We have a lot of beads at home..big chunky plastic ones, slender tube shaped paper ones, translucent beads that gleam magically in the light, beads with tiny beads, hand painted ones and salt dough beads. We started out with large platic ones and shoe laces because I thought the boys would enjoy those. However, after an initial couple of days, they were relegated to the back of the shelf and my three boys soon lost interest in them. Then, sometime last year (the twins were shy of 4 and the little fellow was 2 then) we were together in an art and craft store when we happened to come to the bead section. Nish’s eyes totally lit up. He ran his fingers through the gorgeous glittery beads and asked me what they were. When I told him they were beads he was confused – the only ones he knew were the chubby plastic ones. Then it clicked for him – “Can we make real necklaces with these?”
And that was the starting point for our exploration and fairly long relationship with beads. The boys amazed me with the amount of time they spent with the beads. They made necklaces, bracelets and earrings with them. They used beads of the same color, beads in random orders, beads in very clear recurring patterns.
They started counting as they created…12-15 beads for bracelets, two for the earrings, etc.
They separated the beads into big and small, bright and pastel colors, into shades of pink and purple, into color families (as one of my boys called it – colors he thought went well together). This was a wonderful way to talk about shades and patterns.
They also realized that big does not always mean heavy…that too many colors does not necessarily lead to pretty.
They learned patience because it takes time to bead and perseverance because ever so often you let the end slip from your fingers and lose a bunch of beads from your strand…and you need to start over.
We figured easy solutions like making a big knot for the bracelet to stop the beads from sliding off, or the trick of tying the string to your toe so it is easier to manage and frees up one hand.
I am now thinking of using the beads to do more math concepts…tens and ones, understanding concepts of more and less. Let’s see how that goes.