Category Archives: Product Reviews

Reviews of everyday products with the disabled child in mind. How they can help their development. Some specialist products too.

Journey Around and Inside Your Amazing Body

Gold Stars: Journey Around and Inside Your Amazing Body

Journey Around and Inside Your Amazing BodyGold Stars Journey Around and Inside Your Amazing Body is a fantastic educational but fun book. I think a book like this is beneficial to my Sensory Seeker as it helps him make sense of his World, and of his self. It is very visual with lots of facts, puzzles and things to do throughout. There are bite-sized points to remember, fun facts, and quizzes to help consolidate the information. The book is really well structured and has a clear contents, glossary and answer page.

Your Amazing Body – The Contents

The book contains everything you child could want to know about the body. The boys really liked the humorous touches such as the quiz on farts – Do boys fart more than girls? We read the book on a long train journey and it was nice to see that the book catered for all 3 of my youngest boys (ages 5, 7 and 11). We explored the body map and they were all able to point to where the different parts of the body were on their own bodies. When we moved onto the more complex nature of cells my 11 year old was able to expand on the information and tell his younger brothers what he had learnt about cells at school. It was great to hear him relay the information, and consolidate it, as well as building his confidence.

Your Amazing Body – Helping with Health

My Sensory Seeker has little awareness as to why he should eat properly, keep clean, cut his nails, etc, and so I feel that this book really helped with this. Again through colourful cartoon-type images I think it explained this. It started with different types of foods needed, and why; how to have a healthy dinner; the digestive system; the teeth; when food goes wrong; and how the food comes out of the body. There is later a section on hair and nails.

Your Amazing Body – Senses

The section on the nose then had a smell experiment. This may be useful to those sensory avoiders to help build up tolerances to smell, or fulfil the diet of the sensory seeker. This could also help determine which smells the child does and does not like. Tasty talks about the five different tastes picked up the taste buds (sour, salt, bitter and umami/savoury) – again this could be really helpful in determining which foods your child will and will not tolerate. Also I think the section on touch would be really useful to discuss any sensory issues.

My Verdict

The Journey Around and Inside Your Amazing Body is a fantastic book for introducing your children to their biology. There is a lot of information presented in a fun, appealing and interactive way, perfect for engaging children. I think it can be accessed by children of a variety of ages, abilities and would make a lasting resource. With plenty of opportunities to write and draw it was also very useful for fine motor development.

Journey Around and Inside Your Amazing BodyThe only criticisms are that the page on the heart talks of the left and right side of the heart but the right side is on the page on the left, and vice a versa. As it is a Gold Stars book there was the assumption that there would have been Gold Star stickers which would have been nice.

Parragon Books Ltd RRP £7.99

Alphablocks Multi Sensory Reading Programme

Alphablocks Multi Sensory Reading Programme

Alphablocks Multi Sensory Reading ProgrammeOur little Sensory Seeker is doing much better than we imagined at school but is still developmentally far behind his peers in many areas. In fact he only got one tick in the expected box at the end of the Reception year. Although we are not going to worry about it, it is always nice to hear of fun ways we can tap into the way he learns best and give him a helping hand. Therefore when I heard about how Alphablocks magazine had launched a multi-sensory Alphablocks Reading Programme to support foundation stage children develop and progress their reading ability. The programme consists of 15 Alphablocks Reading Programme magazines and Alphablocks resources – including finger puppets, letter tiles, games, pencil and pencil case, flashcards,  stickers and gold stars to reward the achievements. Split into 3 packs that build on each of the stages of development – £39.99 (plus p&p)

Pack 1 is Red and Orange levels (first steps and next steps

Alphablocks: Introducing the alphabet and its sounds

It is important that children learn the correct sounds for each of the letters. If you are Alphablocks Multi Sensory Reading Programmeunsure then visit the website. They may also learn actions to accompany the sounds, to help them better remember. Our Sensory Seeker is in year 1 now as so already has amazed us by learning all his first sounds so this really helped developed his confidence. It made it less of a challenge to encourage him to practise writing these sounds too. Again this is organised progressively and I was able to stop and move onto the next letter when the task became too difficult for him.

Blending

I was worried that our Sensory Seeker wouldn’t get blending. It must be extra hard for him to try to filter out the extra sensory input whilst he remembers the sounds and tries to put them together again. This is really important for his Phonics test at the end of year 1. In this children are given 40 words and nonsense words that can be phonetically sounded out. The children need to use the rules of phonics with the correct sounds even for the nonsense words, to demonstrate that they understand the rules of phonics.

Alphablocks: High Frequency Words

High frequency words are those that cannot be sounded out phonetically (such as THE). To read them then you just have to remember what they say by sight. We have them attached to walls and doors around our house. By the end of the Reception year children should know 45 high frequency words. Our Sensory Seeker could read about 10 when going into Year 1 so I was pleased to see so many fun ways to help him catch up with his peers.

Pack 2: Yellow Level (arriving December 2014)

Alphablocks Multi Sensory Reading ProgrammeAfter the first 2 levels in pack 1, pack 2 moves onto Diagraphs. Diagraphs are when two letters make a team to form one sound – such as ch and sh. They can appear at the beginning, middle and/or end of a word. For example when you think of the word “church” it starts with a “ch” sound not a “c” “h.”

Pack 3: Blue and Green Levels (arriving Easter 2015)

This final stage moves onto words with letter blends, magic E (also known as a split diagraph eg. A_E), and long vowels. The programme concludes with a certificate.

What I thought to the Alphablocks Reading Programme

I liked all the different sensory input for my son. So many different visuals, puppets forAlphablocks Multi Sensory Reading Programme tactile, stickers to help develop his hands – obviously writing and drawing practise, cutting and gluing – all good for fine motor skills. I liked how it is very much focused on fun and that it can be done at our Sensory Seeker’s own pace. It is so straight-forward that many different members of the family have been able to engage him into the activities and games. It was also easy to adapt – we used some bubble wrap to pop when on the popping balloons activity (good for fine motor and tactile stimulation).  I like how the resources include the diagraphs, and hope that the next pack has trigraphs (sounds made with 3 letters).

I’d love to see the series continue onto homophones (words that are pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, and sometimes also spelling) and other things they will be required to know grammar-wise for their SATs in Year 2. The box was very comprehensively packed with resources so it would have been nice if everything required was readily available (pencil crayons, scissors and glue were still required). All in all though I thought that the pack was absolutely amazing and a fantastic price (think how much you pay for those foreign language courses!) – as well as being a lot of fun.

You may also be interested in my Writing Skills Development post.

We received this programme free in return for an honest review. I will update further when the other 2 packs arrive. All words and opinions are my own.

tree fu tom big spell

Halloween Fun with Tree Fu Tom: Tom’s Big Spell

Tree Fu Tom: Tom’s Big Spell

This Halloween children can be spell-bound with Tree Fu Tom in his new DVD Tom’s Big Spell. Based on the hit CBeebies show the DVD has seven magical stories set in the enchanted world of Treetopolis. The action-packed adventures encourage children to join in with the magic and copy the actions.

tree fu tom big spell

HALLOWEEN FUN WITH TREE FU TOM: TOM’S BIG SPELL

The hit CBeebies show is set in the enchanted world of Treetopolis where movement creates magic and viewers are encouraged to join in the fun and interact with the show through physical actions. Tom appears to be a normal eight-year-old boy but when he puts on his magic belt and performs a special sequence of movements (known as Tree Fu) he transforms into a tiny but mighty, magical super-hero.

tree fu tom big spellIn the DVD Tom is off to the castle for an exciting day at Spell School with Treetog. A drop of Magic Motion Potion brings some familiar objects to life but Tom finds the new spell quite hard to master. A flying book, a naughty broomstick and Zigzoo’s wagon run riot around Treetopolis when they become enchanted. Tom needs you to help him perform Big World Magic to restore calm to Treetopolis.

This was great for my Sensory Seeker who doesn’t like to sit still, and whilst watching tv he is usually upside-down or tapping his feet – so it was great that he had a way to channel this energy. Plus his older brothers (ages 7 and 11) also really enjoyed it and it was lovely to see them all joining in together. As there are seven stories it is easier to manage if our Sensory Seeker is struggling with his attention span: Although so far this has not been a problem as it really held him captive.

Find out more about how the spells have been designed to help children with movement difficulties and conditions such as dyspraxia on the CBeebies Grown-Ups Section.

Certificate: U

For more information about Tree Fu Tom you may also be interested in the Tree Fu Tom Ranger Utility Belt Review.

We received a free DVD of Tree Fu Tom: Tom’s Big Spell  in order to review it. All words and opinions are my own.

writing for children

Writing – How children learn to Write and Ways to Encourage them

Writing is an area of development that The Sensory Seeker has struggled with. He hasn’t got very good fine motor skills and so finds it hard to hold the pencil. If you think that learning to write is easy, then try putting your pen in the hand that you do not normally write with, then close your eyes and write your address. Was it as easy as you thought? There is so much to think about – not just the shapes of the letters, how to space them out, whether you have room on the paper, which directions to go from – plus any other distractions going on around you.

The Development of Children’s Writing Skills 

When you start to write you do not need to worry about things like having ideas and imagination, talking about feeling or having a good memory – that will all come later. First you need to focus on holding the pencil, hand-eye co-ordination, time to experiment and being allowed to draw and scribble.

writing for children

The writing journey

Writing goes through a journey, starting with mark making. I tend to not call it scribble as it is the first important step to writing. This then develops to tell a story. It may not look like it makes sense but it does to the child. Then comes the identifiable shapes and patterns – lines, squiggles and blobs. As control improves the shapes and letters become clearer. They learn the rules that writing goes from left to right, top to bottom. They leave gaps to show where the words start and finish. More letters will be used to tell the story. They start to spell. They begin to use their phonic knowledge. The write simple sentences. They learn about punctuation. They will write stories making sense phonetically, and they will learn about using the right word. Help to encourage extending their vocabulary. Spelling correctly comes later.

Encourage your child’s Writing

writing for children

  • Make a postcard.
  • Let them make a shopping list, or write a recipe.
  • Give them lots of stationery – fun notepads, stickers, post-it notes, fun pencils and rubbers.
  • Let them copy words.
  • Encourage them to make Thank You cards/letters.
  • Let them use technology – you can get games where they can write with a stylus.
  • Get a whiteboard or chalk board – where they can wipe off what they have written.
  • Play family games that involve writing – like the Silly sentence game (where you write part of the sentence, fold it over, and pass it on for the next person to add their bit)
  • Start a scrap book and they can write underneath what the pictures are.
  • Let them draw a picture for the words you tell them.
  • Write yourself – be a good role model.
  • Remember that writing does not have to be with pencils/pens – you can use all manner of things to help them achieve the correct letter formation – sand, shaving foam paint, etc.

Here are some great blog posts for helping with Fine Motor Development to help those Writing Skills

writing for children5 Letter Learning Activities with Mega Bloks – Mom Inspired Life

Halloween Do-a-Dot Printables – Gift of Curiosity

Styrofoam Fine Motor Activity – Triple T Mum

Vowel Farm – There’s Just one Mommy

How to Encourage Writing with Young Children – My Big Fat Happy Life

Letter of the week Letter B – One Beautiful Home

 

Suzie's dressing Up Day

Suzie’s Dressing Up Day

This is a review of the book Suzie’s Dressing Up Day by Charlotte Oslon and illustrated by Nicola Moore.

I love this series of books in the Suzie and Sammy titles. They are just great for my Sensory Seeker because they are very visual and help with every day life. The books are designed to help children cope with these situations by helping them become more familiar with them, in a fun and visual way.

Suzie's dressing Up Day

I like how there’s just a few sentences on each page. This means that there’s not too much to process at once. The words are not just all plainly written – some arch on the page, wiggly, bold, italics – to make them more fun. Or to indicate a different way to emphasis them. There’s plenty of opportunities to discuss things with My Sensory Seeker throughout the book. It gives him chance to think, images to give him cues – and when he was able to answer the questions I am sure this helped boost his self-esteem.

Suzie Dressing up

I think it is great to show children what fun dressing up can be – it’s actually one of my Sensory Seeker’s favourite activities. It is great for his imagination and helps develop his social skills with the use of role play. Beautifully illustrated with examples of how the child can use things when dressing up.

To Buy this book or any of the others in the series visit the Suzie Books website, where you can purchase a PDF or order a hard copy.

I received a free pfd in order to review it. All words and opinions are my own.

tree fu tom ranger utility belt

Tree Fu Tom Ranger Utility Belt

We love Tree Fu Tom in our house so were delighted to be about to review the Tree Fu Tom Ranger Utility Belt Set from Flair.

tree fu tom ranger utility belt

 About the Tree Fu Tom Ranger Utility Belt Set

Two of our boys are in the Scouts (one is a Beaver Scout), but our Sensory Seeker (aged 4) is unlikely to be able to attend Beavers when he turns 6, due to his special needs. He of course wants to be doing what his brothers are up to. I think that this is one of the many reasons that he loved dressing up with the Ranger Utility Bet Set so much, as it comes complete with a scarf and woggle.

tree fu tom ranger utility belt

There is a storage pouch where the Ranger cards and Ranger book can be stored. This can be threaded onto the adjustable belt. The utility belt has a rotating , reflector Sapstone too and spaces to clip on the Ranger badges, microscope and compass (the older brothers enjoyed explaining to their younger brother about the compass).

The Ranger Utility Belt Set is aimed at those over the age of three years so that even young adventurers can have fun. Although I would say that even at its tightest the belt is fairly lose, and feels like it could do with tightening up a bit, but this does make it easier to spin it around.

tree fu tom ranger utility belt

 Tree Fu Ranger Utility Belt in the Back Garden

 This is the perfect time of year for the Ranger Utility Belt set. There are many beautiful things in nature to go off to explore and observe under the microscope. Of course the first place we went with the Tree Fu Tom Ranger Utility Belt on was into the back garden. It is inside a tree in Tom’s back garden where there is an enchanted kingdom called Treetopolis. We were looking for Tom’s best friend and side-kick Twigs, (a silly and energetic acorn-sprite), and his other friends the Treelings. We soon found Squirmtum, who is an odd-job woodlouse with a heart of gold.

tree fu tom ranger utility belt

Our Sensory Seeker excitedly told me that Squirmtum looked the same as on his Ranger card. Our Sensory Seeker enjoyed looking through his microscope, telling me that it made things bigger.

tree fu tom ranger utility belt

 We did not find the other Treelings –  Ariela (a beautiful but rough-and-tumble ranch-running butterfly); Treetog ((a Tree Fu Master and wise teacher), or Zigzoo, (a bubbly, eccentric tree frog inventor). However, we did find a ladybird. Our Sensory Seeker was so excited that after dinner we all decided to go off and try to find some frog spawn. We were unsuccessful but are going to look again at the weekend (when the sun is up). Then we can utilise the microscope and record what we see in the Ranger book.

tree fu tom ranger utility belt

 Sensory Processing Disorder and Tree Fu Tom

 Our Sensory Seeker has problems with his gross motor skills. He is currently seeing the occupational therapist at school for this (the fizzy programme I believe) but we like to help him develop at home as much as we can. What we liked about Tree Fu Tom is that it gives him Sensory rewards for making movements.

 The Tree Fu Spells were designed with children with Dyspraxia, and other movement difficulties and disorders, in mind. The spells encourage and guide children to teach and practise the movements in many of the key areas needed for everyday activities. This can then benefit them in areas such as eating, dressing, writing, sports, games and so on. Tree Fu Tom is aimed at children who are developmentally at an important time for their growth. This belt was particularly good for our Sensory Seeker to help with his hand development – having to squeeze the clips and badges to get them on and off the belt. I think this is beneficial as the occupational therapist feels he has hypermobile hands.

tree fu tom ranger utility belt

 Tree Fu Tom is developmentally in other ways (for children with or without Special needs). Tom is a born leader using his Big World Magic to save the day against impending disasters, whilst up against the mischievous Mushas (siblings Stink and Puffy, the foolish fungi). Making the audience Superheroes as they help with the magic is very empowering, good for their confidence and helping to boost self-esteem.  The lessons in friendship are good for social and emotional development.

I would definitely recommend this product.

Spring Carnival

I was sent a free Tree Fu Tom Ranger Utility Belt Set from Flair for purposes of review. They are available from Smyths Toys. All words and opinions are my own.

Personalisation in Practice

Personalisation in Practice – Supporting Young People with Disabilities through the Transition to Adulthood

Personalisation in Practice – Supporting Young People with Disabilities through the Transition to Adulthood

Personalisation in Practice is a book that describes how the right support into adulthood made the difference to Jennie, a young person with Autism and learning difficulties. Personalisation in Practice tells of the benefits of person-centred planning which ultimately led to Jennie making the transition from living with parents to living in her own flat. The author, Suzie Franklin who is Jennie’s mother, describes the early years, and the struggles to come to a diagnosis, before explaining exactly what person-centred planning is. Suzie Franklin talks us through Person-Centred Reviews, Circle of support and other steps that were made to ensure Jennie had an easy transition into adulthood.

 Personalisation in Practice

Personalisation in Practice really provides insights and questions to think about in how people can help guide the journey of someone with disabilities into adulthood. It reassured me about some of the things that I have already done (for both my teen and youngest son).

What my sons with disabilities futures are going to be like, and how they are going to cope, have always been things I think about. Any help on what things can be done to help this transition into adulthood are always welcome, and Personalisation in Practice provides this. Our oldest son has Asperger’s Syndrome and is seventeen years old. He is doing very well academically, he has a part time job (in a familiar place) and is even beginning to socialise with friends. The biggest breakthrough for us is that his hygiene standards have improved, and a lot of his behaviours we are more and more attributing to his age as opposed to his disability. It provides us with so much hope for the future of our youngest and we hope that he is on the same path. Personalisation in Practice also has a lot of resources for advice for families, schools, providers and local authorities at the end of the book.

Disabilities and the transition into adulthood

There are lot of personal touches to the book as Suzie Franklin lets us into their lives in order to help support others. I think that parents with children like Jennie will nod understandingly throughout the book. Such as Jennie being “honest” and saying what she thinks, not worrying what other people think. Some parts will touch their pain, their fears, and other parts will make them smile and give them hope for the future. I loved how positively Jennie was described, loving life despite any difficulties she may face.

ISBN: 9781849054430

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

I received a free copy of Personalisation in Practice for purposes of review. All words and opinions are my own.

We're going on an adventure
crazy soap review

Crazy Soap Bath time fun #Review

Bath time fun crazy soap review

As a Seeker my son loves bath times and the extra sensory input that it can provide. So when the opportunity arouse to add a little bath time fun by testing out a range of products in the  Crazy Soap range we were delighted to try them out.

bath time fun with crazy soap puppets 

Fun is an important part of bath time – it makes the experience more enjoyable, and provides opportunities for learning. So we were delighted to see that the Crazy Soap Colour Changing Bubble Bath and Crazy Soap Shake & Sparkle Foam Bath both came with finger puppets on the lids.

blue bath with bubbles to make things more fun

The colour changing bubble bath has the description that the clever chameleon has conjured up  a jungle spell – and indeed as the mix went into the bath it was orange and change to blue. If I’m honest, in the bath this happened far too quickly for my son to notice. He did like a blue bath but maybe a smaller amount of water might be more effective to get the colour changing effect.

We are good in that we reuse our water, and so when adding the Shake & Sparkle there were concerns that the boys would end up sparkling (by not getting it out of their hair). They need not have worried and we could hardly see the sparkles – but again may be this would be effective in a jam jar for a snow globe at Christmas. You could tell that the bubbles did indeed sparkle though. This can be picked up from Boots for £2.49 or 249 points (and you can collect 8 points with the purchase).

sensory seeker covering himself in black paint

Crazy Soap benefiting the child with Sensory Processing Disorder in the Tactile Sense

I should have realised a long time ago that my son was a sensory seeker, but I just thought that he was young and being my fourth that I was more relaxed. See the thing is that every time there’s paint about he tends to end up painting himself (as he is a seeker in the sense of touch). He loves to cover ever little bit of his hands, then work up his arms, and then anywhere I’m brave enough to let him continue – including his face!

So I don’t know who was more delighted to receive some Crazy Soap Bath Time Body Paint as part of a set of Crazy Soap products to review.

bath time fun crazy soap blue paint

We had blue – and you can mix it with other colours – not that we got a chance to find out, as my little sensory seeker took the tub and covered himself in it. Maybe he was trying to make himself as a Smurf. Luckily this paint is for the bath so I didn’t need to worry about any mess (although it was unfortunate that it was quickly washed away too).

Bath time fun crazy soap blue paint drawn to make a letter k on back

He giggled away as I painted a letter K on his back – as a Seeker he absolutely loved the sensation of the touch on his skin, and the smell is so gorgeous. All this whilst it was actually cleaning him too!

We also tried the Crazy Soap Bathtime Fun Soap and he loved the feel of it moulded to his foot.

Bath time fun crazy soap moulded on foot

The soap can be shaped into anything you wanted – so we did a letter K for his name (I decided it was wasting the soap to do his whole name to be honest).

bath time fun crazy soap moulded into a letter k

I received the products mentioned for free in order to review them. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hair Washing & JOHNSON’S Baby Easy-Rinse Foaming Shampoo Review

Many people whose children have Sensory Processing Disorder may find that they struggle when it comes to hair washing . The anticipation of water coming can be a threat to the nervous system, with the feel of water being uncomfortable or even painful when it hits the skin. It may be the temperature of the water. Children who over-register tactile input may also over-register temperature, they may feel things in extremes – so something cool could be experienced as bitterly cold; and something warm as scorching hot.

child in mirror

It important to consider that there are a lot of factors as to why a child does not like hair washing , and important to think about them individually. One of the ways to help a child is to slowly break it down into small steps. Explain what is happening and slowly build up to what you wish to achieve. It may be that they refuse even to go into the bathroom, for instance, so just start by letting them go in and then leave again straight away. Then build up to getting them to stay in there a little while: Until slowly you can eliminate a fear of the room. If they still are screaming just going in the room then it may well be worth considering changing the colour, feel, or flooring of the room. It may be you just need a new air freshener or a new rug. Try adding things that appeal to them – maybe with the use of bathroom tile stickers of say dinosaurs. Make it fun – provide plenty of bathroom toys.

The most important thing is to let them guide you. Try to establish what is upsetting them, rather than just trying to force them to do something that you feel they ought to do. Believe me I have a teenager with Aspergers – no-one died from not washing for a little while. Let them decide on the temperature of the water for example.

johnsons challenge independent hair washing

We were thrilled to try the JOHNSON’S CHALLENGE, with New JOHNSON’S Baby Easy-Rinse Foaming Shampoo, because it really did fit with where we are with our little Sensory Seeker. He is about to start school and needs a hand with his independence and more of an understanding about personal hygiene.

Challenge 1 DIY Fun Factor: this gave us the option of letting him wash his hair – so he had full control. I was really pleased to say that he managed the pump action soap (with a little difficulty at first), largely unaided. This is good for a few reasons – them being that he is hypermobile in his hands and all manner of other terms the occupational therapist said to me and forgot – but basically he needs to do certain things to strengthen them. That he didn’t get too much shampoo, as a seeker I expected him to just keep pumping it out, but he never, he was happy with the right amount and happily lathered it into his hair. I was also supplied with a frog mirror and jug for him to be able to see what he was doing whilst controlling where the water was going. We have also found that a mirror has been a great help in brushing his teeth. If he can see what is happening he is a lot less distressed. I believe it is because it makes things more predictable.

Challenge 2 Funky Foam Fun: This was about seeing what funky foam hairstyles you could make – this happened rather quickly as he is a sensory seeker and so was very keen to start tipping the water over his head again.

child smile in mirror

Challenge 3 Rinse Ease:

100% of the mums  who had already tested the shampoo agreed that it was easy to rinse off.

tip water over head in order to independently wash their hair

Yes I can agree there too – his hair is curly (although quiet short at the moment) and can be really difficult to get the bubbles out (one of the things I feel adds to his distress), but these bubbles came out with ease when he washed it himself. There was no need for me to help with extra rinsing.

94% also agreed that it made shampooing delightful.

It was indeed a delight to see him so happy to wash his own hair. It was such a proud milestone for me and made me feel very proud.

And 70% agreed that the shampoo kept the fun going all through bath time.

To be honest we have quiet fun bath times, so although it was nice to see him so happy to wash his hair it wasn’t the reason that the whole bath time was fun.

I received a free bottle of JOHNSON’S Baby Easy-Rinse Foaming Shampoo, a frog mirror, and jug. I have not been compensated in any other way. All opinions are completely honest and my own.