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The Benefits of Beads and Beading Activities for Very Young Children

What are the benefits of beads & which beading activities are suitable for children? Plenty! Each developmental stage through childhood brings different abilities and skills.


The very young child, from about 3 up to 4 years old, is generally already tackling small items. They like to carefully pick up small objects, and place them elsewhere... beetles and other small insects are an example, and they make piles of things, and place items from one container to the next.

They are now able to coordinate hand and eye for these quite intricate activities, and they are intrigued!

Most first time parents would not consider giving their child of this age beads to play with. They think they are too young, that they will swallow the beads, that beads are too advanced for the child...

Those parents who do decide to give beads a go often believe the large round, generally wooden, beads are best for the young child, as these days the paints used are safe... but if your child decides to taste or eat the bead, and although these large beads cannot be swallowed easily, there is a small chance of choking!(Though in all my years of watching young children play with beads, I have never seen one try to swallow a bead... but it is good not to take any chances.)

Large wooden beads are also expensive, so I suggest you choose beads which are about 8mm in size (the size of a large pea), and which have large holes in them. This size bead is available in a great variety of colours... and lots of shapes.

You can easily purchase a selection of this bead size, and some thickish (hat) elastic. There are also kits of such beads including various shapes, colours and sizes, and with elastic to thread the beads. They are quick and easy for you to buy, and they can provide hours of fun for your child. The beads can be thread, again and again... children of this young age generally don't mind seeing their creation being taken apart, especially if they can still play with the beads, and create something else.

Threading these beads is a simple and interesting activity for the young child, and it is a great chance for parent/child quality time.

However, these young children can also be encouraged to do even more interesting activities with their beads.

    They can put all of the beads of the same colour together, whatever the shape and size. They learn to recognise colours and colour names.
    The child can then separate these same beads into shapes and sizes. Distinguishing between shapes and sizes.
    Children can put all beads of one shape, but various colours altogether.
    Colours and shapes can be alternated as they are threaded onto elastic.
    Counting beads... 3 red, 1 blue, 3 red etc gives another challenge. Simple pattern making.
    Use of a tray to keep the beads handy.

The Young child can play with the same beads over and over again, incidentally learning colours, shapes, patterns, and threading. On top of this, they increase their ability to concentrate.

And once they want to finish for now, make their threaded beads into a necklace or bracelet. The elastic (once tied by you) is easy to stretch over the hand or head, to put it on, and take it off, without parental help.

All of these above activities helps the child improve:

    fine motor skills,
    hand/eye coordination,
    learning new words,
    learning about shapes and colours,
    keeping within the limits of a tray when using the beads.
    having quality fun with a parent.

And also they experience:

    a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment as he/she pulls the finished necklace over his/her head!

And as in all stages of childhood, BOYS AND GIRLS LOVE BEADS!

In my next article I shall talk about my experiences of beads and their benefits when beading with the young school age child.



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