing up as soldiers at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Every wondered who wore what color coats during the American Revolution?  You can learn all about this and so much more at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown!

The first time we visited, during the summer, the kids were given the opportunity to dress up as a soldier.

Interaction opportunities at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Throughout the museum there are opportunities to "interact" with people from the American Revolution.  

The screen in the picture above is a touch screen that allows kids to select each character and then listen to them tell their story.

All of the kiddos loved this.  There may have been some fighting about who goes first and how many times each one gets to select someone.  Lol.  It was that much fun.

I loved how they incorporated different nationalities, ethnicities and races into the museum for an amazing unbiased perspective of the times.

Marching with soldiers at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Walking past the shadows of soldiers marching couldn't be more fun!  It's simple and poignant yet brilliant when it comes to the entertainment of little ones.

As kiddos walk by the screen, they can see themselves marching with the soldiers.  This provided so much entertainment for our kids.

Speaking with people from the American Revolution at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Throughout the museum there are also posts where you can pick up a phone and listen to someone speak about events or people.  

Add buttons to the mix, and it's an automatic hit! What kiddo doesn't like playing with a phone?

Playing games at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Our second time visiting the museum the boys discovered this fun game about the American Revolution.  

They literally played for almost an hour.  (Note how empty the museum is in winter.)

Enjoying all the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown has to offer.

Meanwhile Sunshine discovered another fun activity.  

Images pertinent to the American Revolution are shown on the floor, rotating every few minutes.  

She loved marching through them, stomping on them, rolling around and laying down.  

When it comes to a kiddo who needs to constantly move, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown provides so many opportunities to do so.

Our Favorite Outdoor Exhibits and Experiences

The outdoor exhibits at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown can be so enjoyable when the weather is pleasant and it's not too busy.

Learning about medicine during teh American Revolution at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Have you ever wanted to learn how soldiers were cared for during the American Revolution?  

Check out these tools and medicines?  

Princess was selected to be a patient when we visited during the summer.

Handling a musket at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Dinomite was all about the weapon demonstrations, especially when given the chance to hold and aim a musket at a target.  

It was much heavier than he thought. Lol.  

All of the kids were given the opportunity to try which I thought was great.

Signing up to be a solider during the American Revolution at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

During our winter visit to the museum all four kiddos were able to enroll in the army.  

The officer in charge of enrollment was sure to tell Princess and Sunshine that they needed to pretend they were boys, as only boys were allowed to fight in war at that time.

Sleeping quarters for soldiers during the American Revolution at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

The outdoor exhibit does a great job of bringing to life what life was like as a soldier, including their living quarters, aka tents.  

You won't believe how many soldiers were expected to share!

There are many many more exhibits and experiences to be had at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.  

I could devote several blog posts to it with all of the pictures that we've taken while visiting.  

But for the purposes of this post, I wanted to highlight just how special needs friendly this place is, sharing our big favorites.

Important Things to Know When Planning a Visit to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown with Special Needs

1. Weather can make or break a visit to this museum as half of the exhibits are outside.  Be prepared when visiting.

2.  Some of the indoor exhibits at the museum are very dark.  If your child struggles with darkness, you may want to stick to lighted areas and outdoor exhibits.

3.  There are many sounds throughout the interior of the museum.  They are not too loud, but if your child reacts negatively to gun shots, cannons, etc., be prepared.

4.  There is a full sensory movie experience offered in the museum called The Siege of Yorktown.  The movie surrounds you on multiple screens.  It is loud.  Your seats vibrate depending on where you sit.  A smoke machine sprays "fog" into the room.  If you sit close to the front you can even smell coffee during one scene.

For kids who crave sensory experiences and love to learn about battles etc, this movie is not to be missed. But for kiddos who are sensitive to sensory input, avoid this movie.

5. The interior of the museum is very wheelchair friendly.  However, parts of the outdoor experience includes walking on dirt paths, rocks, and other terrain.  There are smoother paths but you won't get as close to hands on experiences as one might on foot.

6. Weapon demonstrations occur at set times during the day.  These can be very loud.  The cannon demonstration literally shakes the ground around you, if you're outside.  Be aware of the time to make sure you're where you want to be during those set times.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the resources below.

American History for Kids: The Montessori Way with Free Printables Presidents of the United States for Elementary Learners with Free Printables Montessori-inspired Native American History Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Explorers and Colonists Printable Pack United States Constitutional Convention Printble Pack United States Presidents for Preschoolers Printable pack United States Presidents Printable Pack United States Vice Presidents Printable Pack United States First Ladies Nomenclature Cards

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Special Needs

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Gift Ideas for 10 Year Old Boys

Bulldozer turns ten at the end of this month.  I honestly have no idea where the time has gone.  It feels just like yesterday that he was this tiny baby.

Just like in years past, Bulldozer has made a wish list full of gift ideas for 10 year old boys.  

This list doesn't have as much variety, but it is Bulldozer through and through.  He eats, breathes and sleeps Plants vs Zombies, Marvel Super Heroes, Star Wars and extreme weather.

You're sure to find something on Bulldozer's list to give, if you have a child who loves the same things.

Gift ideas for 10 year old boys.

Over the past year Bulldozer has been reintroduced to Plants vs Zombies.  And let me just say he's hooked.  Oh how he loves these things.

Plants vs Zombies gift ideas for 10 year old boys.

There aren't that many Plants vs Zombies gift ideas out there, but he's assured me that he NEEDS everything that can be found.

My favorite items on his list are the Plants vs Zombies books and the mystery figure packs.  He has started collecting both and uses them all the time.

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare for XBox (Purchased)

K'NEX Plants vs. Zombies Mystery Figure Bags, Series 1-6 Pack

K'NEX Plants vs. Zombies Boat Blasting Building Set

K'NEX Plants vs. Zombies Crazy Targets Building Set (Purchased)

Plants vs. Zombies Create Your Own Zombie: A Magnetic Kit

Plants vs. Zombies Volume 4: Grown Sweet Home (Purchased)

Plants vs. Zombies Volume 5: Petal to the Metal (Purchased)

Plants vs. Zombies Volume 6: Boom Boom Mushroom (Purchased)

Plants vs. Zombies Volume 8: Lawn of Doom (Purchased)

Plants vs. Zombies Volume 9: The Greatest Show Unearthed (Purchased)

Plants vs. Zombies Volume 10: Rumble at Lake Gumbo

Plants vs. Zombies Volume 11: Wars and Peas (Purchased)

Plants vs Zombies Coloring Book

Plants vs. Zombies Figures-16 Pieces

Plants vs Zombies Figures-16 Zombies

Marvel Super Hero gift ideas for 10 year old boys.

Marvel super heroes never grow old in this house.  Though we have most of the movies, we're still missing a few more of Bulldozer's favorites.

And well, Bulldozer can never have enough character guides and video games.  Lol.

My favorite item on this list is the deck building game.  Bulldozer loves to play games.  Dinomite, Bulldozer, my husband and I stay up at least one night a week to play games together.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 for Xbox One

Marvel Studios Visual Dictionary

Upper Deck Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (Purchased)

Thor blu-ray

Thor: The Dark World blu-ray (Purchased)

Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron blu-ray (Purchased)

Doctor Strange blu-ray

Guardians of the Galaxy CD

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Rhino Face-Off by the Mine (Purchased)

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Royal Talon Fighter Attack

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War Thor's Weapon Quest

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Avengers: Infinity War Outrider Dropship Attack (Purchased)

Star Wars gift ideas for 10 year old boys.

I do not remember a time when Bulldozer didn't love Star Wars.  Between movies, encyclopedias and LEGO sets, not a day goes by that doesn't include Star Wars in some way.

As is tradition on birthdays, it's time to add to Bulldozer's collection.  Besides the folded flyers book, I must admit my favorite items on the list are the LEGO sets.

Bulldozer is working hard to collect as many Star Wars LEGO figures as he can.  Many of the ones he doesn't have are in these sets.  I'd love to support him in his goal.

Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia

Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles (Purchased)

Star Wars The Last Jedi Incredible Cross Sections (Purchased)

LEGO Star Wars Yoda's Jedi Starfighters (Purchased)

Star Wars Folded Flyers: Make 30 Paper Starfighters (Purchased)

LEGO Star Wars: The Last Jedi Ahch-To Island Training

LEGO Star Wars: The Last Jedi AT-ST (Purchased)

LEGO Star Wars: The Clone Wars General Grievous' Combat Speeder 

Solo: A Star Wars Story Soundtrack Audio CD

Star Wars Rebels-Season 2

Star Wars Rebels-Season 3

Star Wars Rebels-Season 4

Star Wars: Journey to The Last Jedi Coloring Book

Exreme weather gift ideas for 10 year old boys.

One thing that Bulldozer and I have in common is our passion for extreme weather, especially when it comes to books and movies.

I can't wait to enjoy these gifts with him.  I honestly can't pick one over the other, as I love them all.

The Man Who Caught the Storm: The Life of Legendary Tornado Chaser Tim Samaras

Galileo Thermometer with Glass Globe Barometer

Storm Chasers: Greatest Storms DVD

The Perfect Storm Blu-ray

The Day After Tomorrow Blu-ray (Purchased)

Into the Storm Blu-ray

Gift Ideas for 10 Year Old Boys: Harry Potter

Bulldozer's older brother has been in love with Harry Potter for years now.  It seems Bulldozer also has a passion for them now.  After preparing for and actually going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, who wouldn't be?  But even before that he fell in love with the music and movies.  Here is Bulldozer's first Harry Potter themed wish list section!

Harry Potter Gryfindor Robe Child Size Large

Gryfindor Tie

LEGO Harry Potter Hogwart's Express (Purchased)

LEGO Harry Potter Quidditch Match (Purchased)

LEGO Harry Potter The Chamber of Secrets Aragog's Lair (Purchased)

The Complete Harry Potter Film Music Collection CD (Purchased)

Gift Ideas for 10 Year Old Boys: Cars

There has never been a time when Bulldozer didn't like cars.  We think he's going out of them and then his love for them comes back full force or stronger.  And that's okay, because one really can't have enough cars right?

We're delighted that he's requested more cars, as it helps us remember he's still that adorable toddler with all of his cars lined up and sorted by color on his bed.

Hot Wheels Basic Car 50 Pack

Hot  Wheels Marvel Avengers 5 Pack

Forza Horizon 4 for Xbox One

Gone in 60 Seconds Blu-ray (Purchased)

LEGO Technic Whack!

LEGO Technic Bash!

We hope this wish list will be helpful to you when finding the perfect gift for a 10 year old boy in your life!
  Children's Book Recommendations Gift Ideas by Theme Family Wish Lists
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Finding the Right Village (Chapter 11)

Sunshine has been home on summer break from school for two weeks now.

My husband has been home that long as well.  Oh how I love that he has returned full time to work with me again.

I can confess I love being able to sleep in each morning, since Sunshine doesn't have to be up at the crack of dawn for school.

For the most part, Sunshine is much more pleasant without the daily influence of "friends" at school who teach her so many "fun" behaviors.

To be able to tag team with my husband handling behaviors we encounter with Sunshine has been a gift.

For the first time in months we're able to have a home cooked dinner on the table, no matter what happens during prep time.

And my anxieties...  They're all but gone, except for minor flare ups.

But with all of that said, my husband and I can't wait for Sunshine to return to school.

Don't take this the wrong way.

We love our daughter.

Here's the thing.  We've realized a few things over the past few months that have been transforming.

Finding the right village to help raise a child with severe emotional needs and trauma makes all the difference.

It's not a single parent or co-parenting job.

And not just any village will do.  It has to be the right village.

Finding the Right Village-A Family's story about parenting a child with severe emotional needs and trauma.

No! One family does not need three mental health and behavior therapists working with them at once, even if the local community services agency approves the funding.

One therapist that we love is just fine.

No! A family does not need a mental health or behavior therapist who thinks all that's going on is a parenting problem.

As a parent I have a right to choose who my family works with.

Families have lives.  Too many therapy appointments can do more harm than good, especially if the therapist doesn't know what they're doing.

Oops, I digress.  That's a post for another day.  Lol.

The Past

Finding the right village for your child with severe emotional needs and trauma can be life changing.

When I say life changing, I don't necessarily mean life changing for the child.  The child is going to behave the way the child chooses to behave.  Real progress is slow and takes years to be fruitful.

I mean life changing for the parent.

I had no idea how poorly I was functioning due to caring for Sunshine 24/7 for the past six and a half years without a break.

Sure I had gained 70 lbs.  Compared to all of the struggles other trauma mamas go through, I thought weight was nothing to worry about.

But it wasn't just my physical health that had gone downhill.

I felt defeated every morning before I got out of bed, dreading the day, knowing that nothing I had planned to get done the day before had been completed, and the same would happen today.

Mind you I still got up and functioned, but it was only because I had to.

Sunshine's behaviors would be similar every single day.  No matter what I tried, nothing worked to stop the rages and aggression.  Sure a new idea may work for a brief moment, but it didn't last long.

I couldn't focus to save my life.  There were many times that I worried I was developing ADHD because I was so scatter brained.

My anxieties were through the roof.  I'd do all I could to avoid another raging meltdown or aggression outburst.  Mind you I wouldn't give in to behaviors, I'd just try to avoid scenarios where behaviors would occur.

I felt so lonely and isolated.

I was always tired, but dreaded going to sleep, because it would mean the start of another day of doing the same thing all over again.

All of my energy was spent on Sunshine whether I wanted it to or not.  She demanded attention 100% of the time.

There were many days that I would cry.  I had lost hope that anything would change.

And then Sunshine went to school.

A New Life

For almost eight hours a day, five days a week I experienced life without her at home.

I could focus.

I could complete tasks.

I could spend quality time with my other children.

I could carry on a conversation with my husband.

I was a better mother, and not just for my other kiddos, but for Sunshine as well.

For the three to four hours a night that she was home before bed, I had the energy to push through no matter what behaviors were thrown my way because I hadn't dealt with them all day long.

I knew that Sunshine's behaviors had taken a toll on my other children, but never realized just how much.

While she was gone, the three older kiddos were so much happier.  When she came home, they, like me knew we just had to make it through four hours tops, and Sunshine would be asleep for the night.

Now again, this does not mean that Dinomite, Bulldozer, and Princess don't love their sister.  They love her fiercely.

But it does mean that finding the right village for your child with severe emotional needs and trauma is just as important for the welfare of your children as it is for you.


Caregivers of children with severe emotional needs and trauma need breaks.  Not just a couple hours once a month or once a year, but on a regular basis.

It is crucial to a parent's ability to function and survive.

Now I admit, I'm not the biggest fan of the day program Sunshine attends.  I don't like that she's not in a Montessori classroom.

But, after experiencing her gone to school for several weeks, and then one full day of her being home while my husband was still working, that's when I realized the decision to find the right village isn't about Sunshine.

It's about me.

It's about my husband.

It's about my other children.

There is no perfect or ideal scenario out there that benefits everyone.  It comes down to what's good, better, and best for the whole family.

Sunshine is going to be Sunshine no matter who's caring for her.

I can take the full burden on myself knowing exactly what it does to my family or I can allow others who are willing to come to work each day and care for her in a loving way help me.


After overcoming horrible Mommy guilt and feeling like a failure because I couldn't help Sunshine in the ways I desperately wanted to, the clouds parted and I realized this was a no brainer.  Especially since I'm such a better mother for her after having breaks while she's at school.

It really does take the right village to raise a child with severe emotional needs and trauma.

For us that village is Sunshine's principal, teachers and aids at her day program along with her intensive in-home therapist.

It's the in-home respite services that she was just approved for.

Your village may look different.  But please, I beg you, understand, you can't do this without a village.

Even if you think you can.

Even if you're doing okay right now.

The time will come when you need help.

Be picky.  Fight the fight.

But in the end, find the right village.

You can't take care of your child with severe emotional needs and trauma, if you're not taking care of yourself.

I am excited to take care of me again!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read the rest of our story that led to today's post in sequence, follow the links below.
Call the Police! What You Don't Want to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons What Should Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons Check-in-at an inpatient children's psychiatric hospital My Daughter is inpatient at a Children's Psych Ward Our First Family Session in a Psych Ward Nine Days This Was Not Okay MiraclesWhat Family Life Looks Like After A Mental Health Crisis Is Over
Finding the Right Village-The continuation of t he story of one family's journey with a child who struggles with severe mental health needs and trauma.

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