In Our Homeschooling Philosophy and Homeschooling Younger Children, I mentioned that we like for our girls to learn through real life activities, rather than dry textbooks or pointless drills. The last two years, beads have been a wonderful learning tool for our four-year-old! Here are some of the ways she has been learning with them…
Of course, you can use anything to teach little ones their colors (learning colors while folding laundry together was one of our favorites!), but there is just something extra fun about pretty beads!
Bright and uniquely shaped beads are tons of fun for little ones to count! Start by counting with them, showing them how to either line the beads up and point at each one as they count, or move the beads from one pile to another. As they progress, let them take over and get excited with them as they do it “all by myself!” 🙂
Start with a collection of larger beads and thick, stiff string for kids to string the beads. As they become more coordinated, move to medium sized beads and slightly thinner, limper string. Eventually, they can use small beads and embroidery floss or some other pretty string. Every few days my Pumpkin makes a new necklace for herself!
This is a favorite game around here! The first time, I used plain, round beads in three different colors. I put ten or so of each color in one bowl and gave Pumpkin three empty bowls. I showed her how to put all of the blue beads in one bowl, all of the red ones in another and all of the green ones in a third. She had so much fun that she literally played this for hours that day!
Once that was mastered, we used lots of differently shaped beads and she sorted them by color. This phase lasted a few weeks before she started to get bored with it.
The next challenge was to sort beads that we all the same color by shape. Some were round, some square, some flower-shaped, but they were all the same color. She did this for weeks, but we also would shake things up a bit by going back to the first two methods.
When she was ready for a new challenge, I mixed up beads of four different colors and four different shapes! Sometimes she’d sort them by color, sometimes by shape.
Combining Them All
Without me prompting her, she combined the sorting with stringing necklaces! She sometimes sorts beads by a filter (color or shape or size) and then strings the like ones together.
When she’s a bit bigger, I’ll pull out my old bead loom from when I was a little girls and teach her how to bead patterns!
For math, we may also use the beads to illustrate addition, subtraction, fractions and counting at intervals.