Nature Art for Kids

Nature Art for Kids

This latest post was fun to do, it is about nature art for kids. Basically we went out for a walk around our local nature reserve, which is great in its own right. This time though we took a box with us, to collect things off of the ground to use for an art project. I’m very much a believer in leaving nature alone, so only things on the ground were to be taken.

The kids were happy with this, as they both like to look after nature anyway. The ground was literally covered in sticks, so there wasn’t going to be a shortage of material. We had a nice walk around, and myself and Lily collected lots of material for the art project. Jack just wanted to walk around.

Time for the nature art for kids

The walk was fun, but once we got home it was time to think about the art project. We had a really good haul of stuff, so it was time for Lily to decide what she wanted to do.

Nature art for kids

This is what Lily decided to do. She cut out some printed letters, to spell Mummy, Daddy, Jack and Lily, and stuck them on some paper. She then drew some pictures. For the record, the drawings are of the Pokemon Bulbasaur (for Jack), A motorbike, a candle (form mum) and a bouncy car like you get on a play area.

Lily wanted to make a frame for the picture, and decorate it using the sticks that we found. So what we did was cut 2 pieces of cardboard to A4 size, and stuck the drawing onto one piece. Then cut the middle out of other piece of card, leaving a frame roughly 2cm thick. Lily stuck that onto the drawing, which left the sticks. Lily had a great time glueing then around the frame, with some PVA glue.

It left the finished article looking like this….

Lily was really happy with how it turned out, and I think it looks great. There’s still plenty of stuff left in the box too, so if anyone has any ideas of things we can do with it. We are very open to ideas, please leave a comment below. To see more of Lily’s arts and crafts, visit the Lily’s Art Gallery section.

Dad Does Autism

Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares

Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares

Today is the latest instalment from our adventures baking in the kitchen. Another very simple, but messy recipe. Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares. I much prefer the marshmallow to the chocolate version, but I can’t remember ever actually making any myself. So this was a first for me, and I didn’t realise just how sticky the mixture was going to be.

Ingredients

  • 45g butter
  • 300g mini marshmallows
  • 180g rice krispies
Ingredients
Ingredients

Method

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan on low heat. My advice is the largest saucepan you’ve got, for when it’s time for the Rice Krispies.
  • Add the marshmallows and cook gently until they are completely melted and blended, stirring constantly.
  • Take the pan off the heat and immediately add the cereal, mixing lightly until well coated.
  • Press the mixture into a greased square tin, and the flatten. The mixture is incredibly sticky, which is either fun or a nightmare, depending on your persuasion. We only had small tins, so spread the mixture over 2 tins.
  • Let the marshmallow crispy squares cool completely in the tin and then cut them into squares.
Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares
Pink Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares

There you have the finished Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares, a great treat from just 3 ingredients. You might notice a slight pink colour too ours, as we used pink & white marshmallows. Lily was particularly happy with the colour, I was happy with the taste! These really are one of my favourites.

We are really enjoying making cakes at the moment, so myself, Jack and Lily are getting a list of possibly 20 of the best cakes. That we think we can make, and will make it a post, eventually making them all. So there will be a link to the recipe of each one, that’s the plan. Sounds easy when I say it. If anyone has any recommendations of good bakes to do with kids, we are open to suggestions. Leave a comment below.

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Jack’s Scooby snacks

Jack’s Scooby snacks

I have done a lot of activity blog posts with Lily recently, but not with Jack. So today we put that right with Jack’s Scooby snacks. Jack never misses a trick, and wanted to know when he can make cakes for the website. Normal cakes won’t do for Jack, so he came up with the idea for Scooby snacks.

Jack’s Scooby snacks are basically just your normal chocolate cake, cut into the shape of a bone, and then the option of decorating with icing. So here is the simple recipe.

Ingredients

  • 75g plain flour (sifted)
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 2eggs
  • Ready to roll icing
  • Writing Icing

Method

We used a shallow square tin to make the cake.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl, add the eggs in one at a time, whilst sitting in the flour and cocoa power. Gently fold the mixture together until it is ready to transfer to the tin. Bake at 180c for 25-30 minutes.

It’s as simple as that! Other than helping him weigh the ingredients out, Jack was perfectly capable of doing it all himself. Which for me is the important thing. Do really simple recipes that Jack and Lily can do without any help, when they have mastered them, try something a bit more complicated.

Making Jack’s scooby snacks


Once the cake has been baked and cooled, it is time to make the bone shapes. We have loads of shaped cake cutters, and I managed to find a bone shaped one. Which made things easy for Jack, if you don’t have one it’s not too difficult to cut a bone shape out by hand. Obviously depending on age and ability of the child, the adult may have to take over for that part.

Jack decided he wanted to leave some of the Scooby Snacks plain, and decorate some. He used ready to roll icing, and used the bone shaped cutter, to cut it to shape. As you can see from the photo below, Jack’s didn’t roll the icing out much. You might prefer to roll in a bit flatter! For the finishing touches Jack used some different coloured icing pens, to add a touch of colour.

Jack’s Scooby snacks
scooby snacks

Jack was very pleased with what he had made, and Lily was very impressed too. Which Jack was pleased with, though he tried to hide it I caught his smile at Lily’s praise.

They were a nice little treat, mine went down well with a nice cup of tea. Of course with them being Scooby Snacks Jack had to share them with his Snuggly’s (click here to find out about the Snuggly’s, if you don’t know who they are), they gave them the thumbs up too.

Jack & the snuggly’s enjoying their treat.

I’m in the baking groove now, so there will probably be more foodie posts to come, as it’s something we all enjoy doing. The big question though, would you have your Scooby Snack plain, or with the icing? Let us know in the comments below, thanks.

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Plastic bottle bird feeder

Plastic bottle bird feeder

If you follow me on twitter, you will likely know I get very excited by the birds we have nesting in our garden. Lily wanted to make a plastic bottle bird feeder, so she could feed them. I know we have at least 3 nests in the garden, 2 robin nests and one blackbird. I suspect there may be a fourth, but I’ve not confirmed it yet.

So we decided to make a plastic bottle bird feeder, I’ve never done it before so we went for a very simple design. We got a empty 2 litre bottle, and I cut out a big hole about 3/4s of the way down. Then I made two small holes about 3/4s of the way up, and put a stick through. Then tied some string to each end so it can be hung up. Lily being Lily, she wanted to decorate it. So I printed of some pictures of birds, for her to colour in. Then we taped them onto the bottle, before putting in the seed.

Plastic bottle bird feeder

We didn’t have much seed, ideally it needs quite a bit more in the bottle. I’m also trying to find a tray for it to go in to make it easier for the birds, especially the bigger ones to get at the seed.

Easier alternative

We also made a much easier alternative for young children to make. Lily pretty much made this one herself, using a piece of cardboard, bird seed and some peanut butter. Lily cut the card board into a square, then she mixed the peanut butter and bird seed in a bowl. She then spread the mixture on the cardboard, it’s as easy as that.

Peanut butter bird seed

I used a whole punch to make a hole at the top, and tie some string through, so it can hung up if needed. Lily was really excited to put them out in the garden, I just hope the birds like them now!

Have you ever made a DIY bird feeder, if so how did it go? Did the birds use it? Let us know in the comments.

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Lily’s baguette pizza bites

Lily’s baguette pizza bites

Lily always enjoys baking, so I decided to try something different with her. So today we made some baguette pizza bites. A simple thing to make, that I knew she would really enjoy. Pizza is one of the few things that Lily likes to eat, always with pepperoni.

Ingredients

This is a very simple thing to make, which is why it’s always a popular one to make with the kids. All you need is:

  • a baguette
  • tomato sauce (we used a jar of smooth sauce)
  • grated cheese
  • choice of toppings

Making the baguette pizza bites

I cut the the baguette up for Lily, as it was too fiddly, and difficult for her to do. After that it was all Lily, and I just sat back and watched. After putting the sauce and cheese on, she wanted to get the toppings we could find out. So she could make a different one for everyone.

We had quite a few things, including pepperoni (obviously), chorizo, Salami, ham, and peppers. Unfortunately for Jack no pineapple, as he likes his ham & pineapple. For the record Mum also likes her pepperoni, whilst I like everything hah…though if I had to pick a favourite I’d say a “vegetarian” pizza.

Lily made some pepperoni ones, a “meat feast” one, one with just peppers on, and a plain cheese one for Jack. Here’s a picture of a couple before they went in the oven.

Baguette pizza bites
Before cooking

Lily really enjoyed doing this, and I really enjoyed doing what comes next. The eating part! So this is something we will definitely be doing again. Add in a bit of salad and Lily had made tea (dinner, evening meal, whatever you call it where you’re from), and was really proud of herself. Which was really lovely too see. So, now for the finished article.

Cooked baguette pizza bites
after cooking

I had a meat feast and a pepper one, and both were really nice. I loved how apart from the cutting the bread, and putting the trays in the oven, it was all Lily just doing whatever she wanted.

Which leaves me to ask the question, which one of the 4 would you have had? Or what would you have preferred as toppings instead?

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Top 5 board games to play with young kids

Top 5 board games to play with young kids

As the title says, today we are looking at board games. As chosen by Lily, her top 5 board games to play with young kids. Jack and Lily are 12 and 8, both being autistic what they like is some areas can be younger than their age. This is one of those areas, so we are looking at this from a younger child’s perspective. Lily really enjoys board games, and we’ve been playing quite a lot during this lockdown. Sometimes Jack will play as well depending on the game.

Lily picked the 5 games, we played them and each gave them a score out of 5. I will do a quick review with each game too, and leave a link to where you can buy each game from amazon. These are affiliate links and I will get a small commission if anyone does make a purchase using the links. That will help me with the upkeep of the website, for more information, you can go to my Donations & Adverts page by clicking this link. So let’s get started on our list of top 5 board games to play with young kids.

Kerplunk

Top 5 board games to play with young kids Kerplunk Lily

The aim of the game is to take the straws out one at a time, and try not to make any of the marbles drop down. The person with the least amount of marbles at the end wins. Setting up is as much of an event as playing the game itself, especially if you are all trying to put the straws through at the same time. It’s a good idea to make the set up fun, you have to do it at the end of every round, and can become tedious otherwise.

Once you are ready to go, I really like Kerplunk. The tension and anxiety rises every time you take another straw. I mostly enjoy the reaction of the kids when the marbles drop, especially if a lot go at once. They laugh every time, especially if it’s on my turn. We normally play 5 or 6 games, if all 4 of us are playing maybe a few more.

Top 5 games to play with young children - Kerplunk

Rating – Dad (4) Lily (5) Click here to buy Kerplunk

Jenga

Top 5 board games to play with young kids - jenga tower

The aim of the game is simple. Build a tower of 3 blocks in a row, then take it in turn to take one block out. If you knock the tower over during your turn you lose. I do enjoy jenga, but I find setting it up a bit of a pain. It comes with a cardboard sleeve, the theory is you pull it out of the box, and the tower sets straight up when you slide the sleeve away. That has never worked once for us.

When the game starts it’s pretty fun, you get the same tension as Kerplunk. You need more skill for this game, as one wrong move and it’s game over. You need a steady hand, which is bad news for me. When I inevitably end up knocking the tower over, the kids are laughing at my misfortune again. Another fun game, but the setting up loses it points from me.

Collapsed jenga tower

Rating – Dad (3) Lily (5) Click here to buy Jenga

LOL surprise Monopoly


A classic game, we have the LOL surprise version. Admittedly I’d probably enjoy it more if it was the original, or less of a “girly version”. But it was a present for Lily and she loves it. It does mean Jack has absolutely no interest in playing it. If you’ve got a lot of time to kill, then this is the game to play. Playing until everyone goes bankrupt and there’s one player left, must be a marathon. I don’t think I’ve ever done that ever, we normally declare a winner when someone is clearly leading and everyone’s got bored.

Top 5 board games to play with young kids

This isn’t a very competitive game in our house. Lily gets upset if you buy any of her favourite cards, which seems to be most of them. We tend too just play until Lily gets bored, and we declare her the winner. For those reasons, this is my least favourite of the 5 games, but Lily absolutely loves it.

Rating – Dad (3) Lily (5) Click here to buy LOL monopoly

Hungry Hippos

You have to connect the hippos to the game board every time you play, assuming you disconnect them and put them back in the box when you finish playing. I find the hippos quite stuff to put on, the kids certainly aren’t able to do it, which is a downside. Once it’s ready, it’s an easy and fun game to play.

Top 5 board games to play with young kids - hungry hippos

You can play with 2 people, though I think it’s best if you have 4, one person for each hippo. The aim of the game is to swallow as many of the little balls as you can, with your hippo. The person with the most balls at the end, wins the game. If you are anything like us, things are likely to get a bit manic. It’s no holds barred, and the more aggressive the game gets the funnier Jack and Lily think it is. They absolutely love it, we can play up 10 times, before hands start to hurt from hitting the plastic levers, and we stop.

Rating – Dad (4) Lily (4) click here to buy hungry hippos

Don’t take Busters Bones

don’t take busters bones

To start you need to connect the dog to the tray section, and then push it back to set it. It’s not to difficult, the kids struggle with it but can do it without my help. To play you take turns picking a card, that has a number of bones that you have to pick up out of the tray. You have a pair of cat paw tweezers to pick the bones up, this is to keep hands out of the try. As the dog lurches foward, as if to bite, when you set him off. If he bites on your turn you lose the game.

Whilst Buster is sleeping, an audio of snoring plays through some speakers. Which is a great little touch that definitely adds to the experience of the game. It’s another game of tension, and waiting for “something bad” to happen. Im guessing by now you’ve worked out these are the type games we like to play. This one is my personal favourite.

Rating – Dad (5) Lily (4) Click here to buy Dont take busters bones

Conclusion

To conclude our top 5 board games to play with young kids list, a look at the combined rating from both myself and Lily, Kerplunk and Don’t take Busters bones get the joint highest score with 9. Which is pretty much what I expected, I think these 2 are a little bit better than the other 2. Have you played any of these game? What are your thoughts on them? Also, are there any board games you would recommend us to try? If so leave a comment below, thanks.

Dad Does Autism

Lily’s Flower basket

Lily’s Flower basket

After some lovely weather recently I think someone has turned the heating off. It’s turned a bit chilly here, but in the spirit of spring today I want to show you Lily’s flower basket. We got a nice basket and filled it with soil, and bought some nice flowers to add it. I’m no expert when it comes to flowers, so we just picked some pansies and violas that looked like they went well together.


Lily arranged the flowers herself and planted them. I think it they look really good, but you be the judge. What do you think to Lily’s flower basket?

Lily’s flower basket - front
front
Lily’s flower basket - back
back

What else have we been up to?

Despite the drop in temperature, Jack has wanted to go on his walks to catch Pokémon on PokemonGo. I shared a few photos on the Twitter page, where you can find me @DadDoesAutism. As more often than not I use photos of Jack and Lily, they decided it should be my turn this time. So here’s a photo of me with a Pokemon.

Dad and Aipom

Myself and Jack have both had our lockdown haircut, thanks to Natalie. Who did a pretty good job. I’m not sharing any photos here, as Natalie is looking at writing a post about how she went about cutting Jack’s hair.

Haircuts can be a problem with some autistic children, it certainly was for Jack for a long time. We found a hairdresser that Jack is happy with, accepts going to now. With lockdown though, it’s obviously not open right now, and Jack was complaining his hair was too long. We were unsure if he’d allow his mum to do it, but we got it done and it will certainly be a good post when Natalie does it.

Finally, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times on here, and even shared a video on twitter. I have been playing cricket in the garden with Lily. She didn’t really know what she was doing when lockdown began, other than trying to hit the ball. I would do a gentle under arm throw, and she’d struggle to hit it.

Fast forward to now, and although we are only playing with a lightweight plastic bat and ball. I am now doing proper cricket bowls for her to hit. I’m really pleased with how she’s wanted to keep practicing, and the progress she’s made. More importantly she’s really happy with herself.

Have you or your kids been trying to get better and something new? We’d love to hear what you’ve been trying to learn. Leave your comments in the box below. Thanks.

Dad Does Autism

Autism and Minecraft

Autism and Minecraft

The first time I ever heard of Minecraft was when Jack asked to have the game. I had no idea of the strong links between autism and minecraft. A quick google of autism and Minecraft will bring up lots of results. It seems to be something that attracts some autistic people, and as is often the case. Once it becomes a special interest, it becomes an obsession.

Minecraft is even being used in therapies, to help autistic children learn things like social skills. You can apply for a specialised server for autistic people, called AutCraft, which is said to be a safe haven for autistic children to play Minecraft. Jack just plays on Minecraft normally, and it’s for fun.

The joy of building something

When you successfully build something, it gives you such a great feeling. No matter what it is, big or small, you still get that feeling of achievement. I talked about how Lego provides that for Jack in “Is Lego good for autistic children”, click the link if you haven’t read that post before.

Of course with Lego you are restricted to what you can make. In the computerised world of Minecraft the possibilities are practically endless. You can go wherever your imagination takes you. 

Using Minecraft to express feelings

The other day Jack was very excited to show me a laboratory he made. He then told me he had the coronavirus inside it and was working on a cure.

on top of the coronavirus lab

I actually felt quite emotional and proud that he was thinking of doing that. He has found it difficult to understand, what is going on in the world right now. Trying to express his own feelings on the matter, hasn’t been easy either.  We have spent a lot of time of time, trying to learnt what Jack is trying to say to us, when he is unable to do it directly.

This was Jacks way of showing us he is worried about the coronavirus, and wants there to be a cure found. So that everything can go back to normal. When he does something like this, it gives us the opportunity to ask questions about a subject he doesn’t like to talk about. 

He won’t communicate about a subject he is anxious about, and if you try and force the issue he’s even less likely to talk. This was showing us he was ready to talk about the coronavirus. Only a few questions, with short answers and nods of the head. But enough for us to get an understand of how anxious and worried he is feeling, and now he knows we know.

Jack’s favourite builds

That was an example of how autism and Minecraft work, to help an autistic child communicate with his parents. Let’s finish with something more fun. I’ve asked Jack to share with you, the favourite things he has built on Minecraft.

Some of the favourite things he has built include, Freddy Fazbears Pizzeria, a nether portal, and the Kanto region in Pokemon.

His absolute favourite is the SCP 250 foundation facility. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means, I don’t really either. Here is a brief explanation of what SCP is.


You can click here if you want to find out more about it. There’s a couple of pictures below to showing the facility that Jack has made.

Minecraft & autism
Full facility

an SCP in its containment pod

There have been a lot of posts involving Lily recently, so it was fun for me to get Jack involved again. For those of you out there who’s kids like playing on Minecraft, or even you yourself. What do you enjoy building on there. We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

Dad Does Autism

Easy to make Paper Roll Animals

Easy to make Paper Roll Animals

I said a while ago in one of the blog posts about Lily’s Art, that we were going to make some paper roll animals. It’s taken longer than I planned to get round to it, but finally here they are. Lily made two animals, a fox and a unicorn. These are fairly easy to make paper roll animals, so if you don’t know how to make them. I will show you the simple steps, to make a really cute fox.

What you will need

  • Obviously you will need a paper roll. We used the bigger kitchen rolls, but any kind will do.
  • Coloured paper – orange or brown, we actually found some orange felt in Lily’s craft stuff, which was a bonus, and really added to the look. (you can paint the rolls instead if you prefer).
  • White paper
  • Glue, scissors, black marker pen/felt tip
  • Googly eyes

Simple instructions

The first thing you need to do is glue the coloured paper to the paper roll. Fold the excess paper at the top inwards from both sides to make an arch, this makes the foxes ears.

Cut the tail out of your coloured paper, and the tip out of white paper, and glue together. Then glue the tail onto the back of the fox.

Finally, cut a heart shape out of white paper, and draw on the facial features with a black marker. Lily chose to use stick on google eyes for here fox. Glue the face on the front and you have your completed fox. Lily added a blue paper straw, because this isn’t any ordinary fox. This is a ninja fox!

Easy to make paper roll animals - fox
the finished ninja fox

Alternative easy to make paper roll animals

If the fox isn’t the animal for you, then there are plenty of other animals too make. There’s lots of different places with instructions for different animals. We found this one https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/ with lots of different ideas. Lily also made a unicorn one, which required getting some coloured string and glitter out.

Easy to make paper roll animals - unicorn

Lily loves the unicorn one, I definitely prefer the fox. Which one do you prefer? What other animal would you like to see made? Feel like making one yourself? We’d love to see what you make. Leave a comment below or find us on Twitter @DadDoesAutism or the Dad Does Autism Facebook page. We’d love to see animals too.

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Oh no it’s Play-Doh

Oh no it’s Play-Doh

Oh no it’s play-doh. The P word! The word that sends a feeling of fear and dread into straight into the heart of any parent. I set up Lily’s art table. It is a foldable table that is mostly used for Lily’s Arts & Crafts, which will be clear to see in the photo below. This time though she didn’t want to do art, she wanted to get the play-doh out. She has been doing lots of art as usual, which I will show later in the post. So I guess she wanted a change.

Oh no it’s play-doh

Whenever we seem to be running out of the stuff, their mum goes and buys loads more. Which I really appreciate….

The stuff gets everywhere, and as any parent who is crazy enough to let their child have play-doh will know. It is a right pain in the arse to clean up, especially if it’s been trodden in the carpet.

Lily’s paintings

She coloured in a mask picture, and then wanted to make some actual masks. I cut an eye mask out of paper for her to decorate, and then we managed to find a plain face mask that she could decorate. Lily loves decorating them, and really loves wearing them too.

The next three pieces are all quite different. Lily has been practising drawing animals, which is something she’s not too confident with. Often when she struggles with something, she will get frustrated and give up. So it’s been nice to see her really trying to improve over the last week.

She also cut out a aeroplane shape and put it on a black card background. Then she used blow straw painting to decorate. I really love this one, I think it looks great. Finally she had done a self portrait, I particularly like the crazy hair.

As always Lily would like to hear which ones are people favourite, so please comment in the box below. Now speak of “oh no it’s play-doh”, it’s time I went and saw what the mess is like….

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