Beads are a staple of a preschool classroom, whether that classroom is in a home or a school. They are an excellent tool to exercise the pincer grasp, which is oh-so-important when learning how to write. Just about any activity you can think of with beads will give your child the opportunity to strengthen his fingers, so he can grasp a pencil with more control. A bag of assorted beads is inexpensive and an invaluable teaching resource.
Here are four activities we do with small beads in our Home Sweet Preschool.
1. Color Sort
A painter’s pallet, an ice cube tray, an egg carton or a devilled egg platter all work well for this activity. Simply give your child a bowl of small beads to sort by colors. You can paint each section with the target color or just place one bead in each section to indicate that target.
2. Bead a Bracelet
Give your child a pipe cleaner and a bowl of beads and let him make a bracelet. I was shocked by what a kick my kiddos got out of this the first time they did it. Stringing the beads requires concentration, determination and precision, three essential qualities for preschoolers to develop. Older children can create and/or follow a pattern for their bracelet.
3. Number Sort
Place numbers by small containers and have your child put the appropriate number in each bowl. Remember, if you are following Montessori, find ten containers and label them 0-9 to be consistent in your teaching. You also may want to write in the numbers in green to echo the sandpaper numbers.
4. Bead Transfer Activity
A more challenging activity for older children is to have them transfer small beads using tweezers or chopsticks from one container to another. Younger kids can simply use their fingers to exercise that pincer grasp again.
This is just a small sampling of the activities you can do using beads. You can glue them to artwork or make fun shapes with pipe cleaners. If you know of another great activity using small beads, please share.