Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Easy Bead/Pasta Stringing with Toddlers

Bead stringing is a classic activity for young children that helps strengthen their fine motor skills and allows them to perfect their hand-eye coordination.  Three year olds are just about the right age for bead stringing and card lacing activities without frustration.

For beginners and younger children (two and up), bead stringing can be introduced by using large, wooden beads and pipe cleaners.  The firm but flexible pipe cleaners allow small hands to point the tip accurately through the bead's opening.  Once the pipe cleaner is through the bead, help young children learn how to grasp the top of the pipe cleaner to slide the bead down.

Caution:  This is a good time to introduce words like sharp or "pokey" as M and I call the cut ends of the pipe cleaner. Also, just bend the bottom of pipe cleaner to make a little loop so the beads don't slide off the end.
Bead Stringing with Pipe Cleaners

Where to Find Beads?

I was very excited to find these large wooden beads at the Dollar Tree. Although painted, they meet safety standards and do not contain lead paint.  Usually these types of beads can be found at a much higher price in school supply catalogs or online educational sites. Another frugal option is the large plain wooden beads or blocks found at craft stores.

Substitute: Dried pasta shapes like rigatoni for beginners and penne for more of a challenge.

I bought two sets (6 beads each).  For $2, I can get a lot of play mileage out of these toys:

More Bead Activities:

These chunky beads are a good stand-in for a first set of blocks for little hands.  M likes to stack them up to make towers (to knock down again and again).

M also likes to fill and dump objects with these beads (ie. containers with twist tops, empty wipe containers, his dump trucks, etc.)

Sorting and Classifying:  Beads can be grouped by color and shape.  This is a beginning math skill. 

Patterning:  Whether stringing them or stacking them, you can introduce beginning patterns by alternating colors and pointing out the pattern to your child, "look, this one has red, yellow, red, yellow, red.  Let's make another one that matches."  This is another important math skill.

Math Vocabulary to Introduce:  different, same, matches, pattern, more, less
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